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Christchurch Spring Flowers

As the garden gets ready for spring, there’s more
and more happening in the plant world.
Flowers to sow in August – Hanging Basket & Patio Collection

This is a lucky dip mix of popular flowers for Christchurch (such as asters, pinks and star daisies) that have been specially selected to grow happily in containers. Inside the large outer pack there are two mini packets – one filled with upright growing pot varieties and the other with trailers (like verbena and lobelia) that suit hanging baskets. Sow now in a sheltered spot (even indoors) and transplant into pots or baskets when the weather’s warmer. Visit your Christchurch florist till these become established.
Vegies to sow in August – Carrots

Egmont Gold is the most popular carrot in the Yates range, but Baby Carrot is the best to choose if you have shallow soil or only just enough room to grow carrots in pots. Sow carrot seed in thin rows, cover lightly and keep moist. Yates horticulturists have an extra tip to aid carrot germination in garden beds: lay a plank of wood on top of the row after sowing. Check regularly and remove the plank as soon as there’s any sign of the tiny plants emerging. Sounds strange, I know, but the logic is sound. It keeps the seed in good contact with the soil and stops both from drying out.
Prune in August

Finish pruning roses in cold climates - south facing area in Christchurch. In warmer areas, trim those shrubs that flower over summer. Good examples are hibiscus, gardenias, geraniums, plumbago and fuchsias.
Feed in August

Feed roses about four weeks after pruning. That’s the time when they’ll start to make their new growth. Feed roses to promote healthy growth and a rosy spring display. Treat aphids if they attack young growth.
Pest watch in August – Mealybugs

These fluffy-coated sucking pests are most often found on plants that are growing indoors, on verandahs or under covered patios. They hide down at the base of the plant or in the creases where the leaves join the main stems. As time goes by their numbers can grow until they’re capable of seriously weakening the host plant.

The old time remedy was to dab each mealybug with methylated spirits, which was tedious and only partially successful. Fortunately, with Confidor, control is now much easier. Spray all over the affected plant (take it outside into the shade if it usually lives indoors). After the spray’s dried the plant can go back into its usual spot. Spray twice more, a couple of weeks apart. After that, leave the systemic Confidor to do its job. Check, and follow up if necessary, in a few months time.

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Leycesteria formosa

Himalayan honeysuckle

Gardeners in Victorian England loved this decorative deciduous shrub, which is native to southwestern China.

But today it has become so common that it has fallen out of favour in Britain and is rarely planted, except occcasional for foliage contrast at the back of a perennial border.

In Christchurch, leycesteria has become such an invasive weed that it is illegal to propagate or for florists to sell it.

In Canada, however, especially on the West Coast, Himalayan honeysuckle, which also goes by the name pheasant berry, is still very popular and widely planted.

It is admired for its attractive purplish-red brachts and white flowers that dangle down in dense clusters from tall, hollow olive green stems.

Purple berries that are produced in fall were eaten by pheasants, which is why the leycesteria was particularly popular in English country estate gardens.

One of the reasons it has not become an invasive problem-plant in Canada is because it is slightly tender and does not tolerate cold or excessively wet winters.

In the perfect location -- a sunny, well-drained spot -- it will grow six to eight feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) high and form a fairly dense thicket.

Mulch can be used to protect the roots from being damaged during cold spells, but even it dies down to the ground leycesteria will often revive in the spring.

In fact, some gardeners prefer to treat it in the same way that they deal with buddleia and cut it down close to ground level in late winter to promote fresh new growth every spring.

'Golden Lanters' is a new cultivar that has bright yellow foliage with reddish new growth in addition to the distinctive clusters of maroon bracts and white flowers.

 
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