With Sophie Thomson.

Introducing SA’s Commonsense gardener, Sophie Thomson.

Sophie will be providing gardening tips every season for gardeners who shop at Garden Centres of SA.

Sophie’s tips for Winter 2022.

Rose tip

“Repeat flowering roses need to be pruned in winter and to do this you need a good pair of sharp secateurs, a pair of good thorn proof gloves or gauntlets, and maybe a pair of loppers or a good pruning saw. The reason we prune is to assist the rose’s natural process of flowering on strong healthy new wood, by removing the dead and old wood and encouraging new growth.”

“For bushy roses I simply use the 50/50 method, reducing the height of the rose by 50% and removing 50% of the canes at their base, starting with old wood, and any weak spindly stems or crossing branches.”

Fruit tree planting tip

“Take advantage of bare root season over winter to purchase new seasons stock of deciduous fruit trees that are more affordable, easier to handle and establish better in your garden. This means you can purchase several fruit trees for the same cost as one mature specimen.”

“Follow the instructions on the label or bag, and prune the bare rooted specimens back at the time of planting even though you mightn’t want to, as this ensures the tree develops optimal plant structure and ultimately fruits successfully for years to come. Check the pollination requirements of your new fruit tree in case two trees are required.”

Winter vege tip

“When space is limited, look at vegetables which can be harvested over a longer period. These cut and come again varieties include peas, loose leaf lettuces, spinach, silver beet, kale and broccoli (especially sprouting varieties).”

“While cauliflower and cabbages are delicious, just remember you will have quite a wait until they are ready and you only get one harvest from each plant.”

Winter flowering colour tip

“As the weather cools down, growth of annuals from punnets also slows, so use larger seedlings or potted colour for an instant show. Plant up some large pots and place them as focal points, by entrances or along pathways to add instant cheer and delight. Feed them regularly with liquid fertilisers and seaweed based plant tonics.”

Sophie’s tips for Autumn 2022.

Plant now

“Plant now. This is the best time of year to plant most plants, both native and exotic, as it gives them 6 to 9 months to get their root systems growing and become established prior to the next summer’s heat. The choices are fantastic in nurseries and garden centres right now and plants will establish well while the ground is still warm. As always improve the soil with compost, and use gypsum on clay soils, as the success of your plant is directly linked to the quality of your soil and your soil preparation. ”

Plant annuals for winter to spring colour

“Plant annuals for winter to spring colour while there is still some warmth left in the soil to help them establish quicker. Choose from pansies, violas, cinerarias, nemesias, poppies, primulas, snapdragons, salvias, stocks and more. To keep summer flowering annuals going longer, give them a light haircut and feed them, and they can continue for several more months. ”

Add some native beauties to your garden

“Add some native beauties to your garden. The diversity of flowers and form of our Australian native plants is extraordinary, so why not add some to your garden to bring delight to you, the birds, the bees and the butterflies. There are native plants suitable for every garden style, from formal to cottage, and everything in between, and they are hardy and adaptable to our climate. ”

Plant winter vegetables

“Plant winter vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, peas, spinach and silver beet. Be prepared to protect the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale) from the caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies by netting to exclude them, decoys or using bioinsecticides such as Success or Dipel. To your own nutrient dense, immune boosting, organic garlic, plant Aussie garlic from April to June and you will be harvesting in 6-7 months. This superfood bulb is easy to grow in a sunny position in well-drained soil.

Plant spring flowering bulbs for a splash of colour in late winter and spring. Choose from daffodils, jonquils, iris, tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, crocus and more.

Feed the whole garden – roses, lawns, fruit trees and citrus, everything. Plants will benefit greatly from a boost of nutrients, and it will keep them in optimal health over the cooler winter months.”

Sow sweet peas

“Sow sweet peas on or soon after St Patrick’s Day (March 17). Sweet peas are wonderful plants in the garden for their colour and fragrance, and they also make wonderful cut flowers. Choose from climbing or dwarf varieties in a range of colours and markings.”

Mother’s Day

“This Mother’s Day, don’t forget to give mum a living gift that will last – whether it is a potted cyclamen or chrysanthemum, an indoor plant, or even a rose, fuchsia or hydrangea, she will get pleasure from your thoughtfulness and best wishes for many years to come.”

Sophie’s tips for Summer 2021/2022.

Sophie’s tip for Christmas plants

“If you want to give a plant with a Christmas theme you can’t go past a poinsettia, in either the traditional red, or one of the other pretty shades. They are great value and although I treat them as annual, I still enjoy them ’til winter – much better value than a bunch of flowers!”

Sophie’s tip for growing in containers

“Water pots and hanging baskets daily in the warmer weather. Although this will depend on the type of plant, size of its pot and position, it’s a great general rule to follow. It’s what the staff in your local garden centre are doing each day too! Don’t forget to mulch your pots too.”

Sophie’s tip for summer colour

“Dead head spent flowers on summer flowering plants such as roses, butterfly bushes (Buddleja), geraniums, daisies, lavenders & petunias, for continued flowering. This will keep them looking fresh and will encourage new growth. Feed and water them regularly to keep their flushes of colour coming.”

Sophie’s tip to keep kids occupied in the school holidays

“Why not share in some fun garden activities with your kids and have fun too. Plant colourful flowers of their choosing and sow seeds of giant plants like sunflowers. Let them choose some veggies to plant and be sure to help them look after them for a successful harvest. They might like to have their own garden bed or large planter, or simply share in yours.”