Looking back over the year weatherwise has been interesting. Our gardens certainly had to cope with varying weather patterns.
In November 2016 the hot weather arrived as usual and we started to improve the depth of mulch to enable the gardens to cope with the expected hot summers.
January 2017 heat wave conditions put our garden under stress and we were kept busy applying more mulch and soil wetting agents. February and the summer heat continued, then we got some reprieve with cooler March temperatures and then in April, high rainfall leading to water logged soil with some of us losing plants due to root rot. Then by September we were coming out of our hottest winter for decades. Some trees flowered early, some late and with the deciduous species some did not shed their leaves until very late. During the winter some reacted to the warmth as though it was spring.
By October we were back to applying soil wetting agents and mulches. Come November and the temperature never passed the 30 degree mark. Some very useful rain periods along with hail storms that damaged plants. (My garden got hit twice, but the plants are now recovering.)
December is here and already we have storms that are producing heavy falls along with some light hail in parts of the region.
I expect higher temperatures very soon and as with the beginning of this year may well extend into late February of 2018. Right now our region is looking very green, clean and fresh. Our gardens have good soil moisture that will make for an easier run up to Christmas.
You soon realise that the Christmas school holidays are on the way when the children come in with mum to purchase a small plant to give teacher at the year end. Always popular are the cacti, succulents, mini ferns and small flowering plants. Kids just love prickly plants.
Giving plants as a gift has always been popular for Christmas. A flowering poinsettia for the table perhaps, an arrangement presented in a bowl. Flowering indoor plants like Peace lilies, Anthuriums and Broms can really enhance the indoor atmosphere.
The amazing Phalaenopsis or moth orchid along with the Oncidium or dancing lady orchid are definitely at their flowering best now and are a very popular gift.
For some years now (due to the sustainable garden concept adopted by many) that gift will be one of many fruiting trees like citrus, mango, stone fruit, avocado, or smaller fruiting shrubs such as blueberries, even one of the fast growing highly productive passionfruit varieties. Now that selected varieties of banana plants have become legal to sell. (Mentioned in my November article). These have become a popular gift.
At present the ‘Lady finger’ and very attractive ‘Pisang Ceylon’ is available in limited number, with the dwarf Cavendish arriving in early to mid January 2018.
2017 has been a very interesting year for me in regards the garden centre, with many new cultivars becoming available and the sourcing of high quality plant life for gardeners to select from. Many of the plants we stock are especially grown for us and organising these plants is great fun but somewhat time consuming due to our insistence on quality. For example all the fruit trees are forward ordered. Like the next delivery of citrus which will arrive in January. The mango selection was ordered back in March along with the avocado trees.
I hope the team has been able to offer you good practical gardening advice which has improved your gardening skills. Thanks for all the compliments re the Garden Centre and its plant life. Thanks also for the jams and produce that you have successfully grown like the nectarines and plums from one of our keenest gardeners who just happens to sell tyres for a living.
On behalf of the garden team, thanks for your custom. Have a great Festive Season and Happy New Year. I look forward to 2018 and once again being able to contribute to your ongoing gardening efforts.