My first day in shorts.  It has been a marvelous spring.  Things are earlier than usual.

Don’t go putting in warm loving plants just yet.  Put tomatoes in a warm corner, but not outside.  It’s still too early.  The nor’ easter is a most limiting wind.

The NIWA weather outlook: September 2013 was characterised by much lower pressures than normal around much of the country.  This pressure pattern caused more west to southwest flows across New Zealand.  These unstable flows caused numerous storms and fronts to affect the country in September, including the severe wind storm that struck Canterbury recently.

Look at the top level of your soil.  Really quite dry.

I have a silver birch in the backyard,  Nice in the evenings to hear the mating blackbirds chatting to each other.  My birch is what I call my indictor plant.  I’ve noticed quite a few aphids already.  They are earlier than usual.  Become a ‘turn-a-round’ gardener.  Look at a leaf and turn it around.  It pays to check for early aphid infestations.  So spray now for aphids.

I’ve also noticed a few white butterflies around at present.  Could be worth taking the drive to Nelson to cash in on the $10.00 a head bounty placed on a dead butterfly.

Q:      What do you recommend for spraying aphid?

A:      Maverick.  I do believe in keeping the population under control.

Q:     My daphne is yellowing.  I don’t want to lose it.  It’s about 18 years old.

A:     Daphne’s have a finite life and do not last forever.   You may have to look at  buying  a new plant. Yellow leaves are caused by a lack of nitrogen.  Some acid fertilizer could help..  They are in the middle of their spring growth right now.  Prune one third to see if it comes away.

Q:    What is the best time to divide hostas ?

A:    Probably last month.  Can divide at anytime, but I prefer when coming into life rather than when going into dormancy.

Stone fruit getting their new leaves.  Check inside for infestation.  Leaf curl is a disease caused by a fungus.  Peach leaf curl affects the blossoms, fruit, leaves, and shoots of peaches, including ornamental flowering peaches and nectarines.  It is one of the most common diseases for the home gardener.   When severe, the disease can reduce fruit production substantially.  Normally, diseased leaves fall off within a few weeks and are replaced by new, healthy leaves.  As fruit trees finish flowering trim it slightly.

A  much maligned plant is the forsythia.  Prune it with secateurs, NOT hedge clippers. It is very much  –  Right plant  –  in the right place.  The garden is an evolving and changing part of your house.  Much like changing your carpet or drapes.   The day of the ‘specialist nursery’ is slowing disappearing.   Not that many years ago there were four large nurseries specializing in chrysanthemums.  Now I am the only one.

Q:     Stone fruit.  Will copper spray control other diseases, including fungus?

A:     Yes.  Be sure to read the label and do exactly what it says. It is essential to follow instructions given on the label.

Q:     I have a viburnum that I haven’t  sprayed or pruned much.

A:     Better to prune it with secateurs.  Keep its natural shape.  Prune by one third. Start at the top and work your way down.  You can also cut back rhododendrons hard.  They will shoot away.

Q:     My Chatham Island forget-me-not is not flowering very well. I planted it on the south side of my house.

A:     They actually  like the sun.  On the island they thrive in full sun.