JULY is here, the shortest day is behind us and gardeners are already anticipating spring.
Meanwhile, winter is a busy time whether you live on the coast, highlands or inland, with lots to do while the garden is dormant.
Cannas are excellent plants for gardeners in dry climates who love big leaves.
You might need to cut yours back now if you haven't already.
Pile leaves and stalks over clumps to protect their roots from frost but don't divide them until early summer.
Hardy perennials like achilleas, alstroemerias and sedums, however, can be divided now. Achillea 'Credo', knee high or over, has cream flowers and greyish green, lacey, aromatic leaves.
Perfect for dotting about mid-bed or border, flowering in early summer and again in autumn if cut back.
Variegated plants are lovely for lighting up shade but my Sedum spectabile variegatum, whose apple green leaves are edged white, isn't up to the task.
It yearns for sunlight and leans out towards it.
So I'm moving it forwards to keep it happy, dividing it as I go so it can cover more ground.
Variegated dwarf Alstroemeria 'Fabiana', with speckled cream flowers and pale green leaves streaked white, is happy in sun or shade.
It's a fabulous, long flowering perennial, not invasive and combining beauty with drought and frost tolerance.
Just the thing to replace the sedum underneath of a young trident maple, Acer buergeranum, a great tree if you're in a hurry.
Ornamental grasses are best divided at the end of winter, before their spring growth spurt, but now is a good time to clear away the dead foliage of evergreen species such as Stipa gigantea.
This steel blue stipa is beautiful when the tall flowering spikes are covered in frost.
Crawl under clumps and pull away the dead leaves in winter, they soon pile up if left to themselves.
Treat evergreen flax (Phormium) foliage in the same way.
July is a good time to tackle perennial weeds, all too visible when ground is relatively bare.
My current nightmare is the hideous variegated arum, A. italicum 'Pictum' that I originally dug out and eliminated, as I thought, two years ago.
Unfortunately the brute reappeared in force a year later.
Since then I've been cutting off the leaves at ground level and hoping that the tangled white roots, if deprived of their sustaining foliage, will resign themselves to their fate.
Well, if it worked for Dan Pearson's invasive bamboo (Sasa) plants in the Tokachi Millenium Forest (see The Land, May 27 2021), surely it will work for me?
I'm also removing old, leathery Hellebore orientalis leaves.
It blooms in late winter so I'm safe snipping old leaves now, leaving space for new foliage and flowers to develop.
Thanks to COVID-19, many spare parts for farm machinery and lawn mowers are in limited supply.
Be sure to take mowers in for a service in good time to allow for any delays.
July is the month for the keen vegie gardener to get ahead. Lambley Nursery (www.lambley.com.au) has a great choice of seeds to sow now.
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