Eupatorium (mist bush)
Euphorbia cotinifolia (new leaves)
Fiddlewood (turning yellow)
Robinia Pseudo-acacia ‘freesia’ (new leaves)
Arthropodium (Renga Renga lily)
Iris Lousiana Iris versicolor
Knifofia Lapeirousia grandiflora
Maurandya (climbing foxglove)
Tecomanthe ‘Roaring meg’
SALVIA 'mystic spires'
WHAT IS FEATURING IN THE GARDEN IN OCTOBER:
Where did spring go? We virtually went straight from winter to summer! Because temperatures have risen considerably suddenly and we are in our driest period, it is imperative to keep an eye on the watering. Make sure the garden beds do not dry out too much. The subtropical and tropical plants do expect a dry period and although they may look a little languid without water, they will recover well. It is best to wait until the summer rains come before planting any new plants as they need follow up water until their roots are established. Even drought tolerant plants need water to establish.
There is a group of plants from the Subtropical and Tropical areas of America, Asia and Africa that grow very well in our climate. They belong to the Acanthaceae family and are grouped in this family because their flowers are held on a bract that looks like an acanthus and slowly open from the bottom to the top. They will tolerate our dry conditions very well and most will take cold but not frost and a lot will flower in shade. They range from the tiny Porphyrocoma which is ground hugging to Justicia Adhatoda which is a small tree. In between there is Justicia, Barlaria, Pachystachys, Crossandra, Eranthemum, Graptophyllum, Hypoestes, Ruellia, Ruttya, Schaueria , Strobilanthes and Thunbergias. Thunbergias are mostly climbing and have much smaller bracts holding the flowers which are trumpet shaped. The others form lovely shrubs in a huge range of colours which are often bright coming from the tropics.
Megakepasma or Brazilian Cloak is also in this family and forms a lovely dense shrub to about 2 meters high and wide with Magenta bracts and flowers which last for months on the plant. Most plants need trimming back after flowering which will encourage a denser shrub with more stems. Like most subtropical and tropical plants they are happy in our dry winter, and like moisture during the warmer summer months. A couple are weedy such as Asystasia and some Ruellias. They all flower for long periods as the bracts that hold the flowers allow them to open in succession. Some like Schaueria will flower several times on the one bract.
Although most are grown for their flowers, Strobilanthes dyerianus is grown for its leaves which are a stunning purple and silver also Barlaria albostellata has felt like silver leaves with white flowers.
The Cliveas are putting on a wonderful show. They look particularly good planted en-masse as most bulbs should be planted. They don’t mind our dry spring, in fact they relish in it and are quite happy under trees where they don't mind the competition of tree roots. Last years flowers are showing off lovely red and cream berries which can be left to seed naturally in-situ or potted and put in a bush house or under a shady tree. The cream berries are indicative of the plants with cream flowers and the red of the orange flowers. They do take several years to flower but are a good source of new plants and just maybe you will get a new type. I leave my Clivea plants to clump up rather than divide them as I find they flower better if left undisturbed. Cliveas are very undemanding plants and are happy with some leaf mould and mulch during the summer months.
Jobs to do:
Cut back Brillantasia, Eranthemums, Senecio petasites, Poinsettias, Spiraea, Photinias, Banksian Rose and Eupatoriums after they have finished flowering. It is always wise to take cuttings of perennials in case you loose them or if you want more plants to put in. The cuttings can be put in a pot and put in a shady place and keep well watered. The Poinsettias will strike better if they are left a week to dry out a bit before you put the cutting into a pot of soil. Early morning is the best time to take cuttings. Cut a piece of stem about 50 mm below a good node and cut the top off, leaving a cutting about 30 cm long. Cut any leaves off the stem and place the node about 50mm below the level of the potting mix.
The Roses are starting to flower again, so fertilize them when rain is imminent. Pruning and deadheading will be beneficial as well as mulching. The bare rooted plants that arrived in July and that I put into pots are doing extremely well and some are flowering. I will leave theses in pots until the ground is nice and moist and then plant them out.
Collect seeds from Sweet peas and nasturtiums for next year’s crop. Store them in an envelope and mark with date and name. I also do this with vegetable seeds as I think it is better to re-seed tried and true vegetable strains than buy in ones you don’t know. When I collect seeds from Frangipani trees or vines which are large, I tie a paper bag around the stem so that they automatically disperse into the bag instead of the air and loosing them.
Nasturtiums are browning off with the heat, so rake all the long runners onto the garden beds and mulch over the top. Being from the pea family they do provide a good nitrogen source for the soil. They will come back again next year from this year’s seeds which you can leave or collect to sow them in a different place in autumn.
Watering is essential in the vegetable garden in this hot and dry period. It is very rewarding to be able to pick a variety of herbs as well as silver beet, beans, lettuce and tomatoes.
Repot Cymbidiums, Cattleyas, Dendrobiums Vandas and Oncidiums if they have:
outgrown their pots, i.e. they are growing over the side of the existing pot
the medium has broken down
they have finished flowering.
A good sign that orchid media has broken down is if there are weeds in the pot or if you see a white mould in the base of the pot. Roots hanging over the side of the pot or basket is not a problem as the roots of orchids search for food and water
I only divide orchids up once they have filled the largest pot or basket I can find, until then, I keep re-potting them into the next size pot (Terracotta of course) or hanging basket. Once the plant gets too big for its pot I start looking around to incorporate it into the garden.
Always use orchid bark as it is the hardest bark and does not break down like ordinary bark. I always use the largest bark.
Keep a sharp eye out for the Dendrobium beetle. He loves the new leaves of the Dendobium speciosum as well as Cattleya and Vanda flowers. He is orange and will drop when he sees you, so hold your hand under him and then squash him. If you see a soft mushy mess in an eaten flower head it will be the larvae, which you will need to dispose of also.
IN THE GARDEN