June 10th, 2010
It is June in Melbourne, Australia and baby it is cold outside! The ducks, Waddles and Hazel are beside themselves with excitement with all the wonderful puddles! Can’t seem to contain their excitement and have taken to looking under fallen leaves for little tasty duck treats like snails & slugs. You need fingerless gloves working at the weeding now and I must admit it is not as appealling getting on out there as it was a week or two ago.
At this time of the year you can buy and plant bare-rooted deciduous trees and shrubs. Last year I indulged in one of these – a fig tree. It was quite exciting, and yes it did survive and got leaves and even some figs, not that I got to eat any, but the possum enjoyed them. She is always ready to try something new, even if it is not quite ripe yet! Now my little fig once again looks like a dead twig, but at least I know that the leaves will come back, that is if it doesn’t drown! Because the rain has come at last and we are awash in my backyard! Much to the ducks’ delight!
My little task for this month, aside from pushing myself to just get outside, is to prune back my hydrangeas. I quite enjoy this little task! I love those plump buds you see on the canes. I aways prune back to a pair of juicy ones! I prune right down to the base all wood that is over 3 seasons old to give the plant more room to send up new shoots. But I don’t cut back the shoots that have not flowered, I just tip-prune these to encourage more flower heads. After it is done I pop some nice rich compost around the roots this makes the garden bed look all neat and tidy and I feel quite proud of myself!
Hardwood cuttings can be taken now, and I have my little list! Fuchsias are on the list and – hydrangeas! So after cutting back the hydrangeas I might have a little go at making a brand new plant! Always heaps of fun! I have indulged in some hormone powder this year but over past years I used honey. What I do is, I take the cuttings approximately 20 to 25 centimetres long from last season’s growth. If you are using cuttings taken from the pruning it is very important to remember which way up the plant was growing, trust me, they wont grow if planted upside down. Fussy, aren’t they? So, when I prune my hydrangeas I put some likely cuttings aside with the bottoms all together, so I don’t forget and stuff them in the wrong way up. Having found the bottom of your cutting you make a slanting cut just below a node (swelling).
A slanting cut gives a greater rooting area. Cut the top off straight, this helps to avoid confusion, something I seem to be quite good at, when planting. Moisten the slanting end then dip it into hormone powder. Then it is a simple matter to plant it to one-third its length in moist propagating mix or perhaps a sheltered part of the garden.