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Gardening With Gael: The challenges of a sandhill garden



thumbnail Salvia flowers-649My advice would be not to transplant at this time of the year and what have I done? Transplanted. These are plants I have been carefully nurturing for the new house, waiting for drains, timber and the necessities of building to be out of the way. They have to be moved this year. This house will go on the market and they need to have been moved.

Plants are much happier being moved in their dormant stage or when the weather is cooler and the chance of rain guaranteed. By moving plants now I have created an ongoing problem for myself all summer.

I have carefully cut back as much of the foliage as possible. The crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia, grew into an interesting shape. I’ve moved it once already in order to prepare it for its final move, but it really would have been happier a few months ago when it had no leaves. Immediately after I moved it we experienced beautiful fine days and increasing temperatures. The leaves drooped, I did anther prune. I watered every night and now overnight some rain. Lifesaving I hope.

Plants that were in pots are faring better. Grateful to get their roots out, they are enjoying the compost and freedom. Perennials are fine to plant now as well. Both markets offer a wide variety.

Julie at the Tavern Market has a great range of perennials all about to flower, including penstemons, which flourish once in the ground. Their blooms continue all summer and well into winter if they are deadheaded regularly. I highly recommend them for any border. Requiring little care they are there year after year. Adventitious roots on their stems make them easy to grow from cuttings which I have done when they get a bit scraggly after a few years.

Julie also has osteospermums, lavender, salvia, aquilegias, alchemillas and many more.

Alstromerias bloom from now and all summer as long as their spent flowers are ‘pulled’ rather than cut. This keeps them blooming for much longer. Once they are established they make a floriferous display year after year. I love their lush succulent leaves. Wyatts Landscaping has a good range and more coming in.

Rowie at the Village Market has perennial seedlings. I bought long stemmed Sweet Williams. Not strictly perennial they are more biennial but a great filler while other plants bulk up.

Helen, also at the Village Market, keeps her annuals and perennials in a very attractive colourful display. I needed gazanias for a dry sandy spot at the bottom of the rock terraces. My ‘Gaudi’ impression around my letterbox was extremely successful last year with seven or eight colours now merging together. Helen had every colour of the very large blooming variety. At least a double row is needed. The Village GAS station had small seedling trays and so does Wyatts.

From Helen I also bought bright yellow coreopsis. The colour is what I am looking for and they love full sun and a well-drained soil.

Helen also has some of my favourite natives - Olearia and coprosma rhamnoides. More about them next time.


Banana skins and over-ripe bananas are excellent food for roses. They provide potassium, phosphorus and calcium. I just chop them up and scratch them into the soil around the roses. Enthusiasts make a banana slurry and pour that on. Any way is great. Bypass the compost and put them straight in the garden.

Salvia are diverse, with hundreds of species, so something to suit any garden.

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