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Snip Snip! Winter Pruning

Why Prune?
Winter pruning
We are well and truly in the middle of winter now so that means that some of our garden trees and shrubs might be needing a good trim soon. Don’t stop there because lots of other plant types can do with the winter snip! While pruning can test the courage of the beginner gardener, who may be fearful of doing ‘the wrong thing’ and perhaps killing off their plants, following a few basic guidelines is all it takes to successfully get your garden into shape.
Why prune at all? While it may seem rather romantic to hold back the pruning for the gardener who has visions of organic, wild rambling vistas, most plants grow stronger, healthier, and more abundantly with a good cut back every now and then. Along with the removal of dead or diseased matter, pruning enables us to also guide a plant to the shape, direction and sometimes size that we may want. Thinning out plants to increase air circulation and light or to slow the growth of fast-growing plants are other reasons to grab the secateurs. It’s also an important task for those growing flowers and food, as pruning increases the production of both. While there are plants that never require any pruning, others will need to be regularly maintained and some can easily get away with a careful trim every five to ten years.

Winter Pruning
As a rule of thumb, younger plants can usually tolerate pruning at any time. This is because they are in a faster growth phase of their lives and can regenerating themselves quickly. Older plants should be pruned in the time that’s advisable for them and to be safe? Stick with these times for all your garden plant buddies. If in any doubt, check with your local nursery or a reliable published resource. Be careful when using books or online sites that advise you of the month you should be pruning instead of actual seasons as they might not be referring to Australia! The following is a small selection that may require some trimming attention late winter. Deciduous shrubs, apples, pears, European and Japanese plums, figs, persimmons, pomegranates, peaches, nectarines, cherries, quinces, winter flowering natives and give overgrown trees and shrubs the once over as well. When something has completed flowering or fruiting or is in a dormant state, it’s a good time to prune.

Pruning Tools
Bypass secateurs are an all-rounder tool that will see you through with most small to medium pruning jobs. They are best suited however to soft materials, twigs, and small branches. Moving up from there to thicker branches, anvil secateurs will be needed or a pruning saw, which will take you up to even bigger branches. If you can only afford two pruning tools, pick the bypass pruners and the pruning saw. Buy the best quality you can afford and look after your tools by always cleaning them after use and storing safely. Maintenance includes sharpening, perhaps oiling moving parts and replacing worn parts as needed. On that point, look out for tools with replaceable parts.

Safety First
Tools must be sharp and in good working condition and you must be familiar with the way they work. Eye protection is important as sticks and branches have a habit of snapping in all directions. Always work away from you and if using ladders to reach higher parts, make sure that you and your ladder are completely stable. Assume all plants are toxic so wear gloves for this purpose as well as cut protection, don’t touch your face while working and cover any open wounds you have with bandages. Wash any cuts or scrapes you acquire while pruning immediately. To keep plants safe, disinfect your tools as you move from plant to plant to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.


How to Prune
Aim to make oblique cuts, on a downward angle, just above an outward facing node or bud. When cutting larger branches, do so in sections by taking off the weight of the branch from the outer most tip bit by bit. Trying to cut a large heavy branch from a tree will usually end with the branch tearing once the weight falls. This will open the tree up to infection and could topple you to the ground with it.
Your first course of action is to remove all dead, dying and diseased parts, then move on to shaping or thinning of the plant. There are lots of different examples of exactly how to shape and prune your plant dependant on type to be found online or in publications. Examples include rose winter pruning - aim to open the interior by removing any crossing branches and try to shape the bush to even length branches. Deciduous fruit trees are usually pruned into a vase shape as this allows maximum light to fall into the middle of the tree.



WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
If you have an event to share contact: [email protected]

Pat Collins Boost your Immune System Sat, 22 Jul 2023 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
In this workshop, you will learn about many useful herbs that will boost your immune system along with other helpful information. We will cover a healthy diet, exercise, additives and lifestyle. We will enjoy together healthy treats to sample and create lots of useful items to take home.

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/pat-collins-boost-your-immune-system-tickets-634553325077
Gardens Hosts for Central Coast Edible Garden Trail 2023

Would you like to be a Garden Host for the 2023 Central Coast Edible Garden Trail on October 21+22? They would love to hear from you! Do you have any friends you would like to put forward as Garden Hosts this year - we're looking for more lovely gardens to join us.
Please send recommendations to: [email protected]
Rachel’s Farm Special Screening, Avoca Theatre, 27th July
Be one of the first to see Rachels Farm at our special Q&A screening with Rachel Ward, Maree Lowes and Cheralyn Darcey. In this triumphant film, Rachel voyages from wilful ignorance about the ecological impacts of conventional agriculture on her own rural property, to embracing a movement to restore the health of Australia’s farmland, food and climate. Tickets from Avoca Theatre: avocabeachtheatre.com.au

 

GARDEN PLANNER
Start digging in composts mixed with well-rotted mature into beds in preparation for Spring. You can plant the following now: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, asparagus crowns, beetroot, broad beans, cabbages, carrots, cress, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, potatoes, rhubarb crowns, silverbeet, African marigold, delphinium, dianthus, English daisy, gloxinia, gypsophilia, mignonette, spider flower, statice.


Cheralyn is a home & garden author and along with Pete Little, 

hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News.

 

 









 

 


Following the Edible Garden Trails

 

Central Coast Edible Garden Trail
Central Coast Edible Garden Trail

Edible Garden Trails are a joyful event that helps gardeners showcase their techniques, passions and experience while opening the way for budding and more experienced gardeners to find inspiration, knowledge, and friendship. Usually held over a weekend in warmer weather, they are a relatively new form of Open Garden experience that focuses on growing your own food. The emphasis is on organic agricultural methods and often includes permaculture and sustainable practices. These self-guided trails enable visitors to experience a variety of gardens, in different sizes, created by gardeners with various interests and levels of experience over a short period of time gives the visitors an abundance of first-hand local knowledge that I’m not sure could be gained elsewhere. Plus, Edible Garden Trails are fun! Lots of fun.

