Winter in Perth is a great time to do all kinds of things in the garden. Our mild climate means transplanting trees and shrubs is best done now. It’s a great time to plant natives and roses, and to divide perennials ready for spring growth. Ensure plenty of compost is added to the soil and water in well with Seasol to promote a healthy microbial soil. Hold back on fertilisers until you see new leaf growth appearing, that way you know the roots are beginning to establish.
It’s also a great time to look at other elements to add to your garden. Feature pots with special plants in them, new paving, a pergola or trellis for a fruiting or flowering vine (e.g. passionfruit or one of the jasmines), or refurbishing your succulents. Succulents are in constant need of dividing and replanting and that makes them great value. Buy a few varieties of Echeveria, and in a year or two you can create a groundcover border in front of your trees or shrubs to great effect. They have delicate and colourful flowers as well as interesting foliage and are the proverbial ‘tough as old boots’.
Pruning is another winter job for roses, fruit trees, hydrangeas and many perennials. Salvias come away from the base each year and benefit from cutting right back to the ground. This promotes fresh canes, flowers and lush foliage. A favourite in the garden at the moment is ‘Limelight’ which has brilliant lime green calyxes and purple flowers which is a superb contrast. It has bushy growth and soft leaves so needs some watering in summer.
Keep on top of weeds
Weeds appear in autumn and are in full growth by early winter. Perennial weeds are best tackled early in the winter before flower-heads or seeds begin. Hand weed with a fork for small areas or apply herbicide for larger problems but be careful you avoid ‘drift’. Many a rose further down the garden has died from a puff of wind at the wrong moment because of spray drift. I use a pot plant over my sprayer nozzle so I can place it right over the weed and down onto the ground before pressing the wand.
Use your fallen deciduous leaves to make compost by gathering into a bin or simply leave them where they lay. They will rot quite quickly with winter rains especially if you throw around some nitrogenous fertiliser to assist breakdown.
Chards of all colours look great in the garden as a border so look for the red, yellow and mixed punnets of Swiss chard (silverbeet) at the nursery. Plant strawberries, coriander, broad beans, broccoli, beetroot and spinach in your veggie patch or as a mixed border with annual flowers.
Many natives begin flowering in winter. Thryptomene, Hypocalymma and Eriostemons (waxes) produce a great show in July to September. Enjoy the cool and welcome the rain as it puts nitrogen into the air and helps plants grow without extra assistance.
Article courtesy of Lorraine Douglas - Gardeners' Circle WA Inc.
(Acknowledgement: Extract from Gardeners' Circle Newsletter Winter 2015)