What To Do In The Garden This Month; Indoor plants and planters have sometimes been considered a little daggy, but now there is nothing cooler. Check them out

What To Do In The Garden This Month; Indoor plants and planters have sometimes been considered a little daggy, but now there is nothing cooler. Check them out

Easy Care INDOOR PLANTS

INDOOR PLANTS have made a real comeback this year, with the trend set to continue well into next. The resurgence in their popularity can be attributed to a couple of factors: the new range of plants available and a crop of great pots.

This year witnesses a new range of indoor plants which should make your home or office green

This year witnesses a new range of indoor plants which should make your home or office green

Innovative PLANTER POTS

It’s goodbye to black plastic tubs, fibreglass office planters and chipped terracotta pots and hello to smart, new polymer planters, chic ceramic pots and stylish stainless-steel beauties.

An innovation also happens with the pot material, new polymer pot will make stainless beauty for your home

An innovation also happens with the pot material, new polymer pot will make stainless beauty for your home

Savvy garden centres are stocking fabulous pots from a European company, Elho (www.elho.com – the Australian distributor is European Trade Network, etn.com.au), which offers a huge range of plastic pots, including ones that hang over verandah rails and others with built-in lights. There is also a gorgeous range by Robert Plumb By William Dangar (Robertplumb.com.au). For something different, the modular planters from Queensland’s Just Add Plants (Justaddplants.com) come in various innovative fi nishes including coloured stainless steel, coloured metal, acrylic with stone and marble effects, and timber.

So, it’s out with the sad umbrella trees and struggling African violets and it’s in with large leaves, savvy succulents, Zen-like mosses, flowering orchids and fab pots.

Caring for your INDOOR PLANTS

There is no such thing as an indoor plant; they are just plants that are suited to shade. Most will need a spell outside every so often, or – at the very least – a clean with a damp cloth to remove dust from the leaves. Air-conditioning can dehydrate plants; regular misting helps to overcome this. If the aircon or heating is on most of the time, such as in an office, steer clear of palms and ferns and go for tougher plants such as cacti and peace lilies.

Green corner in your house, near the window where sunlights coming

Green corner in your house, near the window where sunlights coming

Watering needs vary according to the plant, the room it is in and the season, but in general, once a week, take the plant to the bathroom for a long drink and a short shower under a shower-head or tap. Likewise, a regular dose of a liquid fertiliser, such as Seasol or Maxicrop, will noticeably improve your indoor plants’ health and vigour. And for when you go on holidays, place pot plants on a towel in the bath and leave the tap slightly dripping. The plants will absorb the water through the towel and you’ll return to a healthy crop of new leaves.

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What To Do In The Garden This Month

What To Do In The Garden This Month

Get your garden tools at the ready and grow your own medicine. Here’s your homegrown health cabinet

Your great home garden

Your great home garden

VISITING A HERBALIST has become more mainstream, with many of us happy to pop a garlic tablet in winter to keep colds at bay. A type of medicine that was once considered quackery is now thought of as quite conventional, as it was in the past. Doctors of old were often botanists with an expert knowledge of herbs and their healing – or poisonous – properties. Many modern medicines have their origins in these herbal treatments, too. The great news is, whether you have a small pot or a large plot, you can grow your own.

look after your garden

look after your garden

EAT IT CITRUS

Lemons, oranges, mandarins and grapefruit are all loaded with vitamin C – and ripen over winter, just when you need a good dose. You can buy citrus that is grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock, called flying dragon. This keeps them two-thirds the size of the standard types. There are also citrus varieties called Pipsqueak, which grow to about 1.5m, but can be clipped smaller if you’re going to keep them in a container. Also, a portion of the sales of Pipsqueaks goes to Cystic Fibrosis Australia. For more info visit Pipsqueak.net.au GROW YOUR OWN 1 Find a sunny spot in the garden that gets at least six hours of sunshine a day. 2 Plant out – or leave in a pot (see “Notes”) – in autumn or winter. If you’re planting your citrus out simply dig a hole twice as wide as the pot and a little bit deeper. The rootball should be slightly elevated above ground level. 3 Backfill the hole with soil so the roots are covered. Raising the tree like this into a mound helps with drainage. But make sure you don’t bury any of the trunk because this can cause collar rot. 4 Spread mulch around the plant. NOTES If you’re planting citrus in a pot, make sure the pot is at least 40cm high and 40cm in diameter, or larger if you like. Use premium, Australian-standard potting mix (look for the bags with the red ticks), which has good drainage.