There is nothing quite like the vibe of these trails that are springing up
not only here in Australia, but around the world. Often, they offer a chance to see first-hand how those working with gardening techniques that may be little outside mainstream are succeeding as well and to hop beyond the garden gate and check out what is working in your neighbourhood.
In 2018, Susanne Rixs, a life-long gardener who is passionate about home-grown organic food got 30 of her neighbours together in the Blue Mountains to open their produce gardens to the public. Ediblegardentrail.com Her vision was for this event to grow, “I’m hoping this will become a global phenomenon with people all over the world opening their gardens not just for show, but for sharing intelligent, thoughtful, sustainable food production techniques.” That wish is being granted with the Sydney Edible Garden Trail beginning after Bridget Kennedy visited the inaugural Blue Mountains Trail as she was looking for a way to create an annual fundraising garden trail to promote sustainable living and growing your own food. This year the Sydney Edible Garden Trail is on the weekend of 4th and 5thNovember 2023 sydneyediblegardentrail.com


The Central Coast Edible Garden Trail Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October 2023
CCEGT_Logo_apple_colourLast year more than 650 visitors joined the inaugural Central Coast Edible Garden Trail of 37 locations that included home gardens and community gardens covering much of The Coast - from Killcare to Gwandalan, out to Jilliby, Wyong and Watanobbi. Local Permaculturalists Anna Trigg and Sandi Eyles came together to create and manage our local Trail to highlight Central Coast food gardeners who are working with the earth and sustainability.
Like all Edible Food Trails, the Central Coast Food Trail is a ticketed event run as a not-for-profit organisation. “We have been quite excited that we raised a lot of money from ticket sales and more than we expected from our first year and so it meant that we could donate a whole lot of money back to the community.” organiser Anna Trigg shared. $400 was donated to each Community Garden across the Coast and to finance a hugely successful community outreach program designed by Sue Bradley of In8lygood and SWAMP Central Coast that brought together fifteen organisations across The Coast. The program that helped those living with disability to learn gardening with facilitators Kerrie Anderson and Matt Silavant.
So, what was the biggest take away from the inaugural Central Coast Edible Garden Trail? Sandi Eyles, trail organiser said, “It’s so lovely to help build community. We met so many amazing gardeners and visitors who helped create this beautiful warm and joyous community.” Both Anna and Sandi agreed that the event helped reinvigorate the permaculture and general gardening community on The Central Coast as well.
To keep updated on Central Coast Trail happenings, hop on over to their website: centralcoastediblegardentrail.org.au or facebook.com/CentralCoastEdibleGardenTrail
Along with lots more special features, Coastfm963, the official media partner of The Central Coast Garden Trail will have popular local home and garden program ‘Home with the Gardening Gang’ with me, your gardening writer Cheralyn Darcey and co-host Pete Little broadcasting live on the Saturday from one of the gardens.


Register Your Garden for the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail
The Central Coast Edible Garden Trail is looming for more gardens! Would you and your garden like to be on the Trail? It’s a wonderfully welcoming community of Central Coast gardeners who have a passion for sharing their experiences and love of all things botanical. Any sized garden and all skill levels are welcome, and you don’t have to be open both days, you can if you are keen but one day is ok with the team. The Edible Garden Trail is not competitive, it’s about sharing time, thoughts, and the love of plants. Getting more people growing. If you want to know more email [email protected]

Exploring Edible Garden Trails
While I’ll give you my experience with the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail, much of my tips are relevant to other such trails. With the Central Coast being so vast in area, planning is of essence for trail explorers. The organisers make it easy with maps being given to ticket holders in advance along with opening days and hours. The first thing to be aware of is that some gardens are open both days of the event while others only for one, so take that into careful account. Short descriptions of each garden are given, and they are highlighted in the weeks leading up to the event on social media. Make a note of techniques and plants that you want to see but also make sure you include visits to gardens similar in size and environment to yours. With the Central Coast having so many different micro-climates, from blustery seaside to frosty mountains, on to rich valleys and urban hot-zones, what can work in one area here might not in another. To experience ways in which gardeners in conditions very similar to yours are doing to tackle challenges is an opportunity too good to pass up.

WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
The Fungal Kingdom with Anna Durkin, 8th July

The July meeting of the Australian Plants Society Central Coast Anna will share her work as a Citizen Scientist in this field, educating us with her skill and knowledge and answering our questions about the fungal kingdom of the Sydney region. 1:30pm for. 2pm start, Philip House, 21 Old Penang Road, Kariong. Entry: $3 with lucky door prizes. Austplants.com.au/Central-Coast-Events for more details.

                                                                                           
RF_Tour_AvocaBeachTheatre_Post



Rachel’s Farm Special Screening, Avoca Theatre, 27th July
Be one of the first to see Rachels Farm at our special Q&A screening with Rachel Ward, Maree Lowes and Cheralyn Darcey. In this triumphant film, Rachel voyages from wilful ignorance about the ecological impacts of conventional agriculture on her own rural property, to embracing a movement to restore the health of Australia’s farmland, food and climate. Tickets from Avoca Theatre: avocabeachtheatre.com.au




GARDEN PLANNER
Winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

 

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News

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Homegrown Citrus

CitrusEveryone has room for citrus these days will a vast array of offerings to suit all garden sizes available from our local nurseries. Select a tree that you know you will use and that will be compatible with your area and environment. Grafted varieties will generally be hardier as they are clones of desirable plants that are grown upon strong, disease resistant rootstock that is suitable for your area. There are a large variety of sizes so make sure that your intended spot can accommodate the growth. While you can grow a tree from a seed, they probably won’t grow true to the type of the fruit they came from and though you may be pleasantly surprised, you will probably end up with sometime inedible. As it will take about seven years until you see the fruit, you will be better off having faith in a grafted tree of the type you are after.










A few of my juicy selections for Central Coast/temperate regions include Lemon: Eureka, Orange: Valencia, Lime: Makrut, Grapefruit: Ruby Red Grapefruit, Mandarin: Imperial, Cumquat: Nagami. Australian Native:  Finger Lime (any they are all wonderful!) 
Buddha-fruitSomething Unusual: Buddha’s Hand


How to Grow a Citrus Tree
Citrus will require at least six hours of full sun every day. The soil needs to be deep, rich and loamy, with free draining qualities being an absolute must. It won’t want other plants, or a lawn, sharing its space at all and a sheltered spot is best as they don’t fare well in strong winds. Planting time is early spring but planning time is right now, in the middle of winter, because a well-prepared bed will mean a happy, healthy long-lived tree.
Chose you spot and dig in. If your soil is heavy, add compost and lots of it and some sand can help as well. Dig your hole right out to three metres wide and as deep as you can manage.  Enrich the soil now with a little well-rotted manure if you feel your soil is depleted as fertilising during planting will burn the sensitive root structure of citrus. The preferred pH level for citrus is 6 - 7.5 and so you may need to toss in a little lime to bring up the level. When it is time to plant, ensure you mound up earth in the planting hole and spread roots out over it before filling. Water in well and mulch the surrounding area with an organic material and leave at least 12cm away from the trunk.

