From planting up a bowl of colour, protecting the Aloes and Mulching with the falling leaves, there’s plenty to keep you busy at home. Plant something you love in the garden for foliage-colour now and add some pansies and bright flowers to your world.
The only way to keep your home filled with colour is to plant some. Winter Pansies or Viola still remain one of the best sellers in South Africa and for good reason. Did you know each plant can have up to 800 flowers? That’s quite incredible if one thinks about that. A single tray or a couple of instant colour pots will fill up a bowl to grow on the patio table as an all season centrepiece. Plant them with potting soil. Feed them every second week with Multifeed Flowergro. Deadhead them frequently and water them once a week. They will last right through to October and eventually cascade right over your bowls edge onto the table.
If your patio table is in the shade for most of the day then change over to a bowl of Primroses or Cyclamen for a show just as pretty.
The sweet scent of Jasmine in the air clearly marks the arrival of spring in South Africa and they start flowering as soon as the coldest weather stops. This evergreen, vigorous climber is perfect to use near windows or braai areas so that its sweet perfume that fills the air in the mornings and evenings.
Jasminum polyanthum is its full name. Growing best in full sun or light shade and loves a well drained compost enriched soil. They are waterwise and do as well in a container or along a trellis in the garden. Its pink buds open into white star-like flowers that cascade down the shrub. After flowering we recommend giving it a hardy cut back and shaping. Midsummer give it a light clip to add to its shape and then leave it to grow through late summer and winter where it will flower on the ends of those stems in spring.
They are excellent as cut flowers so be sure to place some flowers in your home so that their wonderful scent can mark the arrival of spring!
Aloes for pollinators and birds
Most Aloes are suited to hot dry positions but will grow in any garden where they get a lot of sun and are planted in well drained soil. We love winter aloes because this is when they flower in striking tones of yellow through orange to red and the nectar from the aloe flowers attract many of the nectar loving birds as well as bees and other beneficial insects.
Be on the lookout for Scale which is the most common problem locally through the winter months. This shows as a white speckle which covers the underside of the leaves. Spray with a contact insecticide. In recent years we have seen more and more Kanker on aloes. This is where one sees the flowers or leaves almost mangled they are that malformed. This is caused by a mite insect which is almost impossible to see so most people miss it until the damage is dome. Use a systemic insecticide such as Efekto Plant Protector as a drench at flowering time as well as in midsummer to keep it under control. Destroy the leaves and flowers that are ruined to limit the infection and to stop it from spreading.
Colour does not only have to come from bedding plants in winter. The cold temperatures and frost colours a range of plants to striking shades of reds to burnt pinks. By far the most popular are the different varieties of Nandina which we believe no garden should be without. Also known as Sacred Bamboo they are incredibly versatile growing in sun and shade as well as making a striking container plant.
Nandina are evergreen and what makes them special is the colour they provide in the garden during all four seasons of the year. In the spring, the new foliage emerges as bright bronzed red and is soon followed by large panicles of creamy white flowers. Clusters of bright green berries replace the flowers and by late summer the berries will ripen to a bright red. The berries will remain until they are discovered and enjoyed by the local birds.
Camellias get better with age
It’s been a very good year for Camellias and we have already seen them add a touch of opulence to the gardens unparalleled. As they mature, Camellias are one of the best flowering shrubs for the modern garden. Besides the fact that they flower at a time of the year when few other shrubs are in flower they are extremely versatile.
The dark green foliage of the camellia is attractive all year. However, it is the large rose-like blooms appearing through winter and early spring that turn heads. Camellias have different shaped flowers from single to rosette and even in size they range from small and compact to large opulent flowers.
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 mostly shady spots with well-drained soil.