Early autumn is also an ideal time for the planting of strawberries. An open, sunny position will give best results.
Strawberries make attractive subjects for pot culture, provided they are kept adequately watered and fertilizer is applied regularly. Plants that are certified virus-free should ideally be used, or "runners", which are the long thin plantlets produced by parent plants, may be used.
To ensure adequate feeding of the plants, soil that has had compost and aged cow manure added to it is preferred. The new plants should have a 7cm layer of mulch applied around them, once they have been watered with a seaweed tonic.
If the plants are to be grown in rows, they should be placed about 30cm apart. Purpose-made strawberry pots are ideal if space in the garden is at a premium. The fruit-laden plants that result will be an attractive addition to the garden landscape.
Established strawberry plants will by now have produced runners. These are long thin growths that have small plants at intervals along the growth. These should be removed from the parent plant, in order to strengthen the plant. The young plantlets that appear on the runners can be planted out into pots, using a good quality potting mix.
Camellia sasanquas are an attractive feature in many autumn gardens. They are very versatile plants as they are tolerant of drier positions, requiring a minimum of water.
Sasanqua camellias can be grown in positions that are more exposed to sun and wind. In spite of this tolerance for garden positions that may be more extreme, sasanqua camellias produce flowers that appear to be delightfully fragile in structure.
They produce an abundance of flowers in a range of colours from white through pale and darker pinks to reds, with some varieties having multi-coloured flowers.
Sasanqua camellias differ in their flowering habit from the more well-known camellia japonica in that their flowers generally last for only a few days, whereas flowers on a camellia japonica bush can remain there for periods of up to a week. However, sasanqua camellias make up for this by producing many more flowers, so that the bush appears to be covered in blooms for an extended period. As the flowers fall, they create a most attractive carpet of colour on the ground underneath the bush. The flowers assist in encouraging native birds, especially honey eaters, into the home garden as they enjoy the nectar produced in the blossoms.
As sasanqua camellias commence their flowering season, this is a good time to choose varieties that you might wish to include in your garden plantings. Flower colour, structure, growth habit and size are all factors to be considered when choosing plant varieties.
Sasanqua camellias are most adaptable and make ideal specimens for topiary subjects, particularly the popular "lollipop" form. They can also be grown as hedges, wind breaks and screens. Varieties that can be used as ground covers are also becoming available.
Because of the nature of their trunks, the removal of lower growth exposes an attractive pattern of shapes on more mature plants, especially if they have been grown along a fence. They respond very well to trimming with hedge clippers and, therefore, they are ideal for narrow garden beds such as those beside a driveway.
Garden beds can now be prepared for planting out with spring flowers in the near future. Digging over the soil, with a good animal manure and an all-purpose plant food being added to the soil, is a good method of preparation.
However, while the soil is still warm it means that it is unwise to plant most spring-flowering annuals as they prefer to grow under cooler conditions.
There is one main exception. That is the popular sweet pea.
Most plants require certain conditions in order to complete their flowering and fruiting cycle. This can include hours of daylight, temperatures and amounts of moisture. These patterns and requirements can lead to certain traditions in gardening to ensure good flower or fruit production.
One of these is the tradition that sweet pea seeds should be planted out on St Patrick's Day, 17 March. By doing this the gardener will ensure the correct temperature for seed germination, as well as the production of flowers in spring.
Prior to planting out the seeds, a trellis or framework for climbing sweet peas should be constructed, although the actual construction needs only to be sturdy, rather than ornate, as the sweet pea plants will cover the structure as they grow. Small, dwarf growing varieties will not require this preparation.
Sweet peas seeds generally have a hard outer surface so it is usually helpful to scarify the outer surface of the seeds. This means rubbing the surface of the seed, opposite the small white part, on a piece of glass paper. The white part is where the roots emerge and so needs to be avoided. Following this, the seeds should be soaked overnight in warm water. They will swell to about five times their normal size.
After this, the seeds will germinate quite quickly, particularly in light soils. Heavier soils probably don't need treating because there is enough moisture in the soil. Seeds should be planted about 20 centimetres apart, and two centimetres deep.