Diane Beddison

Winter is upon us. Here are some suggestions for the garden.

Plant of the Month

Banksia prefer good drainage, so mix in organic matter such as mature compost with your garden soil and plant on a slight mound. If you have a sloping block plant them higher up the slope. Banksia do well in a raised bed. Banksia spinulosa ‘Birthday Candles’ is frost tolerant once established so, select a position protected by other plants that receives plenty of sun. It is a compact small shrub and looks wonderful in a pot.

Gardening Fun

There is still plenty to do in the winter garden. And when the weather sends you inside, take the opportunity to plan for the coming seasons.

Move plants or move them on. If a plant is not doing well, take it out, or move it to a more suitable location. Both deciduous and evergreen plants can be safely moved while temperatures are low. Lift and divide herbaceous perennials and plant them in other areas of your garden. Or share them with your friends. Remove or give a hard prune to shrubs which have grown out of their space.

Prune deciduous shrubs, fruit trees and grape wines. In July, prune roses, wisteria, and other vigorous vines. Camellia shrubs are flowering now and may be pruned once they have finished flowering.

Prepare garden beds for planting during the winter months by mixing mature compost into the topsoil. Avoid digging is very wet soil, especially in heavy clay soils, as it will destroy the soil structure. Lawn areas can be prepared for spring planting noting that soil must be well-drained.

Protect frost sensitive perennials and newly planted trees and shrubs.

Select and plant deciduous trees and shrubs, cane fruits and vines. Pick a garden area which provides some shelter from frost and plant natives that flower in winter to feed the birds. Plant out the rest of your garden in late winter once frosts have gone. This enables them to put on root growth prior to the hot days, however, they will still require extra care during their first summer.

During winter plant brassicas, root vegetables and hardy herbs. When planting legume and leafy greens choose those that cope with the cold. Include snow peas, spinach, cos and butter lettuce, and silver beet.

Get organised for spring, by cleaning pots and bird baths plus removing any algae. Service your lawn mower and other tools. Repair sheds and fences on warm days.

Design in the Warm

Winter is a time for renewal.

Once the Autumn leaves have fallen and herbaceous perennials have retreated, the structure of the garden is clearly seen.

Is your hard landscaping adequate and in good condition? Perhaps it is time to update your built landscape?

Do your garden beds lack structure during the cooler months? Add more evergreen plants to improve your winter garden. Select shrubs such as Cistus, Rhaphiolepis, Abelia, Escallonia and Rhododendron species, which all come in a variety of sizes.

Include winter flowering plants, such as Camellia (frost hardy varieties such as double pink C. ‘Debbie’), Daphne, Hellebores, Clivia and Australian native plants such as Correa and Grevillea. Choose Grevillea that do well in your area. Your local nursery is a great resource and can advise which plants will cope with frosts.

Do you have a canopy tree or two? Trees provide shade, moderate temperature within the garden and enhance the environment. They also protect homes from the worst of the summer sun and reduce energy bills. Good deciduous options are Pyrus nivalis (Snow Pear), Chinese Pistachio, Lagerstroemia indica x L. fauriei (Crepe Myrtle), or Gingko biloba ‘Male’. If you do not need winter light, consider a dwarf gum with a stunning red or pink flower.

Screening of neighbouring properties or ugly views? No worries. Use shrubs such as evergreen Viburnum and Magnolia or Michelia and hedge them or plant trees such as narrow pears and crab apples, or Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear’.

Add interest with lovely bark such as Coral Bark Maple or a Crepe Myrtle and plants with colourful foliage, such as Loropetalum. Lime green foliage lights up a dark corner.

Enjoy Winter in the Garden.

Diane Beddison is the principal of Beddison Garden Designs and a frequent visitor to Daylesford and the Principal of Beddison Garden Designs.