June in the Garden
Winter has arrived, but luckily our days are still blessed by lovely, lunchtime sunshine in most parts of the country. This is the perfect time for a little midday gardening and a braai with the family. For an enticing entertainment area plant seedlings like fairy Primulas for a dazzling flush of colour. Hanging baskets are back and add a wonderful variety of vibrant texture to your patio. When the party moves indoors, dragon trees and delicious monsters are a great choice.
Friday 5 June is World Environment Day. Celebrate your surroundings by thinking about our feathered garden friends. Birds often find it difficult to source food in the colder months, but we can lovingly assist them by putting out bird feeds. Beautiful seed feeders, suet, fruit feeders and even bird pudding can be found at your nearest GCA Garden Centre. Nesting logs will encourage Barbets to nest in your garden. In addition, any of these would make an ideal gift for Father’s Day on Sunday 21 June. You could also consider a bonsai plant and bonsai accessories as a Father’s Day gift.
What to Sow
It is a good time to sow Dianthus spp. also known as pinks, as their flowers are mostly pink, salmon, dark pink or white with bi-colours of lavender, purple and reds also available. Their flowers have a spicy fragrance and they belong to the same family of plants as carnations. One of the larger Dianthus is the specie we know as Sweet William, (Dianthus barbatus) which has bigger flowers and a spicy fragrance with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Sweet William is available in both single and double blooms and are biennial (flower in the second year) and self-seeding.
Pinks need at least 6 hours of sun per day and prefer to be watered on the soil, as water on the leaves may cause mildew spots. Use a slow-release fertilizer in your bed preparation or fertilise regularly for best results.
Claim to fame: The new-age Dianthus varieties flower for up to 6 months!
Tip: Removing the spent blooms (dead-heading) is very important if you want to encourage further flowering.
Continue sowing leafy greens like spinach, lettuce and beetroot which are all very easy to grow. They are also a great choice for kids to sow as an introduction to the fabulous and fun hobby of gardening.
- Spinach is a superfood. It is loaded with plenty of nutrients and is low-calorie to boot! It won’t be long for you to start using the baby leaves for salads. Spinach dips and other recipes are easily obtained online – and don’t forget that spinach makes a divine quiche.
- Lettuce will be ripe and ready for spring and summer salads if planted now. Lettuce leaves are being used more and more as a carb-free wrap alternative.
- Beetroot is gaining popularity as a superfood with the juice being used in an increasing number of drinks. The leaves are hot and trendy as salad greens.
Tip: 16 June is Youth Day – share your gardening wisdom and enthusiasm by inspiring new, little green fingers. This is your opportunity to show children how to plant these easy-to grow veggies.
Reap your rewards by picking the veggies that you sowed or planted a few months back:
- Cabbage is so versatile in its culinary uses; they are an amazing addition to any home-made soup and are the hero in coleslaw and stir fry.
- Cauliflower is considered one of the healthiest foods on Earth. It is fabulous as a banting substitute for rice or pastries, and besides when paired with cheese… who can resist an easy to make, cauliflower au gratin?
- Brussels sprouts are high in nutrients and rich in antioxidants. They are trending in recipes from hot dips, to creamy gratin and crunch salads.
- Broccoli is just so diet-friendly and healthy. The growing trend is to harvest it with a 10 to 15cm long stem.
Ranunculus, or Ranunc’sas they are fondly referred to, can be planted from pots if you forgot to buy the claws/bulbs when they were on the shelves with the rest of the Spring flowering bulbs.. Phew… we seldom get a fantastic second chance like this! The brilliantly coloured flowers of ranunculus are often compared with looking like a crepe-paper, origami masterpiece.
Tip: How marvellous for us that they are long-lasting cut flowers too.
Primulas are the queens of the winter and spring shaded garden. Lucky for us, there are three stunning types of Primula to choose from:
- Fairy Primulas(Primula malacoides) are still available in seedling trays, ready to create a splendid display of colour in your shade and semi-shade areas.
- Primula acaulis, or primroses, are available in seedling trays and pots. These striking large flowers may be either pastel or brightly coloured with a dark central eye. If you want to add some excitement to your garden, then mix them up in a bed. They will be to your garden what balloons are to a party – colourful, fun and uplifting!
- Primula obconica is a long-flowering plant with attractive, large rounded leaves and clusters of flowers that stand clear of the leaves with flower heads that resemble mini hydrangeas. These Primulas are mostly sold in pots for patio use or garden planting.
If you have trees and shrubs that need moving, this is the best time to do so. You may want to open your view or separate plants that were planted too close together. Plants need adequate light and air circulation for good growth. Palms, Cycas, cycads and small to medium-sized conifers, deciduous shrubs and trees will have the best chance of success. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to get the correct advice, tools and products that are necessary to maximise your transplanting success.
