Planting Time! Yes, around the world this is planting time in many benevolent climates. The beginning of Winter in the Southern Hemisphere hardly sounds like an ideal time to start planting but it is.
That is if you want to plant hedges, shrubs and trees. Almost anything deciduous (those that loose their leaves in winter) can be planted or shifted now. This includes most fruit trees like Apple, Apricot, Cherry, Pear, Persimmon, Plum and thousands of varieties of ornamental specimen shrubs and trees plus hardy vines as well as Roses.
Broad-leaf evergreens can also be planted including Azaleas, Camellias, Daphne, Osmanthus, Pieris japonica, Rhododendrons and most of those exotic, hardy and wonderful
Australian, New Zealand and South African native plants. Also in mild and moderate climates without much freezing weather this is the time to transplant Mediterranean natives species which include a lot of hardy herbs like Lavender, Rosemary and Sage. At the same time dormant perennials can also be shifted or planted out from container-grown stock where they will provide great complimentary beauty to a background of larger shrubs, trees and vines.
All of these species are dormant during the Winter so can easily be moved or planted with very little transplanting shock. Cool, damp Winter weather insures that the plants will remain moist and have a chance to develop a strong root system before Spring when they must be strong enough to support new season growth, flowering and fruiting.
Be sure to research every plant species before attempting to plant it! When in doubt contact a botanical or local garden expert who can guide you to discover exactly what each plant needs in order to be grown successfully. Find out what the plant needs as far as air circulation and sunlight, what are its watering requirement and what type of soil pH and soil quality does it prefer. Just like people, each one has a slightly different set of needs. Getting these right insures a much better chance of success.
As a general rule, soil should be light, fluffy and well-enriched with a generous amount of organic materials. It should be able to retain moisture but drain excess water away. Heavy sodden, wet soils that can easily sour may need special soil amending before it is worth attempting to plant anything costly and special into them at all. Many species of plants can
easily drown or rot in cold, wet soil conditions.
Tall growing specimens or anything exposed to the possibility of constant or excessive winds should be staked at the time of planting so they cannot whip about. This is often the silent killer of many newly-planted species. When left on their own, such plantings, even when firmly planted into the soil, can begin to rock back and forth in gusty winds. As new roots attempt to emerge from the root ball, these can be bruised, damaged or ripped right off the root ball. This can result in the plants roots system becoming increasingly unable to draw up essential moisture. Or even worse, the damaged roots can become host to disease or bacterial infects that can spread internally and even cause the entire plant to collapse often most unexpectedly.
While this extra care and preparation may seem time-consuming, it is worth the effort. After all, these are permanent plants that will provide you with shade and shelter from sun, wind and storms, building materials, foods, medicines, inspiration and beauty.
They literally produce the very oxygen we breath! Every day of the year there is some variety of tree that will flower, fruit or some way enhance your garden. So plan before planting! Remember, there is only one chance to do things right and now is the time to start.
In the Northern Hemisphere, as also 'South of the Border', the Trees of Summer Trees are the backbone of many a well designed garden. Some people feel that trees are the backbone
of many civilizations. They not only provide welcome, cooling Summer shade, and often exotic blooms but many produce fruits and medicines which are essential to our quality of life. Many are just classically beautiful.
With spring showers transforming into summer monsoon downpours in many regions of the Northern Hemisphere, this is an excellent time to plant container grown trees and shrubs before the approaching Summer heat and dry makes planting more difficult. In some drier and hotter regions that time might already be here. But wherever the Summer time climate is benevolent and Summer rainfall is guaranteed or artificial irrigation and appropriate care can be provided, Late Spring through Early Summer can be a good time to plant, especially from container-grown stock.
Here's a few trees that really come into their own in the summertime: Magnolia grandiflora also known as the Laurel Magnolia is one of the most handsome and grand of the broad-leafed evergreen trees. This is the classic southern tree of the Magnolia plantations so famous in the deep southern USA.
A mature tree can reach 30m with age in it's native southern USA homeland but here in New Zealand is more like 7m X 5m/ 23+ft x 16.5 ft. Modern hybrid cultivars like Elfin and Little Gem are considerably smaller and more compact but with the same leaf and flower form just on a smaller mature tree. This makes them ideal for smaller urban sections, raised landscape planters, big containers, terraced beds, lawn and patio plantings as well as avenue and urban street plantings. Evergreen Magnolia leaves are deep and glossy with a russet felt on their backs. These are prized for floristry. Flowers are massive 25-30cm white cups powerfully fragrant with the smell of citrus.
