It's time to: June
Lift dahlia tubers. Throw out rotten tubers. Dust with fungicide and store until spring.
Pick winter rose (hellebore) flowers for float bowls so you can appreciate their shy spotted faces.
Use bright winter annuals to plant up bare patches and window boxes. In shade choose the old-fashioned blue and lilac tones of cineraria, and in sun try pretty pansies and violas. Fairy primrose primula will stand tall in sun or part shade. Cyclamen are bright and cheery for indoor window boxes. Continue liquid feeding with flower fertiliser for masses of blooms.
Divide perennials such as Easter daisy, shasta daisy, canna lily, liriope, clivia and agapanthus, if clumps are getting too big or are in the wrong spot.
Enjoy the bark of the river birch, Betula nigra, which flakes away to reveal underlying layers of cream, pink and orange. Other good winter barks include snakebark maples, such as Acer davidii, which has unusual green bark with prominent vertical stripes. Track it down from a specialist supplier. Our pick of the glowing winter bark trees is the coral bark maple, Acer japonica ‘Sango Kaku’.
There is a brief moment (this month only!) when big rhododendrons that have outgrown their space or ideal size can be hard-pruned back to stumps. All parts of the shrub must be pruned equally hard. This is safe to do on all but the rare smooth-barked rhododendrons.
June is a great time for a big tidy-up and general groom. Even if you’re not a great fan of garden tidiness for it’s own sake, in winter it can come as a great relief to be able to restore order.
Take hardwood cutting from deciduous shrubs such as roses and hydrangeas. Use sharp secateurs and trim off leaves and side shoots to leave a cutting of about 8cm. Dip in hormone rooting power before potting into propagating mix.
When you have 10 minutes
Add warmth to outdoor areas with fire. Try a steel brazier, ploughing disk or commercially available fire bowl. We fell in love with the fire bowls made by Melbourne’s Lump sculpture studio and shown at Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show this year. They take normal firewood and will have all your friends gathered in the dark around the warmth and drama of leaping flame and glowing coals. www.lump.com.au