Home' Greymouth Star : February 12th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 7
The Greymouth Star has five copies
each of the New Zealand Gardener
and five copies of New Zealand
House and Garden magazines to give
New Zealand House and Garden
features a “custard and mustard”
Tairua bach, a stunning Tutukaka
bach, and Japanese dishes to make at
New Zealand Gardener has a
articles on how to make the most of
your soil, building a garden-themed
gate and how to help cut flowers last
Entries must include your name,
address and phone number.
Send them to.—
c/o Greymouth Star
Greymouth or e-mail
garden in the subject line.
One entr y per household. Entries
close on February 19.
Although the calendar says it is the
end of summer, February often exhibits
extreme heat and dry conditions making it
stressful for gardens and gardeners alike.
Veggies to sow
If the thought of growing or eating
turnips makes you curl up your nose, then
think again! Japanese turnip ‘Hakurei’
is a beautiful white skinned turnip, and
har vested when fresh and young is a
delicious addition to soups, stir fries, salads
and is yummy roasted whole. It grows
easily in full sun, sown directly where you
want them to grow. Cover seeds with a
little seed raising mix and keep moist.
Expect to har vest your crop in 6-10 weeks.
Trim back faded or leggy summer
annuals like petunia, calibrachoa or annual
salvia, then feed with liquid fertiliser. This
stimulates new growth and extends the
flowering season right into autumn. Heat
and humidity can take a toll on roses, but it
is not too late for a reviving summer prune.
Do not be too fussy, just shear off 30-40%
of overall growth including spent flower
stems. Feed and water deeply and 6 weeks
later you will be rewarded with fabulous
Lawn pests like porina and grass grubs
are active in late summer and autumn and
heavy infestations can destroy your lawn.
You may notice the lawn looking thinner,
patchy and discoloured. Porina caterpillars
feed at night and shelter during the day
so they are hard to spot. Treat with lawn
insect control and monitor regularly. Once
the lawn begins to grow again, apply lawn
food to bring the lawn back to its former
Citrus trees are carrying their winter
crops now so it is important to keep them
well watered and well fed. Dynamic Lifter
Plus Fruit Food is great for feeding citrus
and other fruiting plants and the chicken
manure formulation helps improve soil
structure too. Potted citrus can be fertilised
fortnightly using a liquid plant food.
Check for the bumps of scale insects on
leaves and stems of citrus. These sap-
sucking pests hide beneath a protective
coating and suck the goodness out of the
plants. Spray with Yates Conqueror Oil
on a cool, clear day. Conqueror oil will
also help control pests like mealy bug and
thrips. White fly can be a major problem
for citrus, too, and it is important to spray
beneath the leaves where these pests are
hiding. Insect and mite spray is ideal
because it has only a one-day withholding
period. Follow up sprays will be necessary
because white flies have a very short life
cycle — they are breeding all the time.
Flowers to sow
Iceland Poppies. — With such a cool
name, what better flower to look for ward
to in late winter and spring. Although they
do not come from Iceland, they do like
cool winters to flower well. Fat furry buds
open to reveal crepe-paper like blooms of
gold, lemon, apricot and salmon held on
tall stems, perfect for garden colour and
lovely in a vase. The rosettes of dark green
leaves are ideal for disguising fading bulb
foliage, so grow them in conjunction with
your favourite spring bulbs. Sow poppies
directly into the garden, or alternately in
trays and transplant when seedlings are
Info from Yates
t this time of year, the
flower garden can start
looking a bit tired but
for a colourful show
from January, dahlias
are hard to beat.
They come in almost every colour
except blue, with some impressive
striped and splotched varieties available.
The flower size ranges from pompom
dahlias less than 5cm in diameter to the
giant decoratives “as big as a hat ”, as an
old poem once claimed.
However, these paragons of garden
virtue do have some drawbacks. They
lack scent, unless you count the potato-
ish pong of their crushed leaves; slugs,
snails and ear wigs regard dahlias as
bugs’ equivalent of a Big Mac; and if
your garden gets moderate frosts, the
chill will turn the leaves black.
