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WORDS: ALICE SPENSER-HIGGS IMAGES: SUPPLIED & SHUTTERSTOCK

Garden centres and nurseries have opened up just in time to prepare the garden for winter and there’s plenty to do and plenty to plant. What better way to exercise and get rid of all those locked-in frustrations? At the end of the day your body might be aching and your nails damaged and dirty, but there will be a sense of great satisfaction and achievement.

Add colour

Looking for the easiest way to add colour to the winter garden? Plant pansies and violas, poppies, petunias or calendula in sunny beds, patio containers, and window boxes. All they need is plenty of sunshine, regular watering, and liquid plant food once a month. Trim off the dead flowers to encourage new ones.
Good to know: Iceland poppies are colourful fillers in between pruned roses in winter. Buy seedlings that are “green”, in other words, not in flower.
Best for shade: Primulas are winter’s most magical flowers for shade and semi-shade. They fill a garden bed or border, creating drifts of colour, in shades of lavender, rose, white or wine red.

PANSIES FOR EASY WINTER COLOUR

Grow veggies

Easy greens to kick off your own veggie garden with are Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, lettuce, rocket and Asian greens (tatsoi, pak choi). Pick up seedling packs at the garden centre or look out for Simply Salad mixes of kale, rocket and Asian greens or mixed lettuce leaves with rocket, endive and radicchio. Veggies like full sun, well-composted soil and regular watering.
Try this:
No space or not enough sun? Grow veggies in pots, in good quality potting soil in a sunny corner, balcony or patio. Feed with a liquid fertiliser once a week.
Don’t forget to… buy frost cloth and protect the veggies when temperatures drop if you live in a frosty area.

GROW VEGGIES LIKE SWISS CHARD

Hanging baskets

Brighten up your outdoor living area with flower-filled hanging baskets. Winter is the best time for hanging baskets as they don’t dry out as fast or bake in the sun. Opt for quick-growing fillers in bright, vivid colours that produce a cascade of flowers like calibrachoa cabaret, verbena “firehouse” and pelargoniums marcada, turkana and tacari, that hold their shape in hanging baskets without getting scraggly.
Good to know: For the best show, hang the baskets at eye-level. It makes watering and trimming easier. Depending on the amount of sun, water every day or every second day. Feed with a liquid fertiliser twice a month to encourage continuous flowering.

A HANGING BASKET FILLED WITH PELARGONIUM TACARI

Herbal remedies

Pot up winter-hardy herbs for flavouring winter soups and stews and for health. Thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage all help to relieve winter ailments.
Good to know: Thyme is a tonic herb that strengthens the respiratory system, parsley is a multi-vitamin and rich source of vitamin C, rosemary is a natural antiseptic, and sage makes an excellent gargle for sore throats.
Growing tip: Keep pots in a warm, sunny and sheltered area. Let the soil dry slightly between watering. For plentiful picking, have more than one pot of each variety.

TEND TO THAT HERB GARDEN

Work the roses

Move roses that may be in too much shade or are in the wrong place. Prepare the new planting site first, enriching the soil with plenty of compost. Water the roses the night before moving and cut them down by a third. Dig in a circle around the rose – about 20cm from the stem – pushing the spade in deeply to cut the roots. Lever the rose out, making sure the roots come out easily. Plant in its new position, firm down the soil and water well.
Try this: New roses planted now will settle in over winter and be ready to flower in October. Ludwig’s Roses outlets in Gauteng are open and roses can also be ordered online and delivered.

Gather leaves

Rake up all the fallen leaves to make your own compost and save money! Fill black refuse bags with leaves, moisten them and tie up the bag. Leave for about three months and the result will be a rich, leafy compost.
Try this: Make a regular compost heap. Find a sheltered corner and make a base with sticks or small branches from the garden. Build the heap by alternating layers of green material (for nitrogen) such as lawn cuttings, kitchen veggie waste, with brown material (this adds carbon) such as fallen leaves or shredded paper. Add a layer of garden soil every now and then. Build the heap until it’s about 1,5m high, finishing with a brown layer, and moisten.
Good to know: Turning the heap every three weeks speeds up the composting process.

PUT THOSE DRY LEAVES TO GOOD USE

SEED FOR YOURSELF

Rather shop online to reduce the risk of exposure.

Seed

Roses

Garden centres