Citrus Care
Citrus are hungry garden buddies, so you need to feed them well. To leave no doubt there are specialised citrus fertilisers that are brilliant and take the guess work out of things for beginners. The usual pattern for feeding is mid-winter, late spring and late summer. Watering is essential once a week for newly planted trees and then only once every couple of weeks except if the weather is very hot. Container grown plants will naturally need additional watering and just remember that they detest soggy feet. Pruning may seem a bit daunting but in all honestly, it’s relatively easy with most citrus. Just trim back after harvest should you wish to shape your tree and remove dead branches and any that may be diseased but never cut away more than 20% of your tree canopy. You should be able to reach the trunk of the tree without being too obstructed by branches so keep the centre clear. When it comes to harvest, leave fruit on the tree until they have fully developed to ensure best flavour.

What’s Wrong with my Citrus?
Holes in my Tree: Probably Tree Borers and they can be removed by digging out with a skewer and a pyrethrum-based spray can knock them down as well.
Wiggly Lines on Leaves: The Leaf Miner is usually the culprit and can be controlled with an organic pest oil.
Sooty Mould & Honeydew: The sticky dew is created by insects, and it can lead to the sooty mould fungus issue. It can be controlled by washing the plant with a horticultural soap and then treating the tree with an organic insecticide.
Healthy Leaf Drop: This happens in most cases due to lack of water but can also indicate a health issue with the tree so give it a close examination.
Yellow Leaves: These will usually also drop and indicate too much water and poor drainage. Reduce watering and the tree should return to good health.
Stink Bug Infestation: This is a big one, and dreaded, as the fruit is punctured and drops off and tree slowly dies. If they are known in your area, my advice is to get a jump on them by spraying your trees completely in early spring with an organic horticultural oil but if they are already there then you will need program of organic insecticide as per the manufacture’s recommendations.

No Room Citrus Tips
Why don’t you try growing citrus in pots? This is also brilliant for those who are renting as you can simply take your ‘movable orchard’ with you and there are lots of dwarf citrus available. You will need as deep a pot as possible and repot every two years. An old but clever way to grow citrus in limited space to train it to grow up a wall. Espalier style, as it is called, needs careful planning and constant maintenance, but if you have the time, it’s an easy way to make use of tight spaces and provide a stunning backdrop in a courtyard or garden.


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT AND NATURE LOVERS
Got an event to share? Tell us: [email protected]

Long Jetty Produce Swap 10 – 11am, Saturday 1st July, Bateau Bay Community Garden
Share excess (chemical free) edible produce and creations from your garden. Come together with minded locals and make some new friends. It’s an opportunity to share produce, knowledge, and skills locally - find out what grows best here. Make sure your garden produce does not go to waste. Find plants and produce that you won't find in the shops. Feel free to drop in and have a chat to see what it is about. Haven't got a garden? We usually have some cuttings/seeds/plants on offer or why not bake something and bring it along.


Christmas in July Workshop, Burbank at Saddles, Mt. White, 1pm, Sunday 2nd July
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Get into the festive spirit with our exciting and creative Kids Christmas Terracotta Pot Workshop! Let your little ones unleash their artistic talents and create beautiful, personalized Christmas decorations that will add a special touch to your holiday celebrations. All materials provided. Bookings a must phone 43701010

 

 

 

 


GARDEN PLANNER
Winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

 

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News

 









 


Thrifty Gardening

With the additional financial pressures that life is bringing, many are turning to gardening as a way to provide at least some ease. Although gardening, like any endeavour, can end up being expensive if you don’t pay attention to your spending. Any savings made by growing your own food or even being a little more entrepreneurial and selling your produce could take a long time to balance out if you spent a small fortune in getting established or maintaining your garden. The best way to avoid wasting money is by planning your garden, your crops and setting goals. Start small and grow from there as gardens have a habit of evolving as if by magic as you meet other who garden, save seeds from each harvest and learn what it is that your truly need to be successful and more importantly, the horticultural extravagances you really can do without.

Thrifty Gardening

Build a Thrifty Garden
Your garden will cost as much as you are able or willing to spend on it. I caught up with local home and garden blogger, Jen Jones of Pickles Patch and asked her for tips on building a garden for less. “Start with water. Are you using tank water or are you using council supplied water and what ways can you use water in your garden more effectively?” Jen also suggested that if you can’t afford a water tank, to use barrels under drainpipes to catch run off. To build a garden, take advantage of things that others are throwing out. “Save building materials and pots from landfill by using them to create garden beds” she said, and she is a big fan of composting to build the soil. “I cannot stress enough how important composting is. It reduces the waste coming out of your house and creates valuable soil for your garden.” Other ways Jen suggested to save money include seed saving and sharing cuttings. Any money you are going to spend, is best directed towards investing in good tools. You can find Pickles Patch on Facebook for lots of gardening and home inspiration: facebook.com/Piccklespatch

What to Grow
If you are seeking ways to save money on grocery bills, then take a good hard look at what your family eats and focus in on growing a few of the staples in abundance to start with. You can’t go past root crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens like silverbeet and lettuce. These are allrounders that can be used in a huge variety of dishes. Clara Rosa of Clara’s Mini Urban Farm and President of Permaculture Central Coast grows a verge garden, for herself and to share with neighbours. It is filled with lots of produce, primarily herbs. Who hasn’t purchased $4 scraggly bunches of dill, rosemary or parsley and watched them turn to slime? Growing your own saves money and waste. Clara says that the good news is herbs are probably the easiest plants of all to grow. Following Clara’s lead, you can save hundreds of dollars a year and boost the flavour of all your dishes. As she explained, “Even if you live in a townhouse or apartment, you can bunch a few pots together and still grow herbs.” For more wonderful insight into gardening more sustainably check out Clara’s Blog: facebook.com/ClarasUrbanMinifarm and for permaculture on The Coast: www.permaculturecc.org.au


Thrifty Garden Practice
Once you are established, the most important piece of advice I think I can share is to plan what you are going to grow. Plant in line with the season because that way you do not have to invest in resources or infrastructure to keep your crops warm or to cool them down. Grow what is suitable for your environment by having your soil tested and improving it with rich organic matter that you create yourself, like compost. Work with your zone. Here on the Central Coast we enjoy what is known as a ‘warm temperate’ zone so look out for plants that are known and recommended to grow well here.

