August 22, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

As we write this, we have had three days without rain or wind and to be out in the sun in the garden reminds us of what a pleasure it can be. Now all we need are a couple of degrees of extra warmth and a fine weekend to make all gardeners feel that everything is well in their world.

  • If you have small feature conifers (and the dwarves and smaller growing varieties make splendid year round feature plants), cleaning out the accumulated debris from the centre of the plant is not only quite a satisfying task, it is also good for the plant and can reduce disease or pest problems. We have the country’s conifer experts in New Plymouth at Cedar Lodge so the best of advice is available locally. If you are into clipping conifers, be cautious about cutting back to bare wood as many will not sprout again (totara is an exception). It is often safer to renovate a tired plant by finding its established branch structure and featuring its lovely gnarly shapes rather than trying for bushy sentinels.
  • Get onto planting woody trees and shrubs soon so they can get established before summer. Garden centres should have the best range available at this time, except possibly for fruit trees which probably sold out a while ago.
  • The weeds are on the march. Ignore them at your peril. The nasty seeding bitter cress has already produced its first generation of seeding parents who will continue to multiply exponentially if you let them.
  • With spring approaching, carrots, summer spinach and onions can now be direct sown into the vegetable garden. You can still get a good crop of garlic if you missed the mid winter timing, but give this priority if you are still to sow it. Dig in green crops. They need a few weeks to break down before you plant into the area. Really weedy vegetable gardens can be dug over and the weeds treated as a green crop, providing they are not seeding. Don’t think you will get away with digging in the weed seeds.
  • It is your last chance to prune grape vines although they will likely weep now because the sap will be rising.

The Quotable Gardener has a whole section of excerpts about lawns. American garden writer, Michael Pollan perhaps came up with the most succinct:

A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.