They start flowering as Summer approaches and continue well into Autumn. The dwarfed cultivars often produce flowers even during the cooler months in milder climates. These are very hardy trees for most average soils and conditions in mild and moderate climates that only experience rather short periods of Winter freezing or frosts. They can be planted now from containers in both Hemispheres wherever they can receive a little extra watering and after-care until they are well established.
Cotinus, the Smoke Bush, is one of the most popular large spreading shrubs or small trees for Summer flowering. Large plummy blooms are very unique in nature as they closely resemble a giant head of cotton candy in pink/purple/red literally smothering the tree most of the Summer giving it a distinctive smokey appearance. Leaves are very ornamental elliptical to oval, sometimes even tear-drop or paddle-shaped shaped simple leaves. These come with some lovely veining in several shades of green and also burgundy to nearly red. They are deciduous and usually turn vivid autumnal sunset shades of red/crimson, purple, orange, yellow and sometimes all those shades in the same leaf before they drop! They thrive even in poorer, freely draining soils and tolerate considerable cold and freezing weather without damage. They can also thrive in sub tropical gardens. This makes them an ideal subject for the ornamental landscape garden, background border, lawn planting or even a raised bed or larger landscape planter.
Cotinus thrives throughout New Zealand. It can be planted now from containers throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Also from containers or bare root throughout many benevolent climates 'South of the Border'.
Albizzia, the Silk Tree or Mimosa is another classic of both Hemispheres. There are green & purple forms, some have nearly chocolate coloured foliage. Leaves are multiple compound producing lovely fern-like foliage with a feathery appearance. Trees are of moderate size to about 7.5m/25ft and very spreading to 10-15m/33-50ft. They create a gracefully umbrella habit with delicately drooping or sweeping branches. Albizzia is an excellent shade or screening tree. They are very fast growing, and throughout Summer this umbrella of feathery, fern-like leaves is topped with clusters of soft, silky pink or light red powder-puffs that smell like peaches. They smother the crown with blooms that perfume the air, especially in the evening with a wonderful fruity aroma.
Mimosa loose their leaves quickly in Winter and these seem to turn to dust leaving little residue to rake and very few branches to screen out the Winter sun. Because their foliage is light and airy, and they cast almost no shade in Winter, it is easy to plant beneath them with a variety of woodland species, Spring-flowering bulbs or shade-loving perennials, especially things like Hosta or Hellebore, the Winter Rose. Mimosa does like a warm spot but can tolerate considerable light Winter freezing without damage and thrives in heat. But Mimosa detests wet feet!
The same applies to Jacaranda which very closely resembles the Mimosa in leaf form and growth habit but can grow much taller than Mimosa. Trees can remain evergreen in tropical climates and become deciduous in subtropical or cooler borderline regions. This Brazilian native is famous for it's beautiful Late Spring and Early Summer-flowering clusters of blue/mauve blooms that carpet the ground for many weeks. When in full flower the tree is a literal cloud of rich blue to blue-purple. For best results keep this one very warm, sheltered and quite well drained! They can tolerate light frosts and even occasional freezing when planted in a sheltered spot. But for the very best results provide a very warm, dry, almost droughty position. This is one tree which thrives in a nearly arid location. Jacaranda can be transplanted from containers in all mild climates now.
For something really exotic try Bauhinia, the Orchid Tree. While common in the subtropics and truly tropical gardens, they are still rather rare in New Zealand and many Southern Hemisphere countries. They thrive in warm, sheltered, free-draining soils. Leaves are bright mat green and resemble an animal hoof. The stunning pink, white or purple flowers, sometimes orange in the vining forms, closely resemble large, fragrant orchids! A stunning spectacle when flowering in the Late Winter, Spring and Summer garden! There are scores of species from sprawling vines through small and spreading trees. Bauhinia variegata and B. acuminata have lovely, well-formed flowers in (fragrant) white and B. variegata cultivars feature several shades of pink.
By far the showpiece is Bauhinia x blakeana, the Hong Kong Orchid Tree. Deliciously fragrant flowers are a near exact match to large deep orchid purple Cattleyas and there is a white form, and another with a bright yellow lip spot. These are pick-able and flower over a long season. They are so impressive that they have been immortalised as the nation emblem of Hong Kong. They must have a nearly frost, free, warm subtropical climate. Bauhinia species can be planted from containers now. These are smaller trees which suit ornamental courtyards, street plantings and will grow very successfully in a large container, even in the warm conservatory or sun-room. So no matter where you live, within reason, there is something in the tree and shrub line worth planting right now, Happy Gardening!