A Melbourne Garden in August

We got some new bulbs in last week. These varieties are summer flowering and include the uncool gladioli. I say uncool, because of course Dame Edna Everidge used to grow them in Moonee Ponds – how uncool ! Smiles come to mind remembering her cuddling a big bunch like it was a baby. My wife actually grew some last year in a terracotta bowl and did they stand proud with lipstick red flowers. We found them quite easy to grow, and most rewarding.  

Other available bulbs and tubers include Canna lilies, alstromeria, bearded iris, asiatic lilies and peonies. There are also Jerusalem artichokes which are nothing like globe artichokes. They have a sunflower like flower and form a tuber, which can be harvested and cooked. They are selling well since Billy on Masterchef had to cook with them during the New York week. He had to slice them into little chips, deep fry and then poke them into the top of soup.  

If you haven’t got strawberries in, now is the time. If you plant them later, you don’t get as much foliage growth which means less fruit. GardenWorld is pleased to announce that we have secured an exclusive variety from Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm in Red Hill. These will be the tastiest strawberries you have ever grown. Plant in pots or garden beds, and when they finish fruiting, next winter cut them back and they will go again for another season. 

If you only do the vegie patch for the spring season, start weeding now. Dig the beds over to get oxygen into the soil, and fertilise with chicken manure. We recommend Attunga’s Organic Life, as it also contains fish meal and seaweed. Attunga are a local company based in Dandenong that also supply us the famous Humus Plus, a secret formula that will give every garden bed a lift. 

Pruning fruit trees is a slow process. Don’t rush it because you can’t sticky tape the branch back on ! Go for a classic wine glass shape, cutting out any weak internal branches so as to open the middle of the plant up a bit. I also like to control height, because when harvesting, the ladder only goes so high.  Even little blueberry bushes could do with a culling of the weak internal branches. 

Of course this is the month to watch and enjoy the magnolia flowers literally open befrore your eyes. Towards the end of the flowering period, fertilise big trees with a bucket of Organic Life or Dynamic Lifter and this will ensure nice dark green leaves and vigorous growth. A prune after flowering will make them bushy, but you might like to leave yours tall and lanky. Thats the other beaut thing about these trees – all, the different shapes and sizes.

Camellia Dr Clifford Parks and Magnolia doltsopa

a close-up of the same Magnolia doltsopa

Also feed azaleas, camellias, daphne and trim back evergreens lightly, including box hedges, so as to ensure the new growth takes off from nice bushy plants. Sow spring seeds of petunias, marigolds, capsicums and tomatoes. GET READY, as the frenetic spring season is almost upon us. 

Bulbs to plant this month: Dahlia, Gladioli, Canna lilies, Alstromeria, Asiatic Lilies and herbaceous Peonies. 

Foodcrops: Asparagus, Beetroot, Broad beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Coriander, Lettuce, Leek, Parsnip, Onions, Potatoes, Rhubarb, Radish, Strawberry runners, Shallots, Snowpeas

Magnolia soulangeana

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