Prepare for chill

Your Garden By JUDE COSTELLO

WOW! What a weekend … such a shock to the system following such warm, mild weather.
My garden had its first frost but the sun is shining and it was not a big one, hopefully with the sunshine the soils will warm back up a bit after the weekend freeze.
If you have not already mulched, put it to the top of the list of things to do. Mine is in desperate need as the cattle ate my big bales of lucerne mulch and as yet I have not found replacements so am now using the ‘electricity’ mulch made from the trees they removed from my garden and paddocks. It probably looks better and has no weeds but I still prefer lucerne for soil and plant health.
The one good thing with lower temperatures is water use diminishes dramatically, perhaps leaving some of our precious water for spring … oh, for town water! You don’t know how lucky you are not to have to supply your own.
The nurseries now have lots of punnets for winter colour as well as herbs, vegies and spring perennials ready to plant out. I doubt heat will wither them from here on in.
If you are thinking of planting camelias, the sasanquas have started to bloom so a great time to select what you like. Through all this horrid, droughty weather the plants that have really surprised me are the phododendrons, they appear to be incredibly tough, as well as incredibly beautiful. Both like protection from the western sun and wind as well as acid soil to flourish – iron chelates and sulphur are two ways of acidifying the soil if it needs it.
A pity some of the gorgeous autumn leaves have been blown off, however, the cold should intensify the colour on the ones left for us to enjoy.