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Autumn and Winter Gardening News

Phil Agaciak, our knowledgeable Gardener and Groundsperson, has prepared an update on the gardens of the College. Please enjoy the photos he has taken to show off the natural beauty of St Ann’s College in Autumn.

 

SEASONAL CHANGE

Autumn is upon us, we can feel that the season has changed with colder mornings, a chill in the air and shorter days. The soil temperatures have dropped to about 15 degrees C.

Our deciduous trees are dropping their leaves to store nutrients as a measure to survive the cooler months. In summer, when it is very sunny and warm, plants photosynthesise a lot. When autumn comes, with shorter, cooler days, deciduous trees know it’s time to prepare for winter. A deciduous tree breaks down the chlorophyll in the leaves and sends the nutrients down to the roots to be stored underground until things heat up again.

When chlorophyll is broken down in the leaf, the green colour disappears. The colours we can see in autumn are from what is left behind in the leaf and this ranges from yellow to orange to red, maroon and brown. One type of natural chemicals left are carotenoids, which is what makes carrots orange.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN OUR GARDENS THIS TIME OF YEAR

You can find the colours changing on our European Nettle, Chinese Pistachio and Genko near the main entrance. Our Elm trees in the courtyard and near Wilcox are deciduous, as are the Malus/Crab Apples and Genko near 2nd Terrace, the Pyrus/Pear near 3rd Terrace and the Chinese Elms near the DRM rear carpark. 🍂🍃🍁🌳

As for what is flowering this time of year, check out our hibiscus shrubs, Birds of Paradise, roses, Mexican sage and camellias. The Abelia grandiflora, Nandina domestica and Lilly Pilly hedges at the front of Melbourne House are flowering and fruiting respectively.

 

PRUNING AND PEST CONTROL

A lot of pruning has occurred since the time I started at St Ann’s last July, and maintenance pruning is ongoing.

The Oleander shrub on the rose terrace has recently been cut back by two thirds. My reasoning behind this is to allow more light onto the roses, adjacent turf sections, opening up views from both the gardens, the dining room, ED study areas and meeting rooms.

Recently, the palms in DRM have had a good prune to allow more light into the carpark below.

Along the main drive, the two Photinia hedges, Crepe Myrtles and Myrtle leaf milk woods will be pruned back to open up the views and light to the roses.  The large gum tree “Corymbia citriodora” adjacent the tennis court has recently been inspected and given a health check by a Level 5 arborist.

 

Pest control is routinely carried out, targeted for each particular invader. Over the past year, I have been working to eradicate elm leaf beetles, turf weeds, scale, fungus gnats, aphids, nutgrass and mealy bugs as they pop up. If an option, I will always try eco-friendly products in the first instance, with none or minimal withholding periods to control weeds and diseases.

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