Home' Greymouth Star : November 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 7
nce again I am
surrounded by the
beauty and the
fragrance of the
spring garden even
though I am not
exactly ready for it.
There are a number
of gardens that I
have not removed
the debris from last year (or the year before in some
cases) and as the gardens start to fill in, it becomes
impossible to weed them etc. without standing on
plants and damaging them.
Never mind — I am never ready and I would be
wasting my time worrying about it.
I am very pleased that before I planted too many
rhododendrons around here I discovered that there
are some that are highly perfumed along with some
azaleas also. For approximately 10 months of the
year I tend to go off rhododendrons mostly because
of their rather straggly, leggy and ungainly shapes in
However come October, once again I find myself
in awe of their magnificent, beautiful, large showy
flowers which deser ve some space and words of
praise on the garden page.
While you can buy some that are small growing
and will always remain small neat shrubs, the
majority of them will grow into very big shrubs and
eventually into trees. Of course you can prune most
of them but it does take such a long time for them
to recover and regrow some leaves. I did take a
chance and pruned one back to about 30cm once
as it just had these long, leggy, sprawling branches
with a few unhealthy leaves on the end. It took a
long time for it to recover but today it is a lovely
big healthy looking shrub covered in lots of green
leaves and flowers.
Because rhododendrons are so shallow rooting,
they are not so difficult to dig up and shift which
should be done in their dormant period when they
Rhododendrons need to be planted in deeply
worked, loose-textured, free draining acid soil
to which some well decayed compost has been
added. It is essential that they have a deep cool
soil which retains moisture at all times but it is also
very important that the soil never becomes boggy or
Because their roots do not travel deeply into the
soil but remain reasonably close to the surface it
pays to put a mulch around them (during the hotter
months) particularly when they are young and their
foliage does not fully shade the root area.
Before planting a new rhododendron, I always soak
it in a large bucket of water and gently loosen the
roots so they will spread more freely once planted
and not go round and round in a knotted mess. If
the soil surrounding them is rather caked and dryish,
I tend to try and wash most of this away without
damaging the roots.
I have learnt over the years that most
rhododendrons do like quite a lot of sunlight but
if possible they do need some shade from the hot
If planted in too much shade, this is when they
tend to grow leggy stretching their bare branches
outwards desperately seeking some sunlight.
It is the fragrant rhododendrons that are naturally
some of my most valued shrubs because of the
wonderful aura of perfume they cast over the
atmosphere for quite a distance around them.
Elsie Fryer (white flowers with tones of pink) is
usually one of the first to flower followed by Princess
Alice with white flowers. Apricot sherbert (delicious
tones of buff apricot with salmon reverse) and
maddenii (pink buds opening into white flowers) are
presently doing a wonderful job of scenting a great
Floral dance will display her powerfully perfumed,
frilly white flowers with large splashes of dark pink
in another few weeks. Azalea softlights (mixture
of creamy white, lemon and soft pink) and azalea
sunray (a variety of apricot orange colours) are also
perfuming the air whilst azalea pavlova will arrive
shortly with her perfumed creamy white, frilly and
A few of my other favourite rhododendrons that I
chose for their beautiful flowers are Alison Johnstone
(flushed apricot fading to mushroom pink), Mary
Tasker (warm pink buds open to a delicate pink),
CIS (rich bright pink buds open orange crimson
maturing to creamy apricot), bibiani (dark red),
Pania (delicate pink), Naomi nautilus (rose-pink
flush orange, fragrant frilled flowers), lems cameo
(delicate apricot, cream and pink, frilled florets),
trewithan orange (translucent, tangerine-orange),
Helene Schiffner (pure white), apricot fantasy
(delicate apricot/pink shade) Mrs Percy McLaren
(frilly delicate pink shades),and sun-up and sundown
with pretty, double cupped bell shaped flowers that
are deep pink fading to a pale pink.
This is a poor effort of trying to describe their
wondrous colours as words simply cannot portray
these amazing flowers and I would not want my
garden to be without them.
Rhododendron sun-up and sundown has double flowers in colours that range from a deep pink to a much paler shade.
The highly perfumed azalea sunray has double flowers in a tapestry of white, deep pink,
pink, orange, apricot and lemon shades.
The lovely frilly flowers of rhododendron Mrs Percy McLaren that start off as a pretty
shade of pink and then fade to a ver y delicate and soft pink tones.
Rhododendron floral dance has the most powerful and heavenly fragrance that spreads
far and wide. Its frilly white flowers are attractively splash with deep pink shades.
The Greymouth Star has five copies of the NZ Gardener
and five copies of NZ House and Garden magazines to
give away this month.
