Blocks of colour for a hot garden

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white agapanthus lib INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Most effective for massed plantings are mauve Tulbaghia fragrans, white wild iris (dietes), orange or yellow bulbine as well as blue or white agapanthus, seen here at the Union Gardens in Pretoria. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Here are some tips for January gardening...

* Planting in blocks of colour is fashionable. Do this by choosing a single species or cultivar, otherwise the effect will be lost. Most effective for massed plantings are mauve Tulbaghia fragrans, white wild iris (dietes), orange or yellow bulbine as well as blue or white agapanthus.

* If good rains have fallen in your area, much of the fertiliser applied early in the season will have leached out. Another application is recommended to keep plants healthy. Soil that is rich in organic matter acts like a sponge, retaining moisture, but is free draining.

* Pots can add interest in a garden. Large pots do not need to hold plants. They can stand on their own, or have striking foliage plants such as acanthus or globe artichoke around their base.

* Instead of spending money trying to rejuvenate a sickly plant, replace with a vigorous new one. Whenever possible, choose plants that do not belong to the previous family, and improve the soil before planting by digging in compost, superphosphate and a general fertiliser.

* Give roses a light cut back to encourage an autumn flush, but make sure enough leaves are left to prevent sunburn on the stems. Water deeply and feed with a rose fertiliser.

* Do not prune shrubs that produce berries in the autumn, or camellias that are forming buds, otherwise berries and flower buds that are developing for autumn flowering will be forfeited. - Saturday Star

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