The garden is your canvas this time of year, and you are invited to become a landscaping artist! No matter what size your garden, patio, or balcony is, there’s a blushing flush of colour and texture to play with. Let the plants be your paint and create a space that inspires you this spring.
Warm-season bulbs like tuberous begonias, dahlias, and amaryllis can be planted now for a vibrant summer spectacle, lasting until the start of next winter.
For sizzling summer bedding colour, plant masses of petunias, dianthus, gazanias, and Zantedeschia hybrids now. All of these plants are sun-loving and will quickly thrive with a dose of plant food. Visit your Garden Centre for advice on which products to use.
Trending now: Ornamental grass
Take your garden artistry to the next level with pebbles and semi-precious stones as yard art. Get creative with stone arrangements and ornamental grasses that are water-wise and low-maintenance.
Pair pure white pebbles with contrasting black tiles or black-painted pavement slabs to give walkways and entrances a sleek look. Plant summer-flowering, white button sedge (Kylinga alba) to set off the contrast. This indigenous ornamental grass is sun-loving and evergreen, producing a clustered white flower head that is carried on an elegant, long slender stem.
You can also purchase bags of pink rose quartz to use as centrepiece stone mandalas or walkable labyrinths. Plant some local steekblaarblinkgras (Melinis nerviglumis) to compliment the pink notes from the rose quartz. This very hardy ornamental grass will thrive in full sun, producing the sweetest plumes of fluffy pink to red seeds that appear all year round and attract seed-eating birds.
Top tip: The key to long-term pebble arrangement success and almost no maintenance is good quality weed guard sheeting beneath your stone feature.
Edibles are everything
September is the time to sow all your tasty summer salad ingredients. Grab a seed packet or seedling tray and get lettuce, spring onion, and tomato into loosened and composted soil now.
Most lettuce varieties are quick and easy to grow, producing a harvest within a month or two. The loose-leafed varieties are the most practical because you can harvest the individual leaves for up to three months before replanting. Others, like the butterhead or iceberg, are picked when the heads form, so it’s best to sow seed at 3–4 weekly intervals to have a constant supply. Use a fertile, well-draining soil medium and space about 30cm apart to allow for good air circulation. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times as drought stress can cause a bitter taste.
Spring onion can be grown in sun or partial shade from spring till autumn. Plants prefer rich soil with compost dug in, spaced 10cm apart. You can also grow spring onions in raised beds and containers as they don’t take up a lot of space. If left to grow, plants will self-flower, attracting a host of beneficial pollinators. Some varieties can be grown as bulb onions, so experiment with harvesting at different times to see whether you prefer younger plants or a more mature taste from the bulb.
When it comes to tomatoes, we are spoiled for choice! Prepare fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny location for an abundant harvest. Tomatoes are grouped into two categories according to their growth style. We get Determinate tomatoes that are bushy, grow about a metre tall, and produce all their fruit before dying back. Indeterminate tomatoes have a vining habit and grow up to 6m high. Plants will continue growing and producing until killed by disease or frost. Tomatoes are prone to fungal infections if overwatered.
Your September to-do list
El Niño is a returning climate cycle and is predicted to reach us in full swing during 2024. Estimated to last for a year, this period includes heatwaves and little rain. Now is the time to harvest and store as much rainwater as possible to ensure your garden thrives during the dry times ahead.
On the pruning side, Mayflowers, banksia roses, hibiscus, and poinsettia are ready for a snip. From the middle of September, lightly prune your hybrid tea roses as well. This encourages new basal growth, green leaves, and strong root development.
You can also keep your pansies and violas looking their best by deadheading spent flowers as they appear. This will stimulate a continuous flush of flowers.
Regular weeding is another priority before it gets out of hand. Treat weeds on paving, pathways, and in gravelled areas with eco-friendly products available from your Garden Centre.
If you’re looking for the perfect tree, here’s a selection of wildlife-attracting, shade-providing, and spring-blooming trees to plant now: paperbark acacia, fever tree, pom pom tree, forest elder, Cape chestnut, dombeya rotundifolia (wild pear).
Pest alert: The mole cricket
Be on the lookout for mole crickets in the lawn this month. These pests look like a cross between lobsters and crickets, with large, clawed front legs reminiscent of moles.
They cause unevenly raised burrows in the lawn and/or patches of dying grass. If left untreated, mole crickets will ruin the lawn and burrow ever deeper into the soil, making it more difficult to get rid of them.
A contact/systemic insecticide drench should be used as soon as possible as young nymphs are easier to eradicate. Visit your local Garden Centre or Home Store and ask for product advice from one of the helpful attendants.