Boskke Planter

An ex colleague and friend of mine from Singapore introduced these planters to me.

Boskke comes from the English word ‘bosky’ which means ‘small forest’.

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Boskke is an easy way to use plants creatively in your home. No floor space is required and they are also very appealing to the eye.

The planters are great for conserving water, as they have a unique reservoir which feeds water gradually to the plants roots. Because there is no excess water to drain away, they can be used indoors, without losing water to evaporation.

Boskke are a New Zealand brand but have distributors all over the world. Check their website for details.

http://www.boskke.com/

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My neighbourhood

Im loving my first Spring in Europe.

After living in Singapore for over 3 years and having the same weather every single day, i am so excited about all the flowers. Nothing is more dramatic than Spring in Zurich after 6 months of Winter!

Apparently this Winter was the longest in a while. Just my luck! Although i definitely made use of the snow for some quality ski time.

I wanted to share with you some photos i have taken around my neighbourhood…these are all taken on my iPhone and are usually snapped as i am on a bike ride, afternoon walk or on my way to the corner store.

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Hedging

Clipping and shaping plants introduces a formal element to a garden. Plants can be trained as a living fence such as a hedge or shaped into a border to edge a path. To bring structure and form to a garden, select an evergreen hedge. Choose shrubs, small trees or even climbers to make your sculptural statement. Some great hedging plants include Camellias, Syzygium, Buxus, Azalea, Duranta, Murraya, Photinia and Conifers.

Remember that where plants are closely grouped together such as a hedge, they face root competition and need extra water and food to compensate.

Hedges need to be clipped regularly while they are growing. Expect to clip most hedges 2 to 3 times a year, from spring to early Autumn.

Here are a few plants that will perform well as a hedge:

1. Buxus varieties- Box

A very slow growing hedge. But well worth the wait. There are many varieties of Buxus including English Box, Korean Box, Japanese Box and even miniature varieties. The Box hedge is very self sufficient, once established and requires little to no fertiliser. Plant Buxus at 500mm centres.

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2. Camellia varieties- Camellia

Also a slow growing hedge with beautiful Spring and Winter blooms. Camellias are     available in 2 species. Sasanqua and Japonica. Sasanqua will give you a smaller more compact hedge and Japonica will be much larger, also with larger leaves and flowers.Because they are slow growing, plant Camellias at 1-1.2m centres.

They prefer a lightly shaded spot preferably with morning sun. Full sun especially in the Summer months will burn the leaves and flowers.

Fertilise in spring with camellia and azalea food, and mulch with compost (such as composted autumn leaves) or milled cow manure.

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3. Murraya paniculata- Orange Jessamine

A wonderful and fast growing plant. Glossy green leaves and scented flowers make this a very popular choice. It prefers full sun but will take some light shade. If you put Murraya in full shade it will appear stunted, it wont flower for as long and the leaves will appear less glossy. Plant at 1m centres for hedging.

Heavy feeders. Apply Dynamic Lifter once every 4-6 months.

Murraya Paniculata - Mock Orange

4. Photinia varieties- Photinia

Popular for its bright red foliage and gorgeous white Spring blooms. Photinia is a great choice for a hedge. Prefers full sun.

Plant at 1.2m centres.

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5. Viburnum odoratissimum- Glossy Viburnum

Beautiful glossy green leaves. Viburnum is a fast growing hedge and will also need regular pruning. They prefer full sun, and do not need long term care in terms of fertilising. These are large plants, so a spacing of 1.5m is required for hedging.

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6. Syzygium varieites – Lily Pily

There really are a huge amount of Lily Pilys on the market now. It depends on the height and also the look you are aiming for. I have to admit that Lily Pilys have been one of my favourite hedging plants for a very long time. They do grow a small fruit…which is great for Lily Pily Jam .-) So this plant is not suitable for everyone, particularly if you are looking for a hedge close to a driveway or footpath.

They get fluffy flowers that will attract the native birds, and prefer full sun.

Lily Pilys will benefit from a regular fertilise using blood and bone.

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Caring for Citrus

The most common question i get asked is ‘How do i look after my citrus tree?’

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I wont lie to you. Citrus are fussy and require a lot of care. Especially when young.

When it comes to giving citrus trees tender loving care there are a few basic principles – and one of the most important is adequate nutrition.

