Newsletter #2 April 2014

 The Bright Autumn Festival- 25th April to the 4th of May

Australia has some fabulous regions with wonderful native plants as well as gardens. One area that has become one of my favourites is Victoria’s Alpine Region. The Bright Autumn Festival is a great reason to visit the area this month. Running for ten days, culminating in a Gala Weekend with a market, street music and a parade, it also features lots of  events and great food. The autumn trees will be in full glorious colour for photography buffs, and the weather will be crisp and refreshing!

I will be hosting some events. Join me for a special Angus Stewart garden opening and twilight bonfire at Feathertop Winery. Or maybe a planting masterclass? Or a dinner and fabulous foliage tour? Find out more about the Bright Autumn Festival.

New release , an old favourite and my handy hint for this month

There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to bring better plants into cultivation. Exotic plants often perform so well because they have had centuries of plant breeding and selections to find the best garden stars. But native plants are catching up, with some wonderful new introductions to add to the old favourites that have proven their worth.

 This month’s new plant release – Carpobrotus White Hot

Carpobrotus White Hot is a selected form of native pigface, with silky white flowers through the warm months. It has the added bonus of being edible….the seed pods taste like salty custard. A great hardy and easy care plant, adapts to different soils, including saline and poor ones. A somewhat fire retardant plant, so would be good for plantings near bushfire prone areas. Ask for it at your local nursery!

An old favourite – Callistemon Perth Pink

Released under the Gardening With Angus label is Callistemon Perth Pink.  Great for hedging and screening use, or as a feature plant, it has masses of bright pink flowers in spring, with the added bonus of pink foliage with each new flush of growth. A great hardy plant for most soil types, and brilliant for giving nectar feeding birds some rich tucker.

This month’s handy hint- how to rejuvenate old kangaroo paw plants

WARNING – EXTREME GARDENING AHEAD!!!

The advice often given for kangaroo paw maintenance is to cut back after flowering. The average gardener will cut back the old flower stems that have finished and leave it at that.

A very effective method of cutting back relies on the fact that kangaroo paws have an underground rhizome, which is a thickened stem structure growing horizontally under the soil. This structure holds nutrients and is capable of sending out new shoots and roots from the nodes. If a plant with an underground rhizome goes through fire, or is eaten to the ground by a hungry animal, it is capable of regenerating anew from this rhizome, which sends out fresh new shoots.

So, armed with this knowledge, take your courage in hand, as well as a lawn mower, whipper snipper or sturdy set of hedge shears. Mow, clip or whipper-snip your kangaroo paw clump down to the ground! This rather satisfying act will clean up any foliage that has been damaged by ink spot disease, as well as take down the old flower stems. You will be rewarded by the sight of fresh green new shoots appearing as if by magic a week or so later, but of course these shoots are appearing by sound horticultural science, not magic.

The following before and after shots show one of my large established clumps which I had fun with.