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Garden Radio Round Up December 3 - 4

Warm and cloudy, and in great relief to yesterday's scorcher, means perfect conditions for gardening

It's the perfect opportunity to get out and mulch, mulch, mulch before the heat sucks all the moisture out of the garden. Lets get started.


A little cloud-cover is a welcome relief to yesterday, and perfect for gardening.


It's Time To:

Planting now in the temperate garden

Silver foliage plants are sun and heat hardy. Try wormwood (Artemesia), licorice plant (Helichyrysum petiolare), and white-flowered Convolvulus cneorum.


Hydrangeas are at their peak right now. Photo Igotabeme / shutterstock


Fast-growing climbers, such as Chinese star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), allamanda, mandevilla and potato vine (Solanum) will rapidly cover walls and fences for quick privacy, a green backdrop and bonus flowers.

Fill gaps in shady corners with colourful coleus. Colours range from limes to russet, burgundies, pinks and purples.

Princess lilies are long-blooming and easy-care: perfect in patio pots.

Planting in the subtropics

Plant snake beans, which are highly productive over the warmer, wetter months. Climbing cultivars are more productive than bush cultivars but require teepees or trellis.

Get some rosella plants in the ground. Keep them well watered and fertilise them weekly to push them along.

Arrange pots of poinsettias for a stunning Christmas decoration, then plant for winter colour, massed in single colours for impact, at 1-1.2m centres.

Dig up rhizomes of heliconias, chop off top growth and replant in beds prepared with composted organic matter and fertilizer before Christmas so that plants have a chance to establish before winter.

Do now

In the temperate garden, tip prune lavender after the first flush of flowers. Trim whippy tendrils of vigorous climbers such as wisteria, jasmine and wonga vines back to 30cm.


Time to trim the wisteria. Photo - Sandra Ross


In the subtropics, refresh mulch now the bush turkey nesting period has passed. Top up organic mulches to 50-70mm deep on garden beds. Source organic materials from local tree loppers, stables or council recycling centres. Nitrogen drawdown is seldom a serious problem in central and northern latitudes due to the many thunderstorms – nitrogen rains down from the heavens.

Water potted plants frequently. Apply liquid soil wetter to water-repellant potting mix. Take hanging baskets down and soak them in a mixture of soil wetter and seaweed solution, let drain, then re-hang.

Want more information about seasonal jobs to do in your garden? read the article: "It's Time To: Temperate Gardens In December", or if you are in the north check out "In the Subtropical Garden December"


In the Veggie Patch


Rhubarb in my veggie patch. Photo - Graham Ross


The new Lollypop tomato. Photo - Graham Ross


Flowering now


Rangoon creeper, Quisqualis. Photo - Graham Ross


Bush Garden

Dietes robinsoniana the Lord Howe Island Wedding Lily

A spectacular flowering perennial herbaceous plant native and endemic to Lord Howe Island with very strangely its closest relatives being in Africa 12,600klm away.

Sadly the most common species grown in Australian gardens are the white and yellow African forms not our local species.

The Lord Howe Island Dietes grows naturally on cliff faces along the coast exposed to salt spray and behind the beaches on the Island. It is not found extensively on its native Lord Howe Island. It prefers a maritime or Mediterranean climate to warm temperate and is not frost tolerant.


The Lord Howe Island Wedding Lily. Photo - Graham Ross


The plant produces long dark green sword shaped leaves 5-6cm wide and 1.5m tall in large clumps. In spring and summer pure white flowers are produced on 1.5m tall stems and last for one day but are followed with more buds.

Each flower has three large petals 9cm across with yellow spots as nectar guides for insects on the petals. Once pollinated they produce cylindrical pod fruits 4cm long X 2.5c, wide in size filled with black triangular seeds.

It was named after Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of NSW from 1872-1879.

The plant is hardy and best and disease free. Useful in the landscape as a feature plant, massed groundcover under trees or to stabilise embankments especially on coastal areas.



Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a disease that commonly attacks ornamentals and vegetables covering the leaves with a thick white powder causing twisting and deformation of the foliage.

Warm, humid weather in spring and similar conditions in autumn are the catalysts for encouraging the fungal spores to spread but will continue even if the weather dries out. The disease will not spread in rain.

Common ornamentals attacked include crepe myrtles, hydrangeas, oak trees, ajuga, roses, and annual zinnias. Edibles include rockmelons, cucumber, zucchinis, grapes, papaws, strawberries and apples. If left uncontrolled leaves can shrivel, become brown and crisp and die.


Powdery mildew and the bugs that eat it. Photo - Graham Ross



Avoid watering the leaves where possible and water in the morning.

Plant mildew resistant varieties.

Hand remove worst effected leaves and bin.

Spray with organic Eco Oil and Eco Fungicide, or spray with full cream milk mixed at 1 part milk with 9 parts water.

Spraying leaves with an organic tonic or fertiliser such as Harvest, Charlie Carp, Seasol and Powerfeed, or Nitrosol, helps keep plants healthy and deters fungal attack.

Be aware beneficial ladybirds (Illeis galbula) consume mildew spores, the friendly yellow and black spotted ladybird and its larvae stage eat fungal spores.


Garden News

Scientist Dr Uwe Stroher (PhD) to join the Neutrog team, making great fertilizers even better

Australian owned biological fertiliser manufacturer, Neutrog Australia, has recently appointed research scientist, Dr Uwe Stroeher Ph.D., to head up its Research and Development team.

Announcing his permanent appointment, Neutrog Managing Director Angus Irwin said Dr Stroeher’s background as a highly regarded scientist together with his expertise in molecular biology will allow Neutrog to continue to be at the forefront of biological fertiliser development in the heavily populated world of today and into the future.

“Innovation is central to Neutrog’s strategic agenda and by employing a research scientist with the right combination of knowledge, skills – and curiosity, we will further strengthen our position as a leader in the development of biological fertilisers worldwide,” Mr Irwin said.

“Dr Stroeher will play a pivotal role at Neutrog, conducting field research and running trials on which to base further development of biological products that are able to pinpoint, extract and proliferate specific soil bacteria which are known for their roles in the soil such as unlocking phosphorus and fixating nitrogen,” said Mr Irwin.

“Dr Stroeher’s background ensures Neutrog’s manufacturing methodologies and processes like batch and DNA testing of raw materials and finished products providing customer reassurance by far exceeding mandatory safety standards,” Mr Irwin said.

Dr Stroeher is well known to Neutrog, having consulted to the company for the past ten years initially during the concept stages of GOGO Juice (a liquid probiotic for soil). He’s been involved in developing processes and technologies aimed at maximising the beneficial microbiology in all of Neutrog’s fertiliser products, which has cemented its position as a supplier of high quality fertilisers.


Come away with us

The Great British Garden Tour of Scotland & Wales and the Hampton Court Flower Show

The new Scotland & Wales tour includes public and private, grand and intimate, walled and wooded gardens in Northern England, Wales and Scotland. High summer brings exhuberant borders, a flourish of roses and spectacular weather for sightseeing.

Don't miss out on this fantastic tour. Go to the Ross Tours website, or call Royce or Roslyn at Ross Tours on 1300 233 200.