If you have a bare block and have just moved on you may not be looking for shade plants right now. But be assured that as your garden grows you will have plenty of opportunity for plants which love shade. When you are planning a new garden design it is important to consider where the shade will fall from taller shrubs and trees. Trees or large shrubs to the north of the garden bed may shade far more than you bargained for as will a high hedge on the northern boundary.
If, however, you already have a mature garden with lots of lovely shady spots there are plenty of plants which will thrive in them. Sometimes plants will grow taller in shade than they would in the sun and some of them may need a little pruning if you are keen to keep them compact but on the whole those that like shade will just simply love the extra protection from a big brother tree or shrub.
There are usually a range of shade conditions in any mature garden including………………
# dappled shade such as under a tree with a light canopy,
# part shade conditions such as morning shade or afternoon shade. Areas which have morning shade and afternoon sun (for example west side of the house) are harsher on plants than those which have morning sun and afternoon shade for (example east side of the house)
# summer shade for example under deciduous trees
# full shade for example on the south side of the house or under a dense tree canopy.
# damp shade. In my garden I have damp shade where the envirocycle pumps out.
# dry shade which is at its worst under eucalyptus trees or other thirsty trees
And so to what will grow under Eucalyptus trees. There are plenty of hardy plants which will do the trick if you prepare the planting spot carefully. The trick is to get the plant growing quickly and strongly before the eucalyptus realises what is happening. I dig a decent sized area over for each plant making sure that I cut away surface roots. I mix plenty of compost to the existing soil, making sure there is enough excess soil to create a saucer around the plant for watering. Choose a vigorous looking plant specimen and plant in autumn or winter. Pay attention to the plant for a good couple of years through the summer months, keeping in mind that a little extra water will often make the plant grow faster even if it is a dry loving plant.
Under my own Eucalyptus trees I am growing Senna artemisioides, Philotheca myoporoides and Philotheca Winter Rouge, Eutaxia obovata, Derwentia perfoliata, Dodonaea sp, low and Dodonaea viscosa, Grevillea baueri, Grevillea iaspicula, Hakea salicifolia, Indigofera adesmiifolia, Lotus australis, Prostanthera scuttelarioides, Solanum linearifolium, Westringia glabra and W. Zena, Zieria prostrata, Correa decumbens, Correa glabra, Correa dusky bells, Correa upright pink, Linum marginale, Micrantheum hexandrum, and Banksia marginata.
Growing naturally in my paddocks under the Eucalyptus tree cover are Cheiranthera linearis, Dillwynia sericea, Hardenbergia violacea, Hovea linearis, Indigofera australis and Pultenaea subspicata.
If you are looking for grassland plants Poa labillardiera, Dianella longifolia, D. revoluta and D. tasmanica, Joycea pallida, Lomandra longifolia, L. tanika and L. filiformis and Themeda triandra will all work well.
We have many plants which will fit the bill when it comes to a range of shady conditions. In the next couple of days I will add the full list to the website so keep an eye out for that.
If you need specific advice on your particular conditions talk to either Iris or me when next you see us. We will be at Murrumbateman markets from 9am till 1pm on Saturday 22nd June or give us a call and arrange to come to see us up at the nursery.
Weeds!!! wadda you know? You turn around and there are weeds. Weeds everywhere. A little bit of cool weather and enough rain to get the soil surface wet and up they come. Have you found that weeds are excellent at hiding? One day not so long ago I realised that I was staring into the face of a Sow Thistle. Now I know I’m not that tall but a Sow Thistle as tall as me has to have been growing and hiding, hiding and growing for some time. Weeds also pop up behind my back. I weed a patch of soil, think its done, turn round and……….how could I have missed that one?
Some of my clients like me to spray their weeds with roundup but I am not very partial to its use so I use other methods of weed control in my own garden. Whether you have a little or a lot of garden it is well worth employing one or more of these methods so like me you can enjoy more time savouring your garden and less time weeding.
I hope that has given you plenty of useful ammo up your sleeves for keeping weeds at bay. Next fortnight, by popular demand, I hope to blog about plants which enjoy shade with some specifics about which of our plants will grow under Eucalyptus trees.
Frosty mornings are upon us. Sharply cold with gloriously blue skies. Slipped from those hot, hot days and nights to this? How does that happen and are you ready? Mostly we can be ready for winter in the garden by planting plants which are frost hardy. But, if you are like me, you occasionally just have to have that plant that is not quite as frost hardy as would be sensible….like the gorgeous white Crowea that I bought from Maria Hitchcock in Armidale. Obviously she also couldn’t resist it as her winters drop to -15 but you can bet that she, like me, has planted it in a spot in her garden where it is protected and perfectly happy. In my garden it is planted under the canopy of the olive tree and overwintered without a hitch last year so I’m expecting the same this winter. The other option of course is to plant such tender darlings in a pot and pop them on a warm north facing veranda.
Mature gardens will always have a variety of microclimates for such fussy plants but new gardens can be a little sparse on such positions. However Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paws) are perfectly happy nestled up to a large rock which absorbs heat during the day and releases it slowly through the night or close to a fence which gives it protection. My Anigozanthos are just under the edge of the canopy of my stand of Exocarpos trees, facing north so that the sun shines on them all day but the frost can’t reach them at night.
