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How to grow Australian native flowers

Big, bold and gorgeous, Australian native flowers are amazing. Our garden guru Meredith Kirton reveals how to grow your own at home.

australian native flowers
With their stunning blooms and textured leaves, Australian natives are a knockout in both the garden and in a vase. The most commonly loved cut native flowers include waratahs, banksias and gum blossoms, kangaroo paws and Christmas bush.
Whatever your soil or climate, it’s possible to find the right selection for your place. Many natives don’t like being fed phosphorous, so use a native specific fertiliser each spring. Natives also like being pruned regularly, so cut them back after flowering.
Here, horticulturalist Meredith Kirton shares some plant-specific tips to help you grow your own Australian natives at home.

Waratahs

Waratahs are the floral emblem of NSW and possibly one of the most striking flowers in the world. Their blooms are the colour of blood, though some have been bred in pink, orange, bicolour and white shades. The flowers last for many weeks both in a vase and blooming in the garden. Grow waratahs in a raised mound or pot as they really need great drainage to thrive. They can be in a semi shaded or full sun position.

Hakea

Hakea are closely related to grevilleas and, similarly, are a diverse group of plants. Many make great screens and can even be hedged. One stunning flowered Hakea to look out for is Hakea laurina, or the Pin-cushion Hakea. Native to Western Australia, it does need good drainage but, once established, is very hardy. And it’s a wonder to look at in the garden when in flower each spring.
Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Gum Blossoms

The Western Australian Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia) is now grafted onto a range of hardy rootstocks, making it perfect for growing right across Australia. There are white, pink, orange and red hybrids, and they are all breathtaking. They’re also brilliant for small gardens as they only grow to around 5m tall, though this varies from cultivar to cultivar. The flowers are followed by large gumnuts too, making them perfect for cutting something of interest for about six months of the year.

NSW Christmas Bush

This is a small shrub or small tree depending on the variety, which can make great screening plants. The “flowers” are the showy bracts that appear throughout summer after the small white flowers in spring. They grow best in moist or regularly watered, organically enriched soil, in full sun or semi shade. Pick lots of flowers, as more pruning makes them thicker and bushier, which means more flowers next year!
Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Grevilleas

Also known as spider flowers, this group has extraordinary diversity, with Grevillea plants ranging from small ground covers to tall trees. If you’re in a frost-free position, tropical hybrids are probably best, especially for cut flowers. They include great shrubs like Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ and taller screens like ‘Misty Pink’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Honey Gem’ – and they seem to flower year round. In colder areas, stick to the hardy, small-flowered types like Grevillea ‘Gold Fever’ and ‘New Blood’.

Kangaroo Paws

These grassy reed-like clumps range in size from around 30cm up to 1m, and their blooms sit up off stems that vary in length and colour depending on the variety… some red, others yellow, orange and pink. There are even black and near-white types around. They all like good drainage so either mound the soil or grow in large pots or bowls. Remove old flowers once they have faded.
Photo: Claire Takacs
Photo: Claire Takacs

Silver Princess Gum

The Silver Princess Gum (Eucalyptus caesia) is only suitable for very well drained positions without humid summers, but if you have the right spot this is perhaps one of the most stunning flowers to grow. Its pinkish red blooms, up to 4cm each, show up beautifully against the soft grey leaves. It has a gently weeping habit too, that can actually be manipulated to grow on an arbour so that the blossoms hang down like garlands.
This fire-tolerant tree is threatened in the wild but has remained a garden favourite for years.
This fire-tolerant tree is threatened in the wild but has remained a garden favourite for years.

Banksias

These candle-like blooms – named after Sir Joseph Banks – have species that are native to both the east coast and the west coast of Australia. Their stunning flowers range from red and orange shades through to blue and green, depending on the species. Some are trees and others ground covers.
The top pick for areas in the west, South Australia and Melbourne, where summers aren’t humid, is probably Scarlet Banksia (Banksia coccinea). This variety has incredible flowers and will also make a great screen up to around fence height.
If you are from Sydney or further north up the east coast, the Hairpin Banksia (Banksia ericifolia) is beautiful and hardy. There is also a ground-covering cultivar called ‘Birthday Candles’, which only grows about 30cm tall but does spread to about a metre across, creating a stunning mound.
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It’s Easy to Grow Sweet Potatoes

Plant them right, give them plenty of room, and look forward to a bountiful harvest

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas, Zones 10–12) are fun and very easy to grow as long as you have enough space for their vigorous vines. At season’s end, the plants will produce delicious and nutritious roots that can store well for up to a year or longer. Though many gardeners think of this as a crop that needs warm weather and a long growing season, sweet potatoes can be easily grown wherever there are at least 90 to 100 frost-free days.

