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Gardening Australia

Gardening Australia September 2020

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Australia’s number one monthly gardening resource, ABC Gardening Australia magazine is packed with step-by-step advice and stunning design ideas from its popular team of experts. Whether you are a novice gardener or have a green thumb and years of experience, you’ll find the advice you need.

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2 min

We’re smelling the freesias and the jonquils, and picking favourites for the vase. We’re gawping at deciduous magnolias and debating whether this year is better than last year. Fruit trees are in blossom, everything is coming into leaf, and the patch is pumping with fresh new plantings. It’s spring. And the azaleas have woken up. Having sat there all year looking at best dull, and at worst, diseased, they burst into flower like their lives depend on it. Which they sort of do. Or did. That conversation you were having in your head about removal of the plant on the grounds it doesn’t earn its keep is discarded. The plant stays and you lap up that mass display and even consider planting more azaleas to ramp things up next year. Azaleas (page…

1 min

True geraniums feature delicate nodding flowers standing above mounding sage-green foliage. Grey cranesbill (Geranium subcaulescens) is a new release that produces so many vibrant, almost neon magenta flowers in spring that it’s a great substitute for low-growing annuals. Growing about 20cm high by 35cm wide, this tough geranium is perfect for planting in pots and small spaces. It performs best in rich soil with morning sun or light shade. lynnsrareplants.com.au Whorls of soft lemon blooms with a rosy blush grow up tall silvery stems on Phlomis ‘Lemon Blush’ from late spring into autumn. Soft grey-green leaves with a whitish-grey reverse add to the overall appeal of this small evergreen shrub, which grows to about 1.2m tall and wide. Drought tolerant once established, it’s ideal for sunny borders and beds in dry…

2 min

PLANT LADY EMBROIDERY 300 BOTANICAL EMBROIDERY MOTIFS & DESIGNS TO STITCH Applemints Quarry Books I haven’t embroidered for decades, but I love the idea of returning to it, and this book is my ticket to a fabulous new needlework-natty me. Page after page of simply delightful motifs, flowers, arbors, cacti, fruit, scenes, tools... you name it, combined with a thread conversion chart, stitching instructions, project ideas and masses of patterns, makes this an exciting and inspiring package of crafty excellence. Jenny Baldwin PUFFIN LITTLE ENVIRONMENTALIST: COMPOSTING Penguin Random House Australia This children’s book is a simple, handy guide to the dos and don’ts of composting and recycling. One of the new Puffin Little series of reference books for kids aged six years and up, Little Environmentalist: Composting is presented in an easy-to-read layout with appealing…

5 min
spring beauties

When I was starting my first garden, my mother gave me some rooted shoots from beneath her large, established azaleas. I dutifully planted them, but gave them little aftercare. Despite this neglect, they grew so well that when my mother moved into a retirement village some quarter of a century later, I was able to present her with a collection of rooted layers, horticultural ‘grand-plants’. I tell this story because it illustrates how resilient azaleas can be in the right climate. As further evidence, they’re often seen surviving in old, abandoned gardens or clinging to life on the verges of highways. I can’t think of any other shrub that produces such a dramatic splash of all-over colour in spring. While this abundance of single, double or semi-double blooms is the main reason…

1 min
top picks

Find azaleas at your local garden centre or via an online specialist nursery, and keep an eye out for these gorgeous varieties: Tall Indicas Extra tough. Mostly spring-blooming. Can be trained as a ball-on-stick standard. ‘Splendens’ (salmon-pink), ‘Alba Magna’ (white), ‘Magnifica’ (purple), ‘Alphonse Anderson’ (light and dark pink). Hybrids ‘Rose Queen’ (bright pink, semi-double blooms), ‘Red Wing’ (long-blooming hose-in-hose – small tubular flower in a larger one). Kurume Miniature varieties with small leaves and flowers. Good for bonsai. ‘Kirin’ (silvery pink), ‘Christmas Cheer’ (carmine red). Encore series Long-blooming, smaller growers. Red leaves Grown for foliage colour. Often reluctant bloomers. ‘Shiraz’ (maroon leaves and wine-red flowers). Mollis hybrids Deciduous azaleas with white, cream, yellow, orange, pink or red blooms. ‘Buzzard’ (yellow to red), ‘Golden Eagle’ (bright orange), ‘Queen Emma’ (deep salmon-pink to orange).…

4 min
happy grow lucky

There’s a happy plant growing in our garden that has been with us, in one form or another, for 25 years, in a number of different households. It started as a house plant in our lounge room in Brisbane, then, when we moved to a rental in Lismore, we put it in the ground to green up a shady spot. Since then, it has provided umpteen cuttings for making new plants, many of which were tossed into the boot and dragged across town to help establish some instant greenery at our latest garden. Now it’s about to enjoy yet another reincarnation as a house plant. It seems to be ‘happy’ just about anywhere, and it doesn’t ask for much. Happy plants (Dracaena fragrans) and other dracaenas are so versatile and easy-care,…