Swapping Your Produce
Once you obtain a harvest, a great way to find free food sources and help others is by swapping your excesses for things you are not growing. There are bunches of produce swaps on the Central Coast and around the world. Usually held in community gardens but also elsewhere. These are amazing places for inspiration, gardening tips and friendship. There is a private Central Coast Produce Swap Group on Facebook. It’s a place for people on the Central Coast, who grow chemical free produce, to swap and share with others. Handy when you can't get to your local produce swap, and you can also find or list local swaps. Central Coast Produce Swap Group: facebook.com/groups/400030077022113. Two popular swaps I have found are: Long Jetty Produce Swap and it is held on the first Saturday of the month 10 - 11am at the Bateau Bay Community Garden and the Woy Woy Produce Swap which happens on the last Sunday of the month at Woy Woy Peninsular Community Garden. There are sure to be more so join the group, keep an eye on this page or ask around. 


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT AND NATURE LOVERS
Share your Gardening News and Events - [email protected] or call 0408105864

Mingara Orchid Club Orchid Fair and Show - 24th and 25th June
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This is a spectacular and free event for the community, providing a fabulous festival of exotic and native Australian Orchid displays. It is one of Australia's biggest orchid shows with lots of vendors also selling orchids and products. Mingara Recreation Club, Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi Saturday 9am-4pm, Sunday 9am - 3pm. 
Pete Little and Cheralyn Darcey of Coastfm’s Gardening Gang will also be broadcasting live from the orchid fair Saturday 8am - 10am. More information: coastfm.org.au and mingara.com.au

 

 

 

 

Green Teams- Bird walk and Talk - Saturday 24th June
Christina_Port_Bird_Photos
Join CEN's Green Teams and local bird expert Kaye Pointer leads a walk and talk, identifying local birds and learning about some of the local food sources and nesting habitat. Morning tea provided after the walk (Please note any dietary requirements in the comments section when booking.) Venue: Ourumbah Creek Landcare Site. Bookings are essential Ph: 4349 4491 or email: [email protected]. Please wear appropriate clothing, covered footwear and hat. Bring binoculars (if you have them) & a bottle of water. This event is funded by Central Coast Council, through their Community Development Grants program, as part of the CEN’s Green Team project. Saturday 24th June, 9am-11 am. More information: cen.org.au

Kincumber Produce Swap - Sunday 25th June
A produce swap works by having a set time and place for backyard growers to bring their excess food to share with other growers. It is a very casual affair, and nobody keeps score. By bringing your produce you are saying that you are happy for other swappers to take what they need because it is excess to your needs. It is simply a way of sharing your food with the fellow growers in your neighbourhood. 3 - 4pm at 20-22 Kincumber St, Kincumber

GARDEN PLANNER
winter: temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn with Roses

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 

 

 










 


A Garden for the Birds

New Holland Honeyeatercredit_ Jinesh PS
New Holland Honeyeater credit: Jinesh PS

There are also many other benefits in encouraging native birds to your garden along with these obvious delightful additions to your plot of paradise. Birds need to eat, and many will happily devour your pests and assist in pollination and will also help distribute seeds while flitting about on their business. For happy and healthy birds, they require what we need, shelter, water, and food so to encourage them, you can try providing these elements in your garden but first, you must think of life at a bird’s level, not your own. A good example is the ever-popular birdbath. While it may look splendid high up on a pedestal in the centre of a vast lawn, many birds, (and probably the ones that need your oasis the most) won’t like being caught out in the open in clear view of predators like that. Lower and shift the birdbath so that it is close to shrubs and trees, and you give birds an escape route if needed. The key to welcoming birds it to make them feel secure and by offering water and food in a safe way that feels like home.

When providing plants, you need to think in layers as birds don’t just live within trees, they require shrubs and grasses as well as climbers and depending on the species, they need nectar producing and/or seed producing plants as well as places for insects and smaller creatures to live that may be part of their diet. Along with places to hang out, birds need nesting areas and materials and while they are not going to find everything they need at your place, no matter how big it is, they may find just enough if you grow and provide it so that they drop in regularly.

 

Plants for Native Birds

Trees will offer birds places to perch, to nest and can also provide food. Ones to consider for your garden are:

Wattles (Acacia spp.), Gums (Eucalyptus spp.) and Tea Trees (Melaleuca spp.) and (Leptospermum spp.)

Shrubs, especially thicker growth species, are safe harbour for the small birds in your backyard. These can be in the form of a hedge but also grow a few together in another part of your garden. A quiet area if possible as this could also offer just the right place for nesting. Many shrubs also blossom in nectar producing flowers. Try: Banksias (Banksia spp.) Boronias (Boronia spp.), Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.), Correa (Correa spp.), Bursaria (Bursaria spp.), Grevillea (Grevillea spp.) Waxflower (Crowea exalata), Lechenaultia (Lechenaultia formosa) and smaller species of wattles and tea trees. Grasses offer seeds, a safe hiding place and a nesting spot for many ground-living birds. Grow Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia spp.), Mat Rush (Lomandra spp.) and Tussock (Poa labillardieri). Climbers will also be vital in a bird-friendly garden as a quick get-away spot and feasting opportunity. Ones to consider are Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides), Black Coral Pea (Kennedia nigricans) and Hardenbergia (Hardenbergia spp.). While not a growing plant, organic mulches are essential as they make good homes for easily accessible insects that can become dinner for your feathered friends.

Central Coast Birds
Along with the usual suspects, rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, grass parrots and magpies, watch out for the pictured. Eastern Yellow Robin along with the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Brush Bronzewing, Dusky Wood Swallow. You might also catch a glimpse of a New Holland Honeyeater (pictured, credit: Jinesh PS) or a Red Wattlebird. To find more and to help identify birds in your backyard these two websites have easy to use and fun interfaces suitable for all ages: birdsinbackyards.net and birdlife.org.au. If you do unfortunately find a sick or injured bird, please contact either wildlife-arc.org.au ph: (02) 43250666 or wires.org.au ph: 1300094737

Should You Feed the Birds?