Slug bait or, preferably, a family of
blackbirds and the odd hedgehog,
eliminates the slug/snail problem but
ear wigs are sneakier customers. They
hide in dahlias’ well-packed petals,
come out to chomp then retreat,
burping one assumes.
There are a couple of effective
chemical killers on the market, notably
Ripcord, but the old organic method
using newspaper costs nothing,
although it requires a mite more effort.
To do it, take your Greymouth Star
— after reading thoroughly, of course
— and tear into quarter-page pieces.
Crumple the paper into balls and push
carefully into the plants below the
Every day or two, lift the paper balls
and drop into a bucket of boiling water.
Leave until tepid and throw it all on
the compost heap. In turn, the mixture
goes back to feed the plants, which
seems only justice. The boiling-water
treatment is also recommended when
To prevent damage to buds, a squirt
of rose spray when colour first shows
works a treat.
Dahlias are greedy plants, gobbling
up vast amounts of nourishment —
well-rotted horse manure or compost
always pleases them — and may need
a little lime if the pH is higher than
6.5 . In return, they reward the diligent
gardener with masses of shapely
Dahlias are being promoted as a good
cut flower and are increasingly popular
in bridal bouquets but are not long-
lasting indoors, tending to give up after
three or four days.
The tubers can be left in the ground
over winter, which gives earlier blooms
the following summer, or lifted and
stored in moist sawdust or river sand
before replanting in October.
Those who show dahlias usually lift
them, claiming they get better flowers
However, if you just want a good
garden display, leaving them in place
is easier — just cut dead foliage to
ground level and mulch with manure or
compost to give them a boost.
A native of Mexico, dahlia seeds
reached Spain 1789 and seedlings
bloomed the following year.
Those early plants were single
but by early in the 19th century,
doubles popped up and soon English
nurserymen were vying with one
another to produce more and better
varieties, one of which, Yellow
Defiance, was sold in 1835 for £200,
four times as much as most men earned
in a year.
Multiply your own income by four
and consider whether you would spend
that on one plant.
The English felt bigger was better but
the tree dahlia Dahlia imperialis, which
can reach 6m, failed to win favour,
mainly because it would not flower
outdoors before it was frosted.
That is not a problem here and the
plant is worth growing where some
height is needed. The flowers are
usually white to light purple.
At the other extreme, the Lilliput or
pompom types are credited to German
breeders. Forms with dark leaves were
known from about 1750 and the result
of crossing these with dwarf types led
to today ’s bedding dahlias, including
bronze-leaved Bloody Mary and
Diablo, considered an improvement on
the older Redskin variety.
In New Zealand, dahlias have
been popular since the 19th century
with many top plants bred here.
They include the giant decorative
Kidd’s Climax produced in 1940 by a
Northland farmer, and numerous Oreti
varieties, bred by Kit and Walter Jack,
Dr Keith Hammett of Auckland,
has bred a number of fine dahlias,
notably his Baby Dahl series, ideal for
pot or patio, as well as collerettes and
his mystic series. He is working now
on introducing new colours into tree
You can grow your own dahlias by
saving seed and sowing it in spring.
The results can be interesting: I tried
it with seed from a white collerette and
got eight different colours, all single
and semi-double from 20 seedlings.
Seed saved from a purple one from that
batch produced some small ball types
and a yellow collerette.
None was going to win me fame or
fortune but it was fun.
If you want to try showing, the West
Coast does not have dedicated dahlia
shows (Christchurch and Ashburton
are the nearest) but blooms can be
exhibited at general flower shows.
In the lead-up to big shows,
exhibitors’ gardens often sprout a
multitude of old umbrellas as dahlias
are shaded to protect them from rain
and too much sun.
The Mexicans of 350 years ago would
surely shake their heads over such
with Gillian Vine
February jobs to do
Dahlias at a Dunedin show give an indication of the varied shapes and colours.
Collerette April Heather shows the double row
of petals that are the trademark of the group.
Kidd’s Climax, bred in 1940, is still a winner at
Oreti Duke, one of the many dahlias bred
by Kit and Walter Jack, of Invercargill.
Gloriosa is a medium decorative dahlia, popular with
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