Spring is all about flowers, green grass and the humming of bees – what better time to be in the garden?
WORDS: ALICE SPENSER-HIGGS – IMAGE: SUPPLIED
With everything growing so easily, here’s how to add some spring magic to your Gauteng garden.
Sunny side up
Osteospermum (Cape daisies) are a sure sign of spring with their bright, happy faces. Low growing and compact, they are versatile and water wise once established. Look out for the magic colours in the FlowerPower series that change as they age or the popular, heat tolerant Serenity that includes Blue Eyed Beauty.
Different shades of pink are a staple of spring. For sheer romance, Digitalis (foxglove) Panther produces profuse dreamy spires of rose-pink bells. Ideal for beds or containers in dappled sun, this compact foxglove produces flowers for much longer than other varieties. It likes moist, fertile soil and fertiliser once or twice during the growing season.
Made for shade
Nothing matches impatiens for masses of flowers in shady beds. New disease resistant Beacon is available in rose pink, white, violet, red, orange, coral, and salmon. It flourishes in semi-shade. Plant in fertile soil and feed monthly with a liquid fertiliser.
The honey fragrance of Alyssum on a warm day is intoxicating. The bees think so too. Alyssum Clear Crystal grows easily, providing a low carpet of fragrant flowers year-round. Grows anywhere and everywhere there is sunshine especially as an edging for roses.
Bees love these
Salvia Mystic Spires is a top performer for larger landscapes. Its true-blue flowers spikes reach up to 90cm and over the years it becomes a larger clump. Regular cutting back keeps it bushy and increases the number of flowers, which the bees will appreciate. Like all salvia it should not be over watered but rather receive regular, deep watering.
Best for borders
Verbena Firehouse provides non-stop flowers for bed edgings and borders thanks to new flowers opening as the old ones die. The foliage is tough and disease resistant. Place in a position that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
Scabiosa Butterfly Blue is a perennial that flowers from spring to autumn, useful as an edging, or in large groups in borders or rock gardens. The lightly fragrant flowers attract butterflies. Plants do best in full sun. Grow in well drained, light fertile soil and don’t over water in winter.
Spectacular shrubs and creepers
These are the backbone of the garden and can also be a feature, especially those that flower in spring. Find a place for sun loving purple flowering Petrea that can be grown as a shrub or creeper, white-flowered Cape May bush, and mauve Wisteria creeper.
Super-fragrant Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia) grows in sun or semi-shade, while azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias grow best in the shade. For all of these, water regularly through winter, unless it rains, and fertilise monthly from midwinter until they start flowering. Trim after flowering.
Spring garden tips
- Always renew the soil before planting. Dig in fresh compost, bonemeal, and an organic fertiliser to replace lost nutrients.
- Increase watering to twice a week as day temperatures rise. Use grey water (from shower and washing machine).
- Add compost to the soil and fertilise flowering shrubs and perennials with 8:1:5 or 5:1:5 organic fertiliser.
Spring lawn care
- Water once a week (if there’s no rain) and fertilise once a month.
- Spike compacted lawns by pushing a garden fork as deeply as possible into the soil and wiggling it to loosen the soil. Fertilise with 5:1:5 fertiliser and water well.
- Don’t mow too low: this allows the lawn to develop deeper roots, making it drought tolerant.
- Don’t dig out the clover. When the lawn is mown, the clippings add nitrogen to the lawn, which fixes nitrogen back into the soil without the need for fertiliser.
EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF
Plants available from leading garden centres and Builders Warehouse outlets.
For more information, visit ballstraathof.co.za or call 011 794 2316.