A galaxy of stars



When a plant is attractive and versatile, it’s easy to understand why it becomes popular with gardeners, says Judith Sleijpen.

Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea ‘Galaxy’) is a hardy, clump-forming, evergreen perennial with fine, grass-like foliage reaching a height of about 40 centimetres and spreading up to 30cm wide.

From spring through to late winter, shell-pink, star-shaped flowers rise above the clump of ornamental leaves to create a prolific display.

‘Galaxy’ prefers a sunny spot and is tolerant of most soil types, but thrives in organic enriched, well-drained soils. 

Mass planted, it’s perfect to edge borders, pathways, or rockeries or bind soil on slopes. The very fine foliage is an excellent foil to complement plants with larger leaves.

Society Garlic’s long flowering period provides colour and interest on balconies and courtyards when planted in premium grade potting mix in a decorative container.

This plant is very low maintenance and, once established, tolerates periods of drought but will flourish with an occasional long soak during extended periods of heat. Simply apply a slow-release fertiliser in spring to encourage healthy growth

Top gardening tips for March

•    Plant new trees and shrubs in autumn. During the cooler months their roots settle into the soil and when the warmth of spring arrives, they’re established and ready to produce lush, new growth.
•    Sow some cool season vegetables such as broad beans, lettuce, peas, onions and silverbeet in a sunny spot. Condition the soil before planting with some organic matter.
•    Inspect citrus leaves for damage by the citrus leaf miner. This is a small pest that creates squiggly lines on the leaves causing them to twist and distort. Remove the affected foliage and spray with an organic pesticide regularly to prevent future damage.
•    Feed citrus trees with a specially formulated fertiliser for good fruit production. Use a granular fertiliser for trees in the garden and a soluble formulation for those in containers.
•    Remove spring and summer annuals that have finished flowering, condition the soil with planting compost and plant marigolds, salvias, and snapdragon seedlings for a colourful autumn display.
•    Prune hydrangeas after they’ve finished flowering. Cut out any weak growth and prune back to a pair of plump buds. If you prefer the changing shades of the aging blooms throughout winter, wait until July/August to prune.
•    Buy some spring-flowering bulbs such as freesias, jonquils, snowflakes, and bluebells while there are plenty available in garden centres. Enrich well drained soil with some bulb food before planting for best results.

What’s on?

Bonsai for Beginners Workshop: Remove the mystery – create and enjoy your own bonsai! Discover its history and how easy it is to grow. Comprehensive notes are provided, and places are limited. 10am to 4pm, Sunday 27 March, Northern Beaches Community College (9970-1000) nbmc@nsw.edu.au

Garden Design for Large and Small Spaces Workshop: Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping an existing area, enjoy learning how to transform an open space into a haven for relaxed living. Comprehensive notes are provided, and places are limited. 10am to 4pm, Sunday 3 April, Northern Beaches Community College (9970 1000) nbmc@nsw.edu.au

Judith Sleijpen, Contributor, Peninsula Living Magazine

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