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 Cape 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. A dwarf variety growing to 40cm, gaura Belleza pink softens a spring border with its airy flower spikes. Plant it in full sun, in fertile soil that drains well. Once established it is drought tolerant. Bees love it.
Made for shade
Nothing matches impatiens for masses of flowers in shady beds. Make space to plant Beacon once the weather warms. Available in rose pink, white, violet, red, orange, coral, and salmon, it’s disease resistant and will flourish in dappled sun. Plant in fertile soil and feed monthly with a liquid fertiliser.
Fragrant nemesia Nesia pairs well with other perfumed spring annuals like pansies, alyssum, and stocks. With its open, semi-upright growth, it can be used as a soft border, in beds or in containers and hanging baskets. The Nesia range includes two-tone flowers; Banana Swirl (yellow/pink) and Fantasy Pink (dark/light pink). Plant in full sun, in moist, well-drained soil. Regular watering and feeding encourages continuous blooms and will extend its flowering into summer.
Bees love these
Salvia Salmia is a shrubby upright perennial producing endless spikes of large dark purple, pink, or orange red blooms that attract bees and stand out against the dark green leaves. Plants flower from spring onwards, needing only moderate watering. It does well in sunny beds or as a feature in a large container. For strong growth, cut back in spring, fertilise and water well.
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. It loves morning sun and afternoon shade.
Lobelia Curacao is a showy trailing lobelia that produces abundant deep blue flowers. It is heat tolerant and is available with trailing growth for baskets or mounded for garden beds and containers. The colours are brilliant blue, blue with a white eye and light blue. Plant in full sun or semi-shade and in loose, gritty soil.
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.