Landscaping Tips

Another outstanding perennial for Waikato gardens - Alstroemeria Inticancha Series

I thoroughly recommend these new dwarf Dutch bred varieties of alstromerias, they won't let you down. They just keep on flowering for 10 months of the year, and that's being very realistic. Previously the old alstroemeria varieties were invasive and overtook the whole garden. They also had very tall, weak stems and by the time the flower had appeared at the end of the stem it had all fallen over onto whatever was growing next to it in the garden. The breeders have overcome these problems and with the Inticancha alstroemerias you get a very compact plant that gives you an awesome display of flowers. I particularly like Inticancha Red - it has the clearest deep red flower, perfect I think for using as flowers on your Christmas dinner table.

The plants like to grow in the full sun and if you want a lot of flowers, they need a lot of sun. They are particularly perfect for pots on the balcony/sun porch where it is hot and dry. Alstroemerias also make great flowers for picking/floral art. One tip - when you pick them don't cut off the stems, instead pull them out from the base to help encourage even more flowering. There is a good choice of colours available in this series, certainly something for every designers colour palette.

These modern dwarf varieties generally only grow to about 30-40cm high even when mature, so they're ideal for the urban city dwelling where there is only room for the smaller growing plants.

Moving plants in your garden so they thrive

If you want to move a plant from A to B, then the plant will be happier if you can do it while it's cold as its transpiration process slows down, it needs less moisture and isn’t such a shock when half of its roots suddenly get chopped.

With deciduous trees, you can just dig them straight out of the ground and move them.

With a lot of evergreens, it is advisable to cut the roots on two sides of the plant with a spade, then leave the plant for two weeks and cut the roots on the other two sides. You then let the plant sit there until it gets a few white roots coming through, once they have come through you are pretty safe to lift the plant out of the ground carefully and place it into a new position. Firm the soil around the plant and water it, just to give a bit of readily available moisture. In no time, it will be happy and regrowing as though it was never moved.

Pleached hedges - for when you have something high you want to cover

If you have something high you want to hide or cover e.g. if you want to screen off your neighbour's house (especially if they have a very tall house and you can't legally build a fence as tall), then a pleached hedge is a good option to create the same effect. The pleached olive hedge in the photo is trimmed regularly on the sides and top to keep the clean lines. The lower branches have been trimmed and underplanted with clivias and mondo grass, both good for a shady environment. Other plant options for pleaching are Bay Trees, Camellias, Bay Laurel, Michelias and Totara.

Structured topiary trees

Many clients like the structured shape of a topiary tree. Our topiary trees at The Homestead – Loropetalum Burgundy – are 2.5 m high and have been shaped into a cone, becoming breathtaking specimens in spring. Due to the time spent shaping a plant they are more expensive than normal and require a little more maintenance to keep them in peak shape. I offer a free lesson on maintaining your plant when you purchase a topiary tree so you can keep them in optimal condition with that perfect structured shape.

Beautiful camellias

It’s that time of year when the sasanqua types are in their full glory. My favourite I talked about previously - C. SETSUGEKKA; it has the darkest green foliage and offers a really eyecatching display of clear white flowers over the bush. What I like most 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 from our grandparents’ day.

If your camellias are not looking as green and healthy as they should, give some slow release acid fertiliser and add a layer of mulch around the root area. This will help the ground around the plant to better retain moisture throughout the next summer. From November onwards the camellias like to grow vigorously, this is when you need to trim and shape them. Once you get past January you need to be more careful about attacking your camellias with the hedgeclippers as they won’t be far away from setting flower buds.

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