Autumn is an ideal time to check any plants that have been staked up or hanging over trellises. Their ties may have worked loose during the year and need readjusting. Some may need judicial pruning, so that the tops will not buffet around in the gales. Check rose bushes to see that they are firmly in the ground, using your foot to stamp around the base of the plant. Trim the top growth of them by about one third, so that they will not be blown about in the winds, which could loosen the roots again. Usually Banksia roses do not need staking, but like to be supported in some way – over a fence or an umbrella frame. It’s always better to do this whilst the plants are young and malleable.
Tecoma capensis, that lovely bright orange or yellow flowered shrub from South Africa, will be covered in flowers and may well continue all winter if you live in milder areas of Cyprus. Carissa, also from South Africa, may have produced fruits for you. They are edible, but an acquired taste. You may have harvested quince already with their dusky hard skins but a very flavoursome flesh, which when cooked makes a good substitute for apples in crumbles and pies.
You can also take cuttings of lavender, sage and rosemary – quite the easiest of the herbs to make roots, as well as wallflowers if you have grown them before. Use ‘green’ (soft) shoots, preferably without flowers and having snipped the bottom and dipped it into a hormone rooting powder, pop the cuttings firmly into a pot of compost. Put the pot into a plastic bag and tie the top. They need bottom heat so keep them in a light place but out of full sun. They should show roots in about 3-4 weeks, when you can remove the bag and pot them into larger pots.
There are still Cabbage White butterflies around and they will be very tempted by the sight of all those cabbage and broccoli leaves in the vegetable patch. Try planting marigolds amongst them so that they will look elsewhere to lay their eggs. It is amazing just how quickly their voracious caterpillars can munch through succulent leaves, leaving you without any greens for your winter meals!
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