Spring is a great time for gardens

Hello to all our local keen gardeners. 

Hasn’t the weather suddenly changed over the last four weeks, and we are definitely in no doubt that spring has arrived!!!

The daffodils and spring bulbs are in full bloom. The lawns are picking up pace and the deciduous magnolias are looking a real picture in full bloom. By now you should have your gardens in shape ready for the spring flush of flowers and new foliage. All weeds should be gone, pruning completed, and it’s now time to feed every plant around your home. Even old established gardens should get a good feed with a slow release fertiliser. I religiously feed all of our gardens at the Rukuhia Homestead every September and March. Because I know that if I do, the gardens and plants will look fantastic all year. Plants are like people. If we get an adequate diet then we will also bloom and stay healthy!!!

Plants that have lots of flower or fruit (like roses, perennials, citrus and fruit trees) generally  need to be fed with a fertiliser with high phosphate. General shrubs that are more for their foliage (like natives, trees, grasses, etc) should be fed with a general balanced fertiliser for best results. In case you didn’t know, most Australian and South African shrubs (i.e. -grevilleas, proteas, leucadendrons, boronias etc) don’t like to be fed a general fertiliser. It will upset their tummy and make the foliage go a rather yellow and discoloured look, it’s the phosphate they don’t like. You can buy a fertiliser especially for these types of plants from your local plant shop. It’s worth investing in a bag especially for these. Because the plants will respond, giving you outstanding results if you do. To complete the feeding programme, all azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias, lily of the valley, michelias and daphne like to be fed with an acid fertiliser.

At this time of year, a lot of you will go out and buy some plants for a new garden or for possibly filling gaps in an older garden that maybe has got a bit tired. Before you purchase any plants, make sure that what you are buying is going to like the conditions where you plan to put them. Don’t just buy a plant because you happen to like the look of it, without first thinking about where it’s likely to end up once you get it home. All the time I see homeowners planting their new plant purchases, in completely the wrong conditions. And then they wonder why in a month the plant has lost all its leaves. Maybe all the flowers fell off before they even opened or in fact the plant has completely died. The gardener then blames the plant, that it was useless. But often the plant would have performed a lot better if it had of been put in conditions that it liked. I would say that this is the single biggest problem facing people who know little about gardening. They buy plants that don’t suit the conditions they are planted in.

A few tips that may help you to have better success;

  • Never plant members of the maple family where they will be exposed to strong winds. When they first come into leaf in the spring. This new foliage is very delicate. So they can go brown and burn very quickly.
  • Conifers don’t like poor drainage. So need to be in a reasonably well drained soil.
  • All South African and Australian plants detest poor clay soils that stay very puggy over the winter months.
  • Plant your hedges or put up wooden screens before planting your gardens if it is fairly exposed.
  • If the soil where you are planting is of a poor quality. Then dig out a larger hole than is needed and refill with good garden mix or new topsoil. This is extremely important in getting your new plants off to a good start.
  • All trees should be staked for the first year or until the main stem and root system has had time to thicken up and get a good hold into the surrounding soil. If you don’t and your tree gets a wobble, this can cause all sorts of problems at a later stage.
  • Plants for pots/containers - You must select a plant that is very forgiving and doesn’t mind drying out. Even if you are the most diligent at watering, there will be times when you just can’t because you are away. So the plant has to be able to cope with this. I often see people who buy plants for their pots. And within a week the plant is showing visual signs that it’s under severe stress.
  • If the label on a plant says that it likes shade. Find out how much it needs. Is it all day shade or just the afternoon shade when the sun is at its hottest? 


Get outside and enjoy your garden. Because at this time of the year, it is rapidly changing every few days.

Happy Gardening with Graeme

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