June in the Garden
As the streets are lined with naked trees and the sun is beaming directly into the eyes of South Africans making their way to work in the morning, we can now officially say: “It is winter”.
We hope your garden was adequately covered since many areas would have already experienced their first frosts. If your plants have a history of getting frost burn, which is when sun rays ‘burn’ the frost on their leaves, you should consider spraying some cold water on them in the morning before the sun gets a look in. If time is an issue and your mornings are as hectic as most, then an automated irrigation system could possibly be set to go off for just 15 minutes or so.
The 21st June is a date every gardener, or even just summertime lover, should diarise because it’s the longest night and shortest day. This means that (yes, you guessed it) we are back on our way to warmer times and fun in the sun! Even more interesting though, is that after the 21st June, when the days start getting longer, plants start growing again and their sap starts to rise up their stems and branches again. Isn’t nature such a wonderful thing? So try not to prune your shrubs, trees and roses until after the 21st as they should respond more positively afterwards.
The gorgeous Eastern Cape is luckily not as cold as the rest of the country during winter so there is no excuse for you not to do a few things out in the garden. The first is that, at the coast, you really should not stop spraying your roses for fungal diseases and the second is to make sure your stakes are secure before that door to the windy season is left open.
The third is planting some things because let us be honest, everyone else will probably be indoors while you could be outdoors and who wouldn’t want to post some outdoorsy pictures on Facebook while the rest of the country is probably looking through glass?
The frozen state is probably well iced over by now so hopefully adequate precautions have been taken and if not, it’s advisable to do so before the ice age sets in in July. Mulching garden beds is one of the simplest, cost effective and effective means of frost and cold protection available in these parts, so don’t skimp.
Remember to turn off your water feature pumps overnight, lest you want them to burn out if the water freezes and if you value the longevity of your hose pipe, here’s another reminder to haul it indoors overnight. Don’t irrigate or water your plants before 10am and don’t cut your lawn too short.
Now grab a good gardening book, a glass of wine, snuggle up by the fireplace and start planning what you’d like to do next with your garden!
It’s a very dry time in Gauteng and the brown landscape shows how well into winter this region is now. Luckily that is easily remedied with a quick trip to your local garden centre. Pick up some pansies, violas and primulas to bring instant colour into your garden! Put bird feeders out and keep your bird baths topped up because our feathered friends are looking for food and water at this time of year, so attracting them now is easier than ever.
Keep watering your gardens, anytime from 9am to 3pm but remember that with the really cold nights that this region experiences it is advisable to water as early in the day as possible to allow the plants to drink up as much as they can, leaving very little left overs to freeze, come night time.
It’s a sub-tropical paradise in Kwa-Zulu Natal but that doesn’t mean it is all sunshine and roses. This area never quite gets rid of all its pests because it is just not quite cold enough for them to make like a tree. Enter: lizards, skinks and geckos to help balance the pest environment and provide food for (thereby also attracting) birds. Providing places for these little reptiles to hide instead of chasing them away is very beneficial for your garden, plants and home so let them help you by helping themselves.
Remember to reduce watering for roses and in the warmer parts of KZN, keep an eye out for tomato blight. Proteas in the province are looking particularly gorgeous right now so pop in to your local accredited garden centre and pick some up, or just stare at their beauty, whichever is your preference.
The Western Cape, one of our most beautiful provinces, is both blessed and cursed with rainfall in winter which makes its needs a little different to the rest of the country. Rainfall will naturally bring the temperatures down and in winter this means it can be even colder with the wet days. Mulching your beds to protect the ground from freezing is essential and adjusting your watering systems to suit the low early morning and late afternoon temperatures is vital. Don’t forget that maintaining a regular watering programme during dry spells is still necessary in winter even with the rainfall.
It’s a good time to prune grape vines, cutting them back hard, to two buds, although doing so after the 21st June may make them more receptive with the rising sap. Having said that, don’t go and prune tender plants, especially in frost prone areas since new growth is particularly susceptible to damage.