"Joys of gardening at Easter"

This is one of the best times of year for gardeners!
Sunday, 17 April 2022     

There are still many flowers in bloom in the garden

After a very miserable, wet start to autumn, Sydney-siders have had much more pleasant weather for the Easter holiday. We at last have an opportunity to get into our gardens and enjoy all there is to be found at this time of year. With a benignly warm sun, azure skies and a gentle breeze, it is a joy to be in the garden. I have always preferred autumn to all the other seasons in Sydney, because there can be so much in bloom at this time. Many summer-blooming stalwarts, such as Canna, Dahlia, numerous shrubby Salvia, Pentas, most Justicia species and shrub and cane Begonia continue to bloom on, joined by seasonal beauties such as sasanqua Camellia, many Plectranthus species and cultivars, Tibouchina varieties, the Chinese rain bell (Strobilanthes cusia) and late-flowering Salvia such as Salvia madrensis, Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious' and Salvia 'Meigan's Magic'. Many foliage plants - such as coleus, Colocasia 'Black Magic', silvery Plectranthus argentatus and Iresine varieties - continue to look good. The result is a profusion of colours, textures and shapes that lifts the spirits.

Although it's somewhat sad to realise we are heading into winter (without ever having had much of a summer!), there is a lot to look forward to and to prepare for. Some deciduous trees are just starting to show their autumnal tinge. The limey new foliage of hellebores has emerged, after being trimmed back in February to remove their shabby leaves; their beautiful, sculptured blooms will appear in late winter. Self-seeded winter- and spring-flowering annuals such as Primula, forget-me-nots and honesty have already started to pop up, and the foliage of spring bulbs and corms is starting to appear. The plump buds of Camellia japonica gives the promise of their flamboyant flowers in just a few months' time, and citrus fruit is ripening on trees.

The rain that we all cursed certainly fuelled much growth in the garden, so it is all rather wild and full. Now is an opportune time to start to prune back some of our plants, a job I have been tackling this weekend. The tall flowering stems of spent perennials and the exuberant growth on many other plants have been trimmed; deadheads removed; and weeds pulled out. As I work, bees and other insects are out in force, and I am surrounded by birds of many kinds, especially the chatty rainbow lorikeets foraging amongst the sasanquas and Salvia bushes.

There are lots of other jobs we can do now. Vegetable seeds can be sown, with the hope of harvesting some homegrown produce in winter. Crops such as lettuce, spinach, rocket, kale and coriander do much better in Sydney in the cooler months. I sometimes plant seeds of these on top of my dahlia tubers once the foliage is cut back to the ground. Snow peas and sugar snap peas are rewarding to grow and so much nicer when freshly picked, compared to those bought from the supermarket!

New plants put in now will settle in well, especially given the high level of moisture in the soil and the mild warmth we are still experiencing. This is also a good time to take cuttings of favourite plants and pot up spare divisions of clump-forming perennials, which will benefit from being split up now and replanted into soil enriched with compost. It's also a good time to have a close look at your garden and work out what changes you might like to implement now that the weather is cooling down. Maybe there are too many plants in a particular area, swamping one another: something may have to be moved! Also, maybe some plants haven't lived up to your expectations and might have to be removed. Or perhaps there are some bare areas that might need to have some new plants added in: thus requiring a trip to the nursery!

It's a wonderful time of year. Who wouldn't be a gardener?

 Reader Comments

1/7  Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 18 April 2022

I love to stay home over the Easter break & garden. The weather is perfect & it's a joy to me. I have to say though I am utterly exhausted this year! So much growth because of the rain! I'm going to have to get a green waste tip run because it's too much for my 2 green waste bins. Still it's nice to see how healthy & lush the garden is & the moist soil does make weeding & digging a bit easier. Happy Autumn gardening everyone! Yes the moist soil does make weeding and digging easier. The growth has been phenomenal! Deirdre

2/7  Jude - 4560 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 18 April 2022

Thanks for the inspiring picture at the start of your blog, Deirdre. I agree with Kerrie that the moist soil makes weeding easier, even a perverse pleasure! I'll be on the lookout for salvia madrensis! And taking lots of cuttings over the next weeks. Such a good time for taking cuttings at the moment. Deirdre

3/7  Lesley - 2088 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 18 April 2022

Spent the day doing a clean up, since I only garden on weekends, and its rained almost every one for 2 months, theres a lot to do.my garden is pretty shady, but the sasanquas and plectranthus, including ciliatus are in flower, a large blue late flowering salvia, bog salvia, mystic spires and the fuschias look good. Trimming back the scented pelargoniums, some leggy roses ( Im an optimist), mowing the lawn and weeding, weeding. The Madeira vine unfortunately also loves these conditions! Your garden sounds a delight. Yes the Madeira vine certainly takes off in such conditions - I can see one outside my window in a nearby garden, scaling a poplar tree! Deirdre

4/7  Lesley - 2088 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 18 April 2022

Oh, and a mini budleija (wisteria falls I think), is still flowering, in a pot with tiny flowers about 3cm, and also, the most adorable new clematis I bought last year is flowering for the first time- clematis Wisley cream, its has tiny bell shaped flowers, about a c/m diameter and is winter flowering, it looks like a perfect shape for fairy hats That mini buddleja sounds great and the clematis very cute. Deirdre

5/7  Robynne - 2044 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Friday, 22 April 2022

The blue ginger loves this weather. But a strange thing - one of my pink hydrangeas has started flowering again, and one of the neighbours blue ones too. Is this normal? Im in inner west. I have seena few hydrangeas flowering lately. It isn't very normal at this time and I think it must be due to the excessive rain. I have even had daylilies reflowering, which is very unusual! Deirdre

6/7  Sue - 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Friday, 22 April 2022

It was lovely to have a little sunshine - however the workload was big as have lost a lot of stuff including echinaceas, your patch looks so lovely. A few delights were the Chinese rain bells which look wonderful and the Nodding Clerodendrum. Planted out the podding peas and sweet peas which had been sown on 3/4 and separated strawberries from heaps of runners - obviously they love the rainy weather. Hope we see a little more sun. You were very busy over Easter! We were lucky to also have fine weather over the ANZAC weekend. Deirdre

7/7  Carol - 2133 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 26 April 2022

I wanted a kinder, gentler, more authentic lifestyle; Tasmania has a quality of life that is precious. In terms of aspirational lifestyles, Tasmania really is the Loire or Napa valley the south. My eyes opened to the joys of gardening when I moved here in 2018. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and passion for gardening. Warmly Carol So pleased to hear from you, Carol. It sounds a wonderful place to live. Gardening is pretty different there to Sydney! Deirdre

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