19 March, 2012

Autumnal Gardening Glow...

The very hint of Autumn is here [in Sydney - southern hemisphere] milder nights are becoming more frequent, my robe makes more of an appearance in the crisper mornings, I find myself waking early morning a couple of hours before sunrise just to make sure our little 'Is' has the covers pulled up over her.
For gardeners - like 'moi' - it is the best time for some great jobs to get done before the much cooler months descend upon us...  On the weekend I started with trimming plants/ hedging and de-budding, as well as turning the leaves & soil on our yet to be constructed home vegetable & herb raised beds - affectionately known to our neighbours, as 'Zone 1'!Autumn is a great time to rejuvenate a garden for the new season and for next spring.
Take a look at the quick Autumn Gardening checklist [for large or small gardens] below for some good ideas to get done over the next several weekends!

April is the best month to plant bulbs. Choose plump, fresh bulbs with
no sign of disease and store tulip bulbs in the refrigerator

Transfer fallen leaves to your compost bin.

Here's a quick checklist to get you started early so you plan out your gardening and social claendar - The tips below are an autumn garden task list that will keep your garden flourishing.
  • Autumn is the time to make new plants from cuttings. Take 10cm cuttings from hardwood herbs such as rosemary and bay or natives such as banksias, grevillea and coastal rosemary. Remove the lower leaves, dip cuttings into hormone powder and pot in small containers of premium potting mix. Keep just moist and shelter from strong wind and sun.
  • Trim hedges before the onset of winter to keep them compact and bushy from ground level.
  • Check your lawn and make sure any weeds you sprayed last month are dying. Repeat the treatment if necessary. Aerate the lawn with a garden fork and scatter lime lightly over it. This sweetens the soil after many years of lawn food application. Rejuvenate tired lawns with an autumn feeding to ready them for the onset of cool winter weather.
  • Gather fallen leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps and shredded prunings, and layer them in a compost bin. Turn periodically with a garden fork to allow air to circulate and feed organisms, and decompose the organic matter quickly. Don‘t overload your compost with one particular ingredient – maintain a mix. See the new Aerobin at garden centres; it makes excellent compost.
  • Earthworms are a sign your soil is fertile. When you add organic matter such as leaves and cow manure to your garden soil, you will attract earthworms, so there is no need to add more worms to your garden. The worms you’ve attracted with organic matter will add nutrients from their castings, and make tunnels. Check for borer damage on all deciduous trees, paying attention to the trunk at soil level. It‘s easier to check when trees are dormant and bare.
  • Don’t try to cultivate soil beneath large trees; you will only damage the roots. Make planting holes between the roots instead and insert small plants with tiny root systems that establish themselves readily. Bromeliads thrive under trees.
  • An old ladder makes a good support for climbing vines such as sweet peas. A splash of paint will give it extra impact in the garden or up against a wall.
  • Transfer the leaves that fall on your garden and lawn to the compost bin on a regular basis, otherwise they will smother your plants and grass.
  • Don’t rush to prune spent seed heads. They provide a wealth of food for birds that visit the garden. Magnolia fruit attract parrots who feast on their seeds.
  • Autumn is rose season, and they look gorgeous at this time of year. Choose the ones you love and order them from your local nursery.
  • If you have cymbidium orchids, they should be placed in full sunshine to encourage good flower spikes during winter and spring.
  • Divide evergreen perennials. Lift them from the soil, divide at the root and re-plant into well-conditioned soil.
  • Start a tradition by planting [red] poppies to commemorate ANZAC day [25th April - Lest We Forget].
Prune  - Give hydrangeas a ruthless pruning.

Disbud (choose one to keep) camellias for bigger flowers.

images via thegiftoflife, homelife.com.au, wikipedia, gardening australia, abc, photography by Andrew Lehmann,

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