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Getting into the garden

Camellia Sasanqua in bud and flowerWhat we love is the start of the cleanup. Just getting into the garden and sorting out the last of the summer annuals, sowing some seeds and getting the hands dirty. A light trim on some overhanging shrubs to let some light in also instantly tidies up the garden. Leaves are nature's bounty this time of the year so packing them into the back of the beds to act as mulch or to the compost bin is also a satisfying job done.

There are a number of shrubs that look at their best this time of the year coming into flowers as the temperatures drop or changing leaf colour not just to fall but as evergreens with intense colouring through the winter. The nostalgic Camellias take us back to the gardens of the romantics with the beautiful blooms in full flower through a time of the year when many plants look faded. The Sasanqua varieties are already flowering while the rest are covered in fat buds.

Camellias grow in semi-shade to morning sun perfect in small cluster or townhouse gardens. Use them as a screen or as a solid background shrub. Camellias can also be clipped to shape and give an evergreen structure to the garden or in containers.
Camellias are slow-growing shrubs that perform best when protected from the hot afternoon sun and flower best in spots with well-drained soil, filtered sunlight and shelter from the wind. Find out more on how to grow the best Camellias here

Grow indigenous seeds

Namac's or African Daisies - Easy bright colourNamaqualand is renowned for its annual mass display of wild flowers and each spring thousands of people travel to Namaqualand to see them.  These impressive fields of colour are made up of numerous small plants but are mainly dominated by daisies, grown for years in our Gauteng gardens as Namaqualand Daisies also known as African Daisies.

These beautiful African Daisy flowers are perfect for growing in sunny dry spots needing little water after germination.  With a height of around 30cm and in flower in just 9 weeks they are a wonderful addition to the winter garden. Needing very little in the line of fertiliser or soil preparation it could not be easier to plant African Daisies. Simply break the surface of the soil with a rake and rake level. Scatter seeds and run the rake over the area again, covering the seed with a thin layer of soil as you rake them in. You will still see some seeds when finished but don't worry that's ok they will cover once you add water. Water daily till germinated and then once germinated you can water once a week to every ten days.

Did you know that the term Daisy comes from the ancient Saxon term "Day's eye" referring to a flower opening during the day to show its "eye" and then closing at night?

Protect with Frost Cover

Do not get caught this yearWe are a few weeks away from first frost but if you have a special plant you need to protect from frost we recommend that you cover from the first week of May. Even though traditionally our first heavy frost is expected in week three of May let's not forget about the odd year it arrives early.

Cover tender plants with frost guard which allows the plants to breath and also allows light in which means the plants can still grow inside the cover during winter. The best way is to make a tepee over the plant and then tie it down so that it does not blow off on a windy night.

Plant some bulbs

Plant some promise with bulbsBulb can be planted right through to the end of May so now is the time to plant some spring promise with a selection of bulbs. The open star- shaped flowers of Sparaxis with many intricate patterns in their centres are just one of the indigenous favourites. The overall effect of looking into a group of Sparaxis flowers is like looking into a kaleidoscope.

Colours range from white to pure yellow, orange, pink, red, mauve and salmon to even green. Individual blooms do not last long, but flowers on the slender stems open successively from the bottom up, giving a fine, long- lasting display. Sparaxis will grow and bloom well in relatively poor soil. A rockery suits them, as does a border site. They are at their most effective if planted in groups of 25 or 50. They can also be grown in pots. They need a few hours of direct sunlight each day in order for the blooms to open fully.

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