eating citrus fruit

eating citrus fruit

CHEW IT GINGER

Ginger is a tropical plant, the root of which is often used in herbal remedies for nausea. Whether you use it in tea, or simply peeled fresh and chewed – a small piece at a time – it can be safely taken for morning or motion sickness, as well as an upset tummy. GROW YOUR OWN 1 Buy You can plant a piece of ginger that you’ve bought from the supermarket, or buy a root from a mail order company that specialises in edible plants such as Green Harvest. 2 Plant roots out now in a sunny, frost-free position, cleared of weeds and dug over with cow, sheep or poultry manure. 3 Place ginger about 15cm in the ground and backfill with soil. NOTES The ginger will start to shoot in spring, and you can harvest the fresh roots the following winter. Simply dig them up and store them in the fridge. So easy!

BREW IT SAGE

There is an old proverb along the lines of: “Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?” Fresh-cut sage sprigs infused in boiling water make a simple healing tea – great for coughs and colds. Add a little cider vinegar to the brew, and the liquid can be gargled for sore throats, tonsillitis and laryngitis, or relieve mouth ulcers and gum infections. It’s recommended not to drink sage tea for more than a week at a time, as there could be side effects. Consult a doctor before drinking sage.

GROW YOUR OWN 1 Pots of sage can be planted out all year round. Find a sunny, well-drained position and wait two to three months before picking too many leaves as it needs a chance to grow. 2 You can propagate new plants in winter – just cover the lower part of shoots with soil or mulch around it with straw to encourage it to send our fresh roots. NOTES Sage is a perennial herb that lasts about three years. It stops growing fresh leaves in winter

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What To Do In The Garden This Month; Juicy mangoes. Creamy avocados. Sweet peaches. Summer heralds a banquet of luscious fruits, many of them easy to grow

What To Do In The Garden This Month; Juicy mangoes. Creamy avocados. Sweet peaches. Summer heralds a banquet of luscious fruits, many of them easy to grow

SUMMER IS ONE of the best times for fruit, with display tables in fruit and veg shops often groaning under the weight of trays of stonefruits (mangoes, peaches, nectarines, anyone?) and mountains of passionfruit, pawpaws and tamarillos, to name a few.

Have you ever wished you could grow your own? Well, you most likely can. Growing tropical fruit at home is simple, when you know what varieties to choose

AVOCADO

Although a tropical fruit, avocados are eaten as a salad vegetable. The tree can grow pretty much anywhere – even in containers although it will need protection from frost and require good drainage. Generally, avocado trees grow to about 8m and take years to bear fruit. However, the dwarf variety Wurtz grows to 2.5m and fruits much sooner.

Harvest Avocado from your own home garden

Harvest Avocado from your own home garden

Mango

Mangoes do especially well in the tropical north of Australia and on the subtropical east coast. Although the average mango tree may fill the backyard, there are dwarf varieties now available that only grow up to 4m. Early Gold is one of the fastest to bear its reddish-gold fruits, followed by Irwin then Palmer, which has late developing, more elongated fruit, which is less fibrous.

Mango is rich of vitamin

Mango is rich of vitamin. How great if you sit on a reclining chair to eat sweet mangos harvested from your home garden?

PASSIONFRUIT

This divine fruit, borne on a vine, can grow almost anywhere. It is one of the simplest fruits to grow, providing there is a fence, trellis or balcony rail that the vine can be trained along. Passionfruit vines need full sun to thrive, so a northerly aspect is usually best. A variety of passionfruits are available, from the large Panama Red and Panama Gold to the more traditional small black passionfruit and elongated yellow banana passionfruit, which can become a weedy menace (planting is prohibited by some councils). Grafted passionfruit are normally your safest bet, as these are more resilient to disease.

