Bergenia are a great winter stalwart, with rounded, glossy green leaves and delicate, usually pink, flowers which are carried in branched sprays on short stems. They grow to 50cm high and make excellent ground cover.
Winter is the ideal time to check your gardening tools and equipment and a good task for those who prefer to be out of doors even when the weather is horrid. Most tools wear out from neglect rather than use; if you look after good tools well, they will last a lifetime.
Remove caked mud from shovels, spades, forks, hoes and trowels and rub over with an oily rag or spray with WD40 or similar. Rub wooden handles with linseed oil to stop them drying out and splitting and remove any splinters with coarse sandpaper.
Stainless steel tools really only need a quick wash after use but do cost more.
Check electrical tools are safe and properly insulated and replace any damaged power cords. Clean, sharpen and service tools such as lawn mowers, whipper snippers, chain saws and hedge trimmers.
The most important thing about maintaining your tools is to put them away after you have finished. It’s most annoying to find your favourite trowel has been chopped up by the lawn mower because it was left lying in the grass, not to mention having to replace the mower blades!
Jobs for now
Spring-flowering bulbs hate wet feet, so take care not to overwater. Apply liquid fertiliser once the leaves are up for a better show of flowers.
Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees at this time.
Prune roses from the first week of August up to the first week of September – ensure your secateurs are sharp and dip them in disinfectant between each rose bush. Collect fallen leaves from rose bushes to help control black spot by preventing the spores from overwintering in the soil.
Burn or bin the leaves; don’t compost them. If you choose to spray to control black spot and mildew, do so straight after pruning with lime sulphur and a fortnight later with copper oxychloride.
The Armidale Garden Club has its next meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 23 at the Uniting Church Youth Club Hall. Winter time meetings start at 7pm, with the doors open from 6.45pm and everyone is most welcome.
More New England gardening from Dar Brookes: