Posts Tagged ‘roses’

February Jobs

February 16th, 2011

a good time to repot cyclamens

This is the month to repot cyclamens, and my little white cyclamen would just love me to do just that, so this little job is first on my to do list for February.  The lemon tree also would be very pleased to get a little TLC.  It has had a very hard summer, even though it has had plenty of water.  In fact, the poor wee thing has been drowned in the flood.  It has suffered gore wasps, black sooty mould and all in all is not all that happy. So, this month is a good month to treat the lemon tree to some good citrus plant food, dig around the bottom and mulch.  Mr Lemon tree might just get a little trim to tidy him up again as well.

time for the summer prune

This is also the time to give the roses their ‘summer prune’ to produce better blooms and to keep the bushes young and productive.  I approach this a little like picking a bunch of long-stemmed roses, although the roses at the end are all dead.   Summer pruning ensures plenty of glorious flowers in approximately six weeks time and the beautiful roses will bring us into autumn with a flourish!

After pruning I like to give the roses some good fertiliser, some blood & bone perhaps, water it in, add perhaps a touch of mulch and then wait for the autumn flush of roses to appear. 

The wisteria needs to have all those long excess summer canes trimmed back, they just go a bit wild at this time of the summer, I guess you might think they were having a last fling at life before the dormant winter to come.  Apart from all these jobs there is always the weeds and the vege patch so plenty to do out there, I just have to get on out there and do it!

Happy gardening!

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November Gardens

November 6th, 2010

The roses are in bloom

November in Melbourne, and the roses are flowering,  the weather is warming up and the weeds are rampant!  Roses and rhododendrons both seem to be affected by early heat much more than other plants.  Within a few days of blooming, many of the flowers completely blow or wither, before we have a chance to really enjoy them.  One way to get around this is to bring a bunch inside to enjoy them there.

But, even if you don’t want flowers inside, dead-heading is essential, because if it isn’t carried out, the plants will have much less strength to form the next lot of flowers.  Roses will produce another flush of bloom during January, with a final flush during April.  If you leave the flowers on, and the seedpods are allowed to form, there will be no more flowers later on in the season.  You can just snap off the dead blooms, but if you take the extra time to prune back to the next healthy leaf-junction, the next lot of blooms will be quite good and the bush takes on a better shape. 

Now that we have enjoyed all this lovely rain it is time for me to get very busy and active out in the garden weeding and you guessed it, mulching!  Especially around the camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons for they all have very shallow, compact root systems.  They tend to dry out very easily and summer is a very hard time for them.  The best way for me to help them is to mulch heavily with decayed straw or spoilt hay. 

So, its off out into the yard with my garden hat squished down to stop the sun & my garden hoe in hand to attack the weeds and spread some mulch!

Happy gardening!

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October 16th, 2010

A visitor to my garden

Long ago our grandmothers in their cottage gardens planted a wide variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables, mixed together in a seemingly random fashion.  But over the generations gardeners have observed that some plants will grow better when planted close to another particular plant, or indeed that the reverse is true.  Some plants like other plants and grow better when planted nearby.  They are companions.  Good friends.

Many herbs can be used to repel pests, some are effective just grown in the garden, while others can be picked and used fresh or dried.

Companion planting and using pest-repellent herbs increased the health and resistance of plants.  For example, a well know one is basil with tomatoes, not only cooked, but grown together.

Nasturtiums will improve the strength and flavour of nearby plants, and are particularly good under apple trees, and near radishes to deter aphids and other bugs.  I have planted some under my roses to check this out.  Aparently aphids also don’t like parsley and our grandmothers quite often planted some in and around the roses to keep the aphids away.

nasturtiums -pretty and useful

nasturtiums - pretty and useful

Rosemary can be sprinkled, fresh or dried, around plants to repel snails and slugs.  It grows well with sage, beans and carrots, but should not be grown near potatoes or tomatoes.Thyme should be planted in odd corners of the garden as it attracts bees and generally benefits plants nearby.  It also repels the cabbage worm, so is a useful companion for cabbages.


