This site was typical of Wellington, with a sloping bank above the house. The clients wanted to build a garage and we were there to build walls, fences, gates, steps, pathways, and gardens.
There were numerous holdups including getting the digout done, issues with boundaries and neighbours and revised plans via council – all to do with the garage position.
A big thanks to Three Trees Landscapes for an excellent job, and the guys from Quadrille who built the garage were excellent. The clients were also very patient and understanding. If all three parties can work together you can achieve great results.
I designed this front entrance, and the clients managed the build based on the plan & specs. The entrance is now clearer and secure, and looks very smart.
This is a garden we planted three years ago in a coastal area in Mana. Note the Echium candicans with blue spike like flowers is looking spectacular, as are the Ligularia, tractor seat plants with the large glossy leaves to the left. Once the echium flowered they needed replacing, as even though a perennial ( grows for more than 2 years), they have their own timeline. The two palms were there originally.
Winter in the Garden:
Now its winter, what can you do in the garden?
Your frost tender plants will need protection. Vegetables can be covered in a cloche, while tender ornamentals can have frost cloth put over them. Ideally build a greenhouse! I have just built mine.
You can use old leaves make an excellent material for your compost bin or as a mulch.
Prune hydrangeas now- cut back stems that have flowered last season to the next node with two buds.
Apples can be pruned in June. Remember, they need little pruning, especially dwarf apples, other than shaping the tree.
Berryfruit can also be pruned – remove old canes and shoots of raspberries and boysenberries, and tie new shoots to your wires. Cut out old shoots of gooseberries and blackcurrants.
Apple – dwarf eg Topaz
You can plant garlic and shallot now – they can be planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest day.
Brassicas eg broccoli, strawberries and silver beet can also be planted now.
Watch out for slugs and snails – use a product like Quash, which is safe around pets.
At this time of year, lawns can get mossy. You can use iron sulphate to control moss, or simply rake the lawn vigorously and remove the debris. If your lawn is poorly drained, you should think about putting in drains, or if it’s too shady create more light. If you can get untreated sawdust and spread it over muddy spots, it can help to absorb water and reduce the likelihood of mud.
Paths, decks & paved areas:
Hard surfaces such as timber decks and paving can also go mossy in winter. To control this, you can apply bleach eg Chlorodux, or a product such as Wet & Forget. Apply it with a watering can or sprayer.
If you use a water blaster on these surfaces it can roughen the surfaces, and make it easier for moss and moulds to grow.
Happy winter gardening!
Using well constructed coloured aluminium planters made by Ulrich Aluminium with matching pots. Hrdy natives have been used eg Hebe, Grisleinia, Lobelia, Xeronema, Senecio.
Automatic irrigation has been used and spike lighting in the pots.
Spring Newsletter: Attracting Birds in the garden
Since we have been locked down recently and last year a common comment is the bird life seems to be more active. It may be because there is less background noise or the birds feel freer to move about.
A lot of my clients ask how can I attract more birds in their garden.
Having just walked down my path, there are some birds that I would prefer weren’t in my garden. They are the ones that spread mulch and soil all over the path in their search for food. They are usually English imports such as blackbirds and thrushes. It is their nature to do this as they are foragers, pecking and scratching for food like worms. It is hard to change old habits! The best thing you can do about this is to get a dense cover of plants, and if needed cover your vegetables with netting.
The other more desirable type of feathered friend are our native birds, such as the tui, wood pigeon or bellbird. Bellbirds and tuis feed on nectar, fruit and insects high up the tree. They both have beautiful sounds, although it can be hard to distinguish the two, especially as the tui is a mimicker. They are known as honey feeders, as they can insert their toothbrush like tongue into flowers to get the nectar. They also help to spread the pollen from one tree to another, which in turn helps these plants to seed.
Another native bird which is very important to the spread of our native plants is the wood pigeon or kereru. You know when this large bird is around as its wings make a racket as they go pass. They can eat the large seeds of plants like karaka, taraire, tawa and miro. These are then expelled in their faeces, which means they spread to other places. If the kereru goes, so do these plants eventually.
Kaka are more frequent now -these noisy birds can strip bark off large trees, as has happened in the Wellington Botanic Garden.
I have noticed that the number of tui, kaka and wood pigeon have increased locally over the years. This is no doubt due to the help from the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary ( Zealandia). If you haven’t already been, you should check this predator-free facility out, as it a number of other native birds such as takahe.
What can you do to attract our native birds?
One thing is keep predators at bay. Opossums, stoats, and rats all compete for food or attack young birds, so controlling them is start. You can use Tim traps for opossums, especially as they are so destructive on our native plants. Likewise, your moggie likes birds too, so put a bell on its collar to give the bird a chance before your cat pounces.
To attract honey feeders, you can use a nectar feeder, such as a metal channel with sugary water in it, hanging from a tree. Once they come to feed, you could kindly persuade them to hang around and even breed.
The main way to get these desirable birds into your garden is with appropriate planting. I have listed below some native plants attractive to the birds mentioned, with flowering or fruiting at different times of the year.
