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The Magic of Spring…

Who can believe that we went from cold and snow one week to almost summer temperatures ten days later! This is turning out to be quite the memorable spring; even the birds and trees are trying to work out what to do next. This weekend we saw the White Stinkwood at Eckards push its buds through and many of the oak trees in Kensington are already quite green. All the weaver bid nests before the snow, have been pulled down and new ones being built, making quite the mess in my garden and here at Eckards where they nest in the poplar trees. Spring is here and there is nothing quite like the magic of seeing new buds developing as the world starts to turn green around us. Get into the garden and enjoy the spring!

Spring Bedding Plant Colour

Get into the garden and enjoy the springSpring colour last well into October and many beyond that into early summer. Look out for Lobelia as a cascading show of blue to spill over containers or even as a table bowl. Pansies can still go in planted into half sun this time of the year but the star of the spring bedding plant colour has to be Petunias. Petunias will explode in colour in the hottest and driest spots in the garden and containers. There are the double cascading mini petunias which grow quite flat or the traditional favourites all coming into flower, all flowering more and more as the temperatures climb.

Petunias don’t like much overhead water and that is why they do so well this time of the year when we don’t expect much rain till the middle of October. It’s not just Bedding plants that make spring magical here are our pick for more ideas.

Wax flowers

Wax flowers make good cutflowersBack and all revitalised with new varieties available are the Chamelaucium also known as Wax flowers. They originate in Australia but are well suited to our local garden conditions where they add something different as a small shrub and low screener. They have aromatic leaves and soft branches which sway in the wind adding an interesting texture and feel in the garden. The flowers are bourne on mass all along the stems ad cluster on the tips with a waxy finish that gives them their name. The best thing about them is that they make excellent cut flowers lasting for week in the vase. Wax flowers need a full sun position for best flower displays, although it will take a little shade, it must have well-drained soil. Trim outer branches lightly after flowering to encourage bushy growth, but do not cut into old wood.


Crazy about Daisy

Many of the daisies are indigenous to SAEveryone loves daises. South Africa has a host of indigenous daisies that all flower through spring and early summer giving unrivalled colour in full sun. Arctotis is one of the perennial ground cover daisies we at Eckards love. Look out for them in shades of yellow orange and pink. Growing on grey green foliage they are water wise and need little to no attention making them perfect for a sunny pavement or spot in the garden you don’t always get to water well. Be on the lookout for the ever popular Gazanias. They are one of the best water wise South African flowers of all time to be grown in sunny containers and borders complimenting most colour schemes. Look out for the pink and orange ones that have a striking black line through the petals! Blue is not the most common colour in a daisy but here in SA we have the rewarding Blue Felicia Daisy from the cape.


Growing in a small mound of around 30cm they flower on mass with small blue flowers with a bright yellow centre. Full sun is best for them but they will also take morning shade as long as they get hot in the afternoon.

Grow your Own

Enjoy your own home-grown fruitMore and more gardeners are opting to ‘Grow their Own’ fruit and veggies. There certainly is a difference in taste – nothing beats home grown. Of course the fact that you can control what they get sprayed with and which fertiliser you use will also mean you can grow them truly organic. The most rewarding are the peach trees as well as plums and figs. In smaller gardens one can easily prune them to grow in an espalier way which means grow them close to a wall and train them to grow flat. Most fruit trees do not require cross pollination which means you only need to plant one in order to pick fruit. Remember the bees will do the work for you and this is why it’s so important not to kill bees as without them, we would have no food! When planting them, dig large square holes and add liberal compost as well as a handful of either bone meal or 2:3:4 Plant & Veg. The most common question we get here at Eckards is “What should I spray them with to prevent the fruit being stung?”

We recommend Garden Ripcord which has a short residual and can be used quite safely up to two weeks before harvest. Spray when the fruit is pea sized as a first spray, this should be when about 80% of the blossoms have fallen off. Ideally after that a spray only when you see problems and then again importantly spray as the fruit starts to show colour.

Fynbos Season

Indigenous Fynbos are easy to growFynbos and Proteas are becoming very popular with local gardeners and especially this time of the year when we see how beautiful the gardens in the Cape are looking. The indigenous Fynbos varieties should be planted in well drained soils. When planting always add liberal compost as well as river sand to the mix to improve drainage. Plants must be in a position with full sunlight as they require high light levels to produce flowers. Once well established they can be truly drought tolerant but immediately after planting, plants should be watered in thoroughly and thereafter watered to maintain soil moisture without causing the soil to be water logged. Once established in the ground your Fynbos plants will look after themselves and the best thing you can do is not to feed it at all. Look out for the wide range of Proteas, Pincushions and other Fynbos now instore.


Summer Bulbs

Gladiola Green star is new for 2012 Summer flowering bulbs are here and ready to be planted now with all the different colour Calla lilies and Gladiolas available. Dahlias are available from beginning of September and all the summer bulbs can be planted until the end of October. A constant supply of water, from planting time onwards, is the single biggest factor in ensuring success from summer-flowering bulbs. Water thoroughly after planting and thereafter twice a week. Feed with bulb food or Multifeed every two to three weeks until they die back at the end of summer. Summer bulbs are easy to grow and many come back year after year multiplying your flower display. Plant your bulbs according to the instructions on the packet in any ordinary garden soil – the only condition is that it must drain well. Loosen the soil beforehand to a depth of about 20cm; add liberal compost and a handful of bone meal or planting fertiliser per m2.


Bulbs have become quite collectable over the past few years with different colours of especially Calla Lilies, Dahlias, Amaryllis and Gladiolas being brought on to the market. The very different and special Gladiola Green Star is a particularly striking new release for 2012. Plant Gladiolas in full sun and keep them slightly on the dry side for best results. The challenge is whether one will let them shine in the garden or cut them for the vase.

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