Attracting birds is good for you, but it is also a way of growing a garden to be part of the environment and add botanical value to the area your home is situated in. This means that you are growing plants in a way that is good for the local ecosystem. What birds don’t need however is for you to hand feed them food that is not part of their native diet. Along with inviting rodents from fallen seed and food, you are encouraging bad habits in Australian native birds. We are surrounded by National Parks and bushland so I can assure you, no native bird needs a plate of birdseed or a handful of mince. Rather than setting out food, provide a more natural environment filled with the plants and the opportunities for birds to live naturally. What they can do with is fresh clean water, especially in dry spells. As mentioned, make sure that your birdbath or container is placed in an open, high area so that the birds can see predators easily.

Central Coast Bird Watching
Birding is the art of birdwatching, not just a happy hobby but a way of playing a part in the research and conservation of our wildlife. One of our local Birding groups is Central Coast Birders who meet the fourth Tuesday of the month, 7:30pm at Progress Hall, Anzac Road, Tuggerah and they can be found online along with their informative and inspiring newsletters here:

http://www.birdingnsw.org.au/central-coast-group-newsletter/


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
Tabletop Cactus Garden Workshop.
1 – 2:30pm Sunday 18th June Burbank at Saddle, Mount White. Come join our lovely crew in creating your own tabletop cactus Garden to take home and enjoy. Bookings essential ph: 43701010
Kincumber Community Eco Garden Working Bee
. 3 – 4pm Friday 23rd June. 20 – 22 Kincumber Street, Kincumber. Work bee - weed grass from garden beds, prune bushes and trees , check and attend compost,and worm farms, water. Dig out arrowroot. Prune citrus. Tidy potting table and assemble shade house, tidy shed. Prepare for June Produce Swap and Workshop.
Build Your Own Frog Hotel. 1 – 3pm Saturday 24th June Wyee Nursery, Wyee. Learn why frogs are important, learn about different types of frogs, touch on the flora & fauna that is best suited for frogs, build your very own frog hotel and learn how to maintain it once you take it home.

This workshop is suitable for all ages and will be a fun-filled adventure for the whole family!

Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/55ayt8aw

GARDEN PLANNER
winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, bare-rooted roses, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 
DUCKSCCN394P29


Bare-rooted Rose Time

It’s Bare-rooted rose time! These are rose plants in their dormant state and are one of the best ways to purchase because stock and varieties will be more plentiful and it’s also a lot cheaper than container growing roses.
Roses 1

The pick of the bunch for Central Coast gardens in my books are: The new hybrid tea rose ‘Heaven Scent’ with a strong old damask rose fragrance and unusually shaped orchid pink petals. The ‘Amazing Mum’ is a showstopper with its breathtaking dark pink- purple huge and very fragrant flowers with a lighter reverse. For a delicately pretty rose, look out for ‘Earth Angel ‘with its creamy soft petals with touches of blush. Earth Angel also has a perfume to match that is soft and sweet. For something different, ‘Coco’ which as the name suggests, displays velvety petals in cocoa shades. The fragrance is spicy and warm with hints of vanilla.
Drop into any of the Central Coast’s local nurseries as bare-root stock is arriving now. You may need to order in certain varieties and if your selection has already sold out this year, the friendly teams can also suggest similar roses.

Rose Planning
You can decide to grow a rose garden or, like I do, pepper the garden here and there with roses. You might like a theme that is focused on a type of rose, a period of their history or of course colour. I buy what I like, when I see it and tuck it in where it fits but then I have a garden that Freida Kahlo would be proud of. It’s very colourful, rambling, and bright, but I’ve seen stunning gardens of very formal white roses or filled completely with only French Old Garden roses. With so many varieties, the longevity of the plant and this area being very suitable for all roses, you won’t be stuck for choice. For your needs and garden design, there are climbing roses, bushy roses, ones that you can prune to look like little trees and others that make great hedges. Bare Root plants are available from late autumn until early spring, and they come wrapped in sawdust or peat moss and plastic bags and sometimes in pots. These are usually far more plentiful and cheaper that potted growing roses. These on the other hand are available year-round and are naturally covered in foliage and sometimes blooms if found in season, (usually spring through summer). They are more expensive and there are not as many varieties available in most places.

Planting Your Roses
Under absolutely no circumstance can the roots of a rose be allowed to become dry. Get your planting position ready first so that there is limited disruption. Roses will need full sun for most of the day and while some can tolerate shade, you will gain more blossoms in sunny positions of at least five hours a day. They also prefer to be sheltered, with good air circulation and have cool earth plus space as roses do not like to have heated roots or competition. This may sound like a fussy checklist but with roses, once you get the planting and position right, they are usually set for life. Roses will grow in any soil, but it must be free-draining and deep so that the roots can stay cool and not become waterlogged. The best preparation is to dig over your selected rose garden bed spot to at least the depth of a spade about six weeks prior to planting and add lots of organic matter and rotted manure. Each plant will need an area of at least 3 meters in diameter. Bare rooted roses need to be carefully unwrapped and washed of their packing material and nursery potted ones need the soil shaken gently from their roots. Roses you are transplanting during this dormant period need to be treated the same. I like to soak my rose roots in a bucket of plain water overnight to make sure they are nicely hydrated before planting the next day. Into a hole that you have dug that is wide enough for the roots and deep enough so that the bud union will come to the soil level, make a mound of soil that your roots can sit upon. Fan them out over this and then half fill hole with soil. Next fill the hole with water and once it drains away, top up the hole with soil firmly.

Rose Care
Mulch the rose plant with a layer about 6mm deep of organic materials such as sugar cane, general garden mulch and compost but, never use eucalyptus, pine needs or pebbles. Keep the mulch at least 6mm away from the stem. Roses like to be kept well-watered but check in with your selections as some like to dry out a bit between watering. Rainfall over 20mm during the week will mean that watering can be skipped. This can be increased to twice a week during the summer months. They are hungry plants and do so much better with natural matter as their food source. In early spring, after gently forking over the surrounding soil spread well-rotted manure to a depth of at least 10cm and top this with compost to a depth of 5cm. Late spring after this has worked its way down into the soil, add bone and bone and mulch and you might like to feed again with blood and bone mid-summer.