At the nursery we do sell a few plants which are perfectly happy in the coldest nights as long as they have had time to mature a little. Like the Calothamnus quadrifidus green which I have just planted in an exposed spot. Yes I planted it two days before our first frost but I also made a little enclosure for it out of fencing wire with frost cloth over the top so it sits there warm as pie and will be ready for a massive growth spurt in spring. If it is anything like the Calothamnus quadrifidus grey leaf which I planted three years ago, and is now 1 ½ m high, it will have no need for frost cloth after the first winter. Grevillea curviloba subsp incurva is another plant which needs frost protection for the first winter but is then hardy. Such a worthwhile plant as it grows a meter a year. Mine is now 3 ½ meters wide.
Succulents can be extremely frost hardy. The native Carpobrotus is no exception. In the nursery we have Carpobrotus glaucescens with a green green leaf, bright pink flower and a vigorous habit and Carpobrotus rossii with a grey leaf, white flower and a quieter growth habit. However don’t water succulents over winter. They prefer to be less ‘succulent’ when it is frosty so that there is less water to freeze.
Winter is not a time to use fertilisers or prune plants either. Both promote growth and new growth is more liable to be damaged by frost. Save fertilising, if it is needed, for spring and pruning for after flowering and you will be safe.
Healthy, hydrated happy plants with good roots make plants hardier in adverse weather conditions. Spraying or watering with seaweed solution helps strengthen plant cell walls against both extreme cold and extreme heat but don’t water or spray plants after midday as the water on leaves or in the soil can freeze solid and damage the plants. In the past I have made the mistake of leaving plants to dry out in winter. The soil looks damp but most often is not and although plants need less water in winter because they use less in the cold they do still need to be hydrated if they are evergreen. So check down below the soil surface every couple of weeks (especially if the plant is young) and water if needed.
If you do find that a treasured plant has been damaged by frost try giving it a little extra protection for the remainder of the cold season and don’t cut off the damage till risk of frosts is over. The damaged leaves will help to protect the leaves further down the plant.
And no it’s not too late to plant new plants in your garden before winter sets in properly. The ground is still plenty warm enough to put young plant roots into. Notwithstanding that Iris and I both plant all the way through winter anyway. Of course we see what happens to the plants in the nursery on a good frosty morning so we know that what happens in the ground is not going to be near as severe as being in a frozen solid pot up on a bench.
So if you thought I was serious about hibernating by the fire through winter think again. I will be out in all weather tending various gardens round town and coaxing the roots on the cuttings in the nursery to grow, despite the cold, ready for you in spring.
Driving along Tuggeranong Parkway today, past the arboretum, I was marvelling at the rows of trees which, no matter where you stand (or sit if you are driving as I was), are in tight formation, marching like soldiers into the distance (a timely comparison on this ANZAC day) Beautiful order is something I do love. I like to line my plants up in the nursery, like with like, sorted and counted. I used to work in a retail nursery and lining up the plants was always my favourite job after choosing which ones to order. The plants arrival was like Christmas, the gifts came weekly rather than yearly and each week I could unpack and line them up on the shelves. Customers would come like naughty friends to play with my toys but at the end of the day I would get to line them up again. And when I go to market I like to line up my plants then too. I like them to present themselves in an orderly fashion, like good children dressed tidily looking ready for adoption.
Yesterday I was pruning a client’s Westringia bushes into neat ball shapes, that was the brief, and so that’s what I did. Now I do love the look of plants pruned that way but I must admit that as I was pruning them I had to apologise to them for causing them grief. For pruning plants, even the hardiest of natives, into tight balls or hedges, those formal, in control sorts of shapes, is dreadfully hard on them. Conditions around their roots need to be really ideal for them to do well with this sort of treatment and conditions on top not too harsh either especially immediately after pruning.
A formal garden can certainly pander to one’s neat freakishness and control desires and the symmetry and predictability can be soothing to the eye and heart (as long as one doesn’t have to do the pruning…………..though perhaps my eye and heart were soothed but it was my shoulders which were not). However have one mature plant decide to turn up its toes for whatever reason (the horse leaned over the fence and chewed it, or the dogs decided that was the plant to wee on) in that sort of symmetry and it would be enough to turn one pale. One might have to wait years to have that neat row restored to its former glory. Hedging of any plant causes a mass of new growth on the outside of the plant (pruning stimulates growth) and shades the inside branches excessively and the die back is evident through the middle of the plant. I know they say that natives last longer if they are pruned regularly, and that is true, but that does not have to mean hedging type pruning. Selective pruning to maintain a natural looking plant leaves the plant with far more strength to face the day, hot or cold than one that has a tight shell of leaves only on the outside.
Interestingly, although I love my plants to line up and pay attention at the nursery, in the garden I have no such desire. I toyed briefly with the idea of a formal garden when I moved to my current property but I'm glad I resisted. Although my shoulders get a full work out in other people’s gardens, in my own garden they do not have to stand to attention because, more than any desire I might have for control in my life, I love to see my plants flourish just the way they were designed to.