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Winter Gardening Tips & 5 Spice Plum Sauce Recipe 💚

I can’t believe we’re already halfway through the year!


Some lovely Winter gardening reading below for you with lots of hints & tips on roses, lawn care & my delicious Five Spice Plum Sauce recipe.


There’s even free stuff for the little Avid Gardeners.


Happy Gardening,


Hen and Pete xx


Plant of the Month 

SAGE | Salvia, officianalis

Evergreen perennial growing to 45cm. Long velvet-like grey/green leaves that are used to flavour poultry, meat, pasta, soups, and stews. Use fresh or dried. Very aromatic. Also has medicinal uses. Attracts bees. Good for borders, rock gardens and pots.

METHOD: Sow direct or raise seedlings

SOWING DEPTH: 5mmWHEN: Spring or after frost

GERMINATION: 7-21 days @ 18-21°

CHARDINESS: Hardy perennial


POSITION: Full sun, moist well drained soil



You can purchase sage seeds at our online shop. $6 a packet. Yay!


Top Tips for Rose Pruning


Rose pruning season is one of the biggest, and my most favourite job in winter. In our cool climate, we recommend holding off until August/September.


The reason for doing this is that whilst roses are super robust, our winters are fraught with frost & new growth will inevitably be affected.


Roses can withstand the damage however instead of putting energy into strong growth & lots of flowers, the plant will be putting most of its energy into recovering from the frost. 


Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your gorgeous roses.

  1. CLEAN, SHARP SECATEURS are a must.

  2. AIM FOR A VASE-SHAPED BUSH. Remove any inward-facing and crossing branches. Remove diseased, damaged and dead wood. Cut back to an outward-facing bud on young growth.

  3. CLEAR AROUND THE BASE OF THE ROSE. Remove fallen leaves and rose cuttings as these can harbour diseases.

  4. PRUNE HARD. Don’t be afraid to cut back hard. This will encourage more growth and flowers.

  5. FERTILISE WITH NEUTROG SUDDEN IMPACT FOR ROSES. This will set your roses up well for the growing season as well as encourage more blooms.

  6. DO NOT COMPOST CUTTINGS. This may spread pests and disease. Put them in the bin or burn them in your fire pit.

  7. Mulch with organic sugar cane or equivalent. This will help keep soil temperatures even, moisture in, & suppress weeds whilst also adding important organic matter as the mulch breaks down.


It’s the perfect time to plant Bare-Rooted Roses


The term “bare root” is a dormant (asleep) plant, without soil around the roots & then planted directly into the ground.


Bare-rooted roses are generally lower in cost to purchase as there are fewer materials (potting mix, pots) & labour involved.


It’s important to remember to plant bare-rooted roses as soon as possible as they can dry out very quickly and will die.

This is how we plant bare-rooted roses at The Avid Gardener:


🌱 Gently brush away sawdust from the roots.

🌱 Rehydrate roses in water for 24-48 hours prior to planting.

🌱 If necessary, prune back thick roots with clean, sharp secateurs.

🌱 Leave any fine roots.

🌱 Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the rose roots.

🌱 Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole.

🌱 Prepare a mound of soil at the bottom of the hole & gently place the roots of the rose over the mound.

🌱 Backfill with soil & press down firmly.

🌱 Prune rose by a third to encourage good root growth.

🌱 Mulch with organic sugar cane or equivalent.

🌱 Water in well. Use at least 10 litres of water. 


Winter Lawn Tips


Let your mower have a bit of a rest over winter & only mow when necessary at a higher length. Extra leaf on your lawn will encourage the process of photosynthesis (using sunlight energy to produce chemical energy, or food, for the plant).


Rake up excess leaf matter. A little bit of leaf debris is fine. Too much will inhibit sunshine on the grass.


Aerate your lawn if you didn’t do it in autumn. Aeration alleviates compaction & helps water & nutrients to reach the root system. Overall this helps to create a stronger, healthier lawn.


Water first thing in the morning on as needs basis. Too much water will encourage compaction of the soil. Watering in the morning helps to remove frost from the leaf.


Winter is probably the best time to address weeds in your lawn. Use a fork to remove them individually…a little bit every few days soon adds up. For vast lawns, use an all-purpose lawn weed control.


Five Spice Plum Sauce


Beautiful plums from my back garden. A super simple recipe of deliciousness 💚


2kg plums, halved and pitted

Rind of one lemon, finely sliced

1 brown onion, finely sliced

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 cup of soy sauce

4 tablespoons local honey

4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

4 cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons pink salt

1 cinnamon stick

4 whole star anise

8 whole cloves

1 dried chilli

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

(Or use 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice)

Place all ingredients in a large pot. I also add the spices but to make it easier at the end you can tie the spices in a piece of muslin, instead of fishing out the cinnamon & star anise after cooking.


Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 3-4 hours or until desired consistency.


Allow to cool.


Remove cinnamon and star anise (or spice bag) and blend until smooth.


Pour into sterilised jars. Will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Or, continue the sterilisation process & seal the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes (boiling water).


Allow to stand for 24 hours undisturbed. The tops of the lids will suction down & you’ll be able to store the sauce for up to a year in a cool dark place.

Makes approx 6 medium jars.


Five Spice Plum Sauce goes well with:


🌶️ Duck, fish, chicken and pork

🌶️ Wontons, noodles, dumplings, spring rolls

🌶️ Stir fry

🌶️ Rice

🌶️ BBQ basting

🌶️ Duck pancakes


Happy cooking 😊


Spoil Yourself or Someone Special  


Did you know we have a range of beautiful products, especially for people who simply adore gardening?


From gorgeous Australian hand scrub (made by two wonderful ladies in Melbourne) that actually works,


To sensible rose pruning gloves that will save your hands from all those nasty thorns,


To calendars specific to cool climates that tell you what to plant & when.


Little Avid Gardeners


School holidays are just around the corner.


We have some lovely FREE Colouring-In pages available for download on our kids page.



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