Hello Spring! - Aug 29, 2013

Dear gardening friends

Spring has really sprung this week. I am not sure what that really means but I here it all the time. What I have noticed is more spring blossom trees have come into flower this week.

If you want to see beautiful spring blossom trees take a drive down Macarthur drive in Elderslie. This is one of my favourite streets in the Macarthur district. The houses are under the canopy of the trees. When you drive down this street it makes you feel good. If you haven't been there try it and let me know if you feel it too.

Another suburb that gets a lot of mentions is Macarthur gardens. I took a photo of a Manchurian Pear tree this morning on the way to work. These are one of my favourite trees because they get covered in white flowers in spring then they get glossy green leaves all summer long. In autumn the leaves change colour again so this tree is never boring. This tree has been perfectly positioned to block out the western sun. In winter the leaves will fall off to allow the sun to warm the house. This will save them thousands of dollars in energy bills over time but you almost never hear this good news story.

Pig has been very happy this week because his favourite plant has come into flower! It's Pig Face of course. This drought hardy, sun loving plant has flowers that will have you reaching for the sun glasses. We have over 10 varieties on our succulent bench so don't be put off Pig Face if orange isn't your thing. They are getting ready to flower and they are cheap to buy at 4 for $20.

Remember pig face flowers don't open unless they get the sun.

Lavender plants are starting to flower in gardens and we have nice plants in the nursery. If you are buying a Lavender plant this spring make sure you dunk it in a bucket of water before removing it from the pot. Lavender plants have a vigorous root system so they are almost always pot bound when you buy them. This means there is often more roots than potting mix so the plants dry out and drop dead very quickly if you are not a good water. Dunk it first until all the bubbles stop, then you know all the air has been removed and been replaced with water. Tease the roots then plant it in the garden and water daily for at least 3 weeks.

The secret to growing compact lavender plants is to prune them in late spring and then again in autumn. Lavenders flower off new growth so the more often you prune them the more flowers you will get.

Wisterias will be flowering in gardens in the next week or so. Wisterias just like Bougainvilleas have got a bad name for growing out of control. If you go to Italy you will see beautiful Wisterias and Bougainvilleas that have been trained up walls and kept contained. They look spectacular. In Australia we plant things, and then pull them out 10 years later because they have taken over the entire garden. We could learn a lot from the Italians.

If you love Wisterias come and see the named "collectors varieties" that Simon has discovered. You won't find these around. We have white, pink and blue flowering varieties with blooms up to a metre long. Grow them over your west facing pergola and they will shade the hot sun, cool your house, and save you some money.

We have had a lot of inquiries about the best potting mix for growing Blueberries. The label says to use an Azalea potting mix. We don't sell this anymore because we found that it was poor quality. We have potted up ours using Tim's Best potting mix and it has sprouted out fresh new growth. The plant looks so happy and it has fruit on it now. As you know we test Tim's Best potting mix regularly to make sure that our supplier is giving us the best mix possible. People often roll their eyes when they see how much it costs.

Well Ryan has done the potting mix trial again with some cheaper potting mixes on the market and after only 20 days you can see the lettuce leaves are growing so much better in Tim's Best. Sure it costs more but do you want your plants to thrive or just sit there? If you are growing Tomatoes in pots this year make sure you use Tim's Best potting mix and your plants will thrive.

Lisa has potted up one of our new Fruit Fly Resistant Tomatoes using Tim's best. She has grown it inside one of those wire frames I was talking about last week. These last for years so don't be put off by the price. I think they are not high enough so I drive 2x1.8 metre tomato stakes into the soil and then wire the frame to these. It means you can lift up the frame another 45cms to give your tomato plant more support.

Lisa has over 25 Tomato varieties in stock now. Spring starts on Sunday so start planting your tomato plants now! Prepare your garden bed first by digging in Tim's cow manure. Add a hand full of garden lime every square metre. Dig this in then cover your garden with sugar cane. You can plant straight away as long as you water the plants daily. Don't forget the snail pellets. Multi guard pellets are the safest because they don't kill dogs, cats, birds and lizards.

If we get a late frost get up early and hose it off your plants before the sun comes up. The nights are getting warmer so they should be OK.

Petunias have arrived in potted colour. These are great for putting in pots and hanging baskets to give you instant colour. They will flower from now until the end of summer so they are great value. Flowers make you happy so why wouldn't you plant them?

Come and see us if you need help in the garden. Take a photo of the area with your phone if you want ideas. If you see something flowering in a neighbour's garden take a close up photo and we will tell you what it is.

Happy gardening