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Ground Rules

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Fact Sheet 2005 - Ep 2


Garden project with Richard Greenwood

This weeks project - Wonderwalls

Throughout the show Richard demonstrated how you can transform an predominate wall in your garden so that it stands out for all the right reasons.

Materials: 

Plants:

  • Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'
  • Daylily
     
  • Carex buchananii
  • Dietes grandiflora
  • Wild iris
  • Miscanthus sinensis
  • Eulalia
  • Santolina chamaecyparissus
  • Cotton lavender
  • Pittosporum tennuifolium
  • Kohuhu
  • Anemanthele lessoniana
  • Gossamer grass
  • Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear'
  • Phormium
  • New Zealand flax
  • Cordyline 'Red Fountain'

Supplier:

Milne's Plant Link LTD
0508 MILNES (0508 645 637)
enquiry@milnesplantlink.co.nz

More plants:

  • Delphinium, Elatum Group
  • Campanula medium
  • Canterbury bell

Supplier:

Kings Plant Barn
St Lukes
Ph: 09 846 2141

Building Supplies:

  • Wood for door surround 

PlaceMakers - Mt Wellington
80 Lunn Ave
Ph: 09 527 6054

Turf:

Ready Lawn
79 Ormiston Rd
East Tamaki
Ph: 0800 488 734
www.turfgrass.co.nz

Recycled Door Supplier:

Burrell Salvage  
5 Enfield Street
Mt Eden
Ph: 09 630 0866

Paint:

  • The Wall - Lime Wash 'Blue Strike'
  • The Door - Stone Paint ' Dark Denim' 

Paint Supplier:

Porter's Original Paints
90 Anzac Ave
Auckland City
Ph: 09 377 6008
www.porterspaints.co.nz

Skip Bin: Payless Bins Ltd
Ph: 09 576 3190

Contractors: Landsmiths
Ph: 09 358 2717
www.landsmiths.co.nz

 

The Basics with Lynda Hallinan

This week's topic - Cacti and Succulents

Transplanting & Repotting

Why you should repot them:

  • If succulents and cacti are in pots they easily become root bound. The pot feels very hard and full, and you can see roots hanging out the bottom. You should re-pot your plants every 1 to 2 years. If you re-pot often you won't need to feed as much either.
  • If they're in too much direct sun they discolour and need to be shifted to somewhere else, put in new potting mix and given a bit of a feed.
  • Or they have shot out so many pups by the deck that you need to thin them out.

1) REPOTTING

The roots need space to grow, and to make matters worse they tend to stick to the ceramic pots making it difficult when you do try to remove the plant. So it's a good idea to plant in plastic pots first or line the inside of the ceramic pot with plastic or garden polythene so it'll slip out easier.

How to Re pot Cacti:
1. Don not water - let the soil dry out before re-potting!

2. Gently tap the pot to loosen the soil, if the cactus is of the prickly variety, use thick wads of newspaper, or card or an old t-shirt to get a grip on it. Or make wire frames out of heavy wire or even an old coat hanger and simply shimmy it underneath the cactus by the dirt line loosening the dirt from around it with a knife.

3. Once out, remove the soil with a small paintbrush and by gently washing. Then check for any dead or damaged roots and root mealy bug and remove.

4.  Leave the cacti out for a day or so to recover a bit, but with succulents you can carefully re-pot straight away. You can either use special Cacti and Succulent potting mix or for a cheaper alternative you can mix your own using half and half regular potting mix and fine pumice gravel.

5. It's also a good idea to use some sort of screening or netting at the bottom of the pot to stop the drainage holes from getting blocked. Remember to leave about half an inch between the soil line and the top of the pot (to allow for the rocks/gravels & watering.

6. After re-potting Cactus plants try not to water them for a few weeks, this is to allow broken roots to heal and also lessens the chance of fungal attack.

7. When re-potting other succulents, you CAN water the soil. Watering after re-potting won't hurt them, just don't over water.

8. And always put the pot on a tray so the base isn't sitting in water.

9. Now is a good time to add a bit of food to last your plant - but it's very important to use a specialist cacti and succulent food with low nitrogen content, or only use a quarter to a third of the recommended dose of regular food like Osmocote. This is because if the nitrogen content is too high the plant will shoot away too quickly and split and then rot.