Photo: Carol Collins

Tiny slips (above) will produce an abundance of vigorous vines. As long as the vines have plenty of room to ramble, this undemanding crop will not need much else from you. Many growers use black plastic mulch, but even a bed without plastic (below) will soon be covered in an attractive living mulch of leaves and vines.

Photo: Carol Collins

Sweet potatoes need warm soil that is not too fertile

Sweet potatoes are grown from cuttings called “slips.” These can be purchased from a reputable grower, though gardeners may want to try growing their own. There are many excellent sweet potato varieties to experiment with; these differ greatly in flesh and skin color, as well as their adaptation to different growing regions.

Sweet potato plants are sensitive to chilling and should be planted only after the soil temperature is above 65°F. Here in Zone 5, I aim to transplant around June 10 and harvest in early October.

This is a crop that grows best in well-drained soils that are not too fertile. Avoid compacted or heavy clay soils, which can prevent roots from getting the air and ­water they need. Excess nitrogen will cause roots to become long and skinny rather than plump, so don’t apply compost or manure prior to planting. Although a good yield of sweet potatoes will remove the equivalent of 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet, for the best results only apply nutrients based on the results of a recent soil test.

Black plastic mulch reduces the need for watering and weeding. Simply cut a hole for each slip and bury the rootlike bottom section, leaving the green, leafy growing point above ground. Even if a slip does not have leaves or roots, these should develop soon after planting. Photo: Carol Collins

 

The right mulch makes a big difference

To prepare the bed for planting, loosen the soil at least 8 inches deep—deeper if you can. While it is possible to grow sweet potatoes successfully without plastic mulch, we have found that we get better production if we use black plastic applied tight against the soil. This can raise soil temperatures around the young plants, allow­ing for an earlier start, which is particularly useful in cooler climates. However, black plastic mulch also conserves water and provides weed control in all locations.

Space your slips 9 to 12 inches apart in rows 3 to 6 feet apart. Usually a slip will have several nodes that will produce roots or shoots. Try to bury at least two or three nodes in the soil, leaving the growing point above ground. It is not important for the slip to have healthy-looking leaves; even the scraggliest looking slips can produce large, vigorous plants.

Transplanting conditions have a big impact on success. To avoid dessicating young slips that don’t have many roots, plant them out on a day when it is cloudy or raining, and water the slips immediately after planting. If your slips arrive when the weather is not conducive to transplanting, you can hold them for a week or more by placing the bundled slips in a deep pot, loosely placing potting mix around them, and watering regularly. When you are ready to plant, simply detangle the slips and plant individually.

Spacing Tip: Space slips 9 to 12 inches apart in rows 3 to 6 feet apart. A typical slip has several nodes that will produce roots or shoots. Bury at least two or three of these in the soil, but leave the growing point above the surface. Illustration: Elara Tanguy

 

Keep pests away from your sweet harvest

While sweet potatoes are not attacked by Colorado potato beetles and other potato pests, they do have enemies. Deer love to eat sweet potato foliage, so you may need to use fencing or row covers to keep them at bay. Voles enjoy feeding on sweet potato roots, and their damage is often not evident until harvest time. Maintaining a weed-free area around the planting, or mowing the grass very short, makes the habitat less favorable for voles. Wireworms and grubs feed upon young sweet potato roots, leaving unsightly tunnels. Both are larvae of insects that lay their eggs in grass or sod, so avoid planting root crops into newly prepared beds where grass was growing recently.

Scurf is a fungal disease that causes harmless but unattractive discoloration on the surface of sweet potato roots. Purchasing disease-free slips from a reputable supplier is the best defense against scurf and several other viruses.

Who has been snacking on my sweets? Vole damage is easy to spot, but only after the tubers have been harvested. Keeping the area around your bed weed-free helps keep voles away. Photo: Carol Collins

 

Harvest as late as you can

Sweet potatoes should be harvested as late as possible—before the soil falls below 60°F. Before digging, use clippers or weed trimmers to remove the vines. Be gentle as you dig, since sweet potato skins are very soft and can rub off easily until they have been toughened up by curing.

