Hydrangeas and celosias


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There are lots of flowers in my cutting garden right now, including hydrangeas, celosias, carnations and lisianthus. Most are easy to grow; lisianthus not so much. They are prone to damping off, and flower initiation is often reliant on climate. I’ll write more on propagating lisianthus another time as there is a trick to getting them to grow well.

In the meantime, mix flowers and foliage from your garden to make a summer bouquet. This makes a lovely, unexpected gift to take to a friend when visiting.

Plant Now: Late summer flowers


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Dahlias, zinnias and rudbeckias flower throughout summer and autumn, right up to the first frosts. Plant seedlings or plants from your local garden centre for a non-stop floral display.

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum – pictured on the left) are great for the summer and autumn garden too – and, like dahlias, zinnias and rudbeckias – make great cut flowers. All enjoy full sun and free-draining soil.

Gold and magenta bouquet


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If you’re looking to have a gold theme for your wedding or celebration (a golden anniversary, perhaps), consider spray-painting your foliage gold. Back in the days when I completed my florist’s course we spent a session spraying foliage and seed heads gold and silver. It lasts exceptionally well, and looks beautiful complemented with a sparkling gold ribbon covering the base of the stems. The gold here pairs beautifully with magenta calla lilies.

Plant Now: Snail Vine


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The snail vine’s (Vigna caracalla) scented blooms look a bit like (pretty) snail shells, hence its common name. It’s a climbing perennial, ideal for pergolas and fences in full sun and well-drained soil. Dig in plenty of compost before planting.

These are easy to grow by seed – sow them now (late spring/early summer at latest) for a long summer and autumn display.

You can collect your own seeds from the plant, which form inside what look like pea pods, for sowing next year. Old growth can be cut back in winter.

Seeds are available from Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds.

Image credits: Top photo from The Olde Barn; bottom photo by Janie News.

Early summer bouquet


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Head to your flower borders and throw together a bouquet of seasonal summer blooms. In my garden there are plenty of hydrangeas and roses – and down the road a snip of eucalyptus leaves (with the neighbour’s permission) pads it out. What’s flowering in your patch right now?

Book review: Growing Vegetables

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Fellow gardening enthusiast Sarah O’Neil, aka Sarah the Gardener, has written a fabulous new book, Growing Vegetables: An easy guide for all seasons. Sarah grows pretty much all her family’s vegetables on her lifestyle block just south of Auckland, and she’s on a mission to encourage others to grow their own food too. Hence, she’s written this excellent beginner’s (and not-quite-beginner’s) guide to vegetable gardening, with weekly advice, tips, and techniques to employ throughout the season. This really is a great book, with superb tips for both beginners and more experienced gardeners. Close your eyes, family members – everyone’s getting one of these for Christmas.

Published by New Holland, RRP $35.00.

Visit Sarah’s blog: gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com

Colourful wedding bouquet


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Isn’t this bouquet stunning? I love the multi-coloured flowers and the multi-coloured ribbons. I also love the two feathers protruding at the top. They just add another dimension to the bouquet.

Here, we have orange ranunculus, purple lisianthus (darn hard to grow), red leucospermum and gloriosa lily.

And then there’s good old eucalyptus. At the moment, eucalyptus is one of my favourite foliage fillers, though if you want to grow your own trees, you need a bit of space.

 

Plant Now: Physostegia


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Physostegia virginiana, or obedient plant, is grown for its tubular white or pink flowers. ‘Vivid’ is one of the best varieties for cutting, with its long-lasting bright pink blooms. The stiff stems are ideal for arranging.

These plants are called obedient because you can push the flowers in any direction and they’ll stay.

Physostegia prefers average, moist soil, though plants are drought tolerant. Plant in full sun. Pick when just a few flowers at the base of the flower stalk are open.

Look for this plant at garden centres or online nurseries.

Win a Daltons Premium Tomato Pack

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Send in your gardening question and be in the draw to win! 

Each month Daltons will answer one of your questions – and if yours is pick, you win! Up for grabs this month? 2 x Daltons Premium Tomato packs. 

Each pack is valued at over $80 and contains 2 x Daltons incredible edibles® Tomato Mix, 1 x incredible edibles® grow bag, and 1 x Daltons incredible edibles® Tomato FertiliserPLUS a pair of comfortable, versatile Red Back gardening gloves from Omni Products.

Don’t post your question here. HEAD OVER TO my other site SWEET LIVING for your chance to win.

Plant Now: Hydrangeas


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Hydrangeas are in shops now, so go grab yourself a couple, or take cuttings of your existing ones. I prefer these plants on their own in the vase, though occasionally I’ll see a nice mix of hydrangeas and foliage, like the display here (middle photo) by Olive & The Fox, with eucalyptus leaves and lady’s mantle (these are actually faux flowers – can you tell?). In the garden, though, I like my hydrangeas mixed, like this garden border (second image from the bottom) with white hydrangeas (‘Annabelle’), agapanthus, salvias and echinops, and some sort of ornamental grass at the back.

Hydrangeas like rich, moist but free-draining soil in partial shade. Dig in plenty of compost before planting and keep them well watered during the growing season.