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Gardening with Gael - Where the wildflowers are



Gael - wildflowers-229It’s during this time of year I am tempted to write MULCH five or six hundred times. The ground is still damp and to trap that moisture in the ground a heavy layer of mulch is recommended. I use everything, even piles of weeds. To counteract the uptake of nitrogen as the mulch rots, a sprinkling of blood and bone around the drip line of the plant under the mulch is a good idea.

This year we have masses of mulch from the trees that bordered our property at Mangawhai Heads. Northpower came as arranged, cutting out the entire leylandii cypress hedge. I was dreading the lack of privacy but I am pleasantly surprised.

I had previously written an article about the shrubs I planned to plant in their absence, visualising a clean, empty border. The result was far from empty. As they began to cut, I asked if, wherever possible, they could save any of the plants, which were growing among the leylandii.

James and his team did a fantastic and careful job. Starting at one end they cut out and mulched all the trees leaving intact all the undergrowth, mostly karos pittosporum crassifolium, five fingers pseudopanax, kawakawa macropiper excelsum, and the coleonemas that has already been established near the entrance. The foundation of a mixed border was already established.

With the help of my grandson Theo, we chopped all the leggy branches back. The resulting bushes looked a bit bare and scraggling, but I knew that within a couple of months, because of their well established root systems, they would be covered in new shoots. They are. Even the sturdiest trunks are covered in new shoots.

With the hedge gone, the garden up against the studio looked completely out of proportion. With the help of a small digger we were able to move the bulk of the plants from that garden into the gaps on the roadside. Once again some of the plants were dormant and I had my fingers crossed that they would shoot as well. Everything received a liberal dose of those wonderful rotting grass clippings that are regularly delivered. Thank you again to those people.

Now over a month later they too are covered in new shoots including a large crepe myrtle lagerstroemia. I love everything about this plant. The dark pink of the new leaves, the form of the branches, the shape of the leaves, the flowers and most of all the trunk.

Some of the new small ‘filling’ shrubs will take a while to fill out and I decided to plant some wildflowers in the gaps. For the last couple of years Box has been planting wildflowers among the grapes. This year he planted them a little earlier to catch the last of the rain. I am a bit later but I hope for some results.

Wildflowers are available in ready mixed packets for a variety of reasons. There are ‘summer dazzlers’ for hot dry areas, bee friendly packs for attracting bees and butterflies, moody blues – a mixture of blue flowers, poppies, cornflowers. They are a bit tricky to mulch but once established they look after themselves. I am hoping they will be a colourful display.

Sprays of wildflowers add colour to the garden and are ideal fillers.

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