Updated: Oct 12
✦ With the fantastic weather that has been on offer, our amazing customers have been filling the nursery with their wonderful smiles and stories. Many are letting us know just how well their garden areas are performing with the onset of the new season.
There certainly seems to be more weather consistency this spring than we have had in the last two or three. Vegetable seedlings are again all the rage with 3 out of 4 people leaving the nursery with at least a punnet of some sort of vegetable. It's also been good to see a lot of younger clientele coming through the yard. Many have young families and are keen to engage with their children in their gardens.
Ornamental Plant Recommendation…
Petunia ‘Night Sky’ (Petunia x hybrida)
Coming into the warmer months of the year there are few plants that colour up the garden quicker than the Petunia. The Petunia has come a long way in recent years with the breeders producing amazing hybrids that have new and fantastic colours with the ability to have regulated growth patterns.
The original seed grown Petunias will always have their place in our annual colour beds as they are quite inexpensive and grow quite rapidly, however with the new hybrids that last longer in the garden, grow in a more even and controlled manner and produce brand new mixed colours, we can now use them together to create the ultimate Petunia garden bed.
One of the new hybrids in particular is Night Sky. I can only imagine the joy the breeder would have had when the first few flowers of this particular variety appeared in their research igloos. The plant has an amazingly rich purple which represents the night sky, it is complemented with flashes of iridescent white spots that truly do look like a starry universe painted onto a flower.
One of the keys with this particular hybrid is its nice, neat and compact growth. It has a short nodal distance on its branching structure which keeps the plant nice and uniform. As with a lot of the new hybrids you can treat it like a perennial plant in the warmer zones and also when grown in protected garden positions. Like all Petunias these new hybrids like fertile, well drained soils. They like a bit of extra water on hot days and grow well and flower regularly when they receive low doses of liquid fertiliser every 2-3 weeks. Create a fantastic display with one of the many Petunia hybrids.
Culinary Herb Recommendation…
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
The soft blue tones provided by the leaves of the sage plant offer more than just a culinary addition to cooking. The flowers of the plant are remarkable at attracting bees to your garden and the oils produced by the roots of the plant can help reduce the negative insects that come into our gardens. The plant itself thrives on the warm weather and lots of sun. It does best in rich loamy soils with good drainage. Fertilise regularly with a high nitrogen liquid fertiliser and lightly prune from time to time to encourage the plant to stop getting too ‘leggy’.
Alternatively, you can grow the plant in a slightly tall pot and allow the weight of the small branches to pull the plant over the edges and lightly cascade. One important tip when transplanting your small punnet of sage is to water it well prior to removing it from the punnet. Sage can be quite a sensitive plant at this stage and by doing this you will be protecting the root system of the plant and preventing it from drying out. Culinary wise the herb is used in a host of European cuisines. It has a very strong flavour, hence it is best used in small amounts to not overpower the dish. No herb garden is complete until you have the subtle colour and texture of sage in amongst your other plants.
Fruit tree recommendation…
White Mulberry (Morus alba)
If you have a little bit of space to grow a small tree, the white mulberry is worth considering. Unlike its cousin the black mulberry, this particular variety won’t stain your clothes or the clothesline. While I personally have great memories as a child throwing the red staining berries at my brothers and sisters across the backyard, I do now see the beauty of the non-staining variety. The white variety also has a much sweeter flavour compared to the tangy acid flavour of its counterpart. The tree itself has the potential to reach 10 metres, however being a deciduous tree it is quite easy to manage with pruning in the winter. You can keep the plant consistently around the 4 to 5 metre mark for the majority of its lifespan.
While the tree does best in full sun (it creates shade!), it is surprising how it will adapt and perform well in a part shade area. It is a plant that is very tolerant in a range of soils. The only soil type that it will not do well in is a full sedge area. This is an area that is constantly wet all the time. The young trees will require monthly fertiliser to get them established, once established they will only require a good all-purpose fertiliser once a year. The leaves are of course the diet for silkworms, so these trees are great if you have kids who are doing the whole ‘grubs and shoebox’ thing. The fruit is used in cooking as many berries are but their best flavour can be found when they are eaten fresh off the tree. Track one down at your local nursery and enjoy their sweet flavour.