Citrus trees are heavy feeders – that means they need to be fed in August and February with a good citrus fertiliser or dynamic lifter. Spread the fertiliser evenly around the drip zone, water in and the tree will power away. I find that liquid fertilisers work better than granular fertilisers because they penetrate through the soil and into the root system faster.

Even with regular fertilising the leaves might still show symptoms of iron deficiency. This is evident when the leaf veins stand out dark green and the tissue between turns a pale green, yellow or even white. Regular fertilising will help with this problem.
There are a few pests that attack citrus and one of the most common is the citrus leaf miner. It’s not life threatening, but it will reduce the yield. Look out for silvery trails in the leaf – that’s made by the miner and it distorts the leaf. Spraying with a white oil preparation will soon control that. This is something that needs to be done often, and will mostly attack the new growth.

Another pest that is quite common is the Bronze Orange Bug or more commonly known as the ‘Stink Bug’. These pests squirt an irritating and foul smelling liquid when they feel threatened. Unfortunately there are no chemicals that will kill this bug. I have tried to pick them off by hand and also use a vacuum cleaner. Make sure you cover your eyes and hands as the liquid can cause skin irritation.

It is not necessary to prune citrus to produce fruit. The trees can be pruned however if it is necessary to shape them in some way, for example to remove low hanging branches.

Citrus may also require pruning if too heavy a crop is produced. A heavy crop can weigh down branches to the point where they can break, especially after heavy rain. In this situation either remove some of the fruit to lighten the weight or cut out some of the smaller branches. The heavy crop can be avoided again by removing some of the young, developing fruit before it gets too big. The tree will then produce larger fruit.

Be sure to also keep your citrus tree well watered when young.
Citrus trees are great in the garden. They look fabulous and provide wonderful fruit. Grow them in large pots and in courtyards. If you follow the simple rules of fertilising, watering and tender loving care, they’ll reward you, with plenty of beautiful fruit.

Camellias

Camellias remind me of my Mum. While i was growing up my Mum always had Camellias in the garden. Many of them. They were always a topic of conversation when they came into flower. Nothing is more spectacular. Now i cant help but love them.

Camellias are wonderful plants. Most varieties have attractive, glossy green foliage, and they put on their fabulous flower display in the cooler months of the year when the rest of the garden often looks dull and bare.

As well as making excellent specimen plants and pot plants, Camellias can be used as an informal hedge.

Camellia japonica

An evergreen, large shrub or small tree, growing to around 5m tall and 4m wide in cultivation. The leaves are dark, glossy green with a paler reverse. The flowers, which range in colour from pure white to deep red, are produced from winter to spring. There are thousands of named cultivars and they vary in foliage and habit, as well as in flower size and form.

Japonicas prefer a slightly acid (pH 5.5-6.0), humus-rich soil with good drainage, and protection from direct sun and strong winds. Fertilise in spring with camellia and azalea food, and mulch with compost (such as composted autumn leaves) or milled cow manure. Keep well watered, particularly when it is hot and dry.

Camellia sasanqua

Sasanqua Camellias are smaller than the japonica species. The flowers are generally smaller, as are the leaves. Possessing the distinct advantage of tolerating both full sun and partial shade sasanquas are the most robust and versatile of all the camellia species – a finer choice for a hedge, topiary or espalier could not be made.

The same care is required for both Sasanqua and Japonica Camellias (see above).

Below are some of my favourite Camellias.

Camellia japonica ‘Betty Ridley’

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Camellia japonica ‘Desire’

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Camellia japonica ‘Nuccios Gem’

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Camellia japonica ‘Bob Hope’

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Camellia japonica ‘Emperor of Russia’

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Camellia sasanqua ‘Early Pearly’

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Camellia sasanqua ‘Marge Miller’

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Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’

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Camellia hybrid ‘Buttons n Bows’

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Angus & Celeste

Looking for something different to use as a hanging basket? Then look no further than Melbourne based company Angus & Celeste.

I absolutely love their designs! Apart from their hanging baskets, they also sell gorgeous vases with unique botanical illustrations inspired by Australian flora.

Angus & Celeste are a design partnership from Melbourne Australia. Keir Angus MacDonald and Asha Celeste Cato met in 1997 while studying Fine Arts at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. With backgrounds in ceramics, printmaking and sculpture the designers began collaborating and by 2005 Angus & Celeste was born.

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In case you are still looking for the perfect Mothers Day gift then they have free shipping everywhere in Australia and they also ship internationally for a fee. Check out their full range and order them here: www.angusandceleste.com.au

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