Herbs in Autumn
Cut-and-come-again herbs such as parsley, rocket, sorrel, chervil and coriander prefer growing in the cooler months. Sow some seeds every month straight into the garden for a trickle harvest into the kitchen. Pick as you need them and they will regrow. Coriander, sorrel and chervil are our favourite herbs at this time of year.
Sorrel: is an evergreen herb or hardy perennial grown for its lush leaves which have a unique lemon flavour. Native to Europe, it will grow all year round and is hardy throughout winter. Grow in a sunny to part sun spot from seed or seedling. Use fresh in soups, omelettes and salads, and throw some into pasta. We love it to add flavour to potato and leek soup.
Chervil: is an annual herb that grows through the cooler weather, ending its life cycle in summer and setting seed for the next year. Chervil has a long taproot so keep transplanting to a minimum. Grow under other herbs or vegetables from seed or seedling as chervil prefers semi-shade. Chervil is associated with French cooking; the flavour of the leaf is similar to parsley with a hint of aniseed. Use fresh with buttery potatoes, over fish and chicken, or egg dishes. Add fresh leaves at the end of the meal to avoid loss of flavour.
Coriander: is a winter loving annual that prefers growing in full sun throughout the cooler part of the year. Very few pests bother this plant. Sow straight into the garden in organically rich, well draining soil. Coriander has an aromatic, earthy flavour and can be added to curries, rice, stews and salads. Coriander seeds are used in curries, soups and sauces. Coriander leaves and vinaigrette go really well with hard boiled eggs. Coriander roots are used in laksa soups. Their seeds keep well in jars for the spice rack.
Many herbs are annuals and will not last the winter months. The weather has begun cooling so get your autumn herb crop in this weekend. There is still enough time to get a crop of basil before winter takes hold.
The Collectors Plant Fair is held during one weekend every autumn within the historic grounds of the Hawkesbury Race Club. Here the biggest range of plant material is unloaded anywhere in in Australia. It’s exciting! See plants, meet the growers, sip good coffee and get out and about, connecting with your love of plants.
Don’t miss out. Take a treasure home. Long lost plants will be found and taken home to create beautiful gardens and indoor jungles. The Old-school Flower Show will give you the chance to exhibit your homegrown blooms for fabulous garden related prizes. Be inspired by talks and experts.
April 7-8 at the Hawkesbury Race Club
1 Racecourse Rd, Clarendon NSW More information
Here is our checklist for a busy season
1. Plant bulbs
Plant flowering bulbs and garlic at Easter time. Daffodils, freesias and tulips are just a few of the spring flowering bulbs that should go in this month. We like repeat flowerers like Drumstick alliums, Dutch Iris and ixia.
2. Torch the scorch
Now that the risk of extremely hot weather has passed we can cut back all scorched foliage. Pull off yellowing leaves from agapanthus, liriope and clivia — in fact, you can prune them to just above the ground if they need it!
3. New from old
Make new plants from cuttings. Take 10cm cuttings from hardwood herbs such as rosemary and bay or natives such as banksias, grevillea and coastal rosemary. Remove the lower leaves, dip cuttings into hormone powder and pot in small containers of premium potting mix. Keep just moist and shelter from strong wind and sun.
4. Tool Time
Before the onset of winter round up all your garden tools, sharpen them, oil them and get ready for a season of pruning and digging. Prune hedges to keep them compact and bushy from ground level up.
5. Go west!
Head to the hills and fill a bag with fresh apples from the orchards. Bilpin is only an hour away and is on the way to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah, which looks incredible throughout autumn, but peaks during the Anzac Day weekend.
6. Check your lawn
Check your lawn and make sure any weeds you sprayed are dying. Repeat the treatment if necessary. Aerate the lawn with a garden fork and scatter lime lightly over it. This sweetens the soil after many years of lawn food application. Rejuvenate tired lawns with an autumn feeding to ready them for the onset of cool winter weather. Control army worm with Professor Mac’s 3 in 1 or Ecogrub.
7. Check for borer
Check for borer damage on all deciduous trees, paying attention to the trunk at soil level. It’s easier to check when trees are dormant and bare. Use clothes wire to insert.
8. The no-grow zone
Don’t try to cultivate soil beneath large trees; you will only damage the roots. Make planting holes between the roots instead and insert small plants with tiny root systems that establish themselves readily. Bromeliads thrive under trees — plant straight into mounds of cheap pine bark.
9. Autumn resource
Don’t fill your green bin with autumn’s gold. Transfer the autumn leaves that fall on your garden and lawn to the compost bin on a regular basis. It’s the best free gift nature provides. It makes the best compost and if left it will smother your plants and grass.
10. Don’t lose your head
Don’t rush to prune spent seed heads. They provide a wealth of food for birds that visit the garden. Magnolia fruit attract parrots who feast on their seeds.
11. Give orchids their moment in the sun!
If you have cymbidium orchids, they should be placed in full sunshine to encourage good flower spikes during winter and spring.
12. Divide and prosper
Divide evergreen perennials. Lift them from the soil, divide at the root and re-plant into well-conditioned soil.
Spread fertiliser around all garden beds to nourish the soil. I like organic fertiliser pellets.
14. Plant Citrus
Make the most of the cooler weather by planting citrus — my kids love mandarins! Head to Engall’s Citrus Nursery at Dural for the best plants available and a huge variety of citrus types.
We love kale, kohlrabi and cabbage. They can all be planted now along with broad beans, cauliflower and podded peas.
16. Sweet Peas
What about an old fashioned teepee of sweet peas? Seeds can be sown at Easter.
Name: Tibouchina sp.commonly known as purple glory bush, lasiandra or tibouchina.
Origins: South America
Flowering: Late summer to early winter. A large genus of 350 species of perennials, shrubs and small trees, with hairy, prominently veined leaves and five-petalled flowers in purple, pink or white. Full sun positions in warm climates with ample water throughout summer are ideal, although they will flower in semi-shade.
Growing: Now: Velvety foliage is the perfect foil for masses of brilliant flowers.
Winter: Protect from frost and enjoy the last of those lovely flowers. Prune after flowering to keep a compact shape. Keep some cuttings for propagation.
Spring: Increase watering and feed with a flower and fruit fertiliser.
Summer: Water well at least once a week.
We love them: Around period homes in the company of other old-fashioned favourites like Echium, Pelargonium and Raphiolepis. The showy flowers suit tropical gardens too, mixed with Plumeria, Hibiscus, Phormium and Allamanda for year-round colour.
Protect from frost and strong winds that can damage the brittle stems.
They do tend to drop a few leaves so if you’re a neat freak, think twice.
Alstonville: 3 metres tall and 2.4 metres wide, with a superb display of violet-purple flowers.
Carol Lyn: Bright purple flowers on a 1.5 metres tall x 1 metre wide shrub.
Jazzie: Dark purple flowers, 1.5 metres tall x 1 metre wide.
Jules: 1 metre by 60cm, with purple-blue flowers most of the year.
Groovy Baby: One of the most compact forms at 45cm tall and wide, with profuse purple flowers all year except winter. Good for cool climates.
Cool Baby: A compact 45cm tall and wide with large, pinkish-white flowers for most of the year. Good for cool climates.
Peace Baby: Grows to 60cm x 80cm, with large white flowers and pink buds throughout the warmer months.