Homes

How to plant summer garden with gardening guru Charlie Albone

Plants looking a little drab? Selling Houses Australia's Charlie Albone could have the answer.

By Holly Royce and Yours Staff
Gardening guru and co-host of Selling Houses Australia Charlie Albone shares his best ever tips for sprucing up your garden to impress visitors over the holidays.

Question:
We want to give the garden a little more colour but don't want flowers as they attract bees. The aspect is east-north-east and palms give shade to lower level plants from midday onwards.
A two-metre-high screen on the western side of the plants shades all lower levels after midday.
Lynda, via email

Charlie's Answer
Any flower's apt to bring in bees so I suggest trying to create interest via foliage colour.
As your aspect gets sun without being too hot and scorching you could use tropical plants that have interesting variegations, perhaps calathea and ctenanthe.
If you're interested in standard block-coloured foliage, try acalypha or "Black Magic" elephant ears. In the sunnier spots, you could introduce canna lilies or crotons for a bright red burst of colour.
Question
What's the best way to keep potted basil alive?
Naomi, Perth, WA

Charlie's Answer
Basil can be tricky to grow in a pot as it dries out really quickly and there's not much soil for the roots to spread around in.
If you don't have a raised or ground level garden bed to grow it in, get the biggest pot you can find. You'll need to keep the root ball moist as the roots won't be growing out into the pot just yet. It's also a good idea to prune your plant.
This will keep the plant small and force it to put out roots, which will, in turn, make it denser as it grows – and give you more basil as the plant ages.
Question
Can I get rid of curly leaf on my nectarine tree? Does it necessarily mean it's a "bad" tree?
Anna, Hobart Tas

Charlie's Answer
Curly leaf on nectarines and peaches is a fungal disease that can also make the fruits drop early, or even turn reddish-purple with warty growths on the outer surface. This can then lead to a seriously weakened tree susceptible to other problems, even death.
You need to spray the leaf buds with a copper-based fungicide in late winter when they're swollen and starting to burst open.