Try a trollius


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Here’s something different to try: the globeflower, or trollius. This perennial plant likes moist conditions and part-shade, and shows its vibrant-coloured blooms in late spring and early summer. It’s a great cut flower – just look at these! – and it’s one of the few cut flowers that will grow in shade (they’ll grow in sun too). Pick the flowers when they are just starting to open.

Make sure you position your plants in soil that won’t dry out over summer. Add plenty of compost before planting to maintain moisture levels. Having said that, you don’t want them to be sitting in water over winter, or you might kill them, so choose your spot carefully.

Vertical gardening


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How cool are these vertical gardens? I’ve recently set up my own vertical garden using these felt-like pocket gardens. You can plant anything you like in them – herbs, strawberries, flowering annuals or leafy plants. I love them so much, I’m now selling them in my online shop (click through here). It’s a fantastic way to brighten up a dull wall, and the fabric is durable, corrosion resistant, breathable, and allows water to be absorbed. Find out more here.

Plant now: Selago densiflorus


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Selago densiflorus is a low-growing aromatic shrub to 1m high. It produces masses of soft purple flowers in late winter and spring. They look a little bit like lilacs (sort of, kind of, though not really), which I can’t grow here in Auckland, so I love them as an alternative. The stems are great for picking too. Plants will grow in sun or part shade, and they will tolerate dry soils.

You’ll find the plants in shops now, or buy them directly from 4Trees.

The top image was taken by Mike Lusk around the Taupo area; the second image is from 4Trees.

Gardening Q&A + your chance to win!

Daltons-Premium-Strawberry-Pack-460Send in your gardening question and be in the draw to win! 

Each month Daltons will answer one of your questions, which we’ll feature here. Up for grabs this month? 2 x Daltons Premium Strawberry packs. Each pack is valued at over $80 and contains 1 x Daltons Incredible Edibles Strawberry Mix, 1 x Daltons Incredible Edibles Strawberry Fertiliser, 1 x Daltons Organic Bio-Fungicide Powder, 1 x Besgrow Coir Briquette – PLUS you’ll receive a pair of comfortable, versatile Red Back garden 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: Hollyhocks and Mallows


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I haven’t planted hollyhocks for a couple of years but I am going to do so this year. I should really have sown the seeds in autumn, but I’m going to sow them now (mid-winter) anyway. Undercover, of course. In my new makeshift greenhouse on the deck. Needs must. I long for an enormous Victorian-style glasshouse, but I neither have the room nor the money to purchase one. So my makeshift plastic contraption will suffice for now.

Hollyhocks (Althaea) flower from late spring/early summer and, depending on what variety you get, can tower above all other plants in the garden. If you don’t want to sow seeds, wait till the seedlings hit the shops (possibly next month) then plant them straight in the garden about 45cm apart in full sun in well-drained soil. They need space for air circulation as rust is a common disease among hollyhocks, especially in humid areas.

Indian or French hollyhocks (second from bottom) do, as their name suggests, look like hollyhocks, but they are actually mallows. They can be sown at the same time as hollyhocks – or look out for the seedlings in garden centres a few weeks down the track.

Photo credits: Top photo from Dave on Flickr; Photo second from top is from Happy At Home; The pale pink hollyhock was found on Indulgy; the striped mallow was also from Indulgy; the beautiful hollyhock artwork is by Fran Stoval.

Plant now: Thyme


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Ever wanted to plant a thyme lawn? Get a load of these gorgeous examples to inspire you. Thyme flowers come in all shapes and sizes and the different species and their hybrids flower at different times. Which means you can achieve a patchwork effect, and extend the flowering season, by planting several different varieties. In the bottom four images, you can see just how different the flower heads of different species are.

In small gardens, thyme can be planted in between pavers, or even in pots. In large gardens, the world’s your oyster.

Plant in a sunny spot in free-draining soil. Add pumice or horticultural grit to your soil if necessary, because thyme won’t tolerate wet feet.

Read more about planting a thyme lawn here.

The second photo from the top is from Zest Your Garden; the third photo is from Lankford Associates Landscape Design.

Join the Grow Your Own Club


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My gardening pal Sarah O’Neil (aka Sarah the Gardener – you may know her through her column in NZ Herald) is starting a new club for those of you who want to grow your own food but don’t know where to start. Join the club and each season you’ll get a box full of goodies, including a collection of family favourite gardening seeds and all the know-how you need to get going and growing successfully.

Sound good? Read more about it here.

Plant Now: Beautiful Pansies


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Pansies are a cheerful addition to the winter garden and make pretty posies for indoors. Plant seedlings or potted colour in moist, fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. Most pansies are bi-coloured, or single coloured with a yellow eye – in either case the range of hues these days is extensive. There HAS to be a pansy for everyone.

Pansies really do make lovely cut flowers; fill several small vases and place them on windowsills indoors.

The top image is from Mellow Stuff; the second image down is from Out the Front Window.

Online Herbal Workshop


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Want to learn about herbs? Don’t know where to start? Take an online class.

Online Herbal Workshop – Do it in your own time.

Learn about herbs for STRESS and SLEEP; herbs for BEAUTY (how to make lip balms, creams, lotions); herbs for COMMON AILMENTS (make your own salves, tinctures, etc); and herbs for GREEN CLEANING. Learn more over on my sister website, Sweet Living HERE.

 

You’ll learn about:

  • Herbs for stress and sleep (which herbs work and which don’t)
  • Herbs for beauty (make your own face and body creams, oils, perfumes, etc)
  • Herbs for common ailments (make salves, tinctures, etc)
  • Herbs for cleaning (make your own natural cleaners)
  • Cooking with herbs (plus make herb mixes, and preserve your herbs)
  • How to grow and propagate your own herbs

Includes information on stevia (the ‘sugar herb’ to use in place of sugar) plus recipes using stevia.

You can learn more about my online herb course here

Plant Now: Sweet peas


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If you haven’t already, you should get your sweet peas in now. You don’t have to mollycoddle them – you can sow the seeds directly in the ground. Or sow them in peat pots and plant the whole pot in the soil when the seedlings are 5-8cm (2-3 inches) tall. They are hardy annuals and tolerant of low temperatures. In fact, high light levels in winter combined with cool temperatures are perfect for sweet pea growing. Plant in a spot that gets good sun; low light levels will result in smaller and fewer flowers.

The plants are vines, so they will climb trellises, fences, or even string, and produce more shoots with flowers as they do. When the plants get around 15cm (6 inches) high, tie the shoots to their growing frame.

Watch out for snails and slugs – you may need to use a bait.

When it comes to harvesting, pick your sweat peas when 2-3 flowers start to show some colour.

Image credits: Top photo (which includes sweet peas and stock) via Mod Wedding; middle photo via Love ‘n Fresh Flowers; bottom photo via Sussi’s Sussinghurst.