Rockvale Stone & Garden

School holidays and Children inside as days get colder – not ideal, but if no snow on those hills, there will be no lakes filling. With the good hard frosts our gardens need, bugs will be zapped and soil broken down. Tender plants need covering with frost cloth, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Pelargonium and young Daisy bushes. Here on the coast,  established Marguerite Daisy bushes will take a knock from the frosts – leave if they have frosted on outside growth. This will protect the new growth beneath. Inland towards Kurow,  gardeners will need to take cuttings of Daisy bushes, Geranium and Pelargoniums and protect them until Spring, because the frosts are too harsh for that soft growth.School holidays and Children inside as days get colder – not ideal, but if no snow on those hills, there will be no lakes filling. With the good hard frosts our gardens need, bugs will be zapped and soil broken down. Tender plants need covering with frost cloth, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Pelargonium and young Daisy bushes. Here on the coast,  established Marguerite Daisy bushes will take a knock from the frosts – leave if they have frosted on outside growth. This will protect the new growth beneath. Inland towards Kurow,  gardeners will need to take cuttings of Daisy bushes, Geranium and Pelargoniums and protect them until Spring, because the frosts are too harsh for that soft growth.  I have pruned a few sheltered  Hydrangeas, but need to stop myself from being tempted to start on any others until nearer Spring, but you can give pink Hydrangeas a dressing of lime now to keep them pink and blue Hydrangeas a dressing of Sulphate of Allium, or the specially prepared blue Hydrangea mix that can be bought from the Garden Centres.  This week I attacked a group of large leggy Rhododendrons that had leaves, buds and blooms only on the top of long woody branches taller than myself. I was only going to cut the woody non productive wood off because the bushes were beginning to flower. However once I started, I ended up cutting them all right back to a healthy bulging nodule and then they got compost and straw – they should push out new bushy growth in the Spring.  More Rose pruning this week as well – I had to invest in some new secateurs, as the pair I have been using were not cutting clean and rips on a Rose prune will not allow the cut to seal -resulting in die – back, sometimes claiming a whole branch. Newly planted Rose bushes will need pruning at an outward facing bud.   If Winter has left your garden looking a little too bleak, the local Garden Centres have nice potted colour to brighten things up – small groups of colour make all the difference. I have been buying punnets of small annual seedlings – Pansies, Wallflower, Stock and Primula to pot up for early Spring colour and also potting in individual pots Delphiniums, Hollyhock, Lupins, Foxgloves and Sweet Peas grown from seed in the Autumn. Winter seems never-ending right now, but I see Spring waiting backstage everywhere.  Vegetables: This week I planted some more Garlic cloves, the list of facts, benefits and legends surrounding Garlic are so many and so varied. Garlic has been a staple in both pantry’s and medicine cupboards for centuries.  The shortest day is traditionally garlic planting time but it is still ok to plant now through to August. Separate small cloves and plant pointed end up, five to seven cm below the soil surface and about 10 to 15 cm apart in a sunny, well drained location. Garlic will also grow well in containers or pots, growing to about 60-90cm tall during Winter and Spring, flowering before the top growth dies off over Summer. Source bulbs from a Garden Centre as Garlic bought from a supermarket may have been sprayed to inhibit sprouting. Time to start preparing the soil for Spring planting. Cultivate vacant spaces, digging in green crops sown earlier. Add compost / manure, and a few handfuls of lime to encourage worms.   Fruit: Winter is the time for planting Fruit trees and for finding the best selection in Garden Centres, They will be tall – having been grafted onto strong root stock. Plant up to where they were planted in the bag and stake well to protect against the wind. A tip to eradicate Codling Moths as they climb to attack Apples, Pears, Walnuts, Quince, Crab Apple, and some Plum and Peach trees. Quarter fill a tin or plastic milk container with treacle and hang in the tree. It is said to attract male grubs – the treacle is said to smell like the female Codling Moths pheromones, attracting the male grub into the container to reach a sticky end. A double bonus is that the treacle will attract grub eating birds. Grubs start climbing trees at blossom burst – good to have all ready and on the trees. Cheers, Linda Wilson – Rockvale Gardens

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