The NZ House and Garden has its ‘interior of the year’
awards with the best kitchen, living room, bedroom and
bathroom from around the country.
The NZ Gardener has articles on a DIY garden bench,
growing your own herbal tea and top tips on growing
To enter the draw your entries must include your name,
address and phone number.
Send them to.—
c/o Greymouth Star
Greymouth or e-mail email@example.com
with garden in the subject line.
One entry per household. Entries close November 26.
A busy month ahead with
Christmas, holidays and major spurts
of plant growth all occurring at the
same time. Fortunately, a summer
evening is a particularly pleasant time
of day to catch up with some garden
Veggies to sow
Chillis grow easily from seed in the
warmer weather, which is why now
is perfect to get them started. Even
if you only have a tiny garden, you
can still grow a few chillis. Long red
cayenne chilli in the Yates seed range
is popular because it is versatile as
well as attractive. The finger-shaped
chillis can be picked when they are
mild and green or left until they are a
fiery, ripe red.
Flowers to sow
Sunflowers are always summer
favourites to grow from seed. Yates
Yellow Empress is a tall grower
that makes a statement in any
garden. Moonwalker sunflower,
with its creamy-coloured petals that
contrast with the dark centres, looks
particularly elegant in the garden or
in a vase.
The lawn will appreciate another
post-spring feed with slow release
fertiliser and, if you want an
additional pick-me-up to get the
lawn looking at its best in time for
Christmas entertaining, spray with
fast-acting Yates Lawn Master Rapid.
It will green up the lawn in a matter
Tidy clumps of flowering plants
that have finished their major
blooming. Lupins, delphiniums,
campanulas and many salvias can all
be cut right to ground level at this
time. Follow up with a good feed
with dynamic lifter plus flower food
to promote new growth.
Yates new success ultra is a
naturally-derived control for a wide
range of caterpillars and some other
difficult pests. Use it on developing
apples and pears to prevent the fruit
from being spoilt by the codling
moth caterpillars that eat their way
through the flesh.
Success ultra also works to protect
tomatoes and potatoes from the
sapsucking psyllids that discolour
leaves and ruin crops.
It is the month to think about
watering and mulching.
Here are some tips. —
Water in the morning or evening,
rather than in the middle of the day.
Give plants good soakings —
which are better than short, shallow
bursts — and allow them to dry out
Avoid watering onto the leaves
of disease-prone plants such as roses
(especially late in the day).
Renew a layer of organic mulch
over the root areas of shrubs and
Be especially vigilant about
watering pots — they can dry out
Plant of the month
Hydrangeas, with their fat,
mophead flowers, look stunning in
moist, lightly shaded positions. And,
with luck and not too much harsh
sunshine, the blooms will stay looking
attractive for months.
Summer, when the warmth of the
sun encourages waves of blooms, is
the peak of rose season. But summer
can also be a challenging time of year
for roses. Do not neglect them at this
time, because a little extra care will
pay handsome dividends.
Well established roses can be quite
drought resistant but they appreciate
an extra drink when it is hot and dry.
But did you know that the spores of
black spot, the most hated of rose
fungal diseases, can only germinate if
there is moisture on the leaf for about
seven hours and if the temperature
is about 18degC? This stringent-
sounding set of requirements is easily
met on a moderately warm summer
night, which is why it is so important
to water roses in the morning — it
allows time for the leaves to dry
before nightfall, and, obviously, if you
can water at the base without wetting
the leaves, that is even more helpful.
A layer of organic mulch spread
around a rose will help stop weeds
and keep the soil cooler and moister.
The advantage of organic mulch is
that it eventually breaks down to
improve the soil. Many gardeners use
pea straw to mulch roses. Because
it is a legume, pea straw adds extra
nitrogen, a major plant food. Other
mulches can also do a good job. It is
often a matter of what is the easiest
mulch for you to get hold of.
Roses are frequently described as
‘ hungry’ plants. This means that they
need plenty of fertilising during
their growing period. Most roses
are repeat flowerers that will bloom
again and again through the warmer
weather. A well formulated fertiliser
will support all that growth and
bloom production. Potted roses are
usually more easily fed with a liquid.
Remember, though, that any liquid
will have to be applied regularly — at
least once a fortnight. Then you can
stop feeding altogether during the
rose’s winter dormant period.
Rose pest and disease
Pests and diseases love roses
frustrating but there are lots of things
you can do to keep them at bay. Grow
roses in full sun with plenty of air
space around them. Cut back often —
not just in winter but throughout the
growing season. Fertilise well. Accept
the fact that, as summer progresses,
especially in humid climates, diseases
will start to take hold. Use a good
quality rose fungicide on a regular
basis. Super Shield is a concentrate
combination that suits larger gardens.
Jobs to do
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