With Michael Coulter

The scheduled All About Gardening meeting for Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 was cancelled due to heavy snowfall.  Official figures showed that Wednesday was Christchurch’s coldest day on record.  The cold snap we are experiencing is a hangover from Wednesday’s heavy snow, when the maximum temperature at Christchurch Airport in the official 24 hour period from 9.00am that day reached a pitiful 0.4 degrees Celsius.  N.I.W.A. said that was the lowest day maximum in nearly 149 years of record keeping.

That follows N.I.W.A.’s records showing that the month of May was the warmest on record. Overall, May was a month of extremes  It started with a heat wave on the West Coast of the South Island ( 26.7 degrees in Hokitika ). A tornado swept through Albany ( Auckland ) on the 3rd.  Floods then affected Otago, Nelson and Takaha.

Sunshine totals were well below normal.

Of the six main centres, Auckland was the wettest but also the warmest, Tauranga was the sunniest and Christchurch was the driest.

The damp, cold days of winter are here. Wet, cold, miserable winter weather makes outdoor gardening difficult. Avoid compacting soggy soil as it can destroy the soil structure. Plant new shrubs and trees.

June, when bare-rooted roses become available, is rose planting time. It’s a good idea to put a thick layer of straw or other mulch around the young stems to protect them in colder areas.

Following the snowfall and the successive heavy frosts it might be a good idea to give frost-sensitive plants a good spraying of water before the early sun hits the leaves and causes frost burn.

It pays to reduce the watering of indoor plants during winter months. Adjust the water temperature to the room temperature before watering.

This is a good time to make any necessary repairs to garden tools and equipment.

Sharpen spades and hoes and generally repair greenhouses and garden frames.

Trusting that July’s All About Gardening meeting goes ahead without the heavy ‘white-out’ conditions suffered this month.