Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
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Greater Brisbane region

With cold temperatures and short days, growth in the garden is particularly slow this month and there isn't a lot to do as far as seed sowing and pruning is concerned. Take advantage of this down time to get those repair jobs, maintenance and hard landscaping projects done. While there's plenty of cold weather ahead, the winter solstice means that by the end of the month, days are already starting to get longer. This is a reminder that spring isn't really that far away!

Physical labour is also a lot more pleasant in this weather than the summer months. Think about:
  • preparation of new garden beds or soil improvement
  • repot patio plants, if necessary
  • transplant established shrubs (also a good time because the plants are relatively dormant at this time)
  • consult an arborist about questionable trees, have dangerous ones removed or pruned
  • maintenance of lawnmower and other garden tools. Keeping mower blades sharp will avoid the tearing and shredding of grass leaf blades that can increase the chances of disease entry and increase water loss..
  • compare features and make an informed choice for new purchases like lawnmowers, shredders, compost bins etc.
  • installation, repair or cleaning of paving, retaining walls, water features, gazebos etc, or hire a landscaper to do it

On the other hand, if it really is too cold and dark to get out there, cosy up indoors and work on some new garden layouts, research any new plants you may be interested in, browse garden catalogues and do some shopping for springtime supplies. The internet means there's a whole world of gardening information and inspiration available in an instant.

One group of plants that are quite active now are, unforunately, the cool season weeds. As with all weeds, prompt removal (whether by hand weeding or spraying) will prevent multiplication and bigger problems in subsequent years.

Don't forget that weeds are also discouraged by good gardening practices - minimise exposed soil with mulches or cover crops and encourage strong growth of garden plants or lawn grass to outcompete weeds. Pay attention to drainage and soil pH. Selective cutting back or thinning out of trees and shrubs to encourage stronger growth of sun-starved lawn or groundcovers could be part of your strategy.

Dead or dying foliage of flowering perennials can be cut back (unless you expect frost), but for the sake of aesthetics you may prefer to delay pruning summer-flowering shrubs and tropical foliage plants until closer to spring when they'll take off again quickly. Just trim dead flowers and stray branches to keep them looking tidy.

Frangipani are losing their leaves, which will almost certainly be carrying the rust fungus. Picking up these leaves and putting them in the rubbish will not prevent the disease entirely but will reduce the potential for re-infection next season.

Spring-flowering shrubs should definitely not be pruned now - you'll be cutting off those developing flower buds. See also Shrubs

It's the season for planting bare-rooted rose bushes. Hopefully you'll be getting yours from a quality grower who has not dug them too early. If you haven't ordered them in advance and are relying on supplies in garden centres now, you'll have to take your chances and make your purchases asap to get the best pick. See also Roses.

Sasanqua camellias are in bloom around April/May, while the Japonica varieties are typically at their peak in June/July. Visit Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha to view the camellias during these months, and keep an eye on the Events Diary for the Queensland Camellia Society's annual exhibition at the gardens. Make a note of any you especially like for planting in your own garden, although you may have to seek out a camellia nursery for the less common varieties.

While bougainvilleas can flower throughout the year in SEQld, depending on the variety (genetic background), weather variations and the treatment they have received by gardeners. However, they are generally at their most floriforous in winter. As you drive around the suburbs, appreciate the jewel-like colours, which look especially brilliant under the clear blue skie we get at this time of year. Take note of the various ways in which they are grown. Larger types may be growing rather wildly up trees, but may also be trained onto fences, verandas or arches. Others may be trimmed into hedges or trained as tree-like specimens. Large gardens might accomodate stand-alone shrubs. Dwarf forms can be grown in containers. The success of any such application application will depend on selection of a suitability of a suitable variety, but it may give you come ideas for how you migth incorporate bougainvilleas into your garden.

The Flower Garden

Why not bring some cheerfulness into the garden with flowers? We're lucky to be able to grow many spectacular tropical flowering trees, shrubs and vines as well as the more traditional English-style perennials and bedding plants.

The cultivation of annual flowers, or even herbaceous perennials, is not as popular as it once was, but with our water problems eased at at moment, why not give it a go? If you don't have much space in the garden, you can still create eye-catching displays in pots and planters and brighten up balconies, patios, and paved areas.

While it's too late to plant most spring annuals from seed, in frost-free areas you can can still sow some for later flowering. A few varieties that are readily available in seed packets to try now include alyssum, nasturtium, pansy, viola, johnny-jump-up (heartease), amaranthus, celosia, lobelia, cleome, salvia, coleus, verbena, petunia, dianthus, californian poppy (eschscholtzia), snapdragon.

Seed of perennials can be started just about any time if you can care for them, especially keeping them away from frost at this time of year, but germination will be slow in cold weather.

If you sow into smaller pots or seed trays you can get them started in a warmer place indoors, as long as you check them regularly and bring them out into the light at the very first sign of emergence (or before) and harden them off to the sun gradually.

An alternative is to buy seedlings from the garden centre, which will save you effort plus several weeks growing time. More advanced plants already in flower are more expensive but the way to go for colour immediately prior to a special occasion like a party or garden wedding.

See also: Annual Flowers and Bedding Plants, Seed raising

The Vegetable Garden

Many veggies are happy growing in the cool conditions of the SEQ winter, but if you didn't get plants started off in autumn, you might find that seed germination will be poor in the coldest months. If you have spaces left to fill, try starting seed off in pots and trays in a warmer pot such as a patio or indoors, (provided they aren't starved of light after emergence), or save time with some seedlings from the garden centre. The exception is those that are normally sown direct, like beans and peas.

In June, try sowing broad beans peas, lettuce, English spinach, silverbeet and beetroot, carrots, onions and garlic, cabbages, broccoli, kohlrabi and turnip. In frost free areas, also regular beans, tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, zucchini, squash, cucumber.

If growing unusual vegetables, consult the seed packet.

Meanwhile, vegetables sown in autumn should be coming along. Keep up the water if there is no rain (winter is traditionally our dry time) and apply regular supplemental feeding with liquid fertilsers.

Strawberries will be starting to fruit. Mulch around the plants with a loose dry mulch like sugar cane to keep fruit clean and dry off the ground. Chicken wire or vegetable garden nets might also be necessary to keep the local wildlife from getting to your fruit before you do.

Fruit Trees

Sorry, I haven't prepared any monthly notes for fruit trees yet.

Garden shows, open gardens

See what's in the Events Diary for June.

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NB: The info on this page applies primarily to the greater Brisbane region only. Naturally, it's a general guide and will vary depending on local conditions, weather, plant variety etc.
Ongoing water availability is also a big concern these days, so take this into consideration too, especially if planning new gardens.
Further development of the notes here has been suspended in favour of Get Results Gardening (see below). If you're in Brisbane, please do see for yourself how good it is by requesting a free trial.

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Reliable plants, fundamentals simply explained, achievable ideas, inspiration and motivation for a beautiful garden that compliments your house and makes your whole property more enjoyable to live in.

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