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The Heat is On! By Mick O’Brien- Profound Horticultural. Dip.Hort(MAIH)

The summer heat has truly arrived with a vengeance and now the decision presents itself, “should I garden in my spare time or should I hit the beach and relax?” Well definitely the beach is a must to unwind, but as I am running a gardening enterprise & servicing my customer base also, there is not a lot of time left at the end of the working week, so I must find the balance between work and play. As we Queenslanders know only too well, if we want to get on top of our gardening and maintenance duties during our hot summer months, we better get up early and start before the heat of the day and irrigate your plants and lawns then. Otherwise you - and your plants, may end up withering away together.

Gorgeous summer flowers!

With a good garden design you can plant taller canopy plants that provide some shade and shelter in the midday sun for your more fragile specimens underneath. Planting deciduous trees like frangipanni - Plumeria rubra, will provide a glorious show of tropical splendour when in flower with a canopy of summer shade and when the tree is in its deciduous stage during winter, the sunlight can penetrate through the bare branches to the understorey specimens below. Most people live in small suburban blocks these days between 400 and 800 square metres and that does not leave a lot of room for nice shade trees in your landscape, so most garden designs need to be practical, functional, hardy, and sustainable. Most lawns, including mine need a lot of work, fertilising and frequent irrigation, pests and diseases require frequent attention so your prized sward can look its best. Some of my clients are frequent travellers and have replaced lawns with artificial grass and I can see why - from their point of view. Personally though, as I am a keen horticulturist, I would always prefer the real green over the plastic any day, but you have to weigh up the cost and how much care you can personally provide, the availability of water in the drought times and if it ever comes down to the dreaded - enforced - water restrictions, implemented by local councils, then the lawns will be the last priority - unfortunately. I have incorporated some gorgeous new crepe myrtle cultivars in some of my garden designs, which are non-invasive, grow anywhere from 1 to 4 mt tall, depending on the species (Indian Summer Range®) which can provide some shade in summer (although deciduous in winter), but enough to provide some shelter and still produce a spectacular flower show. Crepe myrtles make good perimeter planting specimens along colour bond fences as they look great planted among some of the hardier, sun - tolerant bromeliads, dwarf bougainvillea and geraniums which are fairly drought tolerant and they all put on a marvellous blooming show in spring and summer - with little maintenance required. Well that is all in the patch this year. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas and enjoy your holidays with family. I am off to the beach! - Stay safe and see you in 2021. Take care all. - Your local horticulturist!


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