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.

Flight of the Butterflies in 3D


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I’m going to this film next week. Are you?

The Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand Trust has brought the 3D film Flight of the Butterflies to New Zealand for you, your family and your friends to see. It is a natural history epic, and a detective story. Join hundreds of millions of real butterflies on an amazing journey to a remote and secret hideaway, and one scientist’s year search to unravel the mystery: where do they go each autumn?

Flight of the Butterflies is being played in five theatres across Auckland, Christchurch and Kerikeri on Tuesday 18th October. The film is a fundraiser for a MBNZT and a Givelittle project that’s underway to help save the endangered and endemic forest ringlet butterfly. The funds will go towards research carried out by a senior conservation officer from David Attenborough’s Butterfly Conservation in the UK.

Want to go? Learn more about it here.

And check out the Givealittle page here.

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.