2) REPLANTING OUTSIDE

The things to look at when you're deciding where to plant succulents in the garden are:

1. Light 

  • If succulents don't have enough light, the growing point becomes elongated and smaller in diameter as well as paler in colour and spindly.
  • But if they have too much light they discolour, go dark red and splotchy or even scorch brown.
  • So you may need to move the succulent until it finds the light it loves. If moving a plant from a previously shady area to a sunnier area, it pays to acclimatise the plant over a couple of days so it doesn't get sun burnt.

2. Drainage

  • Succulents do like water but only moving past their roots - if they sit in dampness the roots will rot and get diseased quickly. 
  • On first observation the flesh "droops" and you think the plant needs water. If you water it the next time you look the stems and roots may have turned mushy and rotten. 
  • If you're planting into the garden and are in an area with high rainfall, remember to raise the beds and ensure full drainage. 
  • You do this by layering - using rocks first down the bottom and then layering progressively smaller grades of soil or gravel as you fill up the bed. You can just use the half and half pumice/potting mix, but vary the quantity of pumice to soil ratio - never less pumice than half and half.

3. Frost 

  • If you are in an area that is prone to frost remember frost can only damage succulents if it gets ONTO the plant.
  • So larger plants can go under the over hang of the house to protect the plants from frost.
  • Another alternative is to place plants into the ground, WITHIN their pots. This way you can move them indoors or under cover when winter comes along.
  • Or create a make shift cover for your ground grown plants. Wrap the plants in paper, plastic or sacking and fasten at intervals with raffia. 
  • Or if the cactus isn't too tall you can put stakes around and tie fabric or sack over like a tent roof.  

CACTI AND SUCCULENT MAINTAINANCE

Check your plants weekly to identify any diseases or infections early on: If you notice the initial damage early enough, further damage can be prevented by placing the plant in a well ventilated, dry room and holding back on watering until development of the disease is stopped.  

The most common pests and diseases cacti and succulents' encounter include:

  • Scale Insects
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Aphids
  • Rotting (crown, stem or root) is the most common. On first observation the flesh
    droops" and you think the plant needs water. If you water it the next time you look the stems and roots may have turned mushy and rotten. 

To prevent these:

  • Remember - don't over water, The micro-organisms that cause these problems love moist conditions, so plants that have been over watered are prime candidates for these diseases.
  • Keep your plant in a well aerated environment (too much humidity is a bad thing).
  • You can spray every few weeks with insecticides (or water it into the soil depending on what you use) But don't overdo it or you could end up burning the plant.
  • If you have an infected plant, ISOLATE it from the others! You don't want the infection spreading.
  • Or you can save it by taking the healthy part of the plant as a cutting and planting it into clean healthy new potting mix.

WEEDING SUCCULENTS AND CACTI

You do have to weed cacti and succulents - no matter how dense a ground cover they create. This is a wonderful dense ground cover but you can see oxalis growing through it. There's a trick to weeding delicate and prickly things like this!

-Wear gloves with dense hard fabric all over including backs of hands.

-Make sure you get as far down in between the fleshy pointy leaves as possible - long handled barbeque tongs, long nosed tweezers, or even long handles scissors like these are great for this!

-Or you can take the opportunity to thin the plants slightly, and just poke them in the ground further out thereby spreading the ground coverage.

Feeding Them
If you are going to re-pot every year or so then you don't need to bother too much with feeding, but if they're in the ground or in a big pot for the duration then you must remember to feed them every 6 months to a year with that low nitrogen fertiliser.

For Further information contact:
 
"Cacti & Succulents Society"
Contact:  R. Graeme Fieldes
Ph:   520 3442
Email:   hurrfiel@ihug.co.nz

Products and Plants purchased from:

Kings Plant Barn, St Lukes
118 Asquith Ave
St Lukes
Auckland
(09) 846-2141
or your local Garden Centre.


TOP 5 - Creative recycling

There are a lot of every day items to inspire your creativity when creating a garden design and the best thing is they don't have to cost a fortune. Here our Ground Rules Top Five picks:

Batten down 

Give old farm fencing posts a new lease on life, like here, as a batten fence and gate - creating a unique garden entrance with stacks of appeal.

Get crafty

Use broken tiles and crockery to dress up an old terracotta pot. Mosaics can be time consuming, but the result gives a real personal touch to your garden.

