Colour matters and to enjoy lots of autumn colour now, means you should PLANT SMART. ‘Smart planting’ means taking home top sellers, buying plants which are in season (a time when they will be looking their best!), and using those which will give you better bang for your buck! So, get to your local GCA garden centre for inspiration, ideas and expert advice.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs now
Plant alliums, anemones, babianas, chincherinchees, freesias, daffodils, hyacinths, ixias, Dutch Irises, lachenalias, snowdrops, muscari, blue bells, narcissus, ranunculi, sparaxis and tritonias. After you have finished your bulb-planting, set out the following seedlings to grow around them: ornamental kale, pansies, violas, Fairy Primula (Primula malacoides) and Iceland poppies
Remember to: Water newly planted bulbs deeply every four days – they should never dry out completely. Those in pots will need more regular watering.
Cool April is the perfect time to plant a new hedge. The advantage is that cooler soil gives young hedge plants a chance to settle in well, and cooler weather will allow you to spend the time needed to dig the trench required to plant them in. High fashion is hedge plants with a dual purpose – defining space and supplying you with edibles like quinces and pomegranates. The following plants are ideal:
- Plant Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a bushy shrub which flowers profusely from summer to autumn with sky-blue phlox-like flowers. Perfect choice for different sun patterns during the day as it likes full sun and light shade.
- Escallonia ‘Iveyi’ is a very versatile evergreen and glossy shrub up to 2,5m in height. It is hardy, fast-growing, and produces white flowers from summer to autumn.
- Amatungulu or big num-num (Carissa macrocarpa) is also indigenous and will be equally successful in coastal or subtropical gardens. The foliage, starry white flowers and edible fruit are very attractive and it will be only a fool that would attempt to breach your fully grown, thorny, boundary.
- Abelias, bottle brush (Callistemon), Blue potato bush (Solanum rantonnetii), Australian Tea Bush and Camellia sasanqua will all grow into lovely flowering hedges which do not need constant pruning – all are frost-hardy. Blue Potato Bush (Solanum rantonnetii) is another fabulous option, but note that it is a frost sensitive plant.
If a high and dense, evergreen hedge is what you envisage, plant the cold and frost hardy Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum) or Pittosporum.
New in-store: Go for the latest brassica seed varieties (or cruciferous vegetables) in rainbow colours and with petite sizes, like purple broccoli, purple cauliflower, green cauliflower, baby cabbage, baby cauliflower and mixed kale.
Try something new!
Grow your own garlic. You can buy garlic bulb sets from nurseries. Pick a sunny spot with well-draining soil and plant the cloves about 15cm apart in drills of about 7cm deep. The clove’s noses should just be covered with a thin layer of soil. Water regularly
Prevent bud drop on gardenias by keeping them well-watered now. Although these plants flower mostly in summer, they still form new buds until late autumn which matures on the plant and will open as soon as temperatures rise again. If they experience a lack of water in this phase, the buds fail to open and fall off.