White nights and splashes of colour

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alyssum flickr

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Plant white alyssum to ensure interest throughout the year. Picture: Rameshng, flickr.com

Cape Town - Bulbs, annuals, bedding plants, beautiful trees – there are many ways to brighten up your garden with long-lasting, seasonal colour.

Life is a Garden Life, the marketing arm the South African Nursery Association, offers these tips on how to make your garden space a reflection of your individuality and creativity.

Create a moonlight garden

A border of containers filled with white flowers looks magical at twilight and on moonlit nights. Plant white azaleas, rothmania, magnolia, arums, begonias, hydrangea paniculata, galtonia, dahlias, gaura, chrysanthemums and fragrant white roses, tuberose, gardenia, alyssum and jasmine to ensure interest throughout the year.

The indigenous perennial syncarpha argentea or “everlasting” has a flowering period of seven months and its silvery foliage complements the tiny translucent white flowers. Include a few plants with silver-grey foliage such as lamb’s ear (stachys), santolina and white lavender. Create your white garden near the braai and entertainment areas for maximum enjoyment. A small water feature planted with pale, night-blooming, nymphaea lotus will complete the picture.

Improve vegetable production

A few cheerful flowers planted among the vegetables adds a splash of colour to the predominantly green kitchen garden, and can improve the harvest. Bold zinnias attract the bees for the pollination of cucumbers, squash and melons; the “poached egg” limnathes lure hover flies to help combat infestations of aphids on tomatoes, broccoli and other above-ground crops.

Orange, red and yellow nasturtiums entice aphids away from veggies while a fragrant lavender plant deters many small creatures from dining on your veggie patch. The tiny parasitic nematodes in the soil, which can deplete the kitchen garden production if allowed to get out of control, are kept in check by the presence of dahlias and marigolds splashing their colours.

Vamp up the dinner table

Unusually coloured vegetables are guaranteed to add visual interest to the salad platter. Plant seeds of the golden or sweet-tasting pink and white striped beetroots. Carrot seeds are available in purple, white, and yellow varieties, as are string beans.

Sow and grow young purple-podded peas to be harvested and eaten whole as indigo-coloured sugar snaps that will complement red lettuce and yellow or purple cauliflower heads on the table. Swiss chard comes with gold and red stalks contrasting against curled green leaves, and tomatoes can be grown with black, white, yellow and striped fruits in all sizes.

Most intriguing of all, perhaps, is maize with kernels in blue, red, or multicoloured varieties in shades of white, yellow, blue and reds all on the same ear.

Make a visual statement

Containers, trellises, arches and obelisks all add height to the landscape and, combined with colourful plants climbing up or cascading down, can turn a problem area into an exciting design statement.

A long stretch of wall comes into its own when trelliswork panels are placed along the length. Climbers such as golden shower, thunbergia and wisteria will scramble up the trellis and flaunt displays of colour. A row of tall coloured planters looks good along the shaded wall of a courtyard, filled with begonias with their jewel-like flowers and green, bronze, or variegated leaves.

A trellised arch can be used to frame a view, mark the division between two sections of garden, or to draw the eye away from functional garden essentials such as water tanks and compost heaps. Cover the arch with a soft-shaded banksia or rambling rose or go waterwise with indigenous pink trumpet vine (podranea ricasoliana), yellow canary creeper (senecio tamoides), or white traveller’s joy (clematis brachiata).

Obelisks, fashioned from metal or painted wood, add height and create focal interest in low-growing kitchen gardens. They look superb when covered with scarlet runner beans, green cucumbers, or purple granadillas.

Irrigation solutions such as soaker hoses are ideal for ensuring enough water reaches the roots of these high plantings without wasting unnecessary litres on the foliage at the tops.

Trees have a lot to offer. Graceful birches (betula pendula alba) with their small green leaves and silvery white trunks look equally impressive planted singly as a feature item, or mass-planted as a small woodland copse. Fever tree (acacia xanthophloea) is equally effective with its lustrous green-yellow trunk and dainty leaves.

Many other indigenous trees are small enough to fit into suburban gardens and turn summer’s end into a celebration of autumn colour. Make space for coastal golden leaf (bridelia micrantha), bushwillows (combretum species), rock cabbage (cussonia natalensis), and sneezewood (ptaeroxylon obliquum), which attract birds and butterflies into your environment too.

Spectacular tree wisteria (bolusanthus speciosus) flowers in a showy haze of purple flowers and is far more environment-friendly than the jacaranda. The pompon tree (dias cotinifolia) transforms into a cloud-like froth of pink at Christmas time.

No need to wait, visit your closest accredited garden centre soon, and get started on colouring your world beautiful. – Heart of the Home reporter

l For more information on bringing Life to your Garden, visit our website <&eh>www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.

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