Rockvale Stone & Garden

Rockvale Stone & Garden
Rockvale Stone & Garden

Blossom, Magnolia, Daffodils and Violets, tell us Spring is really here and I find I am needing to check the time often because days are drawing out. Six year old Grand Daughter Maggie pointed out that our large pink Magnolias were throwing off their woolly blankets – large fluffy bud casings are covering the ground as beautiful Magnolias take centre stage. Blossom, Magnolia, Daffodils and Violets, tell us Spring is really here and I find I am needing to check the time often because days are drawing out. Six year old Grand Daughter Maggie pointed out that our large pink Magnolias were throwing off their woolly blankets – large fluffy bud casings are covering the ground as beautiful Magnolias take centre stage. Having seen some lovely new Lavender plants on offer in Garden centres, I continue to cut back mine as they begin to put out new growth – really old woody bushes can be cut back hard to encourage new lower growth.  If they do not respond, it may be time to replace them. Newly planted Lavender plants just need a hair cut and fed manure enriched compost – plus a little lime. With new Spring growth happening, it is the time for Shrub height and width control . Soft Shrubs encroaching on drive and walkways, can be trimmed back – they will soon recover with new growth. I have been reducing the height on some of my taller Shrubs like Phebaliums, Pittosporums and Pseudopanax. You can do this if height is a problem without spoiling the shape of Shrubs. What I do, is cut out the centre top leader down to where the side branches bush out. This removes the natural point at the top and will sometimes reduce the height by 2 or more metres. Shrubs will soon send up a new leader, but will also put more growth into the sides which can be trimmed to shape if a problem. A lot of climbers are in bud now – ready to do their Spring thing, so when trimming, watch you are not cutting off new buds. Jasmines here have not been knocked by frosts (yet) – will leave them a bit longer until I am sure the frosts are over before trimming them. If you have still not feed your Roses – do it as soon as possible! they are moving fast now and need food kept up to them for good health. This goes for most plants now. If you have no time to do anything else in the garden, feeding plants is a must for now while roots are searching. It is well worth the effort and will minimize the spraying needed later on.Now would be a good time to mention plants that resent being fed. Many South African and Australian natives – such as Proteas, Leucodendrons, Banksias, and all Grevillias do not need feeding. I have lost some of these because they had absorbed fertiliser from neighbouring plants.  There is still time to divide Hostas while they are still not showing a lot of leaf. These dramatic shade loving perennials can really highlight a shaded spot with their fresh greens and variegated shades. Simply lift established clumps at least 4 to 5 years old, use a sharp spade to slice them into a few good size pieces, then replant. They also look great in pots – but get Slug bait around them as soon as they start showing leaf, or try some of the Slug repellent methods that have been passed down by gardeners listed below.  Epsom salts sprinkled on the soil will supposedly deter Slugs and also helps prevent Magnesium deficiency in your plants. Magnesium helps to deepen color, thickens petals and increases root structure.  Coffee grinds, Oat Bran, Builders Sand, Nut Shells, Sprigs of Rosemary scattered around are also said to repel Slugs. Continue to sow seeds under cover. Seeds I planted two weeks ago are up already and getting a weekly liquid feed of diluted worm tea. Any seed packs that recommend Spring sowing will pop up now. I sow my seeds in trays of compost and soil, combined with a layer of seed raising mix on the top. This way your seed raising mix will go further. Once planted ,cover the trays with plastic or glass, but use spacers to let air circulate between the plastic / glass and tray.  If you plan to grow vegetables this Summer – get the garden ready now by digging in some weed free compost, then let the soil settle a bit before planting. Plant seedlings later in the day when the heat is out of the sun, then keep moist until they take hold and start growing. Watering is best done at the start of the day. In areas you do not plan to plant out for a while, why not do tired soil a favour and sow a green crop to add humus. Mustard, Lupine, Barley or Wheat – they will germinate in no time. If you do decide to do this, dig it in when lush, soft and green – don’t let it get to the flowering, stalky stage, because it takes too long to break down. Plenty of seed Potatoes on offer now for you to get sprouting. Early varieties can go in and should show leaf in about a month when frosts are over.  This is also the time to give fruiting Shrubs and trees a dressing of Pot ash to help with fruiting. Deciduous fruit trees and everything in the way of small fruit should be planted in August at the latest. I have been thinning and arranging  Raspberry canes this week. Take out old canes that have fruited and remove  all spindly canes excess runners – I train mine along a wire fence.Now is a good time to trim, feed and shift Citrus trees.Cheers, Linda

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