Herb News


Proudly Taking us to Chelsea in 2007

Gardening Articles for week ending  6th  January 2007
Written by Wally Richards.

Areas where you have growing, trees and shrubs, can be a bit dull if you don?t have flowering or colourful foliage plants under them.  There are two problems with these places, low light and very dry.  If the lower branches are still on the shrubs then nothing much will grow there but if you remove these branches then you open up the amount of  for light for planting.
By removing the lower branches you convert the shrubs into tree forms, by exposing the trunks.
The area besides being dry will be lacking in much nourishment.
So one needs to spread a good layer of organic mulch to the depth of at least 2 inches and up to 4 inches thick.
Next you need to set up an irrigation system through the area that is either fixed type or a removable soak hose type.
Once all this is in place you can pop down to your local garden centre and pick out some nice suitable plants for the area.
My favorites are Impatiens and Mimulus for the summer followed by Primula, Polyanthus and Cineraria for winter displays. With a good irrigation system and good dappled light you should have no problems getting an all year round display.
You may wish be venture into other plants such as Hostas and Winter Roses. By asking your Garden Centre for shade loving plants can extend the range and variety.
An interesting aspect too is that with adequate water in summer and the protection that the overhead canopy gives many of your plants, such as Impatiens and Mimulus, will not be lost in the winter and after cutting back a bit will come away the following spring/summer.
A spray of Vaporgard before winter will also help with their survival.

Summer time can be a hard time on house plants if you are not careful. It is also the best time for the plants, outside of spring, for new growth. House plants need ample water right now and the pots can dry out very quickly especially if they are root bound. New growth needs ample food also and with house plants there is no way they are going to get feed unless you do it. Potting mix that becomes too dry will not accept water just the same way as outdoors in the garden.
Now with Pot plants there is a simple solution, just plunge the pot into a tub of water and watch it bubble.
When it finishes bubbling lift and allow it to drain.
A excellent product to use on your Shiny leaf plants and palms is Yates Aerosol Leaf Shine.
Easy to use as it does not require wiping or polishing, just spray it on and you have an excellent shine all over the foliage. It will last for months and repel dust for some time also.
If you have a very dusty plant then gently wash off the dust outdoors with the hose. Allow to dry out of direct sunlight before spraying Yates leaf shine onto the foliage.
It makes your  shiny leaf plants look really great.
House plants that are established, need a big drink of water once a week at this time of the year and in some cases twice a week. Any more that this indicates that the plant is too pot bound and you should consider repotting or root pruning.  


At this time of the year I often recommend planting a late crop of  seed potatoes. If quick maturing potatoes are planted such as Ilam Hardy, gardeners will be able to harvest them about April/May.
I must admit that I haven?t bothered to grow many potatoes for some years as I do not have a lot of available ground left in my gardens. A few months back I had several spuds that had shot in a bag and rather than throw them out, I planted them in an area between some fruit trees and bushes.
The area was not congenial to grow much and often had to be weeded, so here was a chance to kill two birds with one stone. Potatoes would help keep the weeds at bay and also a good way of using up the old spuds. No great care was taken and the spuds were just placed in shallow holes and left to their own devices. I figured that I might be lucky to harvest a few spuds but they would break up the soil and keep the weeds down. About Xmas time I noticed that there were several new potatoes near the surface and that they were turning green with the light. So out with the fork and I lifted the crop. A few good size spuds were forth coming and a lot of smaller ones, ending up with about 4 buckets of usable potatoes. Now here is the part that I found most interesting, when I came to peel the potatoes their skin and texture were firm, much more so than the spuds I have being buying. Then once they were boiled, the flavour was pure heaven. I suddenly remembered what real tatties should taste like. Even cutting them in half prior to cooking, one would notice the good solid tissue that resisted the knife, when compared to purchased spuds. Well here the proof was in the pudding, home grown, uncared for, not even fertilised potatoes, tasting like real potatoes should.
So if you are like me and haven?t grown and tasted real potatoes for a long time then plant a few seed potatoes now and see for yourselves.
. Keep the area moist but not wet till harvest. I hope you enjoy your own tatties as much as I did.         

Hebes are really great looking plants that have the ability to withstand very serve conditions such as clay soils  and drought resistant. Many gardeners have  clay based soil and Hebes just thrive in clay where many other plants would fail (as long as good planting preparations are observed.)  Many of the newer Hebes are compact plants with lovely  foliage and flowers. Needing little attention from you they will grow, flower and be disease and pest free in most situations.
A trim back now and then is about the only work they involve. This is to prevent them smothering other plants nearby,  but if you have plenty of room, just let your Hebes do their own thing and you will be rewarded with magnificent displays till they start to become woody and need a hair cut.
Some of the great Hebes available now include; Hebe hulkeana with its great display of lilac coloured flowers, it grows 1 x 1.5 metres  and prefers a sunny well drained site.
Hebe Icing Sugar is a newer release and one of the best Hebes around. A compact form at 1 x 1 metre, shiny glossy leaves and smothered in pink and white flowers from late spring till autumn.
Hebe Waireka is hardy and colourful all year round. Glossy leaves feature a green centre with cream margins..
Light purple, brush looking flowers grace the plant from spring till autumn. 90 x 60 cm.
Hebe Inspiration 75 x 75 cm is a neat compact, spreading Hebe with oblong, 3cm dark green shinning leaves.
Purple flowers in 4 cm clusters begin in November and December.
Hebe Oratia Beauty grows 1 x 1.5 metres having fresh green foliage with dense racemes of deep pink buds opening to soft pink flowers that fade white with age. Flowering from this month on into autumn.
Hebes are outstanding plants and can be used in most garden settings and several are suitable for containers as well..

Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

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