Updated: May 6
✦ "Garden chat with Chook" from Greenbourne Nursery
The last four weeks have seen an ease in all things precipitation. Clearer skies and some breezy days have helped to dry things out.
Normally I would be complaining about the wind, knocking over plants and disrupting our train of thought, however it has proved to be really effective. I have found a new respect for what the wind can do for us. It proves that Mother Nature truly has a plan.
With the improvement in the weather conditions the nursery has embraced the returning crowds of people. Actually, the word crowd does not do them justice… the nursery has embraced the ‘family’ returning.
The common theme of conversation has been about the strength and resilience of the plants in people’s gardens. Many plants that had deteriorated rapidly throughout the torrential and consistent rain have now begun to recover and show positive signs.
Recommendations for the coming season
Our main recommendations are to lightly prune any dead tip material from the plants. This material can potentially be breeding grounds for various pathogens. Applying an anti-rot agent (phosphorous acid) has been common. With all the extra moisture in our soils there are certain diseases and pathogens that are more active.
We have also been discussing the fact that phosphorous acid is non selective, so it will repel both good and bad organisms. After applying the acid, it is important to reinvigorate the soil with ingredients that encourage these positive organisms. All of the manure and seaweed products are great for encouraging them back.
I had a great chat with a gentleman who had been having trouble with young avocado trees over the last couple of years. His neighbour has large trees that are established and strong, however his young trees had struggled and died over the last few years. He had researched the various problems associated with young trees in wet seasons, the fact they are more susceptible to various diseases and pathogens in these wet seasons.
His defensive method was to grow the plant in a raised bed. Now raised beds are a great idea and they are used all the time.
However, it was his method which fascinated me and drove me to repeat the story. He found and area in his garden and lightly teased the soil but dug no hole.
He then purchased some large bricks and made what I can only describe as a circular ‘fire pit’ with a diameter of about 2 metres. Having purchased a 45 litre Avocado plant, he then removed it from the pot and then placed it in the middle of the brick circle.
So, here we have the complete soil ball above the ground with a circular pattern of bricks around it. To the unsuspecting neighbour it could look like some sort of religious ceremony… the gentlemen then began emptying bagged garden soil all around the root ball, creating a pyramid of soil.
The bricks at the bottom captured and held the base, while the sloped walls were added to with extra garden soil.
By the end the man had a proud avocado tree at the top of a mounded pyramid all supported at the base by the security of the bricks.
A creative and very effective raised garden bed. One that will counteract the current conditions and nurture the tree while its young and also allow the tree to eventually grow roots into the ground and anchor the tree into maturity.
Ornamental Plant Recommendation…
Chrysanthemum ‘GARDEN MUM’ (Chrysanthemum x hybrid)
The wonderful second Sunday of the month of May when we celebrate with affection and remembrance with the greatest people in the world… the Mother’s.
I hope every mother out there had a truly special day. So, it would not be Mother’s day without a splash of colour all through the nurseries, with the mighty Chrysanthemum leading the way. These plants represent Mother’s day like no other plant.
A very colourful and compact selection is the ‘Garden Mum’. This specific selection has a great compact nature up to 50cm which makes it suitable for a host of positions. Great in small pots, or as a small shrub in the front of the garden bed. They work well on sunny verandas and can even work on a sunny kitchen table.
These Chrysanthemum plants thrive in full sun, produce masses of flowers and work really well if you want to do a bulk planting. So, if you didn’t happen to pick one up prior to Mother’s Day, race in to your local nursery now as there are always plenty available the few weeks after the big day.
Culinary Herb Recommendation…
Perennial Basil (Ocimum gratissimum)
Also called ‘tree basil’ and ‘clove basil’, this under-estimated plant is a year after year champion. When the cool of the year knocks many of the other basils to sleep this particular variety will still thrive and give you fresh leaves for your cooking.
It has a great aniseed/basil flavour. Great for all traditional dishes that contain the common sweet basil. The plant has the potential to get to a modest size just over one metre.
It produces masses of soft purple flowers all year round that provide a great way to entice bees into your yard to aid with pollination.
Due to the increased popularity of the plant, it is now appearing on a more regular occurrence in nurseries. It is plant that I always find a spot in the garden for.
Fruit tree recommendation…
Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora)