Home' Greymouth Star : April 16th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
his year, Easter and
the end of daylight
and now the darker
nights seem to be
bringing an autumnal nip, a hint
that it is time to prepare for winter.
In the flower garden, roses dead-
headed regularly will produce a
few blooms right through winter,
dahlias will keep producing for
weeks yet and delphiniums and
hollyhocks may be making a late
run. Lilies have done their dash,
though, and if they are to be
divided or transplanted, this should
be done as soon as possible.
The main requirement of lilies
is top-notch drainage, so if your
ground tends to be wet, putting
river gravel under the bulbs or
mounding the soil so the lilies are
grown on a small hump will help.
Alternatively, grow them in large
pots. One lily fan puts his into
containers of tomato mix, which
must work, as he regularly wins
prizes at shows.
Perennials that have finished
flowering can be cut to ground
level and mulched with compost or
Most garden trimmings can go
into the compost bin but anything
obviously diseased is a no-no, as it
will cause grief on a grand scale if
composted. Personally, I prefer not
to compost lily stems but I know
other gardeners do without any
Tomato plants and strawberry
trimmings are better not
composted, as both have a nasty
tendency to carry virus diseases.
If you do not have a compost
bin, black plastic bags are a cheap
alternative. Chop bigger stems and
fill the bags, wet the contents —
other wise they will take for ever
to rot down — tie the tops and
leave them in a quiet corner for six
months or more. Lawn clippings
are a good addition, as is a handful
of blood and bone.
There is still time to plant spring
bulbs and for those like me who
have a mean streak, buying late can
be the chance to score half-price
bargains. True, the selection is
unlikely to be as good as a couple
of months ago but if the aim is to
fill a larger patch, now is the time
Check bags of bulbs before
buying to make sure there is
nothing rotten or diseased.
In the vegetable plot, keep
gathering courgettes, lettuces
and potatoes grown for new
spuds at Easter. If you have not
grown potatoes for March-April
har vesting, Swift is one to earmark
for putting in next January, as it
lives up to its name, producing a
crop within seven weeks, less time
than the 90 days some garden
websites claim it takes.
Bred in Scotland in the 1990s,
Swift is white-skinned, creamy
fleshed and popular because of its
resistance to scab and virus. The
speedy growth means it is ideal
for spring sowing for new spuds
at Christmas. For those with
limited space, it also lends itself to
container culture, although — as
always with pot-grown potatoes —
crops tend to be smaller than when
Swift is grown in open ground.
Spring cabbages, broccoli,
cauliflowers and silverbeet can
be planted now, while seed of
spinach, onions, parsley and Asian
vegetables such as pak choi can be
sown. Broad beans can be sown
this month. The young plants
will not do much over winter but
autumn sown broad beans will get
away to an early start in spring.
This is the time to choose new
shrubs and trees, and to prepare
the ground for winter planting.
The world’s most
popular flowering shrub
is evergreen Mexican
orange blossom (Choisya
ternata), which grows up
to 2.5m tall and about as
wide. The sweet-scented
white flowers appear all
year round and although
the plant prefers well-
drained, fertile soil,
it will grow almost
Sadly, camellias are
falling from favour
because of a nasty
fungal disease, camellia
petal blight (Cibornia
camelliae), which turns
flowers to unsightly
To date, there is no cure.
On the plus side, some of the
thin-petalled camellia species seem
unaffected and work at Massey
University is trying to develop
cultivars that resist petal blight.
If you have camellias that have
not been affected, do not be
complacent as the airborne spores
can travel up to a kilometre on
light winds. Gathering spent
flowers stops C. camelliae from
over wintering in the soil and is
strongly recommended, just in
If that sounds like too much
work, rhododendrons offer every
colour you can think of, although
orange flowers are confined to
azaleas, which belong to the large
Going back to the 1880s, when
a Dunedin nurseryman produced
Marquis of Lothian, New
Zealand has produced some fine
rhododendrons, of which the best
known are probably Kiwi Magic
and Lemon Lodge.