After digging, cure your roots by keeping them in a warm place (80°F to 85°F) for four to seven days. A garage, a tool shed, the second floor of a barn, or a mudroom can be a good place to do this. Once the roots are cured, move them to their final storage place: somewhere that is moderately warm (55°F to 60°F) and humid. Take special care to avoid chilling the roots, which will be damaged by temperatures below 45°F. Under the right conditions, sweet potato roots can be stored for more than a year.

It is critical to wait a few weeks after harvest before eating the roots. While they are edible, the roots of recently dug sweet potatoes are very starchy and have poor eating quality. Throughout the first three weeks after harvest, these starches are converted into sugars, and the roots ­develop their excellent eating quality.

Cured tubers are worth the wait. Freshly dug sweet potatoes must be cured and then stored for a few weeks to achieve their fullest, sweetest flavor. Photo: Carol Collins

How to grow your own slips

After growing a successful sweet potato crop, it is easy to make more plants the following season. Here’s how.

Photo: Carol Collins

Plan ahead
Select and save the very best roots from your fall crop for use the following year. Choose nicely shaped roots that are completely free of any disease or insect pests. Keep in mind that some varieties are less inclined to sprout than others, and roots that have experienced chilling injury may exhibit poor sprout production.

Get growing
Six to eight weeks before you want to transplant slips outside, place the sweet potato roots on their sides in trays of potting mix. Cover them completely with moist sand (or more potting mix), and keep the trays between 75°F and 80°F.

Twist and plant
When the sprouts are 4 to 6 inches long, remove them from the sweet potato root by twisting. The root will continue to produce new sprouts. The sprouts can be planted right away into prepared ground, or you can place them in a jar of water for a few days to start roots prior to transplanting.

https://www.finegardening.com/article/its-easy-to-grow-sweet-potatoes

Australian Native Plants

Australian Native Plants: Ultimate Outdoor Plants Buyers Guide & List

Once upon a time, Australia’s native plants were considered primitive and strange. Early European settlers filled their gardens with plants that reminded them of home, dismissing the bottlebrush or wild fuschia in favour of the English rose, for example.

Thankfully, since the early 1900s we’ve seen a resurging pride in our country’s natural beauty. We can boast some 24,000 species of native plants. Compare that to England’s paltry 1,700 and you know Australia’s flora is something special.

This guide offers you a common list of Australian native plants, sorted alphabetically by the Latin name, with the more popular name beside it. Browse through our lists of native trees, shrubs, flowering plants and orchids to find the ideal plants for your backyard.

Interested in cultivating these native plants alongside your natural looking artificial grass? This guide will let you know how easy it will be, and the best methods for getting awesome results.

Ready to dive in?

Start reading our mega guide to native plants below.

Note:  This list is quite large to copy and paste.  So if you’re interested, click on the link below and prepare yourselves for a treat:

https://www.australianoutdoorliving.com.au/australian-native-plants

8+ Front Yard Landscaping Ideas To Make Your Home More Beautiful

 

Harmony in Diversity Landscape

pinterest.com

Being gorgeous does not mean that you have to arrange similar things together and keep them organized. Well, keeping things organized to look great makes sense, but arranging similar things together does not always turn out well.

This front yard comprises of various kinds of plants and colors which make them look harmonious. The different height also plays an important role in getting rid of the mundane look.

The red leaf Japanese maple trees lead with their heights and colors that add beauty to the landscape. Adding some perenials and shrubs such as clethra and boxwood will be your safe bet due to their low maintenance.

2. Get The Shrubs Shaped

Get The Shrubs Shaped
gardenersforhire.com

One of the most ubiquitous front yard landscaping ideas is getting the shrubs shaped. You can either do it yourself or have a professional to trim the shrubs.

The shaped shrubs add dramatic look to any front yards even if the yards lack colorful flowers. They can also make the front yards look lush, thus many homeowners use them to accentuate their dull front yards.

Boxwoods are one of the most favorable shrubs when it comes to decorating front yards due to their low maintenance. Just like this classic front yard. The shaped boxwoods instantly draw people’s attention. Adding some flowers can balance the appearance. And the fountain is solely icing on the cake.

