February 2012 – There’s a lot to do in February so here’s a few pointers on Hydrangeas, Groundcover, Summer Perennials, Weeding, Trimming

We have just got back from holiday and I can’t remember ever seeing so much growth in our garden for this time of year.  Every plant in our garden seems to have grown like jack in the bean stalk !!!! So we have just spent the weekend trying to get some order into much of the plants.  It’s in fact a good time to prune because we still have March and April which are good growing months, and most plants will have time to refurnish themselves before winter.


If you want an amazing display of blooms for next November/December (especially the two months leading up to Christmas), then at the end of February you need to prune all your bushes hard. This will give them March/April to come away and refurnish the plant again.  Coming into winter you will have a new set of flowering  buds forming for next season on the end of each stem.



At this time of year your groundcovers will be growing rapidly in all directions, whatever the variety, trim them to make sure they are growing in the areas of the garden you want them to and not over neighbouring plants and weaker growing shrubs. I find that one of the most common problems when visiting clients’ garden is when they have planted an assortment of groundcovers in the same garden.

With a mixture of groundcovers, some will naturally grow faster than others and when they start to grow into each other is when it just gets too hard to control.  Plus the fact that a mixture of inter twined foliage seldom looks good. One of my favourite pointers I often tell my clients is if you are wanting to keep maintenance to a minimum, then less varieties of groundcover in a garden will help your cause considerably.



Give your hedge a good trim now if it needs it and this will in most cases see it keep looking smart right through to November. I have just trimmed our camellia hedge for the final time because I know it will have another flush of growth and set bud ready for late autumn/early winter flowering. I continue on a weekly basis to see many frustrated gardeners, looking with despair at the blight attacking their Buxus Sempervirens hedges. You should feel very happy if this blight hasn’t as yet attacked your hedge and made it go brown and defoliate. It is very common so I am not sure what the future prospects hold for the Buxus family in the Auckland/Waikato /Bay of Plenty regions.  We will just have to wait and see. I know of gardeners getting good control of the fungous by spraying their Buxus hedges with general copper oxychloride.  Try and spray to prevent the fungous if possible, rather than after the fungous attacks.



Try and keep on top of your weeding at this time of year if possible.  If you let the weeds get a chance to seed then it will be an even bigger battle next year.  Remember the saying- "one years seeding is nine years weeding".

From my experience, I believe this to be very true!!! You can help keep weeding to a minimum by mulching over the soil.  I find if you can even get a push hoe to weeds while they are young or even a weedicide, then its generally fairly easy to keep your  weeding maintenance to a minimum.



Many summer flowering perennials will keep reblooming beautifully for you if you just spend 5 minutes and dead head the old flowers.  Many perennials want to flower in the summer and then set seed and if you trim them it will keep them young and encourage more repeat flowering. I have just dead headed the old flowers of our Alstroemerias.  It is better to pull out the old stems of Alstroemerias rather than cut them off as this encourages stronger reblooming.  If you keep doing this, they will keep flowering right through to April/May.  This is not bad considering they started flowering back in late October.

This weekend I cut off the old stems of our new dwarf shasta daisy called  Little Angel.  I know it will very quickly get another magnificent display of reblooming,within 4 weeks.  Many of the perennials of yesteryear only flower for 2 months of the year, but the plant breeders have come a long way and now it’s very common to have summer flowering perennials giving a continual display of blooms for up to 8 months of the year.  



We are so lucky in the Waikato because we have one of the best climates in the country for growing most types of plants.  We need to make sure we control this growth so that all the plants in our garden live happily together. If a particular plant is beginning to take over the garden or climb over its next door neighbour, don’t be afraid to give it a good prune to keep it in check. I  spent most of today in the garden pruning, some plants I took loads of growth off, others only a minimal amount. You will find the more time you spend in your garden the more you will get to know about each type of plant, and its requirements.



Happy Gardening

Graeme Burton

Rukuhia Homestead Landscaping


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