July 25, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

Spring can not be far away. The earliest flowering magnolias are the campbelliis and already they have opened their first blooms. Check the trees in the Victor Davies Park next to the radio station on Powderham Street if you live in town. The campanulata cherries are just starting to break into flower for us which the tuis will be looking forward to. Another gardening year is about to start.

  • All this means that the pressure is coming on to get the winter pruning round underway – roses, wisterias, deciduous fruit trees, grapevines, many clematis and hydrangeas (the buds are already swelling on ours) are the main candidates for an annual winter haircut. Leave cherry trees alone (these get pruned in summer) and resist the temptation to be too drastic with late winter and spring flowering trees and shrubs or you will be cutting off their flower buds. We admit we have yet to prune our raspberries but they too should have been attended to by now. Cut off last year’s fruiting canes because the plant produces its fruit on new wood. Shorten the new canes to manageable height.
  • Take time to smell the daphnes. If you are planting daphne, they prefer to be out of full sun and in humus rich soil. Because they are winter flowering, they are usually best planted by pathways or entrances so you can smell them as you dash past under an umbrella.
  • If you have early potatoes in the ground, earth them up as they shoot so you are creating a mound. This is standard practice. It allows the soil to warm faster, kills the weeds, can protect emerging shoots from frost and gives a thicker layer to prevent the greening of the young tubers later on. You can plant potatoes any time now as long as you can protect them from frosts.
  • Peas, brassicas, silver beet and its allies, even an early sowing of carrot seed can be put in now. Broad beans can still be sown to give a late crop.
  • In the current wet spell, watch citrus trees for botrytis (the leaves go brown and fall off). You may need to give them a copper spray.
  • Roses and all deciduous fruit trees benefit from a winter spray of copper as part of the clean up round.

· Cora Lea Bell, who was presumably American with a name like that, wrote:

An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider the other choices in life.