As with every shrub and tree, do
a bit of research into eventual size
and order rhododendrons early to
make sure you get the variety you
Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 7
Autumn’s mild conditions are
perfect for gardening, and it
is a great time to plant almost
Autumn is a wonderful time to see roses in
bloom and to select roses for winter planting.
Potted roses can be planted year round and
winter (or bare root) roses can be purchased
from nurseries or ordered from specialist
Plant potted roses as you would any other
potted plant, even when they are in flower.
After planting, sprinkle a small amount of
flower food around the soil surface and water
One of the No 1 problems experienced
by rose gardeners is black spot. This fungal
disease begins as small black circles on the
leaves, which gradually turn yellow and
fall. In severe cases the rose plant may be
almost defoliated, which weakens the bush.
Black spot is most prevalent in moist humid
Here are some tips to keep black spot under
Remove affected leaves and bin them.
Collect and dispose of all fallen leaves, as
these can re-infect healthy foliage.
Mulching around the base helps prevent
disease ‘splash back’ onto the lower foliage.
Use clean cutting tools. Wipe blades with
Keep rose foliage as dry as possible —
water at the base of the plant, or if watering
overhead do it in the morning, so the leaves
dry out as the sun rises.
Spray with highly effective rose gun
advanced which works from the inside out to
control fungal problems, and there are bonus
insecticides to clean up insect pests and mites.
Healthy roses can better withstand pest
and disease attack so feed your roses regularly.
A winter clean up spray using lime
sulphur when the roses are leafless helps
control hard to kill scale.
Fruit and citrus
Citrus are laden with developing fruit, so
unless there is good rainfall they need a good
deep soaking once a week. To grow abundant
juicy crops and maintain healthy green foliage
feed with citrus plant food.
Potted citrus need attention too, as dry
or hungry trees will drop their developing
fruit. Generous sized containers need a good
soaking at least once a week and smaller pots
more frequent watering. Little and often is the
key to feeding potted citrus, and citrus liquid
plant food is ideal mixed in a watering can.
Flowers to sow
Sweet pea ‘Pink Diana’
Long stemmed, large fragrant blooms in
pink shades — perfect for picking. Tradition
says St Patrick’s Day is the time for sowing
sweet peas, but April is better in most areas.
Sweet Peas are large easy to handle seeds, so
they are terrific for first time gardeners and
fun for kids to sow. Choose a sunny spot,
with well drained soil and prepare the bed by
mixing in a handful of dynamic lifter. Peas
prefer an alkaline soil, so if the soil is acidic,
water in some liquid lime and dolomite, which
will raise the pH and sweeten the soil.
Sweet Peas need something to climb on, so
use stakes or a tripod of bamboo canes wound
with twine for support or sow along a fence
or trellis. Sow the seeds into moist soil and
then don’t water again until little green shoots
emerge. To promote healthy growth and
lots of gorgeous flowers, feed as flower buds
appear. You will be enjoying the pretty flowers
and delicious fragrance in spring. Frequent
picking promotes plenty of blooms!
Pest watch — Sooty mould
Look closely at your trees, hedges or screen
plants. You might notice a black sticky
substance on the leaves, stems and twigs.
It is called sooty mould, which is a fungus
that grows on the honeydew excreted by sap
sucking insects such as scale, aphids, mealy
bugs and white fly. Ants are also attracted to
the insects’ honey dew.
To control the insect pests apply a thorough
spray of bug oil conqueror insect spray. Once
the insects are controlled, the black sooty
mould will eventually come off (to help
removal, give a good squirt with the hose).
Plant those bulbs!
