Johannesburg - There’s not long till Christmas and New Year. What should you be planting in your garden so that your home is filled with flowers and colour that attract birds, butterflies and bees this summer?
As you plan for the new year, be inspired by the plant combinations used by top gardeners in the Eastern Cape. The artistic town of Bedford in the Eastern Cape, in particular, is the epicentre of a region of beautiful gardens owned by gardeners who have honed their skills in garden design and colour.
Although their gardens are only opened to the public in the last weekend of October during the Bedford Garden Festival, images of ingenious planting and glorious focal points offer glorious inspiration for local gardeners - go to http://www.bedford-gardens.co.za.
Consider these plant combinations and design ideas when planting up your garden for the new year.
Revitalise your midsummer garden by planting indigenous gazania, Pride of De Kaap (Bauhinia galpinii) and Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), which provide a blaze of orange that is cooled down by the gentle blues of agapanthus, plumbago and felicia. Pink-cupped blooms of anisodontea or lavatera placed behind the lilac pincushion flowers of scabious also make a pretty picture in a mixed border.
For speedy colour, bring your summer garden alive with annuals this December. Use compact varieties to edge paths, add colour to the front of borders, and brighten pots, window boxes and hanging baskets. Grow annuals in groups of seven or more in borders. Introduce colour into the vegetable garden with dwarf nasturtiums and marigolds.
Use bold colours to attract attention to a particular area, such as the front entrance, patio or entertainment area. Daisy-like gaillardias, with flowers of yellow, orange, gold and bronze, are perfect for sunny spots. Partner them with the gay colours of zinnias. Let low-growing Zinnia angustifolia spill over low walls and from containers, and add a bright splash of gold and orange in rockeries.
Use dwarf varieties of marigolds in pots and for edgings, and taller kinds in borders. Other annuals with bold and bright colours include cockscomb (celosia), Cosmos Ladybird Yellow and Ladybird Orange, Gazania Daybreak Orange and Gazania Gazoo Red Ring.
Purple and mauve flowers are sophisticated when combined with grey foliage, as in the fluffy flowers of ageratum Blue Blazer with catmint; vinca and burgundy Vinca Stardust Orchid look good near lavenders. Plant a broad ribbon of reddish-purple Salvia splendens.
Flowering tobacco plant, nicotiana, has long-lasting qualities and pink, salmon, white or lime funnel-shaped flowers. Grow this summer annual near the front of a border.
Tall-growing cleome, known as the spider plant, due to its stamens’ shape and narrow white, pink and lavender-pink flower petals, is an elegant choice for the back of a border.
Plant bushes of Marguerite daisies (argyranthemum) close together in groups of three or five to fill gaps. Princess alstroemerias are compact growing and make a pretty ribbon of colour in the front of borders. Dianthus with frilly white, pink or red flowers cope well with heat and rain. Grow in well-drained, composted soil in a sunny position along paths, and in borders and pots.
Instead of a single row, three rows of dwarf marigolds will make an eye-catching ribbon of colour alongside a path or as an edging to a border. You can achieve a similar effect with vinca, dwarf zinnia or ageratum.
Should you choose a traditional colour scheme for the festive season, there are many red flowers that cope with our summer heat, among them hibiscus, day lily, gerbera, pelargonium, verbena, gazania, salvia and petunia. Red bedding begonias or impatiens would be a good choice for semi-shade, as would fuchsias with red and white bells.
Decorate the patio with Mandevilla Sundaville Red trained on a trellis, and pots of red patio roses, gerbera, anthuriums and pelargoniums.
Perfect for patios
Pots of scented flowers on patios and paved areas add to the enjoyment of sitting outside, and the aromatic foliage of sage, thyme and mint near barbecues will whet the appetite.
Grow stunning summer flowering arums with names of Black Jack, Majestic Red, Purple Heart, Aurora and Hot Chocolate in containers on the patio. Plant eucomis and its cultivars in subtle shades of green, pink and purple.
Ivy leaf and zonale pelargoniums are suitable for pots and hanging baskets – don’t forget scented pelargoniums, with leaves that smell of rose, citrus, nutmeg or peppermint.
The evening garden
White arum, agapanthus, galtonia and the white form of plumbago show up well at twilight, as do white hydrangeas, wild bauhinia (Bauhinia natalensis) with white bell-like flowers, and the silver leaves and clusters of dainty white flowers of Gomphostigma virgatum.
Silver and grey-leafed Artemisia Powis Castle, catmint (nepeta), Helichrysum petiolare, lamb’s ear (stachys), lavender, Lamium maculatum Beacon Silver are also suitable.
Plants that release their fragrance at sunset add an extra dimension to the garden. They should be near entertainment areas and under open windows. Some flowers even give a clue with names like night-scented stock and moonflower. Others include tuberose, Virginian stock, hosta, nicotiana, lilium, jasmine, honeysuckle, the star jasmine and some orchids. - Saturday Star