GARDEN PLANNER
early winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, bare-rooted roses, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 

 


How to Grow Gorgeous Garlic

They say that to enjoy garlic come Remembrance Day (November), you must plant by Anzac Day, so get cracking! Due to the warmth we are still experiencing, there are a couple of more weeks left in the garlic planting window this year. Fresh garlic, straight from the garden is a divine experience and it is also the way to ensure you get the maximum health benefits possible. It is garlic planting time on The Coast and across temperate areas of Australia right now. Good news is, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and home-grown means more flavour and nutrients. This wonderful veggie can be planted in pots and garden beds and can be used fresh or stored for use all year-round. Garlic (Allium sativum), probably originated in the western areas of Asia, but it is such a long-cultivated plant that we cannot be completely sure. The Ancient peoples of Egypt, China, and India, all have recorded histories of growing and using garlic as a medicinal and culinary plant with some even attributing mystical properties to it. Most commercial garlic is treated with a chemical to render it sterile, so you won’t be able to use those bulbs for propagation and it’s handy to know that there are two types of garlic, ‘hard-neck’ which has flowers and ‘soft-neck’ which does not. Soft-neck garlic will store for longer than it’s hard-neck friend, but I do like the flowers which are also edible, and the spikes make amazing, dried foliage material. Another factor you will need to consider is that you probably won’t end up with as large a bulb size as you find in the shops, but you will have leaves and you can eat those as well. Types to consider: Dynamite Purple, Spanish Roja, White Crookneck, Giant Russian, Melbourne Market.
Along with growing garlic, make this spray from it to combat pests in your garden. Blend together 4 cloves of garlic with 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (not antibacterial), strain into 500ml spray bottle and top with water. Spray onto plants to deter pests. Test on a few leaves first.  Garlic is a brilliant companion plant for beetroot, carrots, strawberries, lettuce, and roses and provides a fair amount of protection from various pests, but it should never be planted alongside beans or peas as it will stunt their growth and production. For medical use garlic has been used as both an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent for over 3,000 years. Garlic is still used for these reasons in herbal medicine today along with treatments for digestive issues, respiratory diseases and for circulatory benefits as well.

Grow Your Own Garlic
Peter Donnelly of Coachwood

I had a chat with Pete Donnelly from Coachwood Nursery at Somersby for his tips on growing garlic on The Coast. He shared that the soil must be open, free-draining and well-prepared with compost. I asked about just planting store-brough garlic. “No don’t do that, “Peter said, “You will find that supermarket garlic will usually come from overseas and be treated with chemicals. If you purchase from local Farmers Markets, ensure that the produce is organic and then that would be ok.”
Soil pH level is best sitting between 6.5 and 7.5 is best and whether you decide to grow in the garden or in pots, find a sunny spot. Garlic can be planted by seed but is mostly cultivated via bulbs. To do this, gently separate the bulb into individual corms. Plant directly in their final designation into the soil with the tips just below the surface and firm down.

Garlic is not a fan of weeds so keep it tidy and water should be consistent but don’t drown your plant. They just don’t like to get soggy feet or humidity. Water seedlings a few times a week until they are a couple of months old and then back off to once or twice a week. Feed every second week with a seaweed-based fertiliser, as they love it and mulch with your usual veggie garden mulch medium but ensure you don’t crowd the plants as air flow and low humidly are important.

Harvest most varieties at around the five-month mark but this will depend greatly on type. You will know they are ready as the leaves will begin to wilt and yellow around this time. Lift gently, keep the leaves intact and hang to dry for a few weeks in a warm, sheltered spot to cure before storing in a cool, dry, dark place. The leaves are left on during the curing process so that all additional nutrients are pulled down into the bulb. Don’t forget to save some of those bulbs for next year’s planting. You can find garlic to grow at your local nursery or online: diggers.com.au or theseedgarlicshop.com.au and Giant Russian Garlic: naglesfallsfarm.com.au

What’s on for Plant Lovers
Dried Flower Workshop at Coachwood Nursery, Somersby. 3 - 5pm Sunday 7th May. Take home a gorgeous flower arrangement that you create on the day! Everything supplied. Just bring along: - your own drink bottle, box to take home your creation, pen and paper for taking notes as there is a lot to learn, a jacket as it can get cool in the afternoons at Somersby and comfortable shoes. Rain, Hail or Shine! Held in the Dried Flower Emporium in the grounds of Coachwood Nursery, 900 Wisemans Ferry Road, Somersby. Information and tickets: coachwoodnursery.com/index.html

Cactus and Succulent Sale, Charmhaven Saturday 9am – 1pm Saturday 13th May. Central Coast Cactus and Succulent Club have an amazing sale on at the Charmhaven Hall Nararah Ave Charmhaven

More information about the sake and club:  0401544052


Soil, Pests and Predators in Your Edible Garden with Kerrie Anderson, Holgate
9:30am – 12:30pm Thursday 18th May, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm. No matter what the size of your garden, from a balcony to acreage, for renters, community gardeners and homeowners alike, this workshop will help you gain skills in soil improvement and integrated pest management. This workshop is designed for beginners and for those who want to improve their processes. Tickets and more information: synergypermaculture.com.au

Gardening Planner
late autumn - temperate areas
Time to reduce watering of indoor plants and make sure they are well away from heating. You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 


Books for Plant-Loving People

I don’t know about you, but I take a while to get used to winter, especially gardening in the chilly fresh morning air. My daylight-saving balmy summer nights have also gone with the turning of the calendar page and so has weeding, watering, and wandering in my garden. What I’d rather be doing is curling up with a good plant book while I acclimatise to winter and save the gardening for the middle part of the day when I can feel my toes and fingers! Here’s a roundup of my favourite plant books and why I love them and maybe you’ll agree with my pick or maybe you will have a few of your own that are well-loved favourites, please let me know.

Cassell’s Popular Gardening
Edited by D.T. Fish
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All ancient gardening and plant books are worth having, especially those hiding old newspaper cuttings which share gardening advice, daffodil bulb prices and interesting plant facts that I can’t live without. While the books themselves do sometimes contain chemical-based instructions that are not suitable for the green-hearted, they still overwhelmingly share good down-to-earth wisdom that never goes out of fashion. Leafing through the illustrations is something else again. I want to frame every page.
My edition of Cassell’s Popular Gardening was printed in 1900 and three other gardeners at least have owned. I know because the Reverend Watkins, David Johnston and Grace Lee have all beautifully signed it. This book used to live in Port Stephens I think because there’s a xeroxed typed copy of the Rose Farm care sheet for Proteas tucked inside. I share the challenges of cabbage moth with one of the early book owners because I see they clipped out some good advice from a newspaper in 1941 but I don’t know where to find the suggested Lever’s Dry Soap to spray on my plants.
Cassell’s Popular Gardening is a beautiful old weighty book that is filled with divine etchings of gardening techniques, plants, and horticultural structures. There are whimsical colour plants throughout that hopefully your found copy will still have intact.

