This is the time of the year when the last leaves of the deciduous trees and shrubs disappear and the first flowers of the new year appear.
For a bright, warming and colourful display, ensure your garden includes some of these; Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus) with its sweet enticing fragrance, the first of the flowering bold and bright Ericas; Viburnum tinus with its sprays of white tinged pink flowers; Camellias in bold reds, whites and pinks, and winter flowering climbers such as Hardenbergias and Pandorea pandorana varieties.
For maximum flower power during winter the use of annuals such as Polyanthus, Pansies and Primulas cannot be beaten.
All plants that flower at this time of the year are subject to the weather. If it is unseasonably cold or warm, then the time between flowering may vary by up to four weeks from year to year within the same garden.
This also applies to winter flowering bulbs, for example the first snowdrops in a garden may emerge anytime from January to March.
Flowering time can also vary on whether they are newly planted or have been planted for a year or two and whether they have been affected by drought or other adverse weather conditions.
There is a lot of satisfaction to be obtained from the early flowers in a garden and as there are so few, their appearance is all the more welcome.
If the weather permits it is time for planting pruning, repairing and tidying the garden. Paths and fences too, can be examined and repaired as necessary.
Now is the best time to remove any plant that you have found growing in the wrong place. Garden Centres have received most of their winter stock supplies of roses. Deciduous ornamental and fruit trees will be arriving in the coming weeks and this is the time to get them planted.
June is the month for new seasons roses arriving into stores so if you are thinking of a new rose to add to your collection or to start off a new rose bed, do it now.
Garden Centres have a very good selection. Prune roses (except miniatures) in late July in Whanganui. Always cut just above an outward facing bud.
Time to spray roses & fruit trees with Gro Safe lime sulphur to induce dormancy and remove overwintering scale insects, moss and lichen.
Prune when dormant in July and spray with 'Gro Safe Oil En Spray 99' and 'Gro Safe Free Flo Copper' which for ease of application can be safely mixed together and get good results.
If you are not keen on spraying but really need to for obtaining good crops then choose to do winter sprays. As they clean up overwintering pests and diseases, this will reduce the need for spraying later in the season when fruit is on the trees.
Time to plant lily bulbs in June. Planted soon these will sprout during the late winter then they will grow during spring and commence flowering around December. Lilies are easy to grow and can be left in the ground for a number of years.
Each year the clumps of bulbs will increase as will the subsequent number of blooms.
They grow best in a sunny situation with rich well drained soil.
Lilies are generally either asiatic or oriental. Asiatic lilies are generally earlier flowering and there is a larger colour range to choose from, most are not scented.
Asiatic lilies tend to multiply much faster than oriental types. While oriental lilies are a bit later flowering, the flowers tend to be larger and scented. Planting some of each will give you a longer flowering season.
Both Asiatic and Oriental varieties are expected into store in the coming week. These are well worth planting for some summer flowering colour.
Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre