DOS AND DON’TS: Warwick experts share winter gardening tips
FROSTY mornings have arrived on the Southern Downs, marking the true beginning of the challenging winter gardening season.
There is a common misconception that colder months are quieter months in the garden, as growth slows in chilly temperatures.
According to Warwick gardening experts, however, there is plenty of work to do in preparation for warmer weather.
Paula Passi from Warwick’s Gardens Galore said she is busy weeding, fertilising and mulching her garden.
“If you’re in your garden, cleaning up, suppressing weeds and giving things a little bit of a trim your plants will just take off in spring,” Mrs Passi said.
“It will be a wonderful start, with plentiful growth and plentiful blooms.
“But you need to do the work beforehand to ensure when your plants start to move again, the food is there and ready.”
Duanne Karle from The Weeping Mulberry recommends prepping the soil with good manure and compost, in addition to strengthening frost-tender plants with plenty of seaweed and fish-based products.
While frost remains a concern, Mr Karle cautioned against avoiding watering altogether.
“Things still get dry because the frost dries out the ground,” he explained.
“You shouldn’t water in the evening over the foliage, but you can water in the morning.”
Claire Cunningham from Enchanted Garden said patience is the most important thing for gardeners to cultivate during winter.
“People get so worried because their plans aren’t growing, but it’s too cold,” she said.
“Plants need a rest, even the evergreens need a rest.”
A pause in growth need not mean a pause in planting, however.
Mrs Cunningham said it’s a good time for Warwick residents to plant trees and shrubs, as it is easier to keep them moist and get them established.
“But they must be hardy,” Mrs Cunningham said.
“Or they will succumb to frost.”
Frost-tolerant plants include roses, deciduous trees, some vegetables and spring flowering annuals, according to Mr Karle.
For vulnerable plants who are burned by the frost, the number one tip from all of the experts is to avoid cutting off the damage.
“If you cut back through the frost damage in winter the plants will lose protection,” Mrs Cunningham said.
“Never, ever cut your frosted plants until the frosts are over, probably about mid-September in Warwick.”
As Mrs Passi prepares to go home to Stanthorpe, with a box of new plants in hand, she encourages others to embrace the joy of gardening year-round.
“Get out, do the annuals, put them into your pots and your garden edges, and you will have a lovely floral display in spring,” she said.
“It’s good for your health, for your state of mind, and it gives you something beautiful to look at every single day.”