If you have been chilling hyacinths or
waiting patiently to plant out spring flowering
bulbs, April is the time to go ahead. Tulips can
wait until May for best results in temperate
areas. Without exception bulbs look best mass
planted — so whether you choose a pot or
in the garden, the more the merrier. Do not
forget to mix a handful of plant food into the
soil before planting, as this will help give the
bulbs a great start. Anemones and ranunculus
are planted points or claws down, for all other
bulbs it’s points up. To ensure healthy bulbs
and lots of flowers in coming years, fertilise
Lift and divide overcrowded perennials.
Cut back spent flowers on salvias, nepeta (cat
mint), gaura, phlox, shasta daisy, michelmas
daisy and clumps can be split and replanted or
moved to other areas in the garden. Clumping
agapanthus and daylilies can be divided to
encourage better flowering next summer. Tidy
up spent flower heads and damaged leaves on
strappy leaf plants then feed.
Flower of the month
Camellia sasanqua are blooming now in
pretty pinks, white and cerise. They will
tolerate and bloom in full sun or deep shade
and enjoy enriched soil. Once established they
are tough and hardy garden beauties. There
is a range of varieties sizes and to suit lots of
garden uses from ground covers to hedging,
screening, specimens, espaliers or pots.
Vegetable and herbs
Plenty of winter crops can still go into
the veggie patch during April. — broccoli,
cabbage, kale, carrot, spinach, silverbeet, broad
beans, buk choy and Asian greens, beetroot,
peas, sugar snap, snow peas, spring onions,
radish, leeks and lettuce.
Mulch between the rows with lucerne or
pea straw to suppress weeds and retain soil
moisture. Protect young plants from snail and
slug damage with a light sprinkling of snail
and slug pellets. Keep vegetables growing
actively with weekly applications of liquid
plant food, which feeds through the leaves and
the roots and encourages a bumper har vest.
Lettuce winter triumph.— This cool
weather variety has a large head and is full of
flavour. Sown now it matures in 8-10 weeks,
ideal for winter har vest. Hearting lettuce such
as iceberg can be tricky in warmer weather,
so give winter triumph a go now the weather
is milder. Lettuce seeds are small and fine, so
just lightly cover with seed raising mix after
sowing and keep moist.
Pumpkin har vest
Pumpkins are ripe and ready to har vest
when the stalk withers. Leave a bit of the stalk
in place and store pumpkins in a dry place, up
off the floor (or even on the shed roof !) and
allow plenty of air circulation around each
one. Bundle up the remains of the vines and
pile them onto the compost.
In warm areas feed lawns to take advantage
of the optimum growing conditions before the
winter temperatures slow down growth. Keep
your lawn greener for longer over the winter
months with an application of slow release
lawn food, which continues feeding the lawn
for up to twelve weeks.
April is a good time to fix bare patches and
worn or thin lawns. There is still good warmth
in the soil and plenty of autumn sunshine to
encourage lawn seeds to germinate and grow.
To fi x lawn bare spots, use quick fix lawn seed
— it is a combination repair kit, containing
lawn seed, fungicide, bird repellent and
nitrogen fertiliser. Scatter quick fix over the
bare patches (it is best to prepare these areas
first by removing weeds and then creating a
fine, even soil surface), rake it in then keep it
moist. You will see the lawn seeds germinate
Supplied by Yates
The Greymouth Star has five
copies of the latest issues of
New Zealand Gardener and
NZ House and Garden
magazines to give away this
The May issue of NZ House
and Garden profiles a post-
earthquake Christchurch rebuild
and offers some great gourmet
The NZ Gardener has an
Anzac feature on growing
poppies, building a birdhouse,
and a holiday home located at
the Crown Terrace, in
To enter the draw, send your
entries with your name, address
and phone number to.—
C/o Greymouth Star
or e-mail competitions@
greystar.co.nz with garden in the
One entr y per household.
Entries close on April 23.
with Gillian Vine
April jobs to do
Divide or transplant lilies now.
At the end of the season, there can be bargains in daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs.
Popular lemon lodge is a New Zealand-bred rhododendron.
A fungal disease is reducing camellias’
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