Pegs and power lines 
 
Clotheslines are usually functional but unattractive. But with a spot of creative thought, like using an old power pole, they can be a quirky talking point.

Step up

Railway sleepers are turning up in gardens everywhere - they look great, whether used to build up garden beds or to create stunning garden steps, like here.

Gone fishin' 

If you're thinking you want something with maximum impact - then how about a nautical theme, like this old dinghy complete with a jetty and anchor. It's the ultimate in recycling.

Thanks to:
Lynn and Gavin Smith

 

Beautiful Backyard with Ruud Kleinpaste

Stuart and Bruce's place is at the end of a cul de sac with council land bordering on two sides - east and north. With clever planting they have successfully borrowed from the neighbouring landscape and created a garden that makes their property unique. Stuart and Bruce love living here and say it is "A subdivision where most residents know each other and all the owners use the shared parkland."

When they moved in, the fenced garden consisted of one olive tree in the backyard and a few randomly planted shrubs left by the developers. The greatest challenge however, was dealing with the wet clay based soil and poor drainage. They put in new drains and started to think about the type of garden they wanted to create.

Stuart and Bruce decided on a blend of sub tropical and native plants to create a Pacifica feel that they both love - with a hint of the orient! They decided to repeat the circular shape of the existing concrete pad and mark out two 'garden rooms' with lawn bordered with Kaiaua boulders from the Firth of Thames.

Stuart and Bruce chose plants for their shape, colour or texture and included sculptural objects that provided highlights of black or red - in keeping with the interior décor.  These included the black painted fence and the red torch lanterns placed throughout the back garden.

They gathered up the existing hebes and other shrubs left by the developers and grouped them together in hedges to form the initial structure in the garden and left the olive tree in its original location. They used iron ore pavers surrounded by Matangi gold rush rocks to combat a particularly wet area next to the house at the back.

Stuart and Bruce's garden is immaculately maintained with a sculptural feel. A weeping cherry in the front garden is under planted with cylinder shaped hebes, low grasses and white lavender. Coprosma and corokia hedges define the boundaries on the left and right respectively. The neighbours' property to the west provides shade to the first courtyard where plants such as philodendrons, hostas, clivias, ajugas and native ferns thrive.

The entrance to the second garden 'room' is framed by two dramatic fishtail palms planted into raised wooden bottomless planter boxes to avoid the roots getting too waterlogged. Stuart and Bruce stained the boxes black to coordinate with the exterior colour scheme and under planted them with mondo grass.

The sunnier back garden rooms are planted with a variety of tropical and native plants including tropical rhododendron, canna lilies, bangalow palms, Queensland umbrella trees, New Zealand cabbage trees, Abysinnian banana palms and various bromeliads. All these combine with the larger trees on the nearby council land to create a really dramatic garden that surprises the visitor to this subdivision of new townhouses.


Plant Right with Lynda Hallinan

This week's topic - Plants for Pots

Choice of containers and plants

Here are some design pointers before you rush out and start shopping:

  • Choose pots that match the style of your house.
  • Choose plants that are hardy because life in pots isn't easy.
  • There should be harmony and proportion between pot and plant. The pot should look solid and stable without dwarfing the plant, whereas if the plant is too big for the pot it will look unstable and be more vulnerable to evaporation.
  • To avoid having to smash the pot when the plant outgrows it, choose one with a wider neck than middle. And don't put an expensive plant in a cheap pot.
  • Cactus and succulents - go for shallow and very broad pots.
  • Fountain forms such as cabbage trees and flaxes need taller pots.
  • Tall pots can be softened with trailing plants
  • The plant must be worthy of singling out by putting in a pot. It should be interesting in its own right, and ideally look good year round (or if a seasonal plant in a small container it can be tucked away when dowdy).
  • Form is more important than colour - go for strong foliage rather than flowers.
  • Play with form - either juxtapose or match.
  • Choose evergreens. Or, if you must have a deciduous plant, choose something that is still interesting without leaves, for example frangipani (if you live in Auckland) has an interesting branching form.

Tip: In a courtyard you may be able to grow things typically suited to a warmer climate because it is sheltered and heat is reflected from the walls.

Tip: Plants that need good drainage often do better in containers than in the garden.

Combining plants

If grouping pots, they should ideally be a suite - the same form but a different size. And the plants should match. Grouping different sizes gives a layered look.