Our grandmothers would often keep a few Bay leaves in the flour as they prevent weevils from infesting.  If you place a few on shelves they will keep ants away, although some ants can be very determined.  The bay leaves can also be placed in books to protect them from silverfish.  In fact the whole tree is resistant to diseases and pests and will protect other plants in the area. 

Marigolds, as well as being cheerful plants, excrete chemicals from their roots which repel soil nematodes, and of course, grandmother would have never been without her Lavender plants which when used in sachets either on their own or in combination with other dried herbs keep moths and silverfish out of clothes as well as keeping them sweetly scented.

So, plants make good companions both for each other and for us.

Happy gardening!

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July Jobs

July 13th, 2010

Lately the weather has been just wonderful to be outside and busy in the garden.  Of course the big job of the month is pruning the roses.  But, before I head out to do that I like to give a little attention to my tools.  Cleaning and sharpening helps a great deal to give good clean cuts.  I love cutting back roses.  It is always so very satisfying.  Neat and tidy!  It is always amazing to watch those little buds come out into leaves later in the spring. 

mini roses - mini joy!

Another little job I do at this time of the year is spread lime on the vege patch.  When you feed your garden regularly with compost, manure and all those yummy things that gardens love you will find that gradually the soil can become more acid.  So it is always a good idea to compensate for this by an application of lime.  Midwinter is a good time to do this for winter rains will leach the lime further into the soil.

ducks are expert at pottering

Some people fiddle about with the soil around the bottom of their hydrangeas round about now.  I am quite happy with my pink hydrangea, but I know that if I wanted blue, for a change, I could add aluminium sulphate to the soil: 1 heaped tablespoon per square measure and then watered in well.  I would need to repeat the whole application again in August and then in October.  But this sort of magic I can do without.  Pink is fine with me.

Other than the roses and cutting back some other little treasures that have overgrown their space,  I will just continue to potter happily.  July is a very good month to potter and ponder.

Happy gardening!

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The July Garden

July 5th, 2010


my broadbeans are slowly getting taller

A lot of people think of July as a cold and horrible month, and with the cold days of late, I might just be beginning to agree with them.  But, if you rug up properly and wear sensible clothes, winter can be a wonderful time to be in the garden.  One of my little jobs for this month is to take myself off to a large department store, such as KMart, and get myself a good pair of stout boots!  Yes, folks, we have mud.  The ducks are most pleased.  We are having puddles too.   I am looking forward to jumping in puddles with my boots very soon! 

my mini crop of garlic

Overall, if your garden is sheltered form the wind, winter gardening can be an absolute joy!  There is nothing quite like jumping in puddles!  Not that that gets much serious gardening done , and there is plenty of serious gardening to be done this month, with at the very top of the list:  Pruning!

tiny red roses

When I first started ‘serious’ gardening, that is more than just pulling out the weeds, I used to get a bit muddled about just when to prune the various plants in my garden.  But now I have simplified it down to a general rule of thumb, which is to prune after the plant has flowered.  The exceptions to this rule are roses and hydrangeas.  Because they have such long flowering seasons, extending from spring and summer through to autumn, the best time to prune is when they are winter dormant and that is during July.

So, having wiped down my secateurs with a little meth. spirits, I am off out into the gentle winter sunshine to prune some roses!

Happy gardeining!

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The June Garden

June 2nd, 2010

Waddles in Winter

The second day of winter and three months left to prepare the garden for spring.  One of the wonderful things abut living in Southern Australia is the changing seasons.  There are special things about each and every season to look forward to with delight and anticipation.


For me, winter is a time to plan and dream.  It is a time to take stock and decide which things need to be cut back and which mulched down against the cold.  It is a quiet time when a lot of the garden is dormant, so you can make some little changes.  Plants are easier to move during the dormant season.  It must be quite startling for a plant to go to sleep in my garden during winter and wake in spring somewhere quite different! 

Bulbs are pushing up!

One of the best things about gardening is that nothing is constant, you can always make changes.  For me, in an ageing garden with my trees getting taller shade is a real challenge and I am thinking of seeking out the services of a good tree surgeon, who could come in and prune some of my large trees to give them more vigour and to allow more light to come onto the flowerbeds beneath them. 

