Home' Greymouth Star : September 11th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
8 - Thursday, September 11, 2014
always so welcome the first day of spring as
I am sure all other gardeners do too because
once again we can watch as Mother nature
works her magic and brings the garden back
For some years now I have been encouraging the
birds to use my garden as their home simply by feeding
them and I found myself completely entranced the
other day as I watch a bird building its nest.
Repeatedly it flew out of the bush and down to the
ground where it would hunt around for some building
material in the form of twigs, straw or some other
Than with a small amount in its beck it hopped along
the ground and then flew back up into the bush. It
repeated this process time after time after time and
was still doing it the next day.
In the autumn when pruning I always find numerous
nests and on examining them, I find it really amazing
and interesting to see how strongly and well-
constructed the nests are and I really mar vel at how
clever the birds are at inter weaving all those small
flimsy bits of garden debris including soil into a solid,
secure and firm nest for their young.
Within the next couple of months there are many,
many flowers that come and go and it is so difficult to
know what to write about in this article.
I have decided to choose the spring bulbs as they
always faithfully return each year and announce the
arrival of spring.
It is always the little bulbs that can be relied upon
to be first on the scene in early August such as
the small crocuses and the narcissus bulbicodiums
(hoop-petticoat daffodil) arriving shortly after. These
are closely followed by the dear little flowers of the
puschkinia (pale blue with darker stripe down the
middle), scillas (mostly blue flowering) and the
chionodoxas (glory of the snow).
These small patches of August colour give way to
larger colourful patches in September as the hyacinths
and daffodils arrive on the scene. Every time I smell
the fragrance of a hyacinth, I vow and declare to plant
some more of them in the autumn but I can never find
the space in autumn.
The freesias are also adored simply because of their
As for the daffodils (narcissus) — well it simply
would not be spring without them, would it?
As well as growing some of the larger trumpet ones,
I also grow the perfumed narcissus such as jonquils,
paper whites and cheerfulness so that if I pick a bunch,
I can always include one or two fragrant ones in
The little blue matchsticks (muscari - grape hyacinth)
could not be describe as significant or stunning flowers
but they definitely add their own touch of charm to
the spring scene.
Many of you may not be aware that there are a
variety of different types. Some are two-toned (deep
blue on the bottom toning down to pale blue at the
top), others are a very bright blue while some are a
pure ice blue.
Without any doubt my favourite spring bulb is the
ornithogalum nutans that has spikes (approximately
15-25cm in height) that carry its drooping blooms.
It is the actual colouring of these flowers that I
particularly like as the pointed petals are silvery white
on the inside while the outsides are a cool grey green
that elegantly cur ve upwards at the tips. For a number
of years I planted these bulbs under shrubs and trees
where many books said they were ideal for but they
never produced flowers until I transplanted them to a
Once you have a few bluebells in your garden, they
will obligingly increase rapidly into bigger bunches and
they make a delightful addition to the spring garden.
Unfortunately the trilliums are much slower to
increase but there again they will bestow their elegant
flowers even if planted under shrubs or trees.
One of my white ones also has a heavenly scent and
like all my perfumed flowers it is treasured more so
because of this extra gift it bestows.
Usually it is more into October before the fritillarias
put in an appearance and as the daffodils start to fade,
the lovely tulips take their place.
The small dogs tooth violets (erthroniums) are
another delightful little spring flower that come in
shades of creamy-white, yellow and shades of pink and
This is just a few of my springtime jewels and while
they do not provide a spectacular show, they certainly
present a subtle beauty to the spring scene.
I hope that you too are getting immense pleasure
watching your gardens come back to life and become
lovely, lush, green, little paradises once more.
Hooray for spring, the season when it
is a joy to watch everything in the garden
come back to life.
Vegies to sow
September is a good month for sowing
silverbeet, a leafy vegetable that is one of
the easiest for beginners. Yates seed range
has a choice of traditional fordhook giant
silverbeet, compact deep green (which
is a little smaller), the long-cropping
perpetual green and red-legged ruby
chard (chard is the common European
term for silverbeet).
