Winter is a special time in the garden. The mornings are crisp, there is hardly any wind and when the sun shines the days are glorious.
Potted plants require less care and the cold weather knocks off many of the garden pests that plague us during spring and summer.
Winter is a good time of the year to reassess your garden and see the framework of the deciduous trees and shrubs. Perhaps there are areas that could be improved or changed in some way to create a better synergy.
June is the best time to transplant any deciduous plants, including fruit trees, because they have gone into dormancy and will be much less affected by having their roots pruned.
Check the skeleton of these plants and ensure trees are well balanced with an equal number of branches on all sides.
The winter vegie patch
June can be a busy month in the vegie patch. These are some of my favourite cold-loving plants.
Winter is a great time to plant out a variety of onions.
Grow them from seed raised in seed trays so you can thin them out at an early stage. Do not grow with manure because it will rot the bulbs.
Try something different and grow shallots, tree onion, sweet red or Pukekohe Long Keeper.
Autumn and winter is about the only time we can grow spinach in warm climates.
They are an annual so successive planting is the way to go to keep a good supply for the next four months.
These can still be planted because we have had such warm days in the lead-up to winter.
Erect a trellis system before planting out seeds directly into the ground so that they have a support from seedling stage.
The heirloom Aquadulce and Crimson Flowered are reliable croppers and ornamental at the same time.
Kale, beetroot, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips can all be planted now into cool soil.
You will need to be vigilant on aphid and whitefly control, as well as caterpillars that love to get into cabbages. Caterpillars can be controlled with Eco-oil or neem oil and caterpillars with Dipel or Success.
Five of the best flowers to brighten dull days
These are some of my favourite flowering plants to add a splash of colour during the cooler months.
Camellias are acid-loving plants so will need to go into well-prepared ground along the coastal strip but thrive up in the Hills.
Camellias are much tougher than people give them credit for.
It’s all about the soil. Once you get that right, they are trouble free.
To see them at their best visit Araluen Botanic Park in Roleystone now.
Also called the winter rose, this is one of my favourite winter-flowering perennials.
They are shade lovers and will die down for a couple of months but emerge in winter with lovely flowers in a variety of colours.
Correas will attract nectar-feeding birds into your garden for months.
They flower for long periods of time and come in a variety of colours and sizes.
Many of them will grow in dappled light or shade and add a touch of cottage style to your garden.
These can be grown outdoors or brought indoors for a couple of weeks at a time.
They are perennial and will die down in summer and go into dormancy. I have had the same plants in my garden bed for years and they flower every year.
Native gardens can be filled with flowering banksias that provide a much-needed source of pollen and nectar to small marsupials and birds.
I have counted eight different bird species that come to my banksias for a feed, which fills me with joy.
Why winter is the perfect time to take cuttings
Many winter-dormant plants that are being pruned can also become new plants from the hardwood cuttings.
The wood needs to be about pencil thickness with at least three nodes.
Place cuttings in potting mix and use a soft drink bottle cut in half pushed over the pot to keep the temperature more even.
Hydrangea, spirea, philadelphus and grapes can all be grown from cuttings taken now.