INDEPENDENT NEWS

Summertime And The Gardening Is Easy

Published: Wed 19 Dec 2001 09:39 AM
Some handy hints for summer gardening from Anthony Tesselaar
If ever there was a time to take the grind out of gardening it's summer. First the Christmas rush, then it's time to take it easy and enjoy the sunshine. Here's a few clues from managing director of Tesselaar International, Anthony Tesselaar,on how we can make our outdoor living spaces as enticing as possible with the least possible amount of work.
Sprucing up for summer
In full bloom now are the fabulous Flower Carpet shrub roses, perfect for instant effect in the garden, pots or hanging baskets. Flower Carpet Roses, now available in six different colours are a good choice for gardeners wanting to avoid the spraying or fussy pruning that most roses call for. Given a sunny spot in the garden or a good sized container, normal summer watering and a controlled-release fertiliser added now, they'll carry on blooming right through till winter.
Annuals are the way to go for an inexpensive dash of colour just in time for pre-Christmas entertaining. If you plant advanced seedlings, flowering annuals give near instant results and keep on looking good right through summer and on into autumn. More affordable than other plants they can be planted liberally to fill pots, hanging baskets and window boxes and brighten any spare garden corner.
Summer flowering annuals to plant now include, alyssum, bedding begonias, Californian poppies, cosmos, dianthus, lobelia, viscaria, marigolds, impatiens, nicotianas, petunias, phlox, snapdragons, sunflowers, verbenas and zinnias.
Planting the easy way
This close to Christmas few of us have the time to be messing about with seeds. Small seedlings transplanted from punnets may still be struggling to show their best by Christmas. The fastest, easiest and most reliable option is to plant advanced seedlings already growing strongly, each one in its own individual container. The success after planting far out-ways any extra cost.
Advanced seedlings can be purchased as flowering plants in single pots ('potted colour') or in 'cell packs'. The most convenient of these has to be the new 'My Favourite' collection. Designed to suit today's busy lifestyle and simplify planting, 'My Favourite' flowers take to their new soil and potting mix without set-back as the clever cell packaging system with its removable inserts eliminates any root damage when planting out. The outcome is stronger growing plants that flower faster and the packaging is recyclable and reusable.
As a further advantage to gardeners who want it easy, with 'My Favourite' there is no worry about choosing the wrong variety for your garden. All plants in the range meet strict selection criteria and must be the best performers for the climate and season they are sold in. In creating their 'My Favourite' brand, Anthony Tesselaar International deliberately set out to eliminate any 'fear of failure' that goes with planting seedlings.
Water-wise planting
The biggest task gardeners are faced with over the next few months is watering. And the cost or restricted use of this precious resource becomes an issue for many gardeners. Even those of us blessed with an unlimited water supply will save time if we garden in a way that makes the most of every drop.
For easy and efficient watering, group your plants according to their watering requirements. Plants with shallow roots such as flowering annuals, vegetables and lawns, demand significantly more water than deep rooted plants such as trees and shrubs. Try and keep these high users to a confined space.
You may even have more lawn than you really need. Perhaps some of it could be given up for trees and shrubs, or pebbles or paving? Mass plant sloping areas that are difficult to mow with a low maintenance, drought tolerant groundcover such as Agapanthus 'Snowstorm'. Save your water (and your energy) for the areas of lawn that really count. As the weather gets drier, raise the mower a notch or two and mow less frequently.
In a dry climate it makes sense to restrict your planting to the most dry-tolerant plants you can find. Cacti and succulents are an obvious choice provided the soil remains free draining and warm in winter. Also look to those native plants which have grown up in our most water starved or coastal climates. Silver foliage is another a good indicator of a dry-tolerant plant.
Pots
For beautiful Christmas colour on the patio, or in any outdoor entertaining area advanced seedlings, such as those from the My Favourite range, are ideal. Remember outdoor containers need lots of watering in summer, but the right sized pot and a premium potting mix can reduce the task significantly. The smaller the container and the warmer or windier its position, the more you'll need to water.
Water storage crystals are often included in top brand potting mixes, or you can add them. A wetting agent added to the potting mix in a pot or hanging basket will ensure that the water spreads evenly throughout the potting mix, rather than washing straight out the bottom. Wetting agents can be mixed in at re-potting time, or simply sprinkled over the top surface of the potting mix and watered in. When repotting, allow a space for watering of one to two cm between the top of the potting mix and the rim of the pot.
If you're feeling up to it, it's also time to…
 Mulch and feed roses and perennials.
 Spray roses to prevent pests and disease problems in warm, humid climates.
 Plant tomatoes, eggplants, capsicum, melons and pumpkins before the end of the month to ensure a long ripening season.
 Water tomatoes regularly, especially once fruit has set. Liquid feed weekly and spray with copper.
 Sow seed directly into well prepared soil; beans, radishes, spring onions, silver beet, lettuces, sweet corn, coriander and dill. In hot areas salad greens will benefit from some afternoon shade.
 Feed and mulch citrus trees, and water them generously in dry weather.
Have a great summer!

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