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In The Garden This Week

What's happening this week in the garden? We're talking tomatoes and the plant-buddies they love to partner up with.

There are new releases to talk about, like the new rose from Treloar, 'Summer Romance'. And spring wouldn't be spring without fields of Tulips and stunning Australian Wildflowers on display.

Welcome to our new weekly round-up, 'In The Garden This Week'. Published every Friday, we hope it will be another great garden info resource to help you get the best results in your garden.


The wisteria display at Nooroo, Mt Wilson NSW is an absolute must-see in Spring. Photo - Lorna Rose


Questions of the week

Q: Why won't my wisteria flower?

New young wisterias don't often flower if planted in the ground. Three to five years may pass before their first decent flowering.

They should be grown in strong light. Under natural conditions their growth habit ensures that they sprawl over trees, shrubs, or rocks, with their leaves in full sun, which seems to be a requirement for the abundant development of flower buds.

If they are given lots of water and high nitrogen fertiliser they may devote their energy to overall growth rather than to the development of flower buds. Fertilise them in spring and summer with a fertiliser for flowering plants – this will contain the right amount of potassium to stimulate flowers.

Finally, it is most important to prune correctly, as heavy pruning, particularly in autumn or winter, is likely to remove those parts of the plant which would have produced the next season's flowers. Wisteria usually flowers in spring, so prune them in December/January or as soon as flowers have faded.


Q: What's happening to the bottom of my gumtree?

Graham discussed this last weekend on air after he noticed more and more instances of major basal tree damage. He noticed 8 Sydney Blue Gums that have been damaged very early in their lives by one of several means. Possibly lawn mowers, line trimmers, or engineering equipment laying the paving surface.

The reason is meaningless because the end result is a deadly combination of mechanical damage followed by borer attack followed up by bacterial and fungal diseases.

The base of any tree is the most critical point in the entire structure, where the massive weight of the trunk, branching canopy and foliage convert to roots, it is the total stuctures weakest point. Most of these trees were carrying a canopy weight I estimate at around 2-3 tonnes.

This type of damage has proved in recent decades to lead to fatalities not only in stormy, windy weather but also on calm, still days.

Gum trees in the bush can live for a century of more with massive basal cavities but when they do succumb to cyclonic weather, no-one is generally there to hear them fall. Bush walkers and native plant lovers on hikes have seen hundreds of both tree outcomes in the wild.

But in cultivation, home gardens, streets and parks these conditions need urgent care and specialist arboricultural attention. All is not lost but to achieve the health of the trees top and bottom right the clock is ticking for urgent remedial action.


Major basal trunk damage on Blue Gums. Photo - Graham Ross


Q:What do I plant with my tomatoes?

A common enquiry to the Garden Clinic Helpline this week has been what to plant around the tomatoes to help protect them. Popping in some pretty 'companion plants' alongside and amongst your tomatoes will essentially deter damaging insects and increase your overall harvest. Think Basil, Borage, Chives, Calendula, Marigolds and also Mint. Their aromatic foliage will deter many a pest such as aphids, whitefly and beetles, and Garlic planted throughout will help keep the spider mite at bay.

Check out the full article, 'Companion Planting'.

Tomato Tips: Hold back the first flowers

Yes, you did read that correctly - pinch off the first flowers from tomato plants. It helps plants redirect energy into stem and leaf growth growing a better more resilient bush. A water pipe angled under each plant will drought proof your tomato during the long hot dry summer ahead, providing water where they need it, 50cm under the soil level where deep water roots are searching for a drink.


What's eating my vegies? How do you keep out Mr Possum?

Linda posted an interesting video on the Garden Clinic Facebook page earlier in the week featuring a very naughty possum helping himself to a trayfull of lettuce seedlings at a Brisbane nursery.

This got us all talking about what works (and not much does, really) when it comes to controlling our furry friends' midnight snacking habits in our gardens.

While we have had a degree of success in our garden using sonic devices - little waterproof speakers that produce a very high frequency that animals find uncomfortable and people can't hear, and there are a few of these on the market.

But luckily for those in the Northern Suburbs of Sydney the Powerful Owl population is growing and we think they're a very effective possum control!


Not your average all-you-can-eat salad bar customer! Photo - ABC Brisbane


Planting now

We're planting Garvinea 'Sweet Memories'

This lovely little gerbera promises to be a real hit this spring. A succession of soft pink flowers with an inner collar of white will be held tall above the healthy green foliage for most of the year.

