Time to change your garden’s blueprint

Cape Town - January is the time to sit back and gaze at your garden. Look carefully at the way you have designed your beds and planted up the borders, and consider what you might do differently this year.

Each year, landscape design shows reveal design trends for the upcoming year. Many gardeners look to the Chelsea Garden Show to glean the latest garden design trends, and this year’s 100th show (May 21-25) is set to be a major event on the international gardening calendar.

ROSA VUVUZELA: Attend a midsummer rose pruning demonstration in Stellenbosch.

Kirstenbosch will also celebrate a centenary this year with the launch of Professor Brian J Huntley’s magnificent book, Kirstenbosch: The most beautiful garden in Africa (1913-2013 Centenary Edition), one of several high-profile events celebrating the milestone this month.

South Africa’s top exhibition designers, David Davidson and Ray Hudson, will be at Chelsea in May to design their 20th Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit.

For ultimate design inspiration for your garden, consider the 19th annual seven-day tour (May 18-26) to support the Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit, and which includes visits to Prince Charles’s estate, Highgrove, Lord Heseltine’s Thenford House garden, and Waltham Place, the Oppenheimer’s country estate. Contact Gill Durrant on 083 261 3961 or [email protected]

Local action

By all means look, listen and glean ideas from top design shows, but don’t miss out on what you can do in your garden this weekend. Cool days, big heat, fierce wind and occasional rain has had a significant impact on gardens this summer.

January is the time to check your lawn, plant a spectacular hibiscus and stock up on the latest erica and protea hybrids. Follow these tips:

A 5cm layer of mulch (compost, bark or dry leaves) on garden beds protects roots against the heat, and retains moisture in flower beds. If any soil in your garden is exposed to the sun, you have a problem. It’s time to cover up.

If you need to move a rose and you can’t wait for June, transplant it this month. Prune back rose bushes by half before moving.

Feed roses by sprinkling 60g of rose fertiliser granules around the roots of rose bushes. Foliar feed two weeks later with Seagro, Multifeed, Nitrosol or any good liquid fertiliser.

Shrubs and standard varieties should be planted at least 1m away from walls. Plant in a hole that is two or three times the volume of the plant bag (75cm x 75cm). Mix in compost and two cups of hoof and hornmeal to the soil. Avoid adding chemical fertilisers at this stage as they can burn the roots.

Hibiscus shrubs hate wet feet and will suffer from root rot in poorly-drained clay soils or in over-irrigated gardens.

For the best flowering results, sprinkle a handful of general fertiliser around the base of your hibiscus once a month in summer.

Choose a sunny open position on sloping ground, or in a rockery. If your garden has poor drainage, you could grow them in raised beds.

A tablespoon of general granular fertiliser (3:1:5) dissolved in five litres of water applied to the root area will do the job.

Established seedlings in colour bags can be found at local garden centres, and if planted up in containers will revitalise your patio or entrance.

Easy-to-grow heat-resistant varieties include petunias, bedding dahlias, marigold, portulaca, vinca and zinnia.