Hi folks, welcome to winter. THE season to grow vegies, Mediterranean and native plants. As the daylight hours become shorter, those slivers of low winter sunshine are indeed warmly welcomed.
Is your garden is feeling a little gloomy this time of year? With a little creativity, it is possible to use your outdoor space all year. Here are 5 tips to encourage you to venture outside:
1. Thin out large evergreen shrubs or trees growing on the north side of your block.
2. Alternatively, relocate them, and plant a lovely deciduous tree there instead, to let that sought after winter warmth and sun in.
3. Add some warmth to your garden or courtyard with an inviting firepit area. There are plenty of stunning firepits/sculptures to buy or, make your own with an old copper, metal drum, or washing machine barrel.
4.  Use your alfresco area all year round by adding a quality gas heater. You will almost certainly want to entertain much more in winter.
5. Few people enjoy sitting outside when there’s rain slanting down from all angles. Café blinds and other waterproof structures keep you dry and encourage you to make the most of your alfresco area in winter.
TIP: the best place to plant an evergreen tree is the west/south west corner of the garden to shield you from afternoon summer sun.
Thanks to all the folk who visited us at our Show Garden in the Perth Garden Festival in April. It was a first time exhibit for Garden Deva and Alessio’s Gardens/Meme Flooring and it was wonderful to catch up with some of our clients, as well as meeting literally thousands of other garden loving people.
We were proud to win a Gold medal for our quirky little biophilic garden. The emphasis was on sustainable, plant centred design, encouraging gardeners to utilise more of their garden, using attractive contemporary plantings as well as the structural elements. See our Facebook video
In our show garden at Perth Garden Festival, we had fun experimenting with meadow like ornamental grasses, which are largely unknown in Perth. In Europe, tall grasses have been used for decades (think Piet Oudolf) but here in Perth, we are sometimes cautious to embrace new ideas.
Ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus and Calamagrostis are stunning and dry tolerant. They may be grown as features, planted en masse for a meadow like look or used as effective screens. Fortunately Beaufort Garden Centre supplies many of these useful grasses (and other ‘normal’ plants) – which you will be lucky to find elsewhere.
Winter is the perfect time to slow down and amble around the garden before the frenzy of spring, and to be grateful for the fact that Mother Nature largely takes care of the irrigation for us.
As per Perth water restrictions, remember to turn off your sprinklers on June 1 – 31 August. It has been a very dry autumn and you may need to hand water until we get some decent rain.
How easy it is to forget to water plants under eaves as they are often getting no rain at all. Simply empty last night’s hot water bottles on these plants.
In Perth we are lucky to receive approximately 730mm of rain per annum, the majority of which falls in June and July. Given the water shortage and ever increasing global temperatures, it makes sense to think about converting more of your garden to growing water wise & heat tolerant plants. It goes without saying that trees are also essential.
Mediterranean plants, succulents and local native plants are adapted to our sweltering summers. A well designed heat and dry tolerant garden creates much needed habitat for birds and other creatures and provides interest all year. For more info on creating a water-wise garden, check out this article written for Renew magazine last year.
Are there areas of your garden where plants or trees just never seem to thrive?  Enter Bronnie Kemp from Atom Earth Soil Testing.
I was excited to discover this new mobile service a few months ago.
Bronnie is a soil scientist who visits your garden with her portable laboratory and can detect nutrient deficiencies, heavy metals (essential if you are thinking of getting chickens or growing edibles), and or soil pathogens like phytophthora/dieback. Trees can also be tested.
For a very reasonable hourly rate, you receive a nutritional analysis, heavy metals report and recommendations to optimise your soil health and plant growth.
This certainly saves money spent on wrong amendments to your garden which are expensive and often harmful to the soil.
Lining the compost bucket with newspaper makes cleaning much easier, and adds a bit of extra carbon to your compost.                    
When planting a passionfruit vine near a citrus tree, ensure it is at least 2m away from trunk and never dig (or let chooks dig!) within 3m of a grafted vine as it will sucker like crazy. A lovely non grafted variety bred in WA is Sunshine Special – which has large fruit and a longer fruiting season than Nellie Kelly and her relatives.
Side gardens can be a tricky area to design but here’s a few options to consider:
SUNNY ASPECT - EDIBLE: - bananas - they love the heat of a  brick wall if you have one; pawpaws, grapes on wires, espaliered fruit trees (deciduous if north or east or place evergreens away from window areas if possible), potted evergreen fruit trees (always use 75-100L+ pots).
ORNAMENTAL – SEMI SHADE  – Camellia sasanqua Paradise series, Plectranthus ecklonii (purple/pink and white varieties), Abutilon vitifolium (pictured purple flowers), Ruscus Shademaster, Nandina domestica, (these less common varieties are available at Beaufort Garden Centre); Cordyline stricta varieties, dracaenas, ‘Pencil’ Wedding bush (Ricinocarpus tuberculatus) Woolly bush (Adenanthos sericea ‘Pencil’), Callistemon Slim Jim, Melaleuca ‘Narrow Nessie’, , Bamboo, Aechmea and Bilbergia (bromeliads), Liriope ‘Evergreen Giant’, Philodendron spp.
HINT: Place a double layer of chicken wire or fine mesh underneath your cone compost bin to prevent rodents from eating your scraps and making themselves a cozy home inside.
COPPER SPRAYING – To avoid leaf curl on peaches and nectarines/almonds you need to do preventative sprays now.
Copper is an essential element and required by all organisms. However, high concentrations of copper in soils are toxic and may result in damage to microbial activity, earthworm populations and nutrient uptake/soil health.
As I love my microbes, I now cover the soil with a tarpaulin prior to spraying with Yates Fungus Fighter. After spraying, I remove the tarp and lay hessian sacks under thick tree mulch to minimise fungal spore infection.
Conventional wisdom recommends saturating the soil as well as the tree to deal with fungal spores but this does tend to knock off a fair few of your hard working soil microbes.
If you can’t be bothered covering the ground, simply spray the tree and surrounding soil with copper then give the soil a microbial tonic by applying Neutrog’s Gogo juice or Greenlife Soil’s microbes.
For more info on winter fruit tree care, check out Peter Coppin’s comprehensive article here:
Some say that aloes are the perfect plant. They are attractive, low maintenance and need little water, their sap is healing and they have beautiful bird attracting flowers in winter and spring. There are nearly 40 different varieties, some which even flower all year.
Happy gardening!
Cherise Haslam
0423 385 568


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