May 18 2007 In The Garden This Week

  • If you have a patch of helleborus orientalis (commonly known as winter roses), you may like to go through and cut all the old leaves off at this time. This allows the charming new flowers to be more visible as they otherwise tend to hide below the foliage. It is a good time to mulch around the hellebores.
  • Hellebores are one clumping perennial which does not like to be dug up and divided. They are frequently grown from seed and not division. The seedlings come up very readily in the garden but it pays to weed them out while they are still small or you risk the plants getting overcrowded. They don’t come true from seed unless you have isolated the mother plant and hand pollinated it. So to increase the double flowered varieties or the exciting new slate coloured ones, you will have to divide it but be patient because it can take several years for the plantlets to recover and perform well.
  • Polyanthus, however, do respond well to being divided. Indeed if you look at a plant which you may have bought as one substantial clump some time ago, you may notice that there are now multiple small plants and no large one. If you lift the small plants and give them space to grow, they will reward you with renewed vigour and flowering.
  • Sasanqua camellias are in flower now if you looking for late autumn colour.
  • Clean up established lawns by getting rid of broad leafed weeds, hydrocotle and oxalis. There are specific sprays which will target these weeds and it is safer to surrounding plants to spray now rather than waiting for spring. Sulphate of ammonia can also be used to suppress broad leafed weeds.
  • Harvest feijoas. They don’t last long if you leave them on the ground but will keep better in cool conditions.
  • Plant out strawberry runners for spring crop. You can divide established crowns if the plants are not producing runners, which some modern varieties don’t.
  • If you have not yet given your citrus trees a copper spray, then get on to it. It is the most important spray of the year for citrus.
  • Clean up asparagus beds. You can lightly fork the surface to counteract compacting and caking of the soil but be careful not to damage the crowns of the asparagus. Mulching will keep the bed looking tidy and suppress weeds as well as enriching the soil.