Passion fruit is easy to grow in your garden's corners

Passion fruit is easy to grow in your home garden’s corners

Tamarillo

Tamarillos thrive across southern Australia to the subtropics. Also known as tree tomatoes, they are less commonly grown than other fruits, but are so delicious, they should be planted more! The fruit looks similar to a passionfruit, only more egg-shaped and with red skin. The flesh is juicy and sweet, with a touch of sharpness.

Pawpaw

Pawpaws are easy to grow, particularly in tropical and warmtemperate climates. They are classified into three sex types: male, female and hermaphrodite (aka bisexual). The last are self-pollinating so you will harvest the most fruit per plant. Pawpaws like a sunny position while keeping their roots cool – next to the house is often a perfect spot. They usually bear fruit twice a year. For a refreshing coleslaw, pluck them from the tree while they’re green and grate them, then mix with grated carrot and a squeeze of lime juice. Or pick them when they’re ripe for a quick and easy dessert.

GUAVA

These are found from Tasmania to the tropics. There are two different types of guava plants the strawberry, cherry or apple guavas (Psidium) and the pineapple guava (Feijoa). Both plants are hardy, have delicious fruits and cope with almost any soil type. Also, the pineapple guava not only produces delicious fruit, it looks beautiful, boasting striking red flowers, glorious silvery leaves and attractive mottled bark.

Stonefruit

Traditional stonefruits grow in cooler areas, but there are subtropical varieties available for those of us who live in warmer climes. Look for peach varieties such as Floraprince and Floragold and the nectarine Sundowner.

Not only beautiful it is also very sweet

Not only beautiful it is also very sweet

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Ideas Outside; GO ON, IT’S THE WEEKEND, SO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

Ideas Outside; GO ON, IT’S THE WEEKEND, SO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

It might be hard to disassociate cacti from the ’70s – or their association with Mexican eateries – but the time has come. They are graphic, sculptural, and let’s not forget easy to look after!

Cacti are part of the succulent family, and comprise up to 90 per cent water – and some varieties need watering only once every six months. Talk about easy!

Tip Don’t use regular potting mix or soil – cacti require a mixture of grit, sand and small stones. Also, if you water them in spring you can get flowers.

Potted corners for your home

Potted corners for your home

Potted CORNER

Homes often have a “dead” zone – a space that’s too small for large pieces of furniture (sofas, recliners,…), but which left alone looks bare and neglected. Consider creating a potted corner to liven up the area. All you need is a stand or crate. Alternatively, a preloved chair might suffice. To create visual interest, mix and match plants and vessels. Play around with heights and widths to celebrate the varying shapes and heights of the plants – you don’t want the collection to look “blocky”. Vessels made from a variety of colours and materials are a good idea.

potted corners around reclining chairs

Potted corners around reclining chairs

Cuttings DISPLAY

Even if you are a brown thumb, you can still introduce plants into your interior. Of course, cacti or succulent varieties are a good idea. But you could go one step further – or easier – and simply add plant cuttings. Cuttings last longer than flowers (up to three weeks), add a sculptural form to a space and they don’t need water changing. Plus, cuttings are a great idea if you have plants such as monstera growing in your garden.

Look after your home and garden

Look after your home and garden

Feature WALL

Beside furniture (reclining chairs, sofas, TV,…), you can use plants to decorate your living room. Plants, such as staghorn ferns (pictured here), can be hung on your wall instead of artworks. We bought these varieties ready mounted on wooden plaques from the garden centre. The effect is as if they are framed, too. And just like with any art or photo display, consider the composition of your hanging. Here, we’ve gone for a symmetrical look. You could just as easily add the plants in amongst a selection of actual framed photos or art.

living wall for your home

Living wall for your home

Living INSTALLATIONS

Furniture by its very nature is often boxy. So to break up the lines it’s a good idea to add something that’s sculptural. That’s where a plant can come in handy. It’s like a living piece of art. The same theory goes for plants on tabletops. You can create vignettes or mini installations. Smaller varieties don’t block the view or impede conversation either.

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