Rockvale Stone & Garden

Spring gardening – warm one day – wet and cold the next – but not complaining. Nothing worse for North Otago to go into Summer after a dry Spring.
I have been enjoying the Blossom, Bulbs, sun and bees, while planting out bedding and perennial plants on warm days and putting the finishing touches to new garden designs for clients, when wet. I think every gardener enjoys trying new plants and colour combinations and now is the time to get seeds in and seedlings growing on for a Summer display. I had a large clump of
Lamb’s ear growing in a rockery, which did not need to be so large, so I dug half of it out and broke it up into single plants, to use as a border for a dull garden. Silver is a perfect shade to use as a break between strong and soft shades – will grow in sun or semi shade and Lamb’s ear has the added bonus of being an interesting texture. Santolina and Cineraria “Silver dust” can be used the same way and looks wonderful planted in with Petunias, bedding Begonias and Dahlias. Keep an eye on seeds if you have them germinated. Until now, I have had mine under glass and some hardening off under frost cloth, looking at them occasionally to see if they had struck. This week I noticed they were well up and in need of pricking out and regular watering. I transplanted some with shallow roots into deeper seed trays and those with longer deeper roots – Like Lupin, Hellebore and Oriental Poppy, into their own individual small root pots. The shallow rooted transplant well into the garden or baskets from a tray, once strong roots have developed, but it is best to have a well developed root ball filling a small pot for deep rooted seedlings.
Baskets and pots need to be thought about now. Again, use only shallow rooted plants for baskets – like Pansy, small type Petunias, Nemesia and trailers like Lobelia, Virginia Stock and Nasturtium, with the addition of slow release fertiliser and water crystals to keep them going. The roots of what you want to plant will determine the size and depth of the pot. Potted Roses need a deep pot which will not heat up and cook the roots at the height of Summer. Tin foil around the inside of a pot before filling,( shiny side facing out) will help keep roots cool for Roses, Camellias, Azaleas, Hydrangeas and small trees / shrubs. All potted plants need excellent drainage and a consistent supply of food and water – stones on top of pot mix will help with sun bake and retain moisture. If a potted plant is left struggling for moisture, it will never thrive or look lush and healthy.
Now is the time to take tubular Begonias out of dry storage – I see mine are starting to sprout a little. I cut large tubers with a sharp knife into smaller individual pieces, each with a noticeable shoot ready to plant, into baskets and containers and when the tubers become too large for a pot, cut into sections again. The showy red flamboyant Begonias become nice big tubers in time and by cutting sections off each year, you will achieve a bright front border of them. All Begonias love any fertiliser with a seaweed or fish content.
Roses are really leafing up now and the warmer it becomes, the more aphids ( green fly) will be about. Aphids settle on the top new Rose growth and are easily visible on new small leaves for you to dispose of by removing with finger and thumb. I leave spraying until leaves are well grown and hardened up a little.
New lawns sown on the coast should result in a strike now that the ground is warmer. As I have mentioned before, seed must be sown thickly in Spring to beat the annual weeds. Keep the mower blades up when cutting Spring grass, to allow it to thicken up – and feed lawns just before or during rain and they will stay lush.
Vegetables Here on the coast, plant Lettuce plants at two week intervals and any spare ground could be planted out in new Potatoes. My Broad Beans and Peas are well up – I was once told to plant each Bean with a little potash to help with rust problems, which is mostly due to them getting too dry between waterings. Birds can be a problem when new veg seedlings go in – cover with shade cloth – it does not hinder growth. Birds are not so interested larger veg plants.
Fruit: Apricot blossom has been out a while now – lets hope the bees have been about on warm days. Strawberries are starting to move towards budding – they need fed, watered and mulched. Animal manure – then straw, pine needles or unsprayed grass clippings covered with Strawberry net to keep the birds off.
Cheers, Linda.

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