Camellias - the variety of colours, shapes and flowers now is truly a gardener's dream.
Camellias - the variety of colours, shapes and flowers now is truly a gardener's dream. Plateresca

Volunteer - you're in for a treat

IF YOU love camellias, it's time to treat yourself to a new variety for your garden.

Large, ruffled deep pink-red flowers edged in white makes camellia Volunteer from Anthony Tesselaar Plants one of the most beautiful camellias. Bred in New Zealand by Mark Jury, it was a chance seedling that was named to honour volunteers.

Flowering from May to September, camellia Volunteer has attractive and dense dark green glossy foliage and grows to about 2m tall and 1.5m wide.

It looks stunning on its own in a garden bed or container or can be trimmed into a fabulous flowering hedge.

It does best in a partly-shaded position, however it will tolerate full sun if kept well watered and can be grown in cold, temperate and sub-tropical climates.

Like azaleas and rhododendrons, camellias prefer an acidic soil that's rich in organic matter.

Camellia Volunteer should be watered regularly while it establishes, however will be relatively drought tolerant once established. If required, it can be lightly pruned after flowering.

Camellias can be fed each spring and autumn with fertiliser.

Remember that hardier types of camellias are an ideal flower for vases, lasting at least a week, and bringing colour to any room.

The variety of colours, shapes and flowers now is truly a gardener's dream.

BLOOM: Spring time means more roses at full bloom.
Winter is a great time to trim rose bushes. Adam McCleery

Now's the time to clean up your garden

WINTER can provide an ideal opportunity to trim your garden into shape.

Many plants will benefit from a winter prune, particularly summer-flowering trees and shrubs including buddleja, wayward crepe myrtles, hibiscus, smoke bush and hydrangea (stems that have already flowered) as well as deciduous fruit trees and, of course, most types of roses.

Removing old, woody or dead stems or branches will encourage fresh new growth in spring as well as making the garden look tidier.

Top pick

SPROUTS are packed with nutrients and well worth growing if you are interested in improving your diet to stay healthy.

Alfalfa sprouts (lucerne) can be sown throughout the year and are particularly handy as a source of tasty greenery during the depths of winter.

Alfalfa Sprout with white background
Alfalfa sprouts are ready for eating about three to five days after sowing. Devonyu

Place the seed in the bottom of a wide-mouthed glass jar and soak in tepid water for about 3 hours.

Cover the top of the jar with either muslin, stocking or a cotton handkerchief and hold in place with a rubber band. Strain off the water and leave the jar tilted to allow good drainage and ventilation.

Place the jar on a windowsill, away from direct heat or sunlight.

Fill the jar twice a day with tepid water, shake gently, then drain.

In about three to five days, sprouts should be ready for eating and can be sprinkled over salads and stir fries.

Sprouts are packed with nutrients and well worth growing if you are interested in improving your diet to stay healthy.