Native Frangipani trees (Hymenosporum flavum) are currently making a great show in local gardens and parks.
The trees can be identified by their display of flowers that almost cover the whole tree. The flowers start as cream in colour, ageing to a darker yellow as they mature. They contrast well with the shiny dark green leaves.
Native frangipani gets its name from the scented flowers, however, it is not closely related to the more common frangipani.
The clusters of fragrant flowers appear in spring and are about 5cm in diameter and are attractive to bees and honey-eating birds.
The branches generally grow in widely spaced tiers, making for a very attractive tree. Trees can grow up to 8 metres in height in cultivation.
A dwarf form is available. 'Gold Nugget' reaches only about 1.5m and makes a good pot or hedging plant.
Two-spotted mites, also known as red spider, will cause a silvery colouring and marking on the surface of leaves, as well as a distortion of flowers.
Webbing on the underside of the leaves is also an indication of the presence of two-spotted mites.
Hot, drier weather is ideal for numbers to build up. Two-spotted mites affect azaleas at this time of the year, spoiling the beauty of the flowers.
Chemical sprays can be used to control the pests. To achieve maximum control, it is necessary to ensure that the underside of the leaves is well-covered.
However, gardeners who are reluctant to use chemical controls and prefer organic methods will find that a healthy garden, where compost, mulches and animal manures are used, will create a good environment that will encourage some of the natural predators of two-spotted mite.
Natural predators include other mites, green and brown lacewings, spiders and parasitic wasps.
Avoidance of the use of chemicals will allow numbers of natural predators to build up - this is turn means they can then control the pests that attack a garden.
tips for dry
The current conditions, with extended dry periods, is having a number of effects on garden plants.
The plants will not appear as healthy as they might usually do, with normally healthy leaves showing signs of wilting or drooping, leaves developing brown edges, or leaves dying off completely.
Flowers will generally lack their normal freshness and lustre, or plants may either produce smaller flowers, or none at all. Overall growth will be much slower. These conditions make the plants more susceptible to attack from insects and disease.
A good supply of water is necessary for good appearance and growth, but this is more difficult with water restrictions. A good watering, perhaps weekly, will be preferable to smaller amounts applied more frequently.
This will encourage the roots to grow deeper into the soil. The effects of the lack of moisture are often compounded by the hot, drying winds, such as those experienced over the weekend. Such winds will result in even greater loss of moisture and this will often result in dead areas on leaves.
A good application of mulch, especially after watering has taken place, will assist in keep the soil cooler, as well as shielding the ground from direct sun. This will mean that the moisture will be retained in the soil for a longer period. The mulch should be 2-3cm thick. It is advisable to keep the mulch away from the main stem of the plant in an attempt to reduce the incidence of disease in that area of the plant.
Plants under stress should not be fertilised as the fertiliser is designed to increase growth in the plant and the application would only add extra stress to the plant.
The lack of water will also lead to a build-up of fertiliser salts in the soil and these will eventually burn the roots of the plant. Normal rain and watering will leach the salts from the soil.
Plants with tender leaves may benefit from some form of shelter, such as shade cloth, being placed over or around the plant to minimise damage from strong winds and hot sun.
The removal of any flower heads that have died will also assist the plant to maximise its energy sources.
Tomato plants can be very productive members of the vegetable garden.
There are many different varieties, suiting different planting styles and situations. A very extensive range of varieties is now available, with many suitable for small gardens or pot culture.
However, there are several things that should be remembered if the plants are to reach their maximum potential.
Tomato seedlings need to be planted when the soil is warmer, such as during November.
Earlier fruiting can be achieved by initially purchasing sturdy, well-rooted plants. These should be carefully removed from the punnets. The plants can be planted into smaller sized pots, 3-4cm across.
A good quality potting mix should be used, but fertiliser should not be added. A pinch of sulphate of potash can be added to the soil and watered in well.
The plants should be kept moist, but saturation should be avoided.
When the plants have become slightly root-bound in their pots, that is, the roots have almost filled the pot and are beginning to emerge from the base, the plants can be transplanted into garden beds.
An additional handful of potash should be added to the soil to encourage growth.