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The secret is pots

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Trends in gardening have taken a huge about turn during the last few years.
Firstly, swimming pools took up the space of lawns and garden beds, then paved courtyards and balconies have become more dominant, which has ultimately increased the need for container-grown plants.
Not everyone has a penchant for low-maintenance succulents and rock, but there are alternatives.
Give consideration to the site structure because it determines the finished display.
Is it shady or sunny? Is it elevated and prone to prevailing winds? I remember visiting a friend, way before apartment living became popular: it was in a windy, elevated, north-easterly position on Scenic Drive, Merewether.
This site conjures up a picture of salt-laden winds, but the achievement of my friend was a lesson to me in dedicated gardening; that is watering, feeding and mulching.
The balconies were literally amassed with every plant imaginable – roses, Bougainvillea, ferns and citrus, to name a few.
The overall effect was achieved by the grouping of pots, large, small, high, low and bowls filled with colourful annuals.
Consider creating an orchard in pots – it is possible. Fruit and vegetables don’t just look amazing in terracotta pots, they thrive.
I have mentioned terracotta pots as they give the advantage of being able to extend the pot collection at any given time. It doesn’t matter if shapes and sizes and patterns are different, the colour remains neutral so that the plants are the feature, not the pots.
Now to suitable plants – citrus look great standing tall amongst a group of containers in smaller sizes.
The dwarf citrus are ideal, lemons and limes being particularly popular. One of the hardiest fruit trees are olives; I can’t remember when I last watered mine, not good I know; water encourages growth.
Olives are fabulous trained into standards – they are quick-growing and require very little care.
Plant brightly coloured annuals such as blue lobelia or white petunias around the base to highlight the grey leaves and black olives.
With regard to cultivation, only use a slow-release fertiliser on container-grown plants.
Always use the best potting mix available when planting – one that contains fertiliser and water conditioners and apply Flourish weekly.

Footnote: Although my friend’s garden was elevated, it wasn’t on the sixth or twelfth floor of an apartment building. Advice is needed in these conditions.

This week

  • The heat has brought a halt to petunia displays. Consider planting marigolds, lobelia and cosmos to create colour throughout autumn.
  • Roses are suffering – time to give them a summer prune and fertilise with poultry manure and mulch with sugar cane.
  • The soil is dry and hard. Turn over and apply mushroom compost to hold moisture.
  • Army grub is still a problem – don’t think the dry patches are lack of rain!

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