Frost heralds time of change in New England gardens

Towering beauty: Tree dahlias have had an extended flowering period, but after a few frosts, they will be coming to the end of their run and it is time to ensure you have flowers next year.

Towering beauty: Tree dahlias have had an extended flowering period, but after a few frosts, they will be coming to the end of their run and it is time to ensure you have flowers next year.

The frosty weather has finally arrived!

The rather late arrival has allowed many gardeners who grow tree dahlias (Dahlia imperialis) to enjoy an extended season of their towering beauty.

Tree dahlias have thick, bamboo-like stems with distinct nodes and grow to 2.5-3 metres in a single season. In late autumn, large single, lavender-pink flowers, 10-15cm across are produced.

The first few frosts usually trigger the plants’ demise and the finish of flowering. At this stage, cut the stems off just above the big bulbous part at the bottom.

These stems can be used to grow new plants; cut them into lengths, making sure each has a couple of nodes. Dig a trench about 15cm deep and lay the lengths of stem in the trench and cover with soil. They will start to grow in spring and flower the following autumn.

Jobs for June

Keep collecting autumn leaves and composting them. If leaves fall on the soil, they can be left there as they will rot and be pulled under by worms. Leaves that fall on the lawn and on small delicate plants, such as in the rock garden, are best raked up and added to the compost heap or used as mulch on garden beds.

Protect plants and pots that might be vulnerable to frost damage. Move any pots containing tender plants in under cover or maybe bring them inside for the winter.

Protect plants and pots that might be vulnerable to frost damage.

Protect winter annuals and young, vulnerable plants and self-seeders with mulch or loose straw.

Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs and climbers, eg buddleja, escallonia, forsythia, weigela, grapevines, jasmine, honeysuckle – ideally just after the leaves have fallen off.

Bare-rooted roses and deciduous shrubs or trees will soon be arriving in local nurseries. To give your plants the best chance and to help them establish, prepare the holes a few weeks or even months in advance.

Dig a hole about twice as wide as, but no deeper than the roots, to ensure that they will not be cramped.

Mix well composted manure or organic matter into the soil, put it all back into the hole and leave it to decompose.

Don’t add any fertiliser at this stage.

The Armidale Garden Club has its next meeting on Thursday, June 22 in the Youth Club Hall at the Uniting Church off Rusden St at 7.30pm. All welcome.

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