Spring: flax, kowhai, rewarewa, tree fuchsia
Summer: rata, pohutukawa
Autumn: totara, kahikatea, kapuka
Winter: puriri, tree fuchsia , coprosma, wineberry, titoki, hinau, fivefinger, pittosporum, mahoe.
Metrosideros robusta, rata
Phormium cookianum, flax
While the exotic tree lucerne is attractive to kereru, it is considered a little too rampant as a nurse crop plant.
Fashions for plants come and go. At one stage, cottage garden plants were all the rage. Native plants have become more popular recently, as have succulent plants.
Succulent plants are a group of plants known as xerophytes, or “dry plants”. Succulents store water in their stems or leaves, and can therefore tolerate very dry conditions. You will find these plants naturally growing in the deserts, such as in Central America, which has very low rainfall, and suffers extremes of heat as well as cold. By day it is very hot, but by night temperatures drop rapidly.
One of the more popular succulents is Agave attenuata, fromcentral America. It has grey leaves up to 1 metre across, without the spines that Agave americana has. This latter plant is sometimes called century plant, because it takes not a hundred but ten to fifteen years to flower. Like other agaves, once it flowers, the central part of the plant dies out and new plants arise from the base. This flowering condition is known as monocarpy. Another example of a plant that dies back after flowering is Aeonium arboreum, which has attractive yellow flowers in late spring. A colourful example of this plant is Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’ ( “ black head’), with its narrow purple leaves.
Aloe vera from Southern Africa is well known for its medicinal and cosmetic purposes, as it is used topically for skin conditions and internally as a cleanser. Aloe arborescens is more commonly grown ornamentally, with its yellow or red flowers.
All these three succulents grow in a rosette, with the leaves arising from a central axis. A succulent with smaller rosettes is Echeveria secunda, with its blue leaves and red flowers.
As well as rosette succulents, there are many groundcovers. We have a good example with the native iceplant, Disphyma australe, which grows near the beach. Another iceplant is Carpobrotus edulis, which is also known as the Hottentot fig. With a name like that it has to come from South Africa! It has yellow flowers followed by fig-like fruit, hence the name edulis, although I can’t vouchsafe for the taste of the fruit!
If you prefer blue, try Senecio serpens, or blue chalktsicks with its blue leaves, and white flowers in summer. If you like bright colour, try the Livingstone daisy with its dazzling mixed flower colours. Like the senecio, it comes from South Africa.
One other native plant that has a semi succulent habit is Xeronema callistemon. It has fleshy leaves, and requires similar growing conditions. Succulents are ideal in hot, dry conditions such as near the beach. The are excellent on sunny banks. Most of them are frost tender, so you should avoid frosty areas. They can also be used in pots, especially the larger ones. A good-sized Aloe attenuata or Aloe thraskii in a large glazed pot looks great, but will set you back a few dollars!
Succulents have few problems other than rotting due to poor drainage. Keep them in a free-draining growing medium, and avoid using too much nitrogen. It is better to use a slow release fertiliser such as Osmocote. They can get slugs and snails, so keep an eye out for them.
Enjoy the warm Autumn weather.
Courtyard makeover with lighting effects
A new deck, fences, low planters, walls, steps and lights making a wonderful outdoor space for all hours.
Now summer is almost here we are having cold snaps followed by warm spells. All the rain means our lawns are greener than ever. Plants like roses are thriving with the moister conditions too.
So what is a good plan leading to holidays?
Lawns: if you haven’t fertilised your lawns yet, then apply a slow release lawn fertiliser now , but apply in the rain or water in well to avoid possible leaf burn. If you still have moss, apply iron sulphate in a watering can. Keep cutting the lawn regularly, but only cut lightly as you want a thick sward not a scalped lawn prone to weed growth. If you have weeds you can manually remove or use chemicals carefully but remember a healthy, vigorous lawn will swamp out weeds.
Roses: keep deadheading spent flowers. Apply a rose fertiliser and water in. Keep an eye out for aphids and apply soapy water or Yates Bug Oil if needed. The moist conditions make black spot more likely so apply a copper spray on an overcast day.
Edibles: keep up the watering unless you have an automatic irrigation system ( recommended). Add compost regularly like a mulch to smother the weeds and add nutrients. Hand sprinkle blood and bone around your plants – the dogs will love it as much as the plants! Stake your tomatoes and train your climbing plants eg beans. You can rotate your crops eg leaf, root and legume ( eg beans) or grow the “three sisters” together ie beans, pumpkins and corn, as they compliment each other.
Trees, shrubs & perennials : trim your hedges with hedge clippers to thicken them up, taking off no more than ¼ at a time. Stake any new trees or check their ties with all the wind we are having. You can add a general fertiliser to each plant but water in afterwards. Keep on top of the weeds, and mulch to keep weeds down before they get away and seed. The old saying “ One years seeding seven years weeding” applies. Once plants finish flowering cut them back with hedge clippers past the spent flowers to bush them up and put the energy into leaf growth.
Irrigation systems: if you have a battery- operated timer check the batteries are ok before you head off for holiday.
Here are a few favourites flowering now:
Arthropdium cirrhatum, renga lily
Hebe Wiri Mist
Xeronema callistemon, Poor Knights lily
Have a great Xmas and New Year