It might be mid-winter but there’s plenty to admire in the garden – and plenty to do. And those sparkling diamond days just make me want to jump out of bed and get into it!
Float bowls of camellia japonica, hellebores and vases of jonquils.
Diamond encrusted flower stems of Flapjacks (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) elongate skywards, the morning dew sets and sparkles and the flowers themselves feed the Eastern Spinebills in my garden. Once finished the whole elongated plant can be completely removed back to the ground, where you’ll see a new family of baby Flapjacks ready to get growing for next season. Babies can be relocated to create eye-catching swathes.
Plant perfume! Fragrant flowers seem to smell all the sweeter in winter. Winter favourites include winter daphne, luculia, winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), Boronia, and stocks (Matthiola sp.). Plant punnets of stocks throughout a cottage garden; group for maximum fragrance at the front door; or plant a clump in a large pot on the entertaining terrace. Continue to liquid feed and you will be able to bring armfuls of the clove-scented flowers into your home.
Now is the time to plant natives; as a rule smaller plants establish more readily – I prefer planting tubestock and lots of them! Water regularly through the first year and mulch well. Then they can fend for themselves.
Select a magnolia while they are in flower. Goblet-shaped blooms come in ivory, lemon, pink, purple and bicoloured.
Choose a ‘birthday tree’ for your child or grandchild. Choose something flowering on their birthday and it will always be a magical day. Winter-flowering birthday trees include deciduous magnolias, flowering peach, banksia, and the Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata). Celebrate National Tree Day on July 31 while you’re at it.
Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs while they are dormant. Now is the time to move frangipani; they have a small root ball so are easy to relocate to a better position.
Blood and bone or pelletised manure should be thrown around the whole garden – even around natives – preferably when it’s raining.
Catalogues of summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, liliums and gladioli come out about now. Read them at your leisure, then get out the pen.
It’s shrub rose pruning time. Shorten stems by one third, thin out the centre, and completely remove weak stems and spindly growth. Don’t prune climbing roses until after flowering.
The rule of thumb for most pruning is to prune a shrub directly after flowering. If you miss the date, wait until after next year’s flowering.
Lift and divide
Lift and divide summer-flowering evergreen perennials such as daylilies and agapanthus if you have ignored them for three years or more – this will give them more room to spread and increase their flower display.
Sedums need housekeeping! Clip them back to ground level, you’ll see next season’s adorable little rosettes coming along – pushing through the cold wet earth. My favourite is ‘Matrona’ – oh how I love its magenta stems.
Want tomatoes for Christmas Day? Get a wriggle on and germinate tomatoes from seed on the windowsill. By September-November the seedlings will be ready for planting out.
Harvest lemons and oranges. Bucket loads. Love it! Lemon butter and orange cake – here we come.
Prune raspberry canes. Most varieties flower and fruit on canes produced last year, so simply remove all those that fruited this year.
This is the ideal month to get potatoes ready for planting out in spring. Buy virus-free potatoes and place them in egg cartons in a warm dark place to encourage the ‘eyes’ to sprout well before planting time.
Plant more lettuce, they love growing through the cold.