Red blooms brighten up the festive season
RECENTLY, we mentioned the proliferation of red flowering trees we have come to expect performing for us at this time of year, but one we overlooked was the delightful red flowering Bauhinia galpinii - Nasturtium or Orchid Bauhinia are perhaps easier names to remember.
This is the most spectacular of the Bauhinias and suits our climate well.
It remains evergreen and flowering from late winter to late autumn, sometimes into June or so.
It grows about 1.5-2m tall and about 2m wide.
Bauhinias would make ideal shrubs to grow beside the drive as a privacy belt as well as being handy for many other uses in the home garden.
Another member of the Bauhinia family is the delightful groundcover form B. scandens - that is ideal for sloping areas, and produces masses of delightful small, soft-pink flowers that stand out beautifully against the round green foliage.
This one is also useful to scramble up a trellis, or over an archway, and is not only lovely to look at, but extremely hardy into the bargain.
New Year resolutions
We're sure you know what comes next, but here we go - promise yourself to keep your garden and surroundings weed free by spending a short time each week chipping all newly emerging growth out with your hoe, but if you prefer ,give them a quick squirt with Beat-a-weed the extremely good, recently released weedkiller that not only kills weeds almost instantly (contains vinegar and salt), but also disposes of young toads on the spot.
Resolution 2: Keep your verges neat and clean. We know it's council property, but you have to look at it, as does everyone else passing by, and it's a good way to keep your rates at a reasonable level - nothing is free!
Resolution 3: Do your bit by talking to your councillor regarding the proliferation of climbing weeds - morning glory, silverleaf, glycine, Madeira and moth vines, all of which smother surrounding shrubs and trees, some of which are those needed by koalas as their food and habitat.
What a great start to the year those three items would make, and really should not take the average home-owner an extraordinary amount of time.
Grow your own
We can't emphasise enough just how much better home grown vegetables are for you, and encourage everyone to at least grow a few.
In our retirement village, while we have just a small patch of garden to grow the many plants we enjoy, there is still room for some edibles.
So we have a couple of cucumbers growing on the corner fence that produce enough for us to share with neighbours right through the growing season.
Then there are the three tomato plants that produce a minimum of 2-3kgs of delicious fruit weekly.
We have a seed raising box where lettuces are started, then when three or four are large enough, they're moved between the pretty flowering plants eg NG impatiens, Trachelospermum, Gerberas etc. and parsley is thriving there as well.
Silver beet is a most successful grower, especially the rainbow chard, the stems of which make excellent replacements for celery in stir-fries, and these have their own corner.
If we can do it, so can you, give it a try.