A sea of purple despite a dry summer

A sea of purple despite a dry summer


Life & Style
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February is here with little sign of the hot weather retreating.

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Flowering lavender waiting to be harvested at Crystal Brook Lavender Farm, Laggan.

Flowering lavender waiting to be harvested at Crystal Brook Lavender Farm, Laggan.

February is here with little sign of the hot weather retreating. Gardening remains an early morning activity, even with daylight saving, the evenings are still too hot to do much.

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This summer I’ve been thanking my lucky stars for lavender.

All my plants are flourishing, happy with what ever nature hurls at them, growing steadily, flowering for weeks, unworried when temporarily abandoned while their harried owner escapes to the beach.

We recently had the pleasure of visiting Crystal Brook Gardens and Lavender Farm near Laggan and enjoyed a walk through the series of themed garden rooms with knowledgeable owners Judith and Michael Basile.

Their lavender is being harvested now and it’s a great time to visit this lovely small farm (and enjoy the shop and café).

If you took lavender cuttings last spring, February is a good time to check for roots and re-pot them individually. If you didn’t, make a diary note for next October, as tip cuttings of lavender taken early in the season root like steam.

February is also a good time to fertilise citrus trees. Established trees need to be kept well-watered and fertilised from now on as they develop their winter fruit.

While you’re at it, check for sap-sucking scale insects – the most obvious evidence of their undesirable presence is a nasty black sooty mould, frequently accompanied by ants, on the trees.

If you took lavender cuttings last spring, February is a good time to check for roots and re-pot them individually. - Fiona Ogilvie

The sooner you spot a scale infestation the better, as the easiest way to get rid of it is by pruning and destroying all infested leaves, twigs and branches.

But, if this means losing half your crop, Yates Nature’s Way is certified organic and should do the trick, taking great care to zap every affected area.

The hot summer means newly planted trees and shrubs may be struggling to establish themselves.

My purple leaf Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia ‘Diamonds in the Dark’ has made little progress after shooting last spring.

Extra water and a few shovelfuls of home-made compost always give stressed plants an instant lift. If you’re short of mature compost, Seasol soil conditioner, a seaweed concentrate that includes soil wetting crystals, has produced miraculous results for me in the past.

A 1.2 litre bottle of concentrate (about $12 from garden centres) will rev up a number of heat and drought affected plants and is a lot cheaper than replacing them.

February is the traditional month for dividing and replanting bearded irises. I do mine about every three years, towards the end of the month when with any luck conditions are cooler, but before March when I’ll be overwhelmed with autumn planting.

An iris rhizome flowers only once before producing offsets. Remove and keep these, and chuck out the old rhizome with its withered flower stalk. Trim the offsets’ leaves to 10-15 centimetres, replant and keep damp until new shoots indicate new roots.

If you want to get ahead, lift and re-pot winter flowering cyclamen, while tubers are dormant.

For opening hours and bookings at Crystal Brook Lavender Farm, 257 Tyrl Tyrl Road, Laggan, phone 02 4843 3333 or visit lavenderatlaggan.weebly.com 

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