Indoor plants are high fashion and are being used to decorate all rooms in the house, especially the living areas and kitchens. Score some points on the trend barometer by going leafy indoors. Large leaf plants are trending in large and medium-sized pots. Here are some hot favourites:
- Philodendron selloum, often just called selloums, have large, shiny, deeply lobed leaves. Selloums and their close relative, the delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa) are hot, hot, hot! Place them in high light areas in the home or patio.
- Sanseviera spp. Known also as Mother-in-law’s tongue, is back in fashion. New varieties are more colourful and eye-catching. They are very contemporary in style, waterwise, and generally as tough as nails.
- Stromanthe ‘Tristar’ has large green and white variegated upper leaf surface colours with pink and maroon undersides. The strong contrasting colours make a visibly interesting and attractive plant. Tip: Stromanthe love the coastal humidity and are best misted during the day inland. They do well placed on top of, or near a tray of pebbles with water between the pebbles.
- Draceana marginata, or dragon tree, is a popular feature plant. It can grow in moderate light conditions and is rather easy to care for. A spot with good airflow will be beneficial.
Tip: Indoor plants will all benefit from regular feeding – consult your local GCA Garden Centre.
What to feed
Feed your winter and spring flowering annuals and bulbs while they are actively growing. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for a recommended fertilizer that will promote both growth and flowering.
As large shrubs and trees mature, they might start shading your roses too much. Their roots can also start robbing nutrients and water from your roses. June is the best month to move threatened roses to a new, prepared bed in a more sunny spot.
Let’s be Waterwise
Set your garden alight with a Fire Sticks plant (Euphorbia tirucalli). It resembles sea coral with pencil-like upright leaves. They are very noticeable in winter when they change from lime green and yellow colour to having flaming red and orange tips.
Tip: If you need to cut or prune this plant, take care to not let the milky latex-like plant sap touch your skin, and especially do not get it into your eyes as it can be very harmful. All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.
Paving the way - Winter is a great time to get creative with pathways and paved or gravelled areas. Now is the time for you to put in practice what you have seen and longed to have – like a beautiful pathway or extend an entertainment area. Your local GCA garden centre has a range of pavers, pebbles, gravels and plants that can allow your dream garden to become a reality. Remember to use a weed-suppressing fabric under paved areas and to set the pavers on a cushion of river sand so that it is stable.
Tip: It is also the best time to do maintenance in the garden. If its cold outside, put your jumper on and jump to it!
Hot trend alert: Gabion landscaping is all the rage. This makes use of wire and steel gabions, mostly filled with river pebbles or dump rock as the structural, hip element. They allow for exciting height changes in the landscape, as well as being a fashionable bold feature to contrast soft plantings.
Hot tip: To celebrate and tie in with World Day of Desertification and Drought on Wednesday 17 June, plan to plant waterwise succulents around your fire pit. Fire pits are fast becoming a regular feature in suburban gardens.
Pruning your Hydrangea macrophylla, the regular mophead hydrangea, will increase its vigour and increase the size of the blooms, especially if you have not pruned for many years.
- Step 1: Identify stems that have not flowered yet. These can be cut back slightly to about 2 or 3 buds from the top of the stem to just above strong, healthy buds.
- Step 2: Now go through the shrub and cut back about a third of the stems to about two-thirds of their length, and the rest by about a third to half their length to ensure healthy buds.
- Step 3: If there are any old, woody stems, these can be cut back as low down as possible.
Prep beds for berries
Traditionally, most deciduous fruit trees and berries were planted in early spring as open-ground plants (i.e. with their bare roots wrapped in newspaper). Because we now buy them in pots or bags, it is not necessary to plant them as early. However, old habits die hard and these plants are ready for sale in spring. It is always a good idea to get in first and buy your berries as soon as you can.
Most berries like well-drained, well-composted soil in a sunny area of the garden. This means that if you have clay soil, you will need to amend it with lots of compost turned into the soil, or simply make raised beds for your berries. You can choose to add a general fertilizer into the soil now, or after planting. Don’t forget to add superphosphate or bone-meal into the planting holes, water regularly and remove weeds between the plants as they grow.
Tip: Add plenty of acid-compost or peat moss to your soil in the area you want to plant blueberries as they are acid-loving plants.
- Clean up your palms by removing the dry leaves and seed pods. This is especially helpful if your palms are next to the pool and the seeds are clogging up your pool cleaner.
- Clean up your climbers:
- Bougainvilleas are best pruned and kept in check annually rather than letting them get out of hand.
- Banksia roses can also grow incredibly fast in just one season. Neaten them up by removing the old, dead or diseased canes/branches first, and then cutting them back to a manageable size.