3. Dual Colors for Minimalist yet Impressive Look

Dual Colors for Minimalist yet Impressive Look
yourhomecrew.com

When it comes to accentuating a front yard, some homeowners might think that the more colorful, the better. Decorating front yard is not solely about concocting various kinds of colors and arranging them fastidiously. It will be better if you stick to a particular theme.

This front yard still looks adorable despite the minimalist look that only provides green and white colors. To add the greenery to this front yard, you can use either boxwoods or yews and put them along the driveway.

To add more colors without overwhelming the yard, you can use “Blue Muffin” arrowwood viburnum that provides creamy-white flowers in spring.

4. Light The Pathway Up

http://apacny.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/landscaping-ideas-for-front-of-house-in-florida-elegant-about-curb-appeal-back-yards-pinterest-front-yard-of-landscaping-ideas-for-front-of-house-in-florida.jpg

 

Light The Pathway Up
apacny.net

Paving some parts of the front yard is functional rather than exquisite. It guides your guests’ steps to the front door so that they will not step and wreak havoc on the lawn. However, the arrangements of the pavings can be very dull. Therefore, they do need some colors.

This paving is not appealing at all. Therefore, some flowers and shrubs are added to create a riot of color. The yelow-green folliage of Golden Vicary Privet will look great if you combine it with some purple or blue perennials such as Agastache or Thyme.

In addition to the fabulous and low-maintenance ground covers, you can add a few taller plants such as Sky Pencil Hollies or Redleaf Japanese Maples for subtle red-green colors.

5. Get Acquainted with Pebbles and Containers

Get Acquainted with Pebbles and Containers
kataz.co

If your front yard is not huge enough to keep various kinds of beautiful plants, you can still make your small yard look pretty without any lawns. You can use small pebbles in place of lawns to cover your small yard.

To create a minimalist and modern look, you can use various kinds of containers. The shapes of the containers can accentuate the plants put in them.

Since you want to have a minimalist front yard for your modern house, you need to keep the plants simple by restricting the use of a breadth of colorful flowers. Keep some greeneries like boxwoods and Slender Hinoki False Cypress as the main elements can provide you the look of elegance in simplicity.

For a more modern look, avoid planting flowers with vibrant colors and sophisticated shapes. The simpler, the better, thus firework grass, spider plant, and Sansevieria can be the safe bet.

6. Front Yard Landscaping Ideas – Make a Focal Point

Front Yard Landscaping Ideas - Make a Focal Point
vintageposterbank.com

Although it lacks vibrant colors since you can only see greeneries everywhere, this front yard can still charm and amaze its guests.

Some homeowners might think that a jaw-dropping front yard is the one that provides a breadth of colors. In fact, you can still create a charming

front yard even if you only put greeneries. The most important thing is you arrange the plants fastidiously.

Mkaing a focal point in your front yard which is covered by greeneries is crucial. The focal point has to be bigger, have distinctive features, and be placed in the middle of the yard.

One of the most common trees that are used as the focal point of a yard is palm trees since they are usually bigger than shrubs, have distinctive leaves, and the colors just perfectly match with any greeneries.

7. Feminine Front Yard Fence

Feminine Front Yard Fence
cozy-decor.com

Decorating front yard is not about putting some plants on your lawn or alont the pathway and driveway. Adding some colorful flowers and shrubs along and over your fence can perk the entrance up and make it look pretty.

The white fence would be just fine if you left it that way. However, adding some natural colors to it can turn it into a top-notch fence that can make your neighbors stop by for an indulgent landscape.

Do not overwhelm the fence with so many colors. You will want it to stay simple yet adorable. Applying two or three colors such as the pinkish hue of hybrid roses, the yellow-green of Golden Vicary Privet, and the sweet purple of butterfly bush repeatedly will be just fine.

8. Stone and Greeneries for a Natural Look

Stone and Greeneries for a Natural Look
impossiblewebdesign.com

Adding some natural stones among your plants can be a great idea for a natural look. The stones can also help you to conceal imperfect looks of your front yard that cannot be fixed by plants. Furthermore, it provides the touch of boldness to your front yard.

When combining lady verns, spider plant, and arrowwood viburnum, the stones can be an A1 complement for your front yard.

