Expert Tips

Autumn Gardening Diary

‘Native Plant Project’ checks in with Red Rocks Gardener, Nick McKellar to share his to-do-list and gardening tips for Autumn and other news from Australia’s largest private native garden…

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Autumn is the best time to start something…

In my opinion Autumn is the best time to be putting in new plants. As the worst of the hot weather is over – and hopefully there’s been some good rain where you are – it creates ideal conditions for new plants. Planting in Autumn while soil temperatures are warm and moisture is available will allow for good root development and growth by the new plant. This will continue through winter and spring allowing the plant a good period of growth before the harsh summer arrives.

At Red Rocks here on Victoria’s Surf Coast, we’ll be mainly focusing on adding more of the successful plants that have grown well in our coastal conditions for a tried period of time. Some examples are Chamelaucium uncinatum, Epacris impressa, Gastrolobium sericeum, Grevillea lanigera, Hakea crassinervia, Phebalium squamulosum.

What are the typical jobs you undertake at Red Rocks as we enter Autumn?

After good rain in early Autumn, it’s a good time to prune some varieties of plants. Some of the plants we’re pruning right now are Chamelucium ‘Paddys Pink’, Epacris sp., Grevilleas sp. We are also removing dead flowers and stalks from Kangaroo Paws that have finished flowering although some varieties are still producing reasonable flowers.

Some good tips for Autumn pruning are…

A good tip is for all gardens, is that some native plants have already started to produce buds for their winter/autumn flowering. If these plants are to be pruned, be mindful that if you’re cutting them back, flowering in the coming months will not be as prolific. Some examples of plants with buds already formed that we see at Red Rocks are Phebalium sp. Acacia sp. And Hakeas sp.

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What aspects of gardening do you enjoy in the Autumn months and why?

During Autumn, I enjoy not having to be so worried about moisture levels in the lawn and garden.

Much time is spent in the very large garden we have at Red Rocks keeping water up to recent plantings and ensuring the harsh areas of the lawns do not dry out.  The garden always starts to look healthier in Autumn as temperatures have now decreased and more moisture is available to the garden.

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What natives are thriving at the moment and what are your favourites?

Correa’s are Autumn flowering, so are all now coming out in glorious colour. Scaevola’s are still flowering really well and we have beautiful patches of purple and white spread throughout the garden.

Grevillea ‘Peaches and Cream is always a personal favourite of mine that flowers for most of the year but is really at its best during the Autumn months. Banksia prionotes is another favourite and is flowering nicely at the moment for us all to enjoy.

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