Keep it simple. If you have a group, have one major plant with a supporting cast (rather than competing plants), a quiet but interesting contrast that complements the feature plant.

  • For example, combine an orange-flowering vireya with smaller pots of blue lobelia (complementary colours). Vireyas get twiggy near the base so combining with something at the bottom, either in smaller pots or under-planted, will hide the uninteresting bit. As they're not tall enough to carry off a deep chunky pot, choose a shallow wider pot - and there will be room to put stuff around. Try combining with liriope or philodendron "Xanadu".
  • A spiky plant such as a cabbage tree, perhaps one with broad green leaves, can be combined with green mondo grass or liriope (repetition of form). Or black mondo grass to highlight greenness. Or a contrast, such as scleranthus, to reinforce the spiky form.
  • If doing a repetitive row, play around, introduce an element of surprise, perhaps identical pots with funky forms like crazy cactus. Be subtle; not, say, a row of alternating yellow and green.

Tip: Under-planting not only adds interest but provides a living mulch.

Tip: Strongly architectural plants don't need cluttering - they are worthy enough to stand-alone; just use ornamental pebbles which also act as a mulch.

We chose two looks: an architectural style using low-maintenance natives and seasonal colour look with exotics.

Plants - architectural

  • Cabbage trees (Cordyline "Purple Tower"): Dramatic feature plants that do well in pots because they are drought tolerant. Choose tall pots to allow for the long tap root, and spray in summer to keep the foliage free of caterpillars.
  • Acaena (Acaena caesiiglauca): Mat-forming perennial groundcover that will trail over the edge of pots. Hardy but prefers good drainage.
  • Astelias (Astelia nervosa "Westland"): Vigorous, clumping native that can take full sun or part shade, and is dry tolerant. This variety has arching silver to red foliage, and grows to around 0.8m.
  • Scleranthus (Scleranthus biflorus): Tightly mounding groundcover that forms a bright green cushion.
  • Hebe (Hebe "Emerald Green"): Forms a tight mound of green foliage to around 30cm high.

Also consider agave, aloe, and palms - all work well with modern architecture.

Plants - seasonal colour

  • Weeping maple (Acer.palmatum "Dissistum Tamukeyama"): A small cultivar of the Japanese maple that holds its burgundy colour through hot, humid summers, and resists scorching better than other cultivars. Cascading branches give it an umbrella-like form.
  • Dahlias (Dahlia "Fire Mountain"): A new variety with dark, almost black foliage, this can take full sun to partial shade, and grows to at least a metre high.
  • Hybrid tea rose (Rosa "Loving Memory"): A hardy, vigorous and disease-resistant rose with some fragrance that grows to around 75cm.
  • Floribunda rose (Rosa floribunda "Lest We Forget"): A vibrant red rose that flowers well throughout the season.
  • Bromeliads (Neoregelia carolinae): Generally easy-care plants that just require some water in the central "vase", but they need to be protected from frost.

Consider hydrangeas for months of flowers if kept well watered.

Planting and care tips
Use a good quality commercial potting mix that contains a wetting agent. Mulch with under-planting or pebbles or bark, leaving about a 3cm gap for watering.

Place some stones or bits of broken pots or crockery in the bottom of the pot to aid drainage. It also helps drainage to place the pot on feet or blocks or bricks.

When potting, if the plant's roots are in a tight mass, score lightly with a sharp knife a few times and tease out to encourage feeder roots to penetrate the potting mix.

Ensure you position the plant in the middle of the pot or it will annoy you for ever.

Black pots absorb heat.

Remember terracotta is porous and so prone to evaporation.

Thorough watering ensures the pot - especially if terracotta - will not pull moisture away from the root ball of the plant, particularly important during summer.

Once the nutrient content of the potting mix diminishes supplement with slow-release fertilisers.

Plants supplied by:
Kings Plant Barn, St Lukes
118 Asquith Ave
St Lukes
Auckland
Phone: (09) 846-2141

Pots supplied by:
Pots 'n' Planters
3 Redmond St
Ponsonby
Auckland
Phone/fax: (09) 378-8949

 

Plant Doctor with Ruud Kleinpaste

This week's topic - Yellowing leaves

POSSIBLE CAUSES and REMEDIES
The most common cause of deficiencies in wet areas (with clay soils) such as Auckland is plants having wet feet - rotten roots - in which case sort out drainage problems first. It's a waste of time playing around with fertilisers when there's no root to absorb them.