Must find room for more roses!

New roses come into the nurseries this month, so I might just take the chance to review the rose situation in my garden and make sure that there really is a place to plant more roses before I find myself, once again in the nursery succumbing to the temptation once again. 

The ducks are laying once again.  So, that means cakes are on the menu once again.  Pancakes too.  In fact, the ducks are much more happy now there is more mud about. 

The bulbs I planted last month are beginning to pop up all over the garden.  Very exciting!  The only down side to this time of the year is that some days don’t always look inviting to get on out there.  But I find that once I am out in the garden, maybe with an extra jumper and wooly hat it is just the best place to be!

Happy gardening!

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The May Garden

May 2nd, 2010

My Canna Lily

I am finding my May garden a rather depressing and untidy sight – well, at the moment anyway, because it is still very dry and truth to be told I have not had as much time to get on out there as I would like.  At present I am very busy inside, stripping wallpaper and renovating the kitchen.  It all started with my window sill and grew somewhat!

My ginger rose

My sasanqua camellia continues to delight and add its bright colour to my front garden bed, which is good because while I am looking up at the flowers I can ignore the weeds, multiplying down below.  Out the back the pineapple sage is doing its best to cheer me up while feeding the visiting honey-eaters and my autumn leaves are beginning to cover the back garden, sometimes giving Waddles and Hazel a bit of a scare as one drops down near them.

first lemon of the season

My lemon tree has lemons for me to use to ward off the common colds of winter.  It is always good to have the lemon in production again.  The broad beans need me to tie them up rather urgently so that is one job I will have to find time to do.  Roses are blooming again which is rather lovely  and I have enjoyed my first hot chocolate day.  This is a tradition of my very own whereupon you make yourself a large mug of hot chocolate complete with marshmallows and take outside on a suitable grey cool to cold day.  Then you set yourself down in a comfortable spot in the garden.  In my case this is on my back porch.  You set yourself down as I said before and contemplate….This is a tradition I feel that many could perhaps begin to take as their own. Perhaps in times to come there will be a declared Hot Chocolate Day celebration!  But until the rest of society catches up with me, Hot Chocolate day remains my very own tradition and a very good one at that!

Happy gardening!

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The February Garden

February 6th, 2010

Only one more month of summer left, but the month of February is often the worst of the lot. My garden is already beginning to show the strain of summer heatwaves and the hottest month is yet to come.



Yet, taking a stroll around the garden this morning I am pleased at how it is looking. Not much in flower at present, although the Abelia has its pretty little white flowers and the gardenia is still blooming. The cistus, native to the south of France, Spain and Portugal has finished flowering and a week or so ago I gave it a bit of a trim back, and now I am happy to see it has put on a spurt of growth and is covered in healthy new foliage.
I have been experimenting over the lat few years, discarding and replanting and trying to collect plants that are suitable for this climate, and can take the heat. I think I can begin to see an improvement in the way my garden is coping. My watering methods have improved also. The roses are still blooming & I am still dead heading.

Tomatoes in full production

Tomatoes in full production

In the vege garden, or should I just call it a tomato patch now, I have stopped tying back and just keep picking and searching out recipies for tomatoes. Lunch now is pretty much the wonderful summer treat of fresh tomatoes and fresh basil on panne bread, lovely!!

Hazel & Waddles

Hazel & Waddles

The ducks have stopped laying just for the time being. But thats ok they will start back up again in a month or so. I have had to use snail bait on the basil, and I can’t put it in a margarine container – no I have to surround each basil plant or there is absolutely none left for me, basil that is not snail bait. The little fig tree I planted in winter is covered in leaves and seems to have settled in quite well, so that makes me happy.

The beautiful Hoya flower

The beautiful Hoya flower

My Hoya has gone crazy and desperately needs my help with direction, so thats a little job I need to attend to.  The wisteria that I planted just a few months ago has discovered a niffty pole to climb up and twist itself about, unfortunately, it is not the pole I wanted it to go up and I will need to redirect it to where I want it to be.  The fushias are all still flowering but they all need to be pruned back as they are getting a little leggy and while I am at I will strike a couple to give to friends.  And the lavender needs a trim back too.  So, looks like a busy month ahead.