There are various kinds of plants that you can use for front yard landscaping ideas. All you need to do is knowing your style and your budget available since some plants do need extra care while some others don’t. For an easy and affordable front yard landscaping, boxwoods will be your safe bet. But, again, you know what you want most.

How to grow Honeysuckle

Lonicera is commonly known as honeysuckle. They’re largely hardy twinning climbers or shrubs with scented flowers. Choose from evergreen and deciduous forms.

Climbing types produce scented flowers followed by red berries that are very appealing to birds. These berries should not be eaten by humans!

Shrubby types are often used to create hedges. If you have had problems with box blight then Lonicera nitida is a sensible alternative. For winter flowers and scent the deciduous Lonicera fragrantissima is unbeatable.

Where to grow honeysuckle

Both shrub and climbing types prefer a position of light shade or full sun. Climbing types are happy with their roots in a shady, cool place as long as their climbing stems can get to sunlight, a west-facing wall is ideal. In the wild they are woodland plants that enjoy the shade and protection of deciduous trees and shrubs – try and mimic this.

Climbers can be grown in containers but they will never be as prolific as in garden soil. It’s the flowers carried at the top of plants that need sun and warmth. Ideally place the plants so that the perfume can be easily enjoyed. All will grow in most soil types but like many other plants prefer a well-drained, humus rich soil.

How to grow honeysuckle

When planting the evergreen shrub, Lonicera nitida, consider buying plants bare-root in autumn or winter. For a dense hedge plant five small plants per metre. Dig in well-rotted organic matter before planting.

Climbers are self-clinging but require a helping hand when young. If growing against a wall use galvanised wires on the wall and lead the plant to these by guiding stems with a garden cane. Water plants in well and feed with a general purpose fertiliser in spring.

Propagating honeysuckle

Climbing types produce berries that carry the seed. As long as you get to them before the birds do, you can then remove the seed from the berries – a messy job. Sow fresh and leave the seeds to germinate in a cold frame, or put the seeds in the refrigerator over winter. Mix the seed with compost and leave in the refrigerator for 12 weeks before sowing at a temperature of 15°C. The seeds need this period of cold to initiate germination.

Honeysuckle: problem solving

Honeysuckle aphid can be a real problem for climbing types. Leaves become distorted and curled as the sucking insects feed on the plant. Aphids excrete honeydew which then leads to sooty mould. Plants that are in poor health will be more prone to infestation. Prune out very badly infested shoots, or apply an insecticide.

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’
lonicera

Caring for honeysuckle

Deciduous shrubby types, such as the early summer flowering Lonicera tatarica, should be pruned after flowering. Evergreen types that are often grown as topiary or tight hedges, such as Lonicera nitida, can be trimmed in summer.

Climbers do not require pruning as they flower on the current season’s growth. The wild honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, can be cut back by a third after flowering. All climbing types can be cut back in spring if they have outgrown their space.

How to get the best scent

The scent of climbing honeysuckle is stronger when plants are grown in a warm spot. This scent attracts pollinating bees in the day and moths at night. The flower colour of honeysuckle changes slightly once pollinated.

Great honeysuckle varieties to grow:

  • Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ – a dense evergreen shrub with white flowers in spring. Yellow foliage – ideal for topiary or a dense, low-growing hedging. Height 1.5m
  • Lonicera ‘Mandarin’ (pictured above) – a new variety with striking orange flowers that have no scent
  • Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’– flowers with creamy white petals with dark purple tops from July to October. A deciduous climber with impressive scent. Reaches 5m
  • Lonicera x tellmanniana  – orange, yellow flowers from May to July. A deciduous climber with wonderful scent. Reaches 5m
  • Lonicera fragrantissima – known as the winter honeysuckle this deciduous shrub offers white scented flowers from January to March. Fully hardy. Reaches a height of 1.5m
  • Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas’ – scented white flowers that turn to yellow from July to September. Red berries in late summer. Deciduous climber reaching 5m

Easy Mason Jar Soil Test

 

Perfect for those in the southern hemisphere, like Australia where it’s now spring, keep this test in the back of your mind when your conditions in the U.S. improve.  Today in Chicago, it’s wet and turning cold, not the best conditions for this test.  I may or may not do the test this fall, but will do it first thing in the spring.  For those who can do it now, here are the instructions.

