Hi everyone, welcome to autumn. Like last year, our Perth gardens have been lucky to have experienced a very mild summer. No heatwaves for us Sandgropers! 
Due to the cyclonic activity up north, we even had some rain. This weather has been perfect for the growth of sub-tropical and tropical plants but not so great for cucumbers, zucchinis, some roses and other fungal prone species.
When I bought a tray of biodynamic mangoes for $15 at the local grocer’s in late January, I knew something was blissfully amiss.
Autumn is the prime time to plant most plants except for true tropicals which prefer late spring/early summer when the soil temperature is warmer.
HINT Do you live near the coast? Get in the weekly habit of spraying plant leaves in the morning with the hose to wash off salt spray, which may burn foliage. Tough Mediterranean plants like oleander, lavender, rosemary and bougainvillea, coastal natives etc don't need it but softer foliage is more susceptible. Seaside garden soils are also more likely to be trace element deficient. If in doubt, take a leaf to a good local garden centre. Salt burn and trace element deficiencies sometimes look quite similar.
PEST CORNER Scale bugging you? Fortunately our weather has been more conducive than usual (ie less than 34C) to be able to haul out the Eco or Pest Oil and suffocate these destructive pests.
Spray every two weeks, over and under the leaves AND down the stems of plants. Put a reminder on your phone and do this 3 times (ie over a 6 week period) in order to break the breeding cycle and kill the eggs which hatch as well as the adults. A bit of effort is well worth it.
As most of my clients know, I have a love/hate relationship with Colorbond or Stratco metal fences. They heat up in summer and have a tendency to fry plants which touch them. The radiant heat is extreme as soon as temperatures really start to rise. On the plus side, they are virtually maintenance free and are relatively inexpensive.
Often these fences fade with age or you may decide you want to refresh or change the colour to spruce up your garden.
1. Clean your fence with sugar soap.
2. Scour the fence with a medium texture mildly abrasive kitchen scourer pad (they are normally green). Do not use steel wool as it may eat into the metal.
3. Thoroughly rinse the fence with a hose to remove soap residue.
4. Allow to dry, then apply 1 coat of Dulux Precise Maximum Strength Adhesive Primer. Allow 24 hours to dry.
5. Apply 2 coats of your colour choice of Dulux Weathershield paint, with 2-4 hours between each coat. Done!
PS save time and energy by using a spray gun to apply both the primer and paint. These are readily available for hire or purchase.
BIRDS – Our feathery friends are expert pest controllers and save on a lot of spraying. To encourage their presence in your garden, they need flowers (particularly tubular and or red/yellow/orange ones) and clean water all year round. Have at least two birdbaths in sheltered locations, preferably under a tree. Consider putting a retic spray in them to keep topped up. You don’t have to spend a fortune – a simple clean pot saucer is fine.
Also, please consider providing water for the bees. They need hydration to keep pollinating your plants – why not help them out? A good idea is to provide some pebbles on the side to prevent drowning.  Speaking of bees….
Thanks to over 30,000 bee loving protesters in Australia; Bunnings, Mitre 10 and Woolworths have decided to stop selling bee killing neonics (toxic nerve poisons) by the end of this year.
Neonics are a key culprit of the global bee die-off, which scramble their navigation systems, brain pathways, altering their immune systems. Confidor and Maxguard are just a couple of products with which many gardeners would be familiar but perhaps unaware of their toxicity. 
Er, is it just me or are things speeding up at a ridiculous rate? According to Perth entomologist Dr Darryl Hardie, nano drone bees are now being used to pollinate our plants. Is this a cause for celebration or bewilderment? Due to the decimation of bee colonies around the world from Colony Collapse Disorder and other, usually pesticide related problems; we need technology to do what nature (due to our intervention), cannot. This makes it all the more important to provide a good habitat for bees in our gardens where possible. Personally, I'd rather watch a bee alight on a flower rather than a drone. Just saying....
OPEN GARDENS – there are some truly beautiful gardens open this autumn in Carmel, Helena Valley and Landsdale – check out: Contact Cherise on 0423 385 568 if you would like your garden to be considered for opening in 2019. 
DELICIOUS GARDENING BOOKS - Are you a keen edible food gardener? Then check out these classic tomes for your library: 
Discovering Vegetables & Herbs and Spices AND Discovering Fruit and Nuts. Susannah Lyle.  Louis Glowinski’s The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia is also an excellent resource. These books are thoroughly researched and entertaining with in-depth cultural, nutritional and medicinal information on each plant.
Do you sometimes forget to wear your gloves in the garden? Have you perhaps moved a pot and come within millimetres of being stung by a spider or another creature? Would you know what to do if you were actually stung? A new free app by Seqirus covers venomous creatures and how to respond to specific bites or stings.
Do you feel like a bit of inspiration? Why not whizz off to Melbourne  for the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS)? It is a world class event, showcasing stunning display gardens, architecturally designed cubby houses, live entertainment and floral art sculptures. There will be interactive/hands on workshops, live entertainment as well as, of course, plants and food etc. This event is well worth a trip for anyone who loves gardens and design. There is even a Twilight Gardens Event on the Friday at dusk, with music gourment food and drinks and uplit display gardens. I’m really looking forward to it. MIFGS is on Wed 21 – Sun 25th March. Might see you there!
While you’re in Melbourne, consider taking a day trip to visit the amazing contemporary Cranbourne Botanic Gardens.
Closer to home is the Perth Garden Festival on 12-15 April. Perhaps not quite as exciting as MIFGS but there’s still talks, a display gardens etc. The drawcard for me is all the unusual or specialist plant retailers who have premises MILES away, all in the same place for 4 days.
Also worth checking out are Josh Byrne’s free 2 hour garden workshops in May in which he teaches how to be a sustainable gardener. Bookings essential.
Is your lawn looking a bit weary? Check out the Garden Deva Lawn Care article for the lowdown on how to have a beautiful lawn this autumn.
Happy gardening!
Cherise Haslam
0423 385 568


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