The Flower Hunter
The Remarkable Life of Ellis Rowan
Christine & Michael Morton-Evans
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If you love art, true stories of daring and innovation and plants, then have I got a book for you. Christine & Michael Morton-Evans have done great justice to the retelling of this woman’s brilliant life. At the age of 70 Ellis went to the New Guinea jungles to search out and document the 72 known species of the Bird of Paradise plant. Easel, paints, sketch book, journals, alone. At 70. Oh, and it was during World War I. Makes your weekend travels for rare houseplants seem not so dedicated, I know. She won the houseplant game decades ago. Seriously, this is a wonderfully inspiring book of plant adventures and the life of a plant lover very well lived. While you will find images of some of Ellis Rowan’s artwork within, go and seek out collections of her work (online or in books) as they are stunning. Often critized for not being botanically correct, Ellis nevertheless had an eye for highlighting the drama of nature and it stirred a great interest in naturalism in her time.

The Little Veggie Patch Co
How to grow food in small spaces
Fabian Capomoilla and Mat Pember
61b8vFYjtXLThis wonderfully designed food-gardening book was a huge hit when it was released in 2011 and I am still in on the adoration as my copy from that year is falling apart, it is that well-loved. A gardening book written by two friends, peppered with images, advice, recipes and tips from their family and friends, The Little Veggie Patch Co makes it feel as if you are having a conversation with your gardening neighbours. The layout is excellent, starting off with simple, good advice on how to look after and create soil, compost, and garden beds for the very beginner and to remind the more experienced of us of what we need to be doing. Then a large selection of vegetable is presented, each with an in-depth exploration of their gardening needs to ensure you get the very best out of every crop. Flick through for inspiration, fill The Little Veggie Patch Co book with bookmarks and scribble in the margins because this is the one Aussie veggie patch book that everyone needs.

Costa’s World
Gardening for the Soil, the Soul and the Suburbs
Costa Georgiadis
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A relatively new book on the block, this gardening and earth-loving from the beloved host of ABC Tv’s Gardening Australia is for everyone who has even though about plants. I find it an excellent permaculture guide as it is filled with parallel thinking to this form of living and gardening. A warm introduction to gardening, a heart-affirming resource for the more experienced and a book I truly believe should sit in every Aussie home. As a snuggle-down read, it’s filled with delightful illustrations, lots of vinaigrettes of tips and thoughts all rolled together with Costa’s uplifting exuberance and cheerfulness.

GARDEN PLANNER
late autumn - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflowe

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 

 


Indoors with Succulents & Cacti

Succulent and cactiAs the weather cools down, you can still bring some summer vibes to life in your home with a selection of cacti and succulents. Although hailing from various climates, they are synonymous with warmer temperatures and desert skies and for those new to houseplant growing, are relatively easy to care for. Cacti and succulents, what’s the difference? For many years we believed that ‘all cacti were succulents but not all succulents cacti’ and while it does still generally hold some truth, these days progression in botanical science has meant that some cacti are being excluded from the succulent group all together. While this scientific difference prevails, generally gardeners consider them to be all in the same bunch of plants as they have similar needs.

Succulent and Cacti Care
Although it is possible to grow these plants in containers without holes, drainage and soil aeration is much improved if your pots have holes. Add a layer of larger gravel in the bottom to boost drainage. Never use potting mix or garden soil as these are too dense. Find a commercial cacti and succulent mix or make your own by combining 50% loam-based compost to 50% horticultural or bonsai grit and you may find that some plants, particularly cacti benefit from the addition of perlite to increase the drainage.

The main reason we kill succulents and cacti is that we overwater them and using distilled water or rainwater is best as the minerals in tap water can cause issues. Water the soil not the plant and do this either carefully from above using a thin spouted vessel or even a syringe. Fertilising is going to depend on your individual type of plant and this information can easily be found online or ask your local nursery.
Only repot if they outgrow their container or if affected by pests and disease. Outgrowing a pot usually occurs every couple of years and can be indicated by root bound soil. Use a small paintbrush to swipe away soil or grit that lands on the plant after potting up and be sure to add a layer of pebbles to the surface to keep the potting medium cool and moist. Wear gloves working with cacti and cover with a few layers of bubble wrap first when transplanting or moving.  

Tidy up your plant and help it thrive by pruning away any damaged or diseased areas and by thinning out stems when the plant gets too leggy or crowded. This will ensure more vigorous and healthy growth. Always use very sharp scissors or secateurs and clean them often with a cloth dipped in methylated spirits to prevent cross contamination of pests and disease.

Propagation
A lot of these types of plants produce offsets. These look like miniatures of the parent plant and grow around the base. Most can be eased off by hand or cut with a sharp small knife to separate them. Leave offsets to dry out in a in a warm, dry place for two weeks before putting up. Another method of reproducing more plants is by propagating through leaf cuttings. Gently pull off mature, healthy leaves from the base of plants. Again, leave to dry for a couple of weeks and then pot up. Seed propagation is also possible, but seeds are difficult to obtain from your own plants. Stem cuttings can be achieved by removing a leafy stem of about 8 to10cm in length with secateurs. Remove the bottom 3cm of leaves and leave to dry for a couple of weeks. Pot up as with other forms of propagation mentioned.

Problem Solver
Yellowed leaves or stems can mean over or under watering, lack of light or food. Mushy or soft leaves or stems indicates overwatering, high humidity and possibly fungal growth. Reduce watering and increase air circulation, and wait and see. Remove any areas that go brown or die. Light brown raised areas could be the non-fatal ‘cactus corky scab’ and you will need to increase air circulation and reduce humidity. Round dark spots usually mean ‘fungal leaf spot’. Affected areas have to be removed to save the plant. Be careful not to wet leaves and stems in future when watering as this is usually the cause.

Fine brown markings, distorted growth, plant collapse and strange fibres appearing on your plants are all signs of pests. While it helps to identify the pests, physical removal by washing the plant in very mild soapy water and quickly drying in a well-ventilated area helps. Spider mites usually mean a death sentence for your plant, but you can try an eco-friendly pesticide and removing the infected parts. Thrips and fungus gnats can be combated by the placement of sticky traps around your plants and vine weevils and root mealybugs will mean you need to repot and clean your roots. Scale insect is a difficult one and you can try washing your plant, using a methylated spirit-soaked cotton bud directly on areas of infestation or a systemic pesticide.

