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A Melbourne garden in February.

By James Wall.

It’s a celebration of flowers in the month of February. Hibiscus are blooming, as are dahlias, geraniums, sunflowers, fountain grass and even some golden oldies such as cleome and gaura. A lot of plants are at their peak, enjoying the long days of sunshine. Here is a piece about my observations this February.

Cleome - the "spider flower"

What weird summer weather we have had. The odd scorcher, and then three cool days in a row. The plants are in shock, as are some of the humans. Thank goodness I paid the neighbours teenage son to water our garden, while we were away, because quite frankly these extremes can really be a drain on any garden. The Rapid Soak wetting agent has been really effective in my sandy soil and the row of lilly pilly have really responded well to its application. They have shot up new growth all over them. I think a little bit of Troforte fertiliser may also have helped.

You can still plant now, but attention to detail on the watering is imperative. It is actually a good time to nurse a new tree through, as the consistent autumn weather will soon be upon us and a newly planted tree or shrub will thrive during this period, have time to prepare itself for winter, and then really take off in spring. I have recently put in some Acacia Limelight, and although it has been a struggle to keep them moist, they are now getting some good growth on them, and soon they will require much less care.

Pennisetum - Fountain Grass

If your wisteria is sending out berserk strands of growth, stay on top of them or they can get into the roof and be a real menace. Also prune and shape murraya, box hedge and lanky citrus branches. Perennial plants can also be shaped and undercut to keep them in their own space and let others around them thrive. I have just pruned the tips of those lilly pilly and this will encourage dense, bushy growth.

Also deadhead roses, dahlia, geraniums and any other finished flowers so as promote the development of a new flush of flowers. Even some of my African Daises are spot flowering again after doing this. If any of these plants have yellowing or faded leaves, give them a liquid feed with Seamax fish and kelp formula to give them a real kick. Pick off fully yellow leaves.

Gaura - the "butterfly flower"

Turn the compost heap to ensure the process will reward you with something to use in autumn. Flush some water through the worm farm if you have one as this will freshen it up. Check to see if the bottom compartment could be emptied onto the garden and continue the process by returning the tray to the top.

Start thinking about broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage because soon it will be their time. Sow seeds now, or get the next batch of short compact seedlings that are looking ready. Lettuce will absolutely fly if planted now, as will spring onions, carrots, silverbeet and beetroot. Even a batch of snowpeas from seed are worth getting going.

 

Pretty soon the days will get shorter and cooler. Our goal now is to get as many plants through the extremes of the tail end of summer, so they can enjoy what is soon ahead. Please come and visit us at the nursery. It is a quieter month for us, and therefore a good opportunity to pick our brains about any garden questions you may have. Yes, we know you also shop at the big chain stores – but don’t forget your local nursery – we’re here to help you !

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