Soil pH
The level of pH in the soil affects the availability of nutrients to plants so if it is at the right level there are unlikely to be visible deficiencies. A low pH means the soil is acidic and high pH means it is more alkaline. Most plants like a balanced pH (around 6.5 is ideal for most), though some prefer slightly more acid (hydrangeas - which need acidity to produce blue flowers - and blueberries, for example) or alkaline (clematis and lilacs, for example). However, no plants are specific so you want to work to range.

Phosphorus, a key element in all cells, is less soluble and therefore less available to plants in acid soils, while in alkaline soils elements such as iron, manganese, zinc, copper and boron become less available.

Home soil testing kits are not really recommended. If your plants are performing well, there is no need to worry about the pH of your soil. If your plants consistently under perform despite your best efforts to rectify symptoms, you may want to consider forking out for a soil test.

Adding calcium to the soil with lime makes it more alkaline. If you need to make your soil more acid, add pure sulphur. If the soil has never been used for a garden the chances are it will have a low pH anyway.

The pH of soil can be affected by environmental factors. For example, in New Zealand many citrus trees are planted near concrete paths. Or if a concrete path is laid over part of the root zone of citrus. Lime, the principle ingredient in concrete, leaches into the soil, causing a high pH and thus deficiencies in manganese and zinc.

Manganese deficiency in citrus shows up first on the younger leaves as yellowish areas between the veins (which remain green). If the deficiency is not severe the leaves will go green again, but if it is severe they remain yellow between the veins. This can be corrected by spraying with manganese sulphate at a rate of 1 gram per litre of water, ideally in spring. Or change pH and add some trace element mix onto the root zone

If there are also signs of zinc deficiency - small narrow leaves with whitish-yellow between the veins, or leaves completely white in extreme cases - add zinc sulphate (1 gram per litre). The addition of urea at a rate of 10 grams per litre of water will aid the uptake of zinc as well as supplying extra nitrogen.

Magnesium deficiency, on the other hand, shows up first on the older leaves, which start to turn yellow near the midrib and spreading till the only remaining green is at the tip and near the base. If the deficiency persists the whole leaf may become yellow. This deficiency can be corrected by spreading Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) under the tree, then watering. You can also spray with magnesium sulphate at a rate of 20 grams per litre of water.

Magnesium uptake by citrus can be affected by the cold. In most cases this deficiency can be corrected by just waiting - as the soil warms up it will fix itself, especially if you're on rich volcanic soil.

Magnesium deficiency can be confused with iron deficiency, which also has signs of bleaching or yellowing between the veins, but it affects the younger leaves first. Like manganese and zinc, iron deficiency usually occurs in alkaline soils. You can try to lower the pH (increase acidity) by applying elemental sulphur, aluminium sulphate, or iron in the form of iron chelates.

Nitrogen deficiency (zucchini samples - deficient and corrected - from Reg Lewthwaite at Unitec) is common. The leaves are generally small and pale yellow and growth of the whole plant can be stunted. The effects appear first on the older leaves, and the yellowing covers the whole leaf. Urea is the cheapest source of nitrogen. Blood and bone supplies nitrogen and phosphorus.

Excessive nitrogen produces large floppy leaves prone to wind damage and attack by pests and diseases.

Also look for beasts...

Aphids, being sap-sucking insects, intercept plants' nutrients, causing severe deficiency symptoms including yellowing of leaves. They can also transmit viruses that produce yellowish areas on the leaves and can be confused with the deficiencies discussed above. Control aphids organically with pyrethrum, or hit them with chemical controls such as Maldison, Orthene, or Target.

Mealy bugs (on flax and ferns, for example) can suck yellow patches on leaves. They can be tricky to get rid of because they are covered with water-repellent wax. Try spraying with white oil at a rate of 20ml per litre of water and insecticides such as Confidor, Orthene or Target. Avoiding chemicals could encourage predators such as ladybirds.

Of course there are also fungi that can cause yellowing of leaves (i.e. black spot on roses)

Products purchased from:

Kings Plant Barn, St Lukes
118 Asquith Ave
St Lukes
Auckland
(09) 846-2141
or your local Garden Centre.


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