Colour for December
November is the time to plant up your garden so that it will be beautiful for the summer holidays.
Swimming pools, entertainment areas and patios are in the spotlight during the holiday season. Make these more attractive with containers planted up with a colourful mixture of flowering annuals (marigold, nicotiana, zinnia, verbena) and perennials (alstroemeria, agapanthus, pelargonium) available at garden centres.
All that needs to be done is to carefully remove the plants from their bags or pots without disturbing the roots and place in the container, filling in around the plants with a commercial potting mixture. The potting soil and the soil in the bag should be moistened before planting.
Colour bags also work well among established plants in the border. A further advantage to placing bagged plants in flower among permanent plantings is that it immediately allows the gardener to visualise future planting schemes, and to see whether the colour and shape of the plant fits in with its companions.
Day lilies are useful and reliable perennials for the summer months, their graceful arching foliage playing as important a part in the landscape as their beautiful flowers. Grow in single colours in large groups for impact, or in a rainbow of mixed shades. Cream, yellow and gold day lilies look stunning when combined with Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'; orange and bronze, or pink day lilies, are set off by maroon ornamental grass, Pennisetum 'Atropurpureum'.
For sheer drama create a border with the 'Little Red Hedge' rose and Berberis 'Rose Glow' that has maroon-purple foliage splashed with pink. Add dwarf Phormium tenax 'Rubrum' for contrast in texture and form, sultry red day lilies, and a frill of red dianthus and Nierembergia 'Dwarf Purple Robe'.
Pink works well when deeper shades of magenta or plum are threaded through pastel pinks, and this can be achieved in hot borders by planting groups of vinca cultivars in these colours. Vincas cope well in the hottest weather, and are not only pretty in a border, they also make attractive container and hanging basket subjects. In lightly shaded beds, plant pink impatiens or pink bedding begonias to define a curved border or to make a broad ribbon of gentle colour.
Lavender and apricot
This colour scheme works well. Group mauve rose floribunda 'Vodacom' and fragrant, low growing 'St Katherine's', apricot roses 'Amarula Profusion' (knee-high) and compact 'Jealous Joey' with lavender bushes and Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', and underplant with heliotrope, nierembergia and catmint.
Find space for an indigenous summer colour scheme in similar shades, with mauve Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly' and its taller relative Polygala myrtifolia 'Purple Butterfly', with Tecoma capensis 'Apricot', orange-red crocosmia and apricot Barberton daisy (gerbera).
These three roses are highly recommended for their generous flowering:
- 'Knock Out' with clusters of cherry-red, cup-shaped flowers throughout the season is one of the most disease resistant shrub roses. Planted in groups they are guaranteed to brighten any border. They can also be grown as a low hedge.
- 'Jhb Garden Club' is one of the loveliest shrub roses, with clusters of delicate, single, coral-pink blooms, which as leading rose grower Ludwig Taschner says, "dance like butterflies in the wind." Charming in borders and in tubs.
- 'Deloitte & Touche' has a spreading growth habit and an abundance of semi-double clusters of peach and apricot blended flowers with tones of orange. Can be grown in beds, in pots, as a low hedge, or as a standard.
Brighten rockeries, gravel gardens, and fill in gaps between paving stones with single and double portulaca available in mixed or separate colours of cream, mango, fuchsia, orange, peach and peppermint. They need well-drained soil and a sunny position for the flowers to open. Verbenas in hot pink, peach and purple enjoy similar conditions.
Encourage birds and butterflies to visit your summer garden by growing red and orange flowers, such as are found in bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.), Chinese lantern (abutilon), hibiscus, pentas, penstemon, summer flowering red-hot pokers, russellia, Strelitzia reginae and Tecoma capensis.
Butterflies are also attracted to daisies, and the summer garden has a wonderful selection of these bright, cheerful flowers in the form of tall and dwarf sunflowers in yellow and mahogany, gold gloriosa daisies with dark centres, and echinacea with dusky pink petals and rust-coloured centres.
Still more daisy flowers for the summer garden include white Shasta daisy, dainty matricaria, single and double Marguerite daisies in white, pink, apricot, cream and yellow, and the indigenous blue felicia.
Life is a garden ready for the holidays in all its summer glory!
- Dress up bare spots with 'instant' flowering pots of annuals.
- Group plants with similar watering and shade requirements.
- Make a list of heat-tolerant plants in your garden and in your neighbourhood for future reference.