We have had some very damaging frosts around Melbourne this winter. Low-lying areas such as around creeks have been the worst affected. One of the areas I have seen the worst damage is Hurstbridge a suburb north east off Melbourne. There I have seen the surface of large water features holding two thousand litres freeze and the ground frozen like an ice-skating rink. Plants that normally tolerate the normal winter frosts we have had in past winters have been burnt this year such as mature Eucalypt trees. To try and help plants that have been burnt make it through winter there are a few things you can do. Firstly don’t prune plants, the dead foliage will help shield the undamaged foliage through winter and pruning encourages new growth which is more susceptible to frost damage. Don’t fertilize any damaged plants until frosts are finished for the season. Do give a treatment of seaweed solution once a fortnight through the rest of winter, this will give plants a better chance of survival. Cover plants with hessian if possible this may lessen the amount of frost damage, however the dew on the hessian may also cause it to freeze. Place plants under the canopy of other trees or house eves if possible. There are a few products on the market, such as envy, that claim to help protect plants from frost, always use as outlined in the directions. Hopefully some of these tips can help your plants make it through these damaging winter frosts we are experiencing.
With the colder and wetter weather in Melbourne most people tend to spend more time indoors but there are a few natives and exotics outdoors and on show in winter. Many Australian native plants and exotics are in flower during winter and there are hundreds to choose from to brighten up your garden. There are Grevilleas, Croweas, Callistemons, Correas, Phillotheca, Eremophila, Camellia japonica, Hellebores, Anemone, Proteas, Magnolias, Alyogyne and Eucalyptus.
Bare-rooted trees are available in June. If you have ever wanted fruit trees or a beautiful feature tree, now is the best time to buy them if you are on a budget, they are at least half the normal retail price. When you are selecting a tree look for a good shape and make sure the roots are moist and that there is no root damage.
Fruit trees can be pruned in July and remember to give them a spray of lime sulphur at bud swell to reduce the chance of fungal disease.
Its a great time to plant out your garden devide perennials and mulch.