April Article

It's now autumn... and what a truly great time of the year to get into your garden - especially if you need to plant anything. It's widely regarded by the nursery industry that March and April are the best months to get your plants established because it is still warm and there is now moisture around both essential ingredients in helping new root growth. Remember it is the root system that feeds the top of the plant, so this is a very important time of the year for putting on new growth above and below the ground.

I encourage all of my landscape clients to feed all of their gardens in April, with a slow release fertilizer. Do everything in your garden whether they are young or old plants. Just like people, they benefit from a regular feed, and if you do this, I guarantee that your plant's health and vigour will improve, which in turn will make your garden look a real picture.
I am now going to talk about some other jobs that you could do in your garden at this time of the year:

CORDYLINES (our NZ native cabbage trees)
If your plants are looking scruffy and the leaves are all chewed, which seems to be a common problem with this family of plants, then I recommend that you get out a handsaw and cut through the trunk at whatever height you want. It doesn't matter if there is no foliage left on the trunk because it will quickly reshoot with a nice set of healthy clean leaves again. I have about 25 red cabbage trees in my garden called Cordyline Red Sensation, and I cut off the foliage once a year to clean them up. After this, they all look fantastic. I don't do them all at the same time though! I aim to do about 1/4 of the total every 4 months, thus I always have 3/4 of them in full foliage at anyone time. I have even done this hard pruning with the clumping Cordyline Red Fountain, and it came back beautifully with new burgundy foliage.

Once you have cut off the foliage, give them a feed. In a very short time (5-6 weeks) they will start refurbishing themselves with new leaves.

It's the time of year, when the Sasanqua types are in their full glory. My favourite is the variety called C. SETSUGEKKA - the photo attached with the article shows a hedge in our garden that looks a true 10/10 hedge with it's darkest green foliage and a real eye-catching display of clear white flowers over the bush. What I like most about this variety is that the flowers drop cleanly onto the ground (even while still white) so you are not left with brown mushy blooms on the plant, which was a major "turn-off " of the older varieties that were around in our grandparent's day. If your camellias are not looking as green and healthy as they should, give some slow release acid fertilizer and a layer of mulch around the root area. This will help the ground around the plant to retain its moisture throughout next summer. From November onwards the Camellias like to grow vigorously. This is then the time of the year to trim and shape. Once you get past January, be more careful about attacking your camellias with the hedge clippers because they wont be far away from setting flower buds.

If your garden suffers from wind damage every time we a major westerly comes through, then you should look at planting a hedge to cut out this wind. Most plants in your garden will grow better if they don't receive a hard bashing from the wind.

Generally speaking, for every meter of height it will help filter the wind for a distance of 15 meters, so a 2-meter high hedge will soften the blow for roughly 30 meters. This is a worthwhile investment if you want to grow some of your favorite plants that are possibly more vulnerable to wind damage. The CAMELLIA SETSUGEKKA hedge in the attached photo was planted 3 years ago, in a very windy region of the garden. We put it in so we could create a romantic garden behind it with roses, deliniums, daisies, lavenders, gerberas etc., which without the shelter would always struggle. This particular garden has been a continual show of colour since November, and this is only possible because of the hedge. In my article next month I am going to talk on some of the better plant options for small, medium and tall hedges in Waikato conditions.

Happy Gardening

Rukuhia Homestead Landscaping

Garden Articles Archive

Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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