Flowers to sow
Our No 1 flower pick for September
sowing is always cosmos bright eyes.
Why? Because this sunny summer
flower is easy to grow from seed but,
most importantly, every packet sold
raises funds for Retina New Zealand.
These donations go towards supporting
research into genetic eye diseases.
It is hard to know what to recommend
feeding in the September garden because
the answer is just about everything. Don’t
forget to look for the new Thrive liquids
with a range of special formulations to
suit the most popular plant groups.
They are easy to measure and mix, the
labels will not wash off and they go to
work quickly to promote healthy spring
This is a busy month for cutting back
anything that has finished flowering.
Tidy cold damaged parts of plants as
soon as you are sure frosts have finished
in your area. Thin out crowded sections
of plants like passionfruit, citrus and
camellias to allow plenty of sun into the
centre. Tip prune fuchsias to thicken new
Plant of the month
Tulips are among the most popular of
spring-flowering bulbs and there is a vast
choice of colours, sizes and flowering
times. But if you want to start off with
your own bulbs, you need to be thinking
about tulips in autumn. That is when the
bulbs are available and ready for planting.
Prepare the soil with added organic
matter, make sure drainage is good
and feed after flowering with a liquid
fertiliser. After flowering, let the leaves
die down naturally as this will build up
the bulb for next year.
Snails and slugs just love tender shoots,
so protect seedlings with blitzem pellets.
Use Yates Liquid Copper on green tips of
apples to control black spot. Many other
fruits trees such as cherries, pears etc.
need to be sprayed with Liquid Copper
at bud swell or while shoots are still very
This is the ideal month to create a herb
patch. Group dry climate herbs, such
as oregano and sage, together and keep
them away from the herbs like parsley,
basil and mint that enjoy more moisture
Spring gardening tips
Here are some timely seasonal tips to
help you make the most of your spring
Roses are at their best in the spring
garden. Watch for pests like aphids
— they breed at an alarming rate as
conditions get warmer. Spring rose leaves
are usually fresh and green, without the
unsightly fungal spots that spoil them
later in the season. Keep them that way
with a regular spray programme.
Plant out summer bloomers such as
alstroemeria, calibrachoa (e.g. million
bells), portulacas, dahlias and daylilies.
Sow seeds of sunflowers, salvias and
The lawn comes back to life in spring.
Feed with a quality slow release lawn
food but if you want a really quick green
up of your lawn, use the fast-acting,
hose on Lawn Master Rapid. It is now
available in a one litre container that
covers 150 square metres.
Spring is a good season, too, to
rejuvenate the lawn by spiking with a
fork to aerate the soil. Topdress with a
sandy mix to fill any hollows and, if the
grass is very thin, thicken by oversowing
with a fast-germinating seed mix such
as Yates Quick Fix. If you had problems
with insect pests damaging the lawn last
year, treat with Yates Complete Lawn
Insect Control. It comes in an easy
hose-on formulation and will provide
protection for months.
Supplied by Yates
delights Prunus blireiana is presently making a very attractive display of fragrant, soft pink blossoms.
The adorable ornithogalum nutans with their lovely silvery green flowers and some
fragrant hyacinths in the background.
The creamy, lemon and perfectly shaped scented daffodil named obdam.
The simplistic but elegant trilliums will grow in shady places where little else will grow.
Some also have a heavenly perfume.
September job file
The Greymouth Star has five copies of the
latest issue of New Zealand Gardener magazine
and five copies of NZ House and Garden to give
away this month.
The NZ House and Garden has a feature about
the Castle Hill high country station and some
quick but delicious breakfast and brunch meals.
New Zealand Gardener turns 70 this month
and includes a special souvenir edition as well as
a review of wedding flower trends going back to
To enter the draw your entries must include
your name, address and phone number.
Send them to. —
C/o Greymouth Star
or e-mail email@example.com with
‘garden’ in the subject line.
One entry per household. Entries close on
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