September in the garden

September is a fantastic time of year for gardening. The garden is coming alive and plants are beginning to bloom. It's time to clean up your gardens, plant new plants, fertilise, mulch, then sit back and enjoy.

At this time of year there are some beautiful flowering natives to choose from. Native plants can be a good choice for your garden as we face longer, hotter, drier summers and water restrictions. Native plants are more drought tolerant and need less water than exotic plants.

Once established a native garden is low maintenance and offers a haven for our native wildlife. They provide the right habitat and food for native animals, birds and insects. Native plants are available in many different forms ranging from ground covers, grasses, flowering shrubs and trees. Look for plants that grow naturally in your local area as these will be well adapted to the local soil and climatic conditions. Your local nursery will be able to help you with this.

A beautifully fragrant native plant that flowers at this time of year is the Boronia. Boronia Megastigma, or Brown Boronia, is a small shrub that grows to less than a metre tall. It has small leaves and cup-shaped flowers that are bright yellow inside and a red-brown colour on the outside. The flowers have a strong, heavenly perfume that lets you know its springtime.

Boronias need cool, moist, well-drained soil, and grow best in dappled shade. They are also well suited to growing in pots. There are also some other varieties to look out for in yellow, red and pink forms. Other beautiful natives that are in flower now include, kangaroo paws, Rhodanthe, Dampiera, Thryptomene, acacias and grevilleas.

It's time to plant tomatoes. If you want some fresh, juicy tomatoes for your summer salads, get them in now. You can grow tomatoes in containers or in your vegetable patch, with taller growing varieties needing staking. Choose a sunny, well drained site, protected from frost. A tried and true all-time favourite tomato for home growers is the 'Grosse Lisse'. It's a heavy yielding tomato with medium to large, round juicy fruit. Other varieties to try are the 'Roma' and 'Black Russian' tomatoes. The Roma is an egg-shaped, rich flavoured fruit produced in trusses. If you would like to try a heritage tomato try the 'Black Russian' tomato. It has small to medium sized fruit with unusual charcoal coloured flesh. Don't forget to feed your tomatoes regularly with a good quality fertiliser to encourage healthy growth and flowers that will turn into fruit.

It's also feeding time. Time to feed your plants, lawns, and citrus trees. There are however so many fertilisers to choose from it can get confusing. If you want to keep it simple look out for an all-purpose fertiliser or an organic pelletised fertiliser that will do the job for everything from plants through to lawns. The only thing you need to be careful of is native plants as they can be sensitive to phosphorus. So, it's a good idea to keep a specialised native fertiliser just for your natives. Another specific fertiliser that would be good to have is for your citrus trees. They are hungry plants and love to be fed and would benefit from an application of a specific citrus fertiliser a few times a year.