As we move into the first weeks of the winter months, we can reflect on our good fortune to have had relatively few frosts thus far this year.
While growth has slowed due to the generally cooler temperatures, the lack of frost has allowed some gardeners to have dahlias still flowering, and particularly tree dahlias, which grow to 3 or more metres tall and so, in most site where they are grown, they hold their flowers above the frosty air and are still giving pleasure, even in June.
Another plant that is still producing its treasures, is the Chinese quince, or false or mock Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis).
This is a beautiful ornamental small tree which grows to 5-6 metres tall and about 4m wide. In October and November, it is covered with attractive 2-3cm pink flowers. In autumn large, yellow, oval or egg-shaped fruits, that smell the same and have the same texture, as ordinary quinces, are produced.
Largely as a result of the mild, cool summer, these Chinese quinces are only now fully ripening and ready for harvest. A bowl of the fruits in the kitchen gives off a lovely fragrance and the fruits also make terrific jam and jelly and can also be pickled.
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At the moment the foliage is also putting on a show, turning intense reds, oranges and yellows. This is a small tree or shrub that is not terribly common but which is worth seeking out to grow.
To attract the birds, plant winter-flowering grevilleas or choose an emu bush, an Australian native Eremophila species, from your local nursery while they are in bloom. Purchasing from a local nursery where these have been grown in our local conditions area means your plant will be better adapted than one grown in a bulk production nursery, often in a milder climate than the New England.
Once established, both Grevilleas and Eremophilas are very hardy and they flower for long periods so attract both birds and insects.
After your Sasanqua camellias have finished flowering, they can be trimmed to shape or, if you have a hedge of them, cut back to fit in their allocated space.
The Armidale Garden Club's next meeting is at 7:00 pm on Thursday, June 23 in the Uniting Church Youth Club Hall, off Rusden St. If you would like any more info, please call 0412589414; otherwise just come along!
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