Whole plant collapse is a sad looking problem and usually means that there is a pest or fungal disease in the roots of the plant, have a look, remove pests or fungal damaged roots and repot. Should all the roots look affected, then the plant needs to go to the bin I’m sorry to say.

Distorted growth can also mean insufficient light as well pests. Inspect closely and if nothing has been found, try a position with more light. Should you plant seem to not be growing in a non-dormant period, it could be any of the above so check weekly for signs of pests or disease, revise your watering method, and amount and perhaps move to a position with more favourable air movement, light and temperature. Etiolation is a common succulent problem. It is leggy and outstretched growth of the stem and leaves caused by a lack of sunlight and usually occurs after you have fed your plant. Simply move the plant to an area in which it will receive more sunlight.


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
Growing Food for Abundance Live 25th May - 9.30am - 11.30am. An online workshop with Megan Cooke and Kerrie Anderson. Now is the time to learn how to grow your own food & have an abundance of produce.
For more details: www.facebook.com/gardentotablepermaculture
Terrarium Workshop Saturday, 10 June 2023, 11am-12.30pm. Learn to design and make a closed glass terrarium to take home, complete with living plants and ornament to create interest. You'll learn how they work so you can make more at home, and how to care for them so they last. Everything you need to participate is provided on the day, along with a warming brew from our in-house cafe, The Leafy Green. Burbank House & Garden, 443 The Entrance Rd, Erina Heights. To book, call 43 655 396.

Australiana Trivia Night with East Gosford Community Garden Saturday 10th June, 6:30pm. Support one of our wonderful community gardens. A fun night with cash prizes for winning table and other great prizes. East Gosford Progress Hall, tickets at door or book at: www.trybooking.com

GARDEN PLANNER
temperate areas, late autumn 
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower


I write the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below - 
DUCKSCCN390P29


Dry Your Own Flowers

Drying Botanicals
Dried Flowers
There are lots of ways to dry botanicals, (flowers, foliage, seedheads),including the use of presses, silica and commercial freeze drying but I want to share with you the gentle and the more natural way of letting your specimens slowly release the moisture of life on their own and become something that is still indicative of their living form. You will need a place that is very well ventilated, shaded to dark and cool to dry your botanicals. Hanging them upside-down in bunches is the method that suits most but make sure that flower and seed heads are not touching each other. Bind bunches no more than the thickness of two or three fingers with elastic bands that can be tightened, if need be, as the bunches dry. I use part of a patio that is rather dim and the darker areas of my garage. Some flowers need support as they dry, and a clever idea is to thread them through a soil sieve suspended from the ceiling. Another way that is popular uses wire racks. This method works best if the racks are resting on a supports or legs so that air can circulate completely around the botanical materials. Finally, the evaporation method works well for plants that need a slower process. Strip leaves from stems and place in fresh full vase of water. Place in a cool dim area and leave until water evaporates.

Grow Your Own
Although you can dry and use just about anything in your arrangements, some plants are better for the job than others. So, let’s firstly explore what you could grow in your garden. When selecting plant material, you will always find that stems that are woody rather than fleshy always dry best and will be far easier to handle and less likely to break. This list is just a tiny fraction of suitable plants and the best drying method. 

Everlasting Daisies (Xerochrysum bracteatum) Hang. Cut before flowers fully open. Banksia Evaporation or hang dry. Kangaroo Paw Hang. Cut stems low on plant. Mulla Mulla Hang. Wait until flowerhead is fully open. Billy Buttons Hang. Cut stems low.Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) Hang. Leave leaves on. Roses (Rosa spp.) Hang singularly or in bunches. Baby’s Breath(Gypsophila spp.) Evaporation method. Immortelle (Helichrysum italicum) Hang. Buds and flowers can be used. Statice (Limonium spp.) Evaporation or hanging. Harvest stems from base of plant. Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascene) Hang. Cut when flowers are in full bloom and keep leaves on. Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) Hang or flat on wire rack. Harvest when fully open. Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) Use the seed heads by cutting when they are still green and hanging to dry. Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) When flowerheads are being to die, cut stems from bottom of plant. Strip leaves and place in vase of water and let evaporate.

Foraging
Only permissible on private land where you have permission. Be mindful because picking native flora is public spaces is against the law and that goes for fallen and dried materials. Stay away from roadside areas that could be sprayed with herbicides and other chemicals.
Gum Leaves (Eucalyptus spp.) This foliage makes the most beautiful draping design element which suits circles, wreaths and hanging arrangements. It can also be wired or wrapped around vines to form shapes. Harvest small branches when they have begun to naturally droop and dry themselves or have fallen. Best used when in this semi-dry state and letting dry in your display.
Ferns Cut from plant when they are beginning to lose their structure and droop. To retain their form these are best dried by pressing although some ferns do look pretty when hung to dry. They will usually curl.
Palm Leaves Collect when fresh or dried. They usually dry very well standing or hanging but if you want a bit more control, dry flat on wire racks. I personally love the stringy way the edges dry but if you prefer, you can trim the leaves to make them neater. Palm leaves make dramatic displays on their own or as background elements to other arrangements.


Interesting Botanicals

When foraging or even in your own garden, watch out for empty curled seed heads, interesting sticks and branches, withered dried stems, twisting vines and interesting seed pods. These can all add amazing texture, colour and interest to your displays. Dry out by hanging or placing on wire racks. I have also found that the flowers and seed heads of the Allium family, (garlic and chives for example), make brilliant, dried elements for your crafting. Palm inflorescence are another interesting element that you can usually spy when out and about. This is the flowering stem of palm trees and dries to look like a twisted little tree.

 

Dried Display and Care
The easiest way to display your dried bounty is in a vase, just as you would fresh flowers but don’t miss the opportunity to make wreaths, small posies for gift giving and even hanging dried flower ‘chandeliers’ .
Your arrangements will last a very long time but exactly how long will depend on the botanicals you used. Everything breaks down eventually and deteriorates so they won’t look perfect forever. You may find a time comes when you will need to send them off to the compost pile. To keep them looking good longer, position out of direct sunlight and away from wet or damp areas. Clean regularly with a hair dryer on the cool setting to blow off the dust and you might find a microfiber type feather duster helps with this as well.

GARDEN PLANNER
late autumn - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News.