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Autumn gardening in Canberra

By 14 May 2014 6

autumn-garden

Many of my neighbours’ gardens are full of hedges and attractive greenery. I grew up on a farm so naturally expect my garden to include a cottage orchard and lots of colour. I’m constantly planting and looking for new places to plant, growing sweet peas on the fence, wisteria on the porch, jasmine on the pergola and yes I’ve got my orchard of cold climate friendly food.

The baby and I have become regulars at our local nursery in Yarralumla where we’re happy to trust their judgement on what plants are likely to grow well in our climate and have taken a few gambles on what’s likely to go well in our dry front garden and overly shady veggie patch.

Rioters, your collective experience is vast and intimidating, but you make powerful allies so let’s talk about some Canberra-climate-friendly options for making our gardens a little bit more fun this Autumn! Here are some tips I’ve learned in my relatively short time with my very own garden.

  • Fertilising is not optional! And seeds or seedlings come with instructions so follow them. You can also google up an answer to any question you have so you can have a decent amount of success even if you have no experience.
  • If you must have a hedge, rosemary, lavender or camellia are much nicer than box hedge, and pruning makes them grow faster and prettier whereas box can’t be pruned until it reaches its final size and doesn’t grow big beautiful flowers.
  • All that stuff on the gardening websites about wintering bulbs in the freezer doesn’t apply in this cool climate. You can buy your bulbs right now, plant them in the ground today and watch them freeze over winter then bloom in the spring. Make sure you plant them right way up though. Right way up is pretty obvious for daffodils but you’ll need your old pal Google for some of the more unusual shaped bulbs.
  • Agapanthus is really popular in Canberra but most people don’t know that you’re supposed to pull it out of the ground every few years in the Autumn, divide it and plant it again. My father in law has turned a single enormous “plant” into enough little ones to cover our entire frontage. The reason to do this is because they don’t grow flowers if they’re hungry and they will be fighting for nutrients if there are so many other plants in a big cluster.
  • Everyone seems to just assume food won’t grow in Canberra, particularly during the Winter. But the Yarralumla nursery has Japanese varieties of some citrus trees that are presumably chosen for their ability to tolerate a little frost, plenty of berries enjoy the cold and of course you can go nuts with your root veggies this time of year. It’s also the right time to plant leafy greens and there are some very attractive varieties of kale grown as food or as flowers.
  • And speaking of frost, don’t forget now is the time to bring in anything that doesn’t tolerate it, and keep it by a window over winter.

I now bow to the greater wisdom and experience of better gardeners to tell us what you are up to in the garden at the moment and to advise us on where to shop for garden supplies and what local societies exist to help us enjoy our gardens?

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6 Responses to Autumn gardening in Canberra
#1
Dagget663:17 pm, 14 May 14

Canberra Organic Growers Society is good … they run community gardens all over Canberra .

http://www.cogs.asn.au/

Mrs Dagget and I have a 50 sq m plot and thoroughly enjoy growing and eating our organic veggies .

#2
fabforty5:28 pm, 14 May 14

Am I right in assuming you either work for, or have some kind of financial interest in, Yarralumla Nursery ?

#3
sepi6:01 pm, 14 May 14

Broad beans can be planted now and will almost grow themselves. They are good for kids to help with, and they grow big very quickly.

There are flower bulbs for all seasons, not just spring. Nerines are flowering now and they are tough and need no looking after.

Bulbs are much cheaper online.

School fetes sometimes have cheap plants. The tree man at the Epic vegie markets has cheap trees and shrubs.

#4
b210:06 pm, 14 May 14

Some further notes:

Rosemary and lavender hedges will go to woody over time and eventually need replacing. Box hedges are extremely slow growing so unless you are forking out for advanced stock they’ll take ages to get to a decent hedge size. Common choices for Canberra would be viburnum, photina or pittosporum.
Agapanthus is listed as an environmental weed in some states, so be careful!
Citrus grows well in Canberra. If you’ve planted a new tree in the open, then cover it with hessian over winter to toughen it up. After a season it should be fine. Put potted stock near the eaves, it might get a bit burnt, but will bounce back in Spring.
Trust your local nurseries, they understand the conditions and only stock what will be ok in Canberra.

#5
marcothepolopony2:02 pm, 20 May 14

Also recommended for a hedging plant is Osmanthis (?).
Has a beautiful fragrance in the late summer, especially at night.
Slow grower, but worth the wait.

#6
VYBerlinaV8_is_back3:26 pm, 20 May 14

fabforty said :

Am I right in assuming you either work for, or have some kind of financial interest in, Yarralumla Nursery ?

Yarralumla nursery is well known by gardeners as having good quality plants that are acclimatised to Canberra, unlike the big hardware shops.

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