Winter hardy (even to minus 5), vigorous growers each plant yielding over 70 blooms per year, and flowers continuously over spring, summer and autumn. Prefers a full sun to part shade position, suitable for pots and containers. Ideal cut flower. Very disease resistant.

We're giving away a Garvinea 'Sweet Memories' with every Garden Clinic Platinum Membership this week, plus a swag of goodies to keep it flowering flush after flush.


What's New: plants to love this week

Summer Romance rose from Treloar

There’s a hint of anise in the fruity fragrance of ‘Summer Romance’, a new addition to the Parfuma collection by German rose breeder, Kordes.

Plentiful, fully double blooms adorn this upright floribunda rose, which grows to a compact 80cm. It’s an award-winner, with healthy, disease-resistant foliage and is available from Treloar Roses

'Summer Romance' from Treloar Roses in nurseries now.


What's on this week

Last weekend to catch some special Sydney garden events

Flora - The Art and Science of the Plant, an exhibition of floral art at the Palm House at Sydney Royal Botanic Garden has its last show this weekend. Everyone is welcome and admission is free. Best of all, every artwork is for sale!

Also ending this weekend, the David Jones Spring Flower Show is a must-see feature in Sydney at this time of year. Check it out at the Elizabeth Street windows opposite St James railway station at Hyde Park.


In the Native Garden this week

Banksia integrifolia 'Roller Coaster'

Graham and the Better Homes team have had a very busy week shooting on the central coast of New South Wales. Graham was reminded of one of his all-time favourite prostrate-growing Banksias, 'Roller Coaster' - the one pictured strategically over-growing a gabion wall.


Banksia integrifolia 'Roller Coaster'. Photo - Graham Ross


A hardy ground cover form of the Coastal Banksia, useful as ground covers, rockery fillers, foreground plantings and potted specimens in native and coastal gardens.

Prefers well drained soils in sunny locations but will tolerate some shade.

Dark green leaves with silver reverse. Flowers typical banksia shape only lime green ageing to golden brown.


On the road

Bon Voyage to the WA Wildflower tour

Next week native flower expert Angus Stewart and our guests are on safari on the glorious south-west coast, including extravaganza of the Kings Park Wildflower Festival. With the rain the southwest has enjoyed this year we're expecting an incredible display.

This week also sees the release of the itinerary for our latest wildflower adventure - the new Top End Broome to Darwin tour, and we are delighted that Angus Stewart will again be sharing his love of Australian wildflowers with us, leading the tour next next June.


The majestic boab, Adansonia gregorii


Want more wildflowers?

The fantastic display of West Australian Paper Daisies is at it's peak in September at the Australian Botanic Garden in Mt Annan, south western Sydney. A great pit-stop on the way to Canberra and the spring festivals!


Everlasting daisies (Rhodanthe chlorocephala subspecies rosea). Photo - Angus Stewart


Heading to Canberra this Spring?

Floriade is a spectacular – and free! – celebration of spring. Part-garden show, part-spring festival it draws nearly half a million visitors every year, who come for the flowers - especially the tulips!

Just north of Canberra on the Old Federal Highway is a hidden garden, 'Tulip Top', that focuses all its attention on one flower-filled month in spring. This year, from September 16 until October 15, thousands of blossom trees, half a million tulips and hundreds of thousands of annuals will combine to make a dazzling spring experience. Click on the link and read how Bill and Pat Rhodin make it happen.

Still need more tulips? Later this spring the Tesselaar Tulip Festival, this year themed 'Over the Rainbow', will be in full flight from 14th of September until the 10th of October. The 64th Tesselaar Tulip Festival is a celebration of colour, with a fabulous floral display with avenues of tulips mass-planted by colour, it promises to be a rainbow indeed.



Every colour of the rainbow!


Where to next?

Next week the 2018 Ross Garden Tours programme launch is happening on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at the Lion Gate Lodge, Mrs Macquaries Rd, Royal Botanical Garden, Sydney at 11am. Meet the Ross Family over morning tea and learn about our Garden Tours for 2018.

Remember, bookings are essential! Go to the Ross Tours website, or call Royce or Roslyn at Ross Tours on 1300 233 200 and book your place today.