Spring starts on Saturday! - Aug 30, 2012

Dear gardening friends,

Beautiful spring weather today just makes you want to go outside and plant something.

My boys are getting sick of me telling them how beautiful the Manchurian Pear trees look in our garden. Our kitchen windows look down on a row of these trees and with the morning sun shining on them its like they are on show. They have been covered in white flowers for the last 10 days and they look spectacular.

As you drive around the streets of Macarthur you will start to see these trees flowering every where. The newest suburb next to Glen Alpine has Manchurian Pears planted as street trees.

The variety called Pyrus calleryana "Capital" is suitable for suburban gardens because it has a narrow upright habit. (11metres high by 3 metres wide)

If you have more room then plant Pyrus calleryana "Chanticleer" (11 metres high by 6 metres wide).

But if you prefer a traditional cloud shaped tree, then plant the variety called Pyrus ussuriensis. This variety grows 9 metres high by 7 metres wide. It makes a great climbing tree for children. We have all of these trees in stock ready for planting now.

If you live on acreage buy several varieties because they flower at different times during spring.

There is another white flowering tree that will also give you nuts. Almond trees are easy to grow and even if you never prune them or spray them they will still produce nuts in profusion.

We have a self pollinating variety that has paper shell almonds. This means you can break the shell with your fingers. I have one growing in my garden and it is looking sensational right now.

Almond trees only grow about 3 metres high by 3 metres wide so they are the perfect size for small gardens.

Trees cost just $44.99 and the free nuts will pay for this tree in no time.

Remember if you're planting fruit trees in your garden this spring you need to get a bag of Greengold planting compost. Fruit trees hate clay soils so the planting compost will help break the clay down and make your trees grow faster.

I bumped into some old customers in Camden during the week. They told me that their garden had really gone down hill recently because of ill health. It is hard for keen gardeners to keep their gardens looking good as they get older. The stress often makes them sell their houses and they move into retirement villages. If you're in this situation don't forget about our Tim's Gardening Service. Our horticulturists can come weekly, fortnightly or monthly to maintain your garden. This allows you to live in your home that contains all your treasures. Give us a call for the horticulturist in your suburb. I have had rave reviews about Guy who joined us recently.

We showed you a great photo of a Magnolia soulangiana growing in a garden in Lillian St Campbelltown a couple of weeks ago. The owner of that beautiful tree turned out to be one of our customers. Margaret and her husband planted the Magnolia to celebrate being married for 10 years. The tree and their marriage are still going strong 34 years later.

Planting trees is a great way to celebrate special moments in our lives. I planted Manchurian pear trees to celebrate the birth of my boys.

I've just been out to count how many tomato varieties Lisa has to choose from this spring. I lost count at 26! Gone are the days when you came into the nursery wearing gum boots and stubbie shorts to buy a punnet of Grosse Lisse. I miss those short shorts!

These days' gardeners like to try different varieties. Lisa has got every tomato you have ever heard of plus new, old varieties that you have never heard of!

We have heirloom tomatoes that taste so much better than the new ones.

I trialed one last year called "Amish paste". Not a great name for a tomato, it sounds like glue! The plant grew beautifully but whenever the tomatoes started to turn red they would just get eaten by the birds. The birds didn't just eat a hole in the side, they ate everything!

Eventually I picked them green and ripened them on the window sill. Wow, no wonder the birds loved eating it! It tasted as sweet as strawberries and it was so soft and juicy with almost no seeds. Heirloom tomato expert David Cavagnaro rates Amish paste 100 out of 100 for taste. (So do the birds)

Should you prune tomatoes?

I was always taught to prune out the lateral branches when growing tomatoes but recently we bought a copy of Clive Blazeys "All about Tomatoes". What a great book. It has photos and stories about almost every tomato ever grown. Clive conducted pruning trials at the diggers club and found a 25% drop in yield for light pruning and 83% for heavy pruning. The explanation is that pruning sets back fruit production and plants don't have enough time to recover yields in the short to medium length growing season.

So this year I am not going to prune my tomatoes. I will probably need more than one stake to support the plants.
I was watching Howzat Kerry Packers War on Monday and it brought back memories. My mate and I went to the cricket on the hill. The place was packed so we made our way up the back. I came across a family sitting on a blanket and I said hello and sat down. My mate couldn't believe how lucky I was to find a friend with room on a blanket! "I've never met them before", I whispered to him. 2 minutes later I got hit in the head with a roast chicken! Who throws a roast chicken?

It seems like every spring the growers bring out a new Lavender Plant. This year is no different; we have a new variety called "The Princess". It is covered in pinky mauve flowers right now so if you're looking for some spring colour, try one of these. Plants with grey foliage love hot sunny positions so remember this when choosing plants for your garden.

Lavenders should be pruned back by 25% every spring and autumn to stop them getting woody. Dunk Lavender plants in a bucket of water before planting for best results.

They are often pot bound and they dry out quickly so water often for the first month or they will drop dead!

I have been coaching my son's soccer team over winter so you may have missed me. I will be working on Saturdays during spring so come and see me. Saturday is officially the first day of spring so wear something floral?

Happy gardening