Milko retirees, to become a gardener - Dec 24, 2021

Thank you for your support.

Dear gardening friends
A big thanks to everyone who supported us this year. It's been a crazy year.
We've never worked harder here.
Enjoy your Christmas.

Christmas doesn't make everyone happy.
If this is you, we support you too.
We will be here for you after Christmas.
We are closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
Normal hours every other day.

I dropped into Milko's place during the week. He was Campbelltown's Milkman for 50 years. A lot of you will know him.

Norm might have stopped getting up in the early hours to deliver Macarthur's milk, but now he gets up early to look after his garden.

It's all super neat and tidy.
He prunes everything until it's no taller than him. Even the dwarf grafted Eucalypts have been pruned into rounded shapes.

He's been telling me about a NSW Christmas Bush he bought from us a few years ago, called Red Red Red.
He's pruned it into a small shrub too, and it was covered in red bracts. It really is Red Red Red.

He's also got a rose garden.
Here the plants have been neatly planted in rows. Everything has its place. He knows all their names. He knows every plant by name and variety. He can tell you where, and who, he bought them from.
We got a few mentions.

But he travels to buy plants and he does mail order too. He knows everything about every plant. They all have a story. Some have been grown from cuttings.

I left at 3pm.
"I'm about to have my lunch"
He informed me.

Nobody could keep up with this guy, he's still running despite being 80, and getting a knee operation, a month ago.

He looks like he's been to war.
He won't stop.
Not until he can't move.
Milko never stops.

These Grafted Gums can be hard to grow.
They are especially on life support for the first month. Here's a great story.

I sold one of these grafted gums to a lady a few years ago. She came back to complain because it wasn't growing.
"It looks sad and droopy"
She told me.

I asked her if it was still in the pot? These Grafted gums are famous for drying out in pots, and the lack of water makes the leaves droop, and fall off.

"No" she said.
"I'm a good gardener, I've done everything right."
I hear this often.
The plant is dying but "Ive done everything right".

I asked her where she lived.
I'll come and have a look at it right now.

She lived at Preston.
I followed her home.

When we pulled up out the front of her house, I could see she was a gardener.
The lawn was bright green.
She had numerous pots all bursting with colour.

We went out the back.
The dwarf grafted gum was planted on a mound of soil. The grass was neatly trimmed back by a metre. It was mulched.

I scratched into the soil.
It was moist, but not too wet.
But the plant was dropping.
It really did look sad.

I asked the lady to get me a shovel. I lifted the plant out. It had no new root growth.
The root ball was bone dry.
It had become hydrophobic.
It was repelling the water.

We sat the plant in a bucket of water. It floated like a boat. Then as it started to sink, as air bubbles boiled out from the root ball. The air spaces were being replaced by water.

We replanted the tree.
The tree grew.
It was a happy ending.

When you're planting trees and shrubs, dunk them in a bucket of water before you plant. Don't leave them sitting in pots near the tap, on the concrete.
Sit them in your garden.
Water daily.
Plant ASAP.

This is how Crepe Myrtles should be grown. (See photo) As a single trunk tree, like this beauty, growing in Mawson Park. The lower branches have been removed, while young, to expose the beautiful white trunk.

This pink flowering variety is called "Lipan".
It was released by Flemings nursery 30 years ago, because it had resistance to Powdery Mildew. This is very important, because when you get a wet summer, like we've had, Crepe Myrtles can get a white powdery fungus disease, on the leaves and flower buds.

This range of disease resistant Crepe Myrtles included Natchez, Zuni, Lipan, Tuscarora, Acoma, Tonto and Sioux.
The range was called "The Indian Summer Series".

They have proved so successful, they have been planted around Australia. They flower for at least 3 months over summer.
We keep lots of these, here at our nursery.

We have grown ours with single trunks, so they will end up looking like this beauty in Mawson Park.

In the olden days they pruned back Crepe Myrtles like Rose bushes, every winter.
I'm not a fan.

This tree hasn't been pruned like a rose. It's grown into this beautiful cloud shaped tree. It requires little maintenance.

In late autumn the foliage turns magical colours, before the leaves fall, to allow the sunshine in.

We should be planting these drought hardy trees around Macarthur. When they are pruned like this, they allow access around the base.

They make perfect street trees, because they don't grow big enough to worry electricity wires.
It just makes sense.

Visit us today to talk Crepe Myrtles.
We have Flemings new range of Purple leaf varieties too.

My son Dan and I, guerrilla planted this tree, in a carpark in Camden. We planted others too, but they went missing over time. Backed over by cars, or sprayed by weed killers.

This one has survived.
Illawarra Flame trees are incredibly hardy native trees. We've only had to water this tree, a handful of times.

You can see that it's thriving now, by the size of the leaves. They are so lush, it's hard to believe this is a native plant.

We have grown these trees from seed, taken from trees growing at Sydney University, in Cobbitty.

It gives me great pleasure to see a tree grown from seed thriving, especially in a tough environment like this.

We've given thousands of seeds away this year. Hopefully you've had success growing one or two.

Find a place to plant them.
Don't always expect success.
Not everyone loves trees.
Some people see them as messy things.
What a shame.

That's why being a garden lover is so exciting. We make up for the tree haters.
Without us,the world would be so much hotter.

Best wishes to you and your family.
Enjoy Christmas.
Have a rest.
We will see you soon.
Happy gardening