May 16, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

Now is the time to go through plantings of Helleborus orientalis (winter roses) and cut off the tatty and tired old foliage.

That way you will get the full effect of the fresh flowers in winter. Otherwise they tend to be hidden under the old leaves. Thin out seedlings too, to prevent future congestion. The leaves can be left to lie on the garden beds and putting on a layer of mulch will tidy the appearance as well as smother fresh weeds and seeds which will germinate throught the winter. Auckland hellebore expert, Terry Hatch, is alleged to run his lawnmower through his hellebore patches but you need to get your timing spot on for this.

  • Divide clumps of polyanthus and they will romp away when they have more space and freshly dug soil. Polyanthus are very rewarding in a low key sort of way, with flowers for many months. Lovers of English primroses will find that they are nowhere near as rewarding in coastal Taranaki as in cold, inland areas. They can put on too much foliage and too few flowers in warmer climates.
  • Continue the autumn clean up in both the ornamental and vegetable gardens.
  • Garlic can be planted from any time now onwards until mid winter. Shun imported garlic totally. Potentially it harbours viruses which could destroy our local garlic crops and because it is from the northern hemisphere, it is out of its natural seasonal cycle so yields will be very poor in quantity and quality.
  • If you feel you must spray your lawns (though we are hoping that the perfect green sward achievable only by the frequent and heavy use of chemical sprays is on track to become as unacceptable as SUVs), get onto them now. It is safer to use hormone sprays now than in spring when they can wreak havoc on neighbouring plants in full growth. Sulphate of ammonia can also be used to suppress broad leafed weeds.
  • If you have not harvested all your potatoes, do not delay any longer because disease and insects will attack the tubers.

From the real estate pages, we are delighted by the description of a property with good shelterbelting. We feel shelterbelting or beltingshelter may become the latest rage for rural dwellers. Could save on petrol driving to the gym.