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Spring Passion In The Garden

Spring Passion In The Garden

Handy Hints from Anthony Tesselaar International


Flower Carpet Appleblossom in a colourful Spring garden setting

“Colour is food for the soul, it just makes us feel good’ says Anthony Tesselaar. The passionate gardening advocate is founder of the company that introduced the world to Flower Carpet Roses. Anthony Tesselaar International continues to come up with winning products that make gardening easy. On a recent promotional visit to New Zealand, Anthony caught the attention of the television media again, with his good news stories of colourful flower gardens helping to reduce petty crime. Examples include the Australian railways that took colour planting away to save costs and ended up with greater costs due to graffiti. In Michigan, colourful flowerbeds resulted in less graffiti. It makes sense that planting in public places, gives people pride in their surroundings, so they are more likely to care for it. If Anthony Tesselaar had his way, there would be less lawn and more flowers in public places. Colour plantings, he enthuses, are cheaper to maintain than lawns.

As we head for the big flowering season of the year, it’s time to get outdoors and make the most of it. Here are some timely reminders for spring gardening from Anthony Tesselaar.

Spring into life

As nature stirs from its winter slumber, it’s time for gardeners to spring into life too.

Growing plants need feeding. Late winter flowering trees and shrubs need pruning, and hedges need trimming. If your Flower Carpet roses missed their winter trim, now would be a good time to do it. The earlier you prune the sooner they will reward you with their new seasons flush of flowers. A five-minute job with the hedge sheers is all it takes for Flower Carpet Roses, but for best possible blooming follow up with a dose of timed release rose food.

Spring is also the time for planting. Make the most of the moist, warming soil before the onset of the summer dries. Flowers, veges, perennials, trees and shrubs can all be planted now. Seeds of flowers and vegetables can be sown. Whether you’re planting annuals for quick spring colour or perennials for the longer term, careful soil preparation is worth your while. Always remove those invasive perennial weeds before planting. Spraying with Roundup at least two weeks prior to planting is a good idea. Most plants grow best in a well-drained, fertile soil with good moisture retention. Poor soils are best improved by adding lots of compost. If in doubt, plant in pots or raised beds built on top of the soil.

Early spring is a good time to lift and divide clump-forming perennials, just before new growth takes hold. Trim any old growth back to ground level where new basal shoots are forming. Dig out the clump, and using two forks back to back, break the clump into pieces ensuring each has a good section of roots and foliage. Ideally each piece should be at least 10cm in diameter. Throw away the central core of the original plant if it looks old and tired with little sign of fresh green growth. Transplant healthy pieces into well-prepared soil.

As the flowering flush of spring bulbs subsides, don’t be tempted to cut off their leaves. The leaves need to die down naturally to build up the bulb for next springs flowering. Ideally you should help them even further with an application of bulb food. You can disguise the fading bulb foliage with bold flowering annuals and perennials. Potted bulbs are simply moved from view, replaced by pots of flowering annuals you’ll have ready and waiting!

Spring Colour

With flowering annuals there is the chance to create a whole new look with each changing season. Ready for planting in garden borders or containers are marigolds, pansies, violas, cornflowers, alyssum, verbena and many more.

For parts of the garden needing a more permanent colour treatment, few shrubs flower as freely or for as long as Flower Carpet Roses (they’ll bloom for up to ten months a year). Now available in six different colours - Pink, Appleblossom, White, Yellow, Red and Coral - these easiest of low maintenance roses ask no special pruning or spraying. They at their exceptional best planted in groups in the garden. They make fabulous hedges with their dense covering of small glossy leaves. With regular feeding and watering they perform really well in pots too. Flower Carpet “Tree Roses’ (standard roses) are especially attractive in large containers. Thease can be underplanted with annuals for contrast.

For those who like their flowers to be bold and tropical, Tesselaars have come up with two beautiful long flowering new Hibiscus varieties. Hibiscus “West Coast Jewel’ and West Coast Red’ have large colourful blooms, up to 25cm across, that last two to three days (versus the usual one). The glossy leafed shrubs grow 1.5 to 2m tall and will flower up to 12 months of the year in warmer climates.

In New Zealand they are best suited to gardens from Rotorua North. They are more cold tolerant than other large flowered hibiscus and are spectacular in large pots.

If you are after a foliage plant with punch, one of the most vibrant of them all is Canna “Tropicanna’, with fiery striped leaves of oranges greens and reds. The bright orange summer flowers are a bonus but come second place to the leaves.

Colour tricks for the garden¡K

- A splash of red makes green look greener and vice versa.

- Red flowers look fantastic with purple or silver foliage.

- Plant orange and yellow flowers for a welcoming effect.

- Place cool blues and violets to the rear to make your garden appear larger.

- Surround outdoor entertaining areas with white flowers that will shine in the moonlight.

- For a dynamic contrast plant blues and purples with yellow and gold flowers.

- In a “hot’ coloured flower border, add a few blue flowers to tone down the intensity.

- Blue flowers invoke tranquility and peace, especially when used in combination with water.

- Use lots of green to highlight the flower colours.

Spring Fragrance

How often has the smell of a flower reminded you of a special place or time? There is nothing more evocative than fragrance. In nature there is fragrance for every season, and we can cram our gardens full of it.

Fill pots on decks with fragrant annuals such as alyssum, stock, sweet William, wallflowers and sweet peas. Remember, you need to plant lots of annuals to create as much fragrance as a large shrub or rose bush.

Spring Pickings

The flowers of spring are all the more heart-warming when we can pick them for indoors.

First up there are roses. Flowering from mid spring right though till autumn they reward us with a longer picking season than most other flowering shrubs. Ever-dependable Flower Carpet Roses make beautiful posies. Try them with herbs for extra fragrance.

The seed stand at your local garden centre is an excellent source of flowers for picking. There you will find spring flowering annuals such as snapdragons, cornflowers, Iceland poppies, calendulas, Queen Anne’s lace, Canterbury bells, mignonette, stock, and honesty - all good for sowing now. Even flowers with stems too short for picking can be enjoyed indoors, by growing them in small pots, which can be brought into a sunny spot indoors for a spell. Plain plastic nursery pots can be slipped into fancy indoor containers. Many perennials are ideal for picking. Easy favourites include Shasta daisies, asters, agapanthus, and alstroemeria. Alstroemeria “Peruvian Princess’ is a great vase filler, by itself or with other flowers.

Even those short-stemmed, short-lived flowers can be enjoyed indoors. Use blooms of Hibiscus “West Coast Jewel’ and West Coast Red’ as garnish for summer platters, or try them as table decoration, floating in a bowl of water.

To extend the vase life of your flowers...

- Pick flowers early in the morning as soon as the dew has evaporated.

- Use disinfected sharp cutting blades.

- Make cuts on an angle.

- Pick sprays or spikes (eg snapdragons, cornflowers, foxgloves, delphiniums) when a third of the flowers are open.

- Don’t use metal containers with floral preservatives.

- Strip leaves from the parts of the flower stems under water.

- Avoid direct sun, heat or draughty positions.

- Keep the water topped up and change it often.

-ends-

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