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December 20th, 2009

Beautiful blooms

Beautiful blooms

A gift from your garden! With all those beautiful roses in full bloom, it would be a pity to let the lovely scented petals go to waste on the ground, or on the table if you have been enjoying a few blooms inside! Save those petals. They can make a beautiful, and unusual present. Making dried potpourri is something our grandma’s did. It is quite simple but, like most things, the more you experiment the better the results, and once you are past the basic stage potpourri could become another gardening obsession.

Of course all potpourri recipes begin with rose petals, because roses are among the best flowers for keeping their scent when dried, but you can add any flowers or leaves that are scented. Try adding bulk by using the scented leaves of herbs, or gum leaves.

Make sure your petals are dry or your potpourri mix could get mouldy

Make sure your petals are dry or your potpourri mix could get mouldy

All the ingredients must be well-dried beforehand. Petals should be laid to dry on absorbent paper in a well ventilated dark cupboard. Petals that are dried in the dark retain their scent better. I lay a fresh lot of petals out on some newspaper and let them dry over a few days. To make potpourri, the dry petals, herbs and leaves have to be mixed with a fixative to prevent the evaporation of the oils, which give the potpourri its distinctive scent. Orrisroot is the most popular fixative and can be bought in powdered form at craft shops. Here is a basic recipe:
To every 8 cups of petals, herbs, leaves, etc, add:
1/2 cup orrisroot
2-4 tablespoons crushed spices
2 tablespoons dried citrus peel, crushed
3-6 drops of scented oil

Spices can be used in two ways, whole or powdered. To get the full fragrance it is important to grind or crush them yourself and not rely on packets from supermarket shelves. The most commonly used are cinnamon, mace and nutmeg.

To make the potpourri, put the dried flowers and leaves into a large mixing bowl. Crush the spices and citrus peel and add the orrisroot. Pour the mixture into a large plastic bag and seal it tightly. Store it for six weeks, shaking every other day.

The finished product...enjoy

The finished product...enjoy

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Mandy’s mini missions for December

December 11th, 2009

Christmas is just around the corner and I really must do some shopping, cooking, cleaning…but first…just a few minutes in the garden. I guess Christmas will happen no matter what. So, out into the garden for some mini missions and a quick look around.

keep dead-heading to keep the flowers coming
keep dead-heading to keep the flowers coming

Roses: If you can keep up with the dead-heading of your roses you can expect a second flush of blooms this month.  Always lovely!  When I am cutting the dead-heads off the older bushes I take quite a bit of the stalk too, like picking a rose to put into a vase.  This helps to keep my bush, well, bushy, not lank and spindly.  We really wouldn’t want that now would we? 

Giving the plant a little feed, maybe a little blood & bone that always helps too.  While I am at it I take a few in to brighten up my desk.

Tomatoes: Yes, there are now little mini ones – could be some for the Christmas salad.  And if I don’t hurry up and get these mini jobs done and get out there into the shops that’s all we will have for Christmas dinner! 

looking like we might have some for Christmas

looking like we might have some for Christmas

But the mini mission with these are to tie them up.   I like doing this job, they smell wonderful and after I have done it my vege patch looks organised.  Of course it helps the plant too.  Last year I got behind with this and some bad wind came along and broke off some of the branches.  I feed my tomatoes every week and of course they absolutely love getting my duck poo mix..I put this under the plant being careful not to get any on the leaves.  But more of that in a latter post where I shall share my secret duck brew with all you other duck lovers. 

Hanging Baskets:  I really need to keep an eye on these because they dry out very quickly esp. during hot weather.  They need a good soaking in a tub of water.  Sometimes if I know a very hot day is coming up I just hook them down and they pretend they are just ordinary pot plants for the day.  They chat with the other pot plants and enjoy a rest in the shade.

Must take myself off to the shops…happy gardening…

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