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Preparing for Winter

When it comes to winter there's lots we can do to ensure we have a bright garden. So here's a few tips to consider: 

Winter pests 

With so many insecticides and fungicides still available, it can be hard to resist – or can it? Don’t compromise your health, proper planning of the garden with a bit of pruning here and there will have these nasty insects easily under control. Pruning allows for proper airflow and will prevent pests from breeding in the well-sheltered areas of dense foliage. 

At this time of year watch out for the white cabbage moth by checking under the leaves and rub off any eggs to avoid the population growing out of control. Prevention is always more effective than controlling the problem. Drape mosquito netting over plants to prevent further attack.

Look out for leaf-miner attack on new leaves of citrus trees. Twisted and deformed new leaves are typical signs of attack. Prune off all damaged leaves and spray the remaining parts of the tree with homemade chilli and oil to protect it.

Get composting

Whether you purchased a plastic drum, built your own timber frame or just dug a hole in the ground, no matter what time of the year it is, compost-making should be in full swing in everyone’s garden. Organic home-made compost is an essential element for a healthy garden.  

Turn to citrus

Citrus trees in the garden provide wonderful aromas along with excellent blossom for the birds and the bees, but most importantly they provide a great range of produce both for the table and the glass for all to enjoy.

Ensure you give your trees a good feed with compost or manure at this time of the year in preparation for a bumper crop.

When do we prune?

As a general rule of thumb, most woody plants produce flowers on their new growth, so therefore benefit from a prune immediately after flowering. This will give the plant ample time to regenerate after the prune, bush up and set flower buds on this new growth for the following season.

Common plants that should be pruned after flowering include: grevillea, leptospermum (‘tea tree’), callistemon bottlebrush, gardenia, azalea, camellia, fuchsia, eriostemon, hebe, Marguerite daisy, prunus (‘flowering plum’).

Examples of plants that are pruned when dormant include; roses, fruiting trees including apples, pears, nectarines, mulberries, figs and nuts, hydrangeas, grape vines, ornamental deciduous trees.

How much can we prune?

Most common garden plants will take quite a hard prune back. As a general guide pruning up to one third off will encourage bushy growth and the plant can regenerate easily.

Pruning is one of those gardening tasks that is dreaded by some and eagerly awaited by others. Many gardeners are happy trimming shrubs with a small pair of secateurs while others insist on using a chainsaw.  Pruning is carried out for many reasons, the main ones being:

1. To increase flower production; in the case of roses, new water shoots are produced, which is the flowering wood.

2. For the plant to keep a bushy shape and contained within the area in which it was planted.

3. To regenerate a plant that seems to be on its last legs.

4. To remove pests and diseases, e.g., fungal problems or insect-damaged parts.

5. To decrease the size of certain plants that seem to have taken over the whole backyard (this is when the chainsaw is warranted).

6. To maintain shape, e.g. topiary or formal hedges.