Celery is a most useful addition to summer salads, while also being included in a number of cooked dishes.
Seeds of celery plants can be sown into seed trays and then transplanted out into the vegetable garden.
However, seed germination can sometimes be unreliable, so it may be preferable to plant out seedlings. For best results it is preferable to carry out the actual transplanting either late in the afternoon or on an overcast day.
Seedlings should be placed so that they are about 30cm apart. However, plants that have been grown in blocks will be encouraged to grow stems that are longer, fleshier and paler in colour. This will result in stalks that are less bitter in taste.
An application of liquid manure every 2-3 weeks will ensure strong, healthy plants.
Celery plants prefer a position that receives full sun although some partial shade will be tolerated. The soil should be enriched with well-rotted organic material, such as manures or compost.
Celery has a very shallow root system and requires frequent watering as they roots are near the surface of the soil and can dry out quickly.
Mid season spring and autumn is the preferred time for growing celery, rather than the extreme temperatures of summer and winter. Application of fertilisers containing nitrogen and potassium will be required for optimum growth.
The last growth period is the time in which the plant will exert maximum growth, therefore regular applications of appropriate feed and water will be needed.
Bottlebrushes are perhaps one of the best known Australian native plants. They are actually members of the Callistemon genus of plants and often have flowers that are similar to some of the paperbark melaleucas.
Their common name of "Bottlebrush" is derived from the shape of their flower spikes, which actually consist of a large number of individual flowers grouped along a flowering stem.
Bottlebrushes are presently in full bloom, making very colourful displays in local gardens and parks.There are quite a number of plants that are classified as Callistemon. They range in flower colour from white, through pinks and reds to purples, with some varieties also producing attractive and unusual green flowers.
Most bottlebrushes occur in the east and south-eastern parts of Australia, although some varieties grow in Western Australia and in Australia's tropical north.
Creek beds and areas subject to flooding are included in their natural habitat, although they will grow quite successfully in a wide variety of soil types, as well as in most temperature variations. Most species are frost-tolerant and will tolerate drought conditions and areas of limited maintenance.
A position of full sun is preferred. Spring and through to summer months are their main flowering times. Following flowering, each flower produces small woody fruits that cluster along the stem and contain hundreds of seeds. These are usually maintained on the plant for several years.
The extreme heat of fire will cause the capsules to release the seeds.
In addition to producing an abundance of colourful flowers, bottlebrushes also display foliage that is most attractive. This is particularly so in its early stages when the soft, new growth will have differing colours, including pinks, coppery hues and pale greens.
Bottlebrushes make excellent subject for inclusion in garden plans. According to the variety selected, they can range in height from 0.5m through to 4m tall. Because of their abundant flowering, native birds and insects are attracted to the nectar-rich flowers.
Pruning of bottlebrush plants generally involves cutting back into the new season's wood, usually just behind where the flowers have been produced. This type of pruning should be done immediately after flowering has finished and before the new growth appears.
Tip pruning, pinching back new growth, can also be used to maintain the desired shape and height of the plant.
Gladioli are beautiful flowers and are also easy to grow. Mature plants range in height at flowering from about 60cm to two metres. Sturdy, sword-shaped leaves support flower spikes that feature broad trumpet-shaped florets in two, alternating rows.
The individual florets vary in size. Small ones, in miniature varieties, may be a couple of centimetres across, while large varieties will be ten or more centimetres across. They generally have ruffled edges and feature colours in a very broad range.
A sandy, free-draining soil, with organic material added to it, is preferred. However, it is essential to ensure that any compost or manures that have been added to the soil have been thoroughly mixed through in order to avoid the corms contacting these materials, resulting in rotting of the corms.
Individual corms should be planted 10 - 12cm deep, and about 10cm apart. The corms should be placed so that the flat part is on the bottom and the pointed, growing tip is facing upwards.
Controlling weeds is the main care required while the plants are growing.
- Regular harvesting of leafy-green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, will encourage the continual production of new leaves.
- The leaves of flowering bulbs, such as daffodils and jonquils, should be fed and then allowed to die off naturally, rather than tying them into a clump, in order to feed the bulbs for next year.
- Flowers on roses should be cut for enjoyment indoors, cutting back to just above a leaf junction, as this will encourage a new lot of flowers to be produced.