Rain is a welcome relief

Rain brings hope and relief


Life & Style
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After weeks of heat and dust we finally struck gold, only 10mm, but enough to get the garden back on track.

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Floral art at a recent International Flower and Garden Show in the magnificent surroundings of Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Centre. Don't miss Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show from March 21 to 25.

Floral art at a recent International Flower and Garden Show in the magnificent surroundings of Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Centre. Don't miss Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show from March 21 to 25.

Only someone from England – or possibly Ireland – could possibly have invented the proverb ‘every cloud has a silver lining’.

As far as I’m concerned every cloud is silver all the way through, and becomes pure gold should it happen to bring rain.

After weeks of heat and dust we finally struck gold, hurrah, only 10 millimetres but it cooled the air and was enough get me back outside.

It was just as well as March is a busy month, with heaps to do before the first frost pounces.

Top priority if you live in a region with dry summers, most of central and southern NSW, is planting.

March is the ideal time for getting container grown trees and shrubs (as opposed to bare rooted specimens that have to wait till mid-winter) into the ground, as the soil is still warm enough to encourage them to form new roots.

This means they’ll be sufficiently established to withstand winter cold, especially highland and inland frosts, will get away quickly next spring and best of all will be well and truly settled by the time summer arrives and more likely to survive the heat.

You can occasionally get lucky planting in spring.

I put in half a dozen salvias last October and got away with it but it’s riskier and costs more in terms of time and water. 

March is also a good time to move evergreen shrubs.

Be sure to dig a large enough hole, wide as well as deep.

Then trim the shrub’s leaves to correspond to the amount of root you lost when digging it up. 

Roots and leaves are interdependent.

Plants suffer undue stress if they fall out of balance and take longer to recover from a move.

Once trees and shrubs are in place your bulbs can go in among them. Tulips can wait until April or May if you’re pushed for time. 

March is when I start raking leaves for leaf mould, starting with those shed by deciduous trees during summer’s heat and seguing into autumn leaves as they turn colour and fall. 

Leaf mould is the most fabulous starter compost for cuttings I know and it’s easy to make. All you need is a mesh container and a nearby tap to keep it damp. 

My container is an open ended cylinder obligingly made for me by Bill from a roll of weldmesh.

It sits on the ground thus benefiting from rising damp, and is light enough to tilt when I want to scrape out the rotted leaves from the base.

March is when I start raking leaves for leaf mould, starting with those shed by deciduous trees during summer’s heat and seguing into autumn leaves as they turn colour and fall.

Once the cylinder is full I put leaves and other autumn debris onto the compost heap, watering everything as I go.

Last important March task is to take hardwood cuttings of roses, 30 centimetre cuttings of mature wood taken now will be ready to transplant next autumn.

Heads Up: Don’t miss Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) from March 21 to 25. MIFGS includes masterclasses with floral designers, exhibitions by leading landscape designers and stalls offering bulbs, plants, tools and garden accessories. Tickets available online at www.melbflowershow.com.au/

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