Although a lot of our treasured warm weather flowers will begin their long winter rest now this is no time for the gardener to sleep. Every lovely day counts now so try to complete all those jobs you didn’t get done earlier while the weather is still good.
This is the last month to safely plant out most spring bulbs (minor bulbs being the only exception) so hurry! And watch for bulb sales. Best buys will be minor bulbs like anemone, ranunculus, sparaxis, tritonia, freesia, daffodil (if they still look healthy and the bulbs are not soft) and late flowering tulip.
Avoid buying the lovely early flowering rock, cottage, and early Darwin’s this late unless you are a true professional grower or have an unusually cold site. There just isn’t enough time
for them to develop properly prior to flowering and many will “blast” (grow leaves but flower buds will wither and die).
But the beautiful tall stately late flowering Darwin’s still have enough time to develop, if planted in a cold site and are still worth a try at sale prices! Also the first lilies of the season are now available. Choose a sunny or partly shaded site out of severe winds: a morning sun site is ideal.
The planting bed should be rich and moist but very free draining. Often raised beds are effective or planted near the edge of shrubs like lavender and rosemary where their feet are in cool, dry moist shade and their heads are in the sun. This is also a good time to dig,
divide and replant established clumps of lilies.
Lily bulbs dry out quickly so replant as quickly as you can. Sasangua camellias are blooming now and soon will be joined by the early Japanese hybrids. This is a very good time to plant them.
While they will live in full sun provided the soil is deeply rich, mildly acid and moist, definitely best results are achieved by planting in part shade. Morning sun, shelter from severe winds suits them perfectly, which makes them compatible to plant with lilies for a winter, spring and summer (lily) show.
Camellias are one of the few shrubs to bloom well in complete shade. Flowering is partly related to available sunlight and warmth. Thus camellias planted in positions facing east and north into warm winter sun and sheltered from cold winds will start to flower in late autumn into early spring.
While camellias planted in deep, cold shade will start to flower in spring and will continue to nearly Christmas! By planting carefully, camellias can be had in flower nearly all year.
There are thousands of superb varieties with something lovely for everyone’s taste. Camellias are so easy to grow, demanding so little and giving so much...sometimes living to nearly 100 years! So stop into your local nursery and see for yourself, chances are you’ll make a life-long friend!
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