How To Test Your Soil Using A Mason Jar

Every year in the spring I do a mason jar soil test to see the soil structure in my garden. It helps me decide if I need to make any amendments to the soil. This is a simple and easy test to take if you are creating a new garden area, you’ve recently moved, or you want to do a cool experiment with your kids.

Knowing the structure of your soil will help you determine how much water and fertilizer your plants will need, and what soil amendments to make.  Your soil is a mass of mineral particles, water, air, and dead organic matter. The size and form of those particles make up the basic soil structure.

An understanding of your soil is perhaps the most important aspect of gardening and will give you the best success.

There are three soil components – Clay, Sand, and Silt

Clay is the smallest mineral component. These tiny flat particles fit closely together to create the greatest surface area of all soil types. Clay soil contains needed nutrients and also stores water well. So well in fact, that drainage is slow in clay soil. It is also the slowest to warm in the spring.

Sand makes up the largest particles in soil structure. These are rounded, rather than flat and allows for larger space between the particles. Water drains quickly from the soil that has a lot of sand and the nutrients drain faster too. If your soil is mostly sand the plants will need more water and fertilizer.

Silt represents the middle size pieces. It is made up of rock and mineral particles that are larger than clay but smaller than sand. Individual silt particles are so small that they are difficult to see. To be classified as silt, a particle must be less than .005 centimeters (.002 inches) across.

The combination of these three particles is called loam and is considered the ideal garden soil. Knowing how close (or far) you are from loam will help you decided what amendments to make this spring planting season.

The Mason Jar Soil Test

  1. Use a clear, clean, empty jar with a tight lid. A pint or quart Mason jar works fabulously.
  2. Fill the jar about half full of garden soil. You can use soil from different areas of the garden to get an overall view or make a test for each garden bed.
  3. Fill the jar nearly to the top with water. Leave room for shaking.
  4. Tighten the lid and shake the jar for several minutes so that all the particles are in suspension.
  5. Set your mason jar soil test aside for several hours, so the particles have a chance to settle. They will separate into clay, silt, and sand layers.

Read the Results of your Mason Jar Soil Test

  • The bottom layer will be the heavier particles, sand, and rocks.
  • The next layer will be the silt particles.
  • Above that are the clay particles.
  • Organic matter may be floating on the surface of the water.
  • The color of the soil gives a clue to its character – light colors usually have less organic content than dark soil and dark soil warms faster in the spring.

If your jar test is 20% clay, 40% Silt, 40% sand = Loam, you have the perfect combination. You’ve been working hard in your garden!

30% clay, 60% silt, 10% sand = Silty Clay Loam

15% clay, 20% silt, 65% sand = Sandy Loam

15% clay, 65% silt, 20% sand = Silty Loam

These other types of soil will require some amending with organic materials.

Common amendments include:

• Yard trimmings compost – Sometimes sold as “garden compost,” yard trimmings compost is the most widely available material suitable for high-rate incorporation into soil. Private composting companies usually produce it.
• Leaves from deciduous trees – Leaves are perhaps the best and most readily available organic matter source for vegetable gardens or other areas that get some annual tillage. Ask your friends to save their leaf bags for you. Don’t let them go to waste in a landfill!
• Crop residues – Fresh or composted crop residues may be available from nearby farms, tree-trimming companies, or even your own kitchen. Uncomposted crop residues may contain weed seeds, while properly composted residues are weed-free. Make your own kitchen compost bin.
• Animal manures and manure composts – Many manures and manure composts have high soluble nitrogen, ammonia, or salt content, or high pH (above 8)In general, it is best to avoid manure and manure composts for high-rate applications to planting beds. Use manures in small amounts to replace nitrogen–phosphorus–potassium fertilizers.

What Gardening Problems Are Caused by Poor Soil Quality?

Many problems with home vegetable gardens, fruit trees, shrubs, and flower gardens are caused not by pests, diseases, or a lack of nutrients, but by poor soil physical conditions.

Symptoms of poor soil quality include the following.

  • The soil is dried and cracked in summer.
  • Digging holes in the soil is difficult, whether it is wet or dry.
  • Rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and other shrubs wilt in hot weather, even with added water.
  • Leaves on shrubs turn yellow and have brown, dead sections on them, particularly on the south side of the plant.
  • Tomatoes and peppers get blossom-end rot, even if fertilized with calcium.
  • Water tends to pool on the soil surface and to drain slowly, or it runs off the surface.

