How to bring colour to your patio

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pelargonium sxc Pelargoniums will brighten your patio in low-traffic areas.

Cape Town - The patio is where we get a chance to sit back, enjoy the garden and appreciate plants up close and personal – so it is a great place to incorporate scented flowers or foliage.

Every month, Life is a Garden, the marketing arm of the SA Nursery Association, offers gardening advice.

Spaced flagstones create a frame for low groundcover, and thyme, marjoram and mint will scent the air as they’re scuffed underfoot. For low-traffic areas, try slightly taller plants between the stones – fragrant alyssum, dianthus, petunias, and drought-resistant pelargoniums with their many different spicy scents.

Fire pits extend outdoor leisure time into the cooler months. Plant basil and sages nearby so it’s easy to break off a twig or branch and toss it into the flames to scent the air. A small pond enhances the sense of outdoor peace and many waterlilies give off a delicate fragrance.

Embellish walls with a classic plaster mask spouting water, or if the wall receives a lot of sun, consider an espaliered fruit tree. Fig, apple and citrus trees are well suited to being clipped, pruned and trained in this way. Ensure the soil is well composted, well mulched and well irrigated and you’ll have the joys of an orchard at arm’s reach from your patio lounger.

A trellised screen will support sweet-smelling honeysuckle and jasmine, or climbing veggies like cucumbers and purple-podded beans.

Quality potting soils, mulches, water-retaining gels and timer-activated watering systems all contribute to the success of plants in containers. Azaleas, hydrangeas and plectranthus species love container living and flower happily in the shade.

The bay tree has long been valued as an evergreen container plant and aromatic curry leaf trees also adapt gracefully to life in a large container placed in a sunny position.

Shade trees can form the backbone of patio areas, so consider specimens that will grow large enough to support a hammock for lazy reading days. Magnolia, Cape chestnut and indigenous pompon trees all create a fragrant pink cloud during their flowering times.

In South Africa, we’re lucky to be able to spend so much leisure time outdoors; an inviting patio area will not only encourage the whole family to slow down and enjoy life in the garden, it will add value to the property should you ever want to move. - Sunday Argus

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