Plants often have associations with them. While some plants are trendy or are the latest must have, some are associated with family and special times. Flowers especially remind us of loved ones and this time of the year when the garden bursts into spring nature rewards us with all the flowering treasures that make up so many happy associations.
Indigenous St John’s lily or Clivia are spectacular this time of the year. Growing in clumps which increase every year Clivia thrive in shade or semi-shade. The most common are the classic narrow leafed orange and the popular hybrids which have a broader leaf known as Belgium Hybrids. Clivia flowers are very striking and each plant can be very different which is what makes them so collectable. Look for rounded petals close together to thinner loose petals. The colour intensity leads from a salmon orange to almost a tomato orange and anything in between. The throats vary in depth and some of the most unusual are green but most shades of yellow.
Clivia can be grown from seed which takes about four years to mature. Plant seeds in potting soil with the flesh on. Seeds should be on their side and about halfway into the soil. Keep them well watered and they will germinate in a few months. The darker red the seeds are, the darker orange the flower and the yellow Clivia’s have shades of yellow seed. You can cross pollinate your own Clivia’s to select your favourite trait which is how we end up with such a vast range of colour variations which often make their way across generations as collections grow and are shared.
Grown by gardeners around the world for fragrance and colour Lavender is one of the easiest perennials to grow. Suited to any style of gardening we see lavender in formal clipped gardens to romantic and fairy gardens. Lavender comes from the Mediterranean and drier regions of Europe. In SA as a water wise plant they are well suited to full sun borders and in containers around the pool. This is the best time of the year to select your lavender as the colour selection makes you spoilt for choice. Lavender should be cut back twice a year to keep it compact and to extend its longevity. Lavender lasts for about two to three years depending on how you look after it. Lavender likes to stay dry with very little fertiliser and should be cut back after flowering in midsummer and again in early August to keep it looking fresh.
Getting roses ready to shine
By now your roses will be in full leaf and looking great. Boost their performance by feeding with Sudden Impact and repeat every six weeks. Sudden Impact is an organic rose food which also means that the roses are not forced and grow naturally with tougher leaves and flowers with deeper colour and stronger fragrance. Roses fed organically also need less spraying against insects and tend to be more resilient against mildew. If you need to spray your roses use Rosecare. As a combination insecticide and fungicide it does everything you need to keep your first flush of flowers due in a couple of weeks safe.
Mexican rock roses
Becoming more popular each year and just as collectable are the Echiveria or Rock Roses as they are also known. Older gardeners will remember them from their childhood. Today they have been dusted off and made very fashionable by young gardeners because they are so easy to grow, water wise and hardy. The varieties available today are endless and this makes them fun to collect. Leaves are predominantly shades of blue grey and some of the newer blacks to chocolate leafed ones are slowly coming onto the market. September into October is their flowering time and they flower in shades of orange and red for weeks at a time.