It’s time to prune the tough evergreens

Jackie’s evergreen garden…all slow-growing dwarf plants that are great landscape plants and great for screening, she says. Photo: Jackie Warburton

EVERGREENS are very hardy trees that were planted extensively in early Canberra in the early 1920s and their longevity is still faintly visible in our cityscape today.

Jackie Warburton.

Droughts and urbanization have led to the decay and disappearance of most plantations (as well as many of our trees). Nevertheless, I hope to see repeated plantings in the future for another 100 years as a windbreak and city protection.

Evergreens can be pruned before cold weather sets in. If there are old brown needles inside the shrubs, use a gloved hand to clean this dry material to allow ventilation and air circulation for new growth in the spring.

There are many evergreens to try in the vegetable garden. I have my evergreen garden facing west which gets very hot in the summer. I chose all dwarf plants, so they are slow growing. Color and shapes may vary, but it is a very good landscape plant and great for showing.

They need a well-drained site, but don’t be afraid of poor soil; the soil should be slightly acidic with a pH of around 5.5-6.

They can also be grown in pots as a bonsai to have on a table indoors or a small space on a balcony. The National Arboretum’s National Bonsai and Penjing Collection is well worth visiting and talking to the many volunteers if you want to start growing bonsai, but beware, they can get addicting!

EARLY onion varieties can be planted from now until mid-May. Sow mid-season varieties in May/June. Onions are shallow rooted plants and should be weed free.

Early maturing white and red onion varieties can be sown now and will be ready to harvest from spring to early summer.

Onions will look like nothing during the winter and won’t grow quickly or form bulbs until early spring, so be a little patient.

A good yield of around 60 onions per square meter will give an idea of ​​the size of the area needed. It is estimated that a family of four eats around 500 onions a year, so to be completely self-sufficient in onions will require eight square meters of land, plus a place to store lots of onions.

The best-stored onions are white and should be completely dry. Plant onions where there were summer crucifers, but definitely not where there were other alliums or root vegetables. Soil pH is best at 5.3-6.5, slightly acidic. This gives crunch to the onions.

To minimize weeds around onions, intersperse small flowers such as pansies with carrots. Small herbs, such as parsley, can also be beneficial as companion plants for onions.

Hellebores, commonly known as “winter roses”, are a popular plant to have in the Canberra garden. Photo: Jackie Warburton

HELLEBORES, commonly known as ‘winter rose’, is a popular plant to have in the Canberra garden. Although not related to roses, they bloom in winter when there is very little bloom and tolerate a wide range of conditions.

They grow well under deciduous trees where they get summer shade and winter sun. I like to prune them to the ground this time of year to remove any old sunburned leaves and leave no room for whiteflies, aphids or snails to grow through the winter and multiply in the spring.

Pruning this way will benefit the flowers to be seen in winter and not be obstructed by foliage. The diversity of single and double flowers is amazing with colors ranging from white, pink and black. There have been popular breeds of hellebores over the years and some terrific varieties to choose from at the nursery and online or by mail order.

ATTACHING fall leaves seems like a never-ending chore in the garden, but removing them from the tops of hedges is just as important as they become heavy when wet and damage the hedge. Compost or cut large leaves and small leaves that can be put on the garden bed in a thin layer.

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Ian Meikle, editor

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