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Hello Summer

It’s the end of November and on Saturday we slip into Summer and the start of the festive season … where did this year go?

As the working year slowly draws to a close I am, at last, finding more time to spend in the garden. I’m delighting in the fact that many of my plants are finally leaping … Star jasmine is in full flower and the scent is wonderful all over the front garden. There is hardly a bare patch to be seen and the lawn is slowly coming back to its summer splendour. Slowly. And not without a huge effort. But it is worth it when it looks all lush and green, like a little carpet in the mass of plants at the back. Areas I focussed on last year, like the back left corner garden, are full of happy plants about to burst into bloom. The Agapanthus are looking great this year, and all my grasses are coming back strongly after their spring cut back.

Here’s a quick look around at some of my favourite spots.

[one_half]Petunias and Star jasmine leapingPetunias and Star jasmine leaping[/one_half]

[one_half_last]This corner was a “project” last summerThis corner was a "project" last summer[/one_half_last]

[one_third]The new bird houseThe new bird house looks lovely[/one_third]

[one_third]New grasses are coming upThe new grasses are coming up[/one_third]

[one_third_last]This Dahlia is taller than meThe massive Dahlia is taller than me[/one_third_last]

[one_half]Newly planted to replace struggling GardeniasNewly planted to replace the struggling Gardenias[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And a mass of flowers in the Rose bedAnd a mass of flowers in the Rose bed[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Jasmine climbing up the treeJasmine climbing up the tree[/one_third]

[one_third]In the pond …In the pond ...[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Thunbergia Alata (new)Thunbergia Alata (new)[/one_third_last]

[one_half]Solanum jasminoides behind the DahliaSolanum jasminoides behind the Dahlia[/one_half]

[one_half_last]A deep dark shade spot full of greeneryA deep dark shade spot full of greenery[/one_half_last]

After the trellis in the front garden “Gardenia bed” collapsed I decided it was time to redo that bed. The last few weeks I’ve been busy digging up the struggling Gardenias and painting the walls (yes I did have help :)), and then I planned, purchased and planted up the new bed. I’ll do a post about it soon, but the preview is above.

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Gardenias 101

I thought of titling this post as “How I finally managed to get my Gardenias to flower”, but this post is actually about so much more than just getting them to flower. I think for inexperienced gardeners (like myself) Gardenias are tricky. Its a labour of love to successfully grow Gardenias – personally I have found them far more complicated than roses. Roses are a dream if you pick the right rose for your location, follow the guidelines, use a bit of common-garden-sense and they will reward you pretty quickly. Not so Gardenias … or at least that is my experience.

The eight Gardenia shrubs were planted in my garden 3 years ago, small fledgling plants, planted in what I now call my “Gardenia Bed” (yes I know, very unoriginal!). One shrub flowered that first year if I remember correctly, because I did manage to take one good photograph of a Gardenia bloom. But I also recall the bloom lasted only a day and then fell off, and the rest of the buds on that shrub all fell off without flowering. None of the others flowered. And so its been an ongoing battle with these shrubs. Never mind the flowers, the shrubs always look(ed) poorly and a few weeks ago I made the decision to give the remaining plants one last go or … into the compost pile.

I removed the very worst looking specimen and then took to my books and the Internet, compiled notes and set to work. Here is what I learnt:

Gardenias apparantly like:
Well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.
Water regularly – Gardenias like to be well watered but roots will rot if they ‘stand’ in water and buds will drop.
Do not over fertilise (they are sensitive to salt build up)
Compost and MULCH!
If the plant’s leaves begin to yellow, spray with chelated iron. Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) can also help to solve this problem.
Fertilise with Seagro (they seem to like that)

I did all this six weeks ago, have watered them regularly, have fertislised regularly (using less than recommended by the manufacturers every two weeks), composted, mulched and …

[one_half]Leaves looked poorly 6 weeks agoGardenia leaves looked poorly[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The very worst of itThe very worst of it[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Looking much better six weeks onLooking much better six weeks on[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Looking better after treatmentLooking better after treatment[/one_half_last]

The Gardenias shrubs look a whole lot better and today, (imagine my excitement) I found to my delight that the first bud has opened! It was pouring with rain but I had to run outside and take a photograph as proof!

My Gardenia actually flowered!

My Gardenia Bloom!
I am thrilled!

Happy Gardening

Gardenias Jasminoides – (Mine are Gardenia Jasminoides) – Gardenia jasminoides, (common gardenia, cape jasmine or cape jessamine) is a fragrant flowering evergreen tropical plant. With its shiny green leaves and fragrant white summer flowers, it is widely used in gardens in warm temperate and subtropical climates. It has been in cultivation in China for at least a thousand years, and was introduced to English gardens in the mid 18th century. Many varieties have been bred for horticulture, with low growing, and large- and long flowering forms.

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Coffee grounds as fertiliser

Last week when I was moaning about the sad state of my gardenias I did some research online about caring for them and came across a video by some garden expert in the USA and he said “and don’t forget to sprinkle your old coffee grounds around the base, the Gardenias will thrive”. I thought I wasn’t hearing correctly … coffee grounds?? I replayed it a few times to make sure I was hearing right and then started googling “Coffee Grounds fertiliser”. Seems this has become a common practise with organic gardeners. In the USA they go to Starbucks who willingly hand over their coffee grounds to anyone who wants them (see photo below of the little “coffee fertiliser” packets they give away!)

So here’s my point … I thought to myself that I have nothing to lose trying it out. After all, the Gardenias can’t really look much worse than they do right now and what harm could some old ground up coffee do? So I did it … all those little coffee pods from my Lavazza machine … we now have a use for them! After one week, my Gardenias look 100% better!! No more yellowing of the leaves, in fact the plants look much greener already – two of them are totally green, a nice dark green with really shiny leaves again. I’m also  seeing new growth and one produced two flowers this week, no bud drop! Can it really work that quickly? We will see, I’ll keep emptying the used coffee pods and throwing the contents into the soil!

[one_half]Coffee grounds fertiliser[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Coffee grounds fertiliser from Starbucks[/one_half_last]

Here is what I found on about why it works:

Coffee by-products can be used in the garden and farm as follows:

  • Sprinkle used grounds around plants before rain or watering, for a slow-release nitrogen.
  • Add to compost piles to increase nitrogen balance.  Coffee filters and tea bags break down rapidly during composting.
  • Dilute with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer.  Use about a half-pound can of wet grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water; let sit outdoors to achieve ambient temperature.
  • Mix into soil for houseplants or new vegetable beds.
  • Encircle the base of the plant with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests.
  • If you are into vermi-posting, feed a little bit to your worms

And this I found on another site: One of the main ways to use the grounds in the garden is to utilise the nutrients they contain as a fertiliser. Acid loving plants such as evergreen, azaleas, laurels, rhododendrons, camellias and roses will flourish with grounds sprinkled around them. My own rose bushes thrived once the grounds had been added and this manifested itself in some really beautiful roses. However do be careful that when the grounds are scattered they do not touch the bush itself as this can cause burning.

Another one: Used coffee grounds are also said to be good for plants who have a more “acidic” taste such as aforementioned milflores. Other plants include roses, azaleas, avocados and lemon trees.

So, I’ll save some of my coffee pods for you – seems it might be good for the worms and veggies too!!