Courtney is a freelance fashion, art and design writer and content creator for www.mrgift.com.au - an online boutique specialising in quality gifts for men. Read more of Courtney’s work at www.alittlepinkbook.blogspot.com.au
Published January 24th 2019
Calling all Canberra gardeners
Hello Canberrans? Is there anyone still in town? Or have you all gone to the coast to escape the heat before you melt into a puddle of sweat? If you're looking out at your parched garden (hopefully from the comfort of your evaporatively-cooled/air-conditioned house) wondering when this heatwave is ever going to end (and if your plants will survive), don't despair. Here are a few simple things you can do in your garden now to prevent casualties and promote flowers:
1. Water, water, water! This is best done first thing in the morning, or in the evening. Better for you (no sunburn), better for your plants (they soak the water up more effectively when they're not heat stressed). You are probably familiar with the saying "plants don't like to go to bed with wet feet", but I personally find watering in the evening cools down the air around your house, promotes humidity after a dry day, and is relaxing for me (especially when done with a glass of wine in non-hose hand!)
Chances are some of your plants that bore delightful flowers throughout spring and early summer are now looking a bit long in the tooth…Salvia, I'm looking at you! Now it's tidy up time.
Grab your secateurs and remove any spent blooms from Salvia, roses, Penstemon, Lamb's Ear, Dahlias, Buddleia, and any other flowering plants where the blooms have started to fade. Firstly, this will tidy your plants up and make them more presentable, and secondly, give them a second wind encouraging further blooms (especially roses, which will reward you with autumn blooms).
3. Mulch, mulch baby! When the summer heat hits, mulch is your garden's best friend. Mulching to conserve soil moisture is not a new trick, but it is one we need to be reminded of regularly. Perhaps our mulch has broken down a bit and is not quite as effective as it used to be. Some mulch, such as straw, breaks down considerably quicker than others, like bark chip. Give your garden a thorough soaking before topping up your garden with your mulch of choice this weekend.
4. Prune Chrysanthemums If you have Chrysanthemums in your garden, now is the time to give them a little summer haircut. Don't have Chrysanthemums in your garden? You're missing out! This is one of the only plants in my garden (apart from bullet-proof African Daisies) that aren't flagging in the heat at the moment. They are one tough plant that stands up to Canberra summers, whilst providing a welcome injection of colour during the cold months of May and June.
To avoid lanky ones that topple over when flowers appear, trim them back to 30cm high now. This will encourage more shoots (and more flowers!). You can also use the off-cuts as cuttings for new plants. Simply trim cuttings back to 10-20cm lengths, dip ends in rooting hormone (or honey) and plant in a light potting mix.
5. Net fruit trees from furred and feathered friends You've nurtured your little fruit trees all season. From bud to blossom, and now fabulous fruit. You watch your little fruits slowly ripening every day. But you know one morning you'll walk out to inspect them, and shock horror…they'll be gone! Or if you're lucky, they'll still be on the tree, just pecked to pieces or full of bite marks – thank you birds and possums. Take action now! Grab yourself some fruit netting and get it over those trees before you're left sobbing and pining for fresh peaches.
It may be hot, but mornings and evenings are your prime gardening windows, so go forth and nurture your summer garden!