April: It’s time to…

Tibouchina_photo credit-Ricardo de Paula Ferreira_sm
Words by Linda Ross / Images from Linda Ross and Luisa Brimble

The streets are awash with glorious purple. Tibouchina, commonly known as Purple Glory Bush or Lasiandra are eye catching! These glorious purple flowers dazzle just as the summer-flowering show-offs are tiring. The flowers are showy, but the felty, deeply veined foliage of Tibouchina is also part of their charm. We love them around period homes in the company of other old-fashioned favourites like Echium, Pelargonium and Raphiolepis. The showy flowers suit tropical gardens too, mixed with Plumeria, Hibiscus, Phormium and Allamanda for year-round colour.

Don’t like purple? Try Queensland-bred ‘Peace Baby’s is compact and is covered with brilliant white flowers all through the warm weather.

Take a breath. Feel the earth sigh beneath your feet: it’s time to get back into the garden.

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Plant

Plant an easy-to-grow pomegranate and enjoy the fruit as juice or as arils in sweet or savoury salads.

Plant garlic by pushing cloves into the soil to a thumb’s depth.

Plant a carpet of miniature bedding cyclamen in dappled shade under a tree or shrub for vibrant colour and perfume through to winter.

Plant a salad bar of lettuce. This is the best time to grow a salad and coriander.
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Divide

Divide evergreen perennials such as kangaroo paw, clivia, agapanthus, mondo and dianella.

Move

Move evergreen shrubs. flowering-gum-lorikeet_sm

Remove

Remove the spent bottle-brush flowers of melaleuca and flowering gum blossom. Cut the flowers behind the seed pod formation. This trim will create better-shaped and longer-living trees.

Deadhead

Deadhead roses, perennials and dahlias to prolong flowering into autumn.

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Pull out

Pull out summer crops to make way for winter vegetables like kale. Loosen the soil, top dress with manure and dig in blood and bone.

Prevent

Use derris dust or Success on cabbage seedlings to prevent cabbage moth damage.

Spread coffee grounds, eggshells or wood shavings to prevent snails.

Leaves

Rake up autumn leaves, bag with a handful of blood and bone, leave for three months then use as super-powered mulch.

Temperate climates

Summer bulbs have finished, so tidy up old leaves and remove seed heads. Dig up and divide summer perennials such as shasta daisies and perennial phlox. Discard tired old parts of the plant and replant the vigorous new plants from the outside of the clump.

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If your front garden is looking colourless, plant a patch of annuals now for winter colour. Polyanthus, pansies, cinerarias and snapdragons are easy to grow and make a good impact. Dig in plenty of manure or compost before planting. For more inspiration, check out our feature on front gardens on page 51 and join in our program to make 2011 the Year of Welcome Home!

Start planting winter vegetables such as peas and broad beans, cabbage and silverbeet. Beetroot and carrot seeds are available in convenient seed tape to reduce the need for thinning. Protect young plants from snails and slugs. A saucer of beer is a remarkably good way of trapping these troublesome pests.

Cold climates

Keep up the grooming. Gardens in cool climates are thinking of packing up for winter, but a bit of dead-heading and judicious cutting back can delay the perception of decay.

Get bulbs in the ground. Alternatively, pot them: a dozen tulips in a pot makes triple the impact of the same number of bulbs in the ground.

Sow cool-climate herbs like chervil and coriander. They show far less tendency to bolt at this time of year, and can last several months in the garden, compared to only weeks during warmer weather.

When you have an hour

Go shopping at your local nursery for new or quirky pots to refresh your display. Repot with fresh, top quality potting mix.

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When you have 10 minutes

Sow sweet peas now for a beautiful spring display. Browse catalogues to colour co-ordinate sweet peas with your climbing roses. Burgundy and purple Lathyrus ‘Matucana’ would make a rich combination with red ‘Pierre de Ronsard’; Lathyrus ‘Shades of Blue’ would contrast well with a yellow rose such as ‘Gold Bunny’. Both these varieties of sweet pea are available from www.diggers.com.au.