Down in the Patch

Last updated 08:41 18/05/2012

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New season's liliums are in garden centres now and ready for planting. New techniques in breeding and propagating are resulting in stunning new colours in forms of these old-time favourites. Tiger lilies, Easter lilies and auratums all have a new look and are great for garden borders, patio pots and, of course, cut flowers. All lilies prefer a rich organic soil and as a safeguard for drainage a shovel full of potting mix in the hole before planting works wonders.

The shortest day is fast approaching and the season is changing. For winter colour in sheltered parts of the garden, the little mini cyclamen are treasures. Planted in groups under trees and shrubs these truly sparkle all winter.

Watch out for more new hellebore releases during the next few weeks. For bold easy-care cover under trees in difficult areas, these are winners. A top-dress of sheep pellets about now will give existing plants that pre-flowering boost. Trim off last year's leaves now, if not already done - it's not too late.

Now is a good time for looking at what's available for protecting crops from the winter elements during the next three to four months. New mesh-type knitted cloths are stronger and longer lasting than frost cloth and are easier to attach to tree branches or permanent frames. After last year's snow and exceptional early frosts, we need to be prepared.

Feed the birds. With a notable increase in the population of our native birds we need to think about their food supplies during winter. To encourage more into your garden and patio or deck, bird feeders are becoming part of permanent displays and are available in garden centres along with special blends of seeds to feed our feathered friends. The beauty of these bird feeders is that you can have them in trees and out of the range of hungry cats!These tips have been supplied by Adrian McLeod and his crew at Fairfields Garden Centre on the outskirts of New Plymouth.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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