MANY of us look at our garden and think “I’ll get to it next week.” Like anything else gardens need us to get stuck in and sweaty for rewarding results.
Fortunately there is plenty of expert advice available from our local nursery or landscaper.
Among them is assistant manager at Floradale Nurseries in Port Elizabeth Allan Haschick. He knew early on what he wanted to be.
“It all started with growing some peach pips, and making a small garden with them and some moss for grass, and a pots for a dam – to play with toy cars in the garden,” he explained.
The culmination of Haschick’s passion for plants and all things gardening is in the publishing of his own gardening book, due for release next year.
According to Haschick, there are three trends this year; self-sustainability, going organic and finding joy from colourful plants. Self sustainability is a worldwide trend that is fast catching on in Port Elizabeth, he reported.
“Growing your own food, is a great way of providing your family with fresh veggies that are organic, and is very cost effective,” he said.
Haschick suggested now is the time, with the change of seasons, to be preparing beds, pots or boxes for vegetables. Suggested vegetables to plant at this time of year include tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, carrots and lettuce.
Local nurseries can advise gardeners on what organic products would be suitable for their garden.
Finding joy in colourful plant is a trend that makes sense. Haschick said: “Planting a few colourful plants is similar to buying a long-lasting bunch of cut flowers.”
Monica Hall of the Sherwood Garden Centre team shared her tips for spring gardening inspiration with My Home. Lawn preparation should be done from mid September onwards.
She advises: : “Aerate the lawn in compacted areas using a garden fork. Fertilise with neutrog Blade runner or Efekto 7.1.3. Top dress in uneven areas: with a thin layer of good quality top soil then water well.”
Hall recommended keeping lawns cut longer, more regularly …sounds very Irish! Cutting lawns too short at longer intervals doesn’t allow branching to form a stronger mat which protects the roots.
Since the last drought, people are applying water- wise principles to their gardens, according to Julia Mukheibir, managing member of Vusumzi Picket Lane, which does landscaping and irrigation. Indigenous and water-wise plants generally offer low maintenance.
Among the most satisfying water-wise garden projects that Mukheibir has been involved with was for Woodridge School. “The entrance was crowded by old alien gum trees. To remove these trees and see the light coming in and transforming it with masses of colourful, water-wise, indigenous flowering plants was very rewarding,” Mukheibir said.
“A water-wise garden doesn’t have to be bland or boring!”
Choosing a garden theme
Mukheibir suggested choosing a garden theme and selecting the focal plants first. “The focal plants are the specimen plants that form the structure of the garden. These can be as simple as a single tree aloe, crane flower or fever tree. The focal plant can be under-planted with colourful flowering filler plants such as gazanias, osteospermum, felicia, arctotis and wild garlic for sunny spots with dietes, agapanthus, plectranthus, arum lilies and clivia for shadier areas,” she said.
A simple design in a townhouse garden is preferable to avoid a cluttered look. Easy maintenance gardens are possible using pebbles or paving. Biddum, geofabric or plastic sheeting should be laid under stones to stop weed growth. Reduce water loss though evaporation in planted areas by using mulch, bark nuggets, wood chips or pebbles.
Mukheibir suggests using large massed groupings of similar plant species, such as polygala, buddleja, Indian hawthorn, tecoma, euryops plumbago and lavender, for maximum impact in a large garden.
Pots for the patio”
My Home asked Mukheibir whether it is better to have one large container on a balcony or patio or lots of plants. She explained that it depended on the pot or container and the space available.
“One massive pot on a tiny patio will dominate the space and make the area looked crowded. In the same breath lots of little pots will be lost on a large patio,” she said.
With all this advice available, there is no need for your garden to be boring. Happy planting!