March 23rd, 2020In Your Local Garden with Gen Heyne Gardens: A viral retreat
Naturally, the prospect of long-term solitary confinement for however long it takes for the accursed COVID-19 to leave our shores, or when they discover a miracle cure, is certainly daunting. Especially if the looming school holidays and grumpy, bored kids are added to the mix. I’m not too sure how many days or hours it takes for even the digital screens to lose their charm.
Fortunately, there is always something needing doing in the garden, even if it’s only getting round to the vegie garden, or rescuing the overgrown ornamentals from their pot-bound state.
But never fear, I have also compiled a collection of great little holiday plant-oriented projects, activities and experiments to feature in the next edition of The Local…and all using items usually found about the house. As a clue, save up such things as egg cartons, large plastic bottles and large screwtop jars.
If your garden is anything like mine, there will be weeks’ worth of tasks crying out for completion. And, I’m pretty sure, enough activities to keep the little minds gainfully occupied. Even though it’s Autumn, traditionally the time of year when everything (well, almost) is shutting down for the cold months, there are still lots of things that can be done around the garden. Apart from re-activating the vegetable patch for your Winter/early Spring crops, there’s still planting time for Spring flowering bulbs, and tidying up of the perennial flowering beds.
I’m sure you, like me, have a special project or two that’ve been on your mind for ages, but have had no time to undertake. Well, guess what? Now you’ll have plenty of time on your hands. For the past few years I’ve been meaning to do something about a boringly blank corner at our entrance, where we had randomly placed a collection of potted plants as a “short term” solution. There was also a pile of vintage terracotta edging tiles gathering dust and cobwebs in another garden corner.
We have just, finally, combined all the elements into a neat little garden feature, (pictured below centre) waiting only for the wall-hugging Virginia creeper at the rear to start covering the blandness of the wall. I might add that this new bed solved the problem of where to prominently display a pair of 150 year-old advertising tiles from my great-grandfather’s Adelaide garden shop.
I’m sure you can find at least a few overgrown potted plants just dying to be released into a garden bed, or given a new lease of life like the un-named carpet rose I rescued from languishing in a barren corner of the garden to become a star attraction in one of local artist’s Stefan Nechwatel’s early works, pictured below left.
The Autumn rains bring with them the beginnings of bounteous crops of weeds, so there is plenty to keep you busy at this time pulling or hoeing them out before they get a hold and the weather turns too cold and wet for you to want to be out of doors. While you are at it, any low spots in the beds that would tend to pool after soaking rains, would benefit from having a little lift from extra topsoil or compost.
Your perennial beds are probably looking worse for wear right now, especially if they have been left undisturbed for several years. Fortunately this is the time of year to lift and divide – selecting as many of the newly established clumps to replant and break up the rest for compost.
The same applies to spring flowering bulbs, although unless the parent bulb is looking worn-out, you could just harvest any young bulblets for planting elsewhere. You might care to keep a few aside, they could come in handy for children’s activities.
My story about worm towers in the last edition of The Local has attracted quite some interest, and due to my verbosity lacked space for my photo, pictured below right in answer to your requests.