Download this handy publication, Improving Garden Soils with Organic Matter to learn more ways to improve your soil and happy gardening!

https://preparednessmama.com/jar-soil-test/

Here’s How to Choose the Right Walkway Material

Brick, stone, cement—there’s an endless array of materials to choose from when it comes to building a patio or walkway. But which one is best for your home? Contributing editor Eddie Ross asked his own gardening guru Nathan Tuno of Roots Landscape to help demystify the options.

a close up of a brick building: Brick, stone, cement—there's an endless array of materials to choose from when it comes to building a patio or walkway. But which one is best for your home? Contributing editor Eddie Ross asked his own gardening guru Nathan Tuno of Roots Landscape to help demystify the options.© Brad Holland Brick, stone, cement—there’s an endless array of materials to choose from when it comes to building a patio or walkway. But which one is best for your home? Contributing editor Eddie Ross asked his own gardening guru Nathan Tuno of Roots Landscape to help demystify the options.

Cobblestone

a piece of bread on a rock: The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials© Brad Holland The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials When you envision an old-fashioned cobblestone street, granite-colored Belgian block is most likely what comes to mind. But cobblestones come in a wide array of varieties from rusty red to strié. They’re a classic complement to historic homes.

Brick

a pile of rocks: The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials© Brad Holland The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials Available in a veritable rainbow of hues, bricks can go old-school, modern or anything in between. Reclaimed bricks are a great way to add instant age to any yard, while clean-lined gray ones are right at home in a contemporary setting. Brick veneer offers an easy way to get the look of brick without committing to a heavy-duty masonry project.

Cement Pavers

a box with a large rock: The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials© Brad Holland The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials Man-made cement pavers vary greatly in quality and appearance. “The great thing is that they’re affordable, and if you get a little creative with how you use them, they look just a chic as using bluestone or brick,” says Tuno.

Bluestone

a box on a stone bench: The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials© Brad Holland The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials Also commonly referred to as flagstone or slate, this gray stone is a favorite for patios. For modern landscape design, Tuno recomments the clean-lined look of thermal-cut bluestone (which is free of discolorations or jagged edges); cleft bluestone has a chipped appearance that’s more rustic. Irregular-shaped bluestone works well for pathways or patios where grass can grow in between the joints.

Pea Gravel

a close up of a rock: The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials© Brad Holland The Ultimate Guide to Walkway Materials For the most bang for your buck, Ross and Tuno suggest edging your walkway or patio in brick or stone and then filling in the center with pea gravel. If you eventually decide to invest in paving the entire thing, the gravel can be easily dug up.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/homegarden/heres-how-to-choose-the-right-walkway-material/ar-AAIxRVL?ocid=spartanntp

How to pick Australian native plants for your garden

It is spring in Australia, so what better time to start planting your garden.

Take the guesswork out of gardening and go straight for plants you know suit your climate.

The best Australian Native plants
If you’re thinking of transforming your garden into an Australian oasis, or just want to introduce a few native plants, this guide will help you figure out which ones will work at your place.

Spotted Emu Bush (Eremophila maculata)

If you’re worried about designing a garden and don’t have much of a green thumb, this plant is ideal. It is drought tolerant and very low maintenance.
Simply position it in a place that gets a ton of sun and let it do its thing.
This shrub grows to about 2.5 metres and produces red/purple flowers with white spots in spring, summer and winter.
It grows well anywhere in Australia except for Darwin and the east coast of Queensland.
Spotted Emu Bush (Eremophila maculata). Photo: via [Garden Online](http://www.gardensonline.com.au/).
Spotted Emu Bush (Eremophila maculata). Photo: via Garden Online.

Kangaroo Paw

The Kangaroo Paw suits garden beds and pot plants, as it doesn’t grow too large.
When planted in a sun-drenched spot in well-drained soil, it flowers a deep red or yellow colour from late winter right through to summer.
It flourishes in temperate climate, such as that of Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Kangaroo paw. Photo: Claire Takacs
Kangaroo paw. Photo: Claire Takacs

Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

If you want something truly iconic to Australia, try growing waratahs.
They are a bit harder to maintain – and may test your patience – but the results are more than worth it.
Waratahs grow well in most of NSW, but they do need to be in an area protected from wind.

Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia)

Are you looking for a plant to decorate your fence, door, wall or trellis? Try the Happy Wanderer.
It usually has purple flowers, but it also comes in white, pink and mauve varieties.
The Happy Wanderer does exactly that – with a little water, a bit of shade and some well-drained soil, it will happily wander up walls and trellises without too much help.
It suits most parts of Australia and often flowers throughout winter and spring.

NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum)

While this popular plant has NSW in its name, don’t let that fool you.
The Christmas Bush will thrive anywhere along the east coast of Australia, so long as you have the space – it grows up to four metres tall!
Albery’s Red is a common variety of Christmas Bush and flowers from early November up until Christmastime. Plant in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
Note:  I live in the USA zone 5,  so these plants are out of my league.  But it’s nice to admire them and think–what if !

10 Ferns to Grow

Fill the shady spots of your garden with ferns featured in our guide.

With their interesting foliage and textures, ferns are a must for any garden. Easy to grow and low-maintenance, they’re particularly useful for a shady spot. Some are evergreen, giving year-round interest, while others unfurl beautifully in spring.

At BBC Gardeners’ World Live we chose 10 varieties – some well-known, some more unusual – that deserve a place in your garden.

Many thanks to fern specialists Fernatix, who provided us with information on the plants in this feature.

1

Adiantum venustum

This evergreen Himalayan maidenhair fern, Adiantum venustum, does well in shade or dappled shade; its delicate, light green fronds darken with age. Protect from wind. Height: 22-38cm

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Delicate fronds of the Himalayan maidenhair fern

2

Asplenium scolopendrium

You often see British native Asplenium scolopendrium growing wild – if you spot it in your local area, it will probably grow well in your garden. It’s evergreen, and needs very little care – just a little tidying in spring. Height: 45-60cm

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Glossy, strong leaves of Asplenium scolopendrium

3

Asplenium scolopendrium Crispum Group

A cultivar of Asplenium scolopendrium, Crispum Group is an eye-catching evergreen that has distinctive wavy edges that become more pronounced as the plant matures. Height: 30-60cm

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Crinkley-edged leaves of Asplenium scolopendrium, Crispum Group

4

Athyrium niponicum

Deciduous painted Japanese fern Athyrium niponicum is flushed with silver and burgundy, making it an unusual, eye-catching choice. It’s growth is more prostrate than upright; it likes moisture. There are several pretty cultivars. Height: 30-38cm

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Delicate, silver and burgundy leaves of the painted Japanese fern

5

Dryopteris erythrosora

Known as the autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora is an unusual fern has red new growth in spring, which eventually turns bronze and then green. It’s evergreen and just needs a little tidying up in early spring. Height: 60cm

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Bronze fronds of the autumn fern

6

Dryopteris wallichiana

In spring, deciduous fern Dryopteris wallichiana unfurls to produce striking fronds that are 90cm high. If you have the space, it looks particularly effective planted in a group. Height: 90cm

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Tall fronds of Dryopteris wallichiana

7

Matteuccia struthiopteris

The shuttlecock fern, or ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris is not a British native, but has naturalised in parts of Britain. It sends up bright green ‘shuttlecocks’ in early spring and develops into a handsome plant. It prefers a moist soil. Height: 1-1.5m

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Bright-green fronds of the shuttlecock or ostrich fern

8

Onychium japonicum

This delicate fern, Onychium japonicum, is known as the carrot fern, as its foliage resembles that of a carrot top. It hails from Japan, Thailand and India so isn’t fully hardy in the UK, although it should come through the winter in an unheated greenhouse. Height: 10-45cm

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Fine fronds of the carrot top fern

9

Osmunda regalis

Also known as the royal fern, Osmunda regalis is a deciduous fern with a stately look, that can reach quite a size. Its foliage turns bronze in autumn. It likes a damp spot. Height: 1.5m

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Pale-green fronds of the royal fern

10

Polystichum polyblepharum

Polystichum polybelpharum is an easy-to-grow evergreen, also known as the Japanese tassel fern. The tips of the fronds are covered in golden hairs which give it an alternative name of the golden tassel fern. Height: 45-60cm

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Golden tassel fern fronds
Thanks to the good folks at Gardeners World for this article.