Mandevillas – the new social climbers!
Add a fashionable climbing mandevilla hybrid to your garden this summer.
What are you planning to do in the garden this weekend? Late February is a great time to plant mandevillas, plan colour for your winter garden, fertilise the lawns, deadhead summer annuals, prepare roses for autumn, and most importantly, water less frequently - but deeply.
February is a great month to plant climbers such as the pink, white or red mandevilla. Once known as the Brazilian pink dipladenia (Dipladenia splendens), mandevillas do best in a sheltered, warm position and should also be protected from the cold, wet winter.
Magnificent new Mandevilla hybrids have been developed in recent years. If you need a more compact growing plant, then try the slightly smaller flowered but deeper-coloured red mandevilla (Mandevilla sanderi). All mandevillas do well in containers, but it is important that you choose a large container for the best results.
Do remember that mandevillas loathe being planted up a hot wall. For this reason it is best to let it climb up a light airy trellis - beside a wall if necessary. All mandevillas need to be kept well-watered and fed. They need more water in summer than they do in winter and to encourage plenty of flower buds, thin out overcrowded growth in spring.
Late February and March is the traditional time for sowing winter-flowering annuals. For gardeners on a shoestring budget, sowing seed remains one of best ways to create a colourful garden during the drab, wet months of winter.
Certain seeds can be sown directly into a prepared bed, including winter annuals such as stocks and linaria. Sweet pea and Namaqualand daisy seed can also be sown directly into beds but bear in mind that it is far too early to sow these particular varieties - rather wait until April.
The seed of most winter annuals is best sown in seedling trays filled with seedling soil, Peatgro, or a good potting soil (all obtainable from a local garden centre). For winter colour, try calendula, cineraria, delphinium, larkspur, Felicia bergeriana, petunia, snapdragon, nemesia, Iceland poppy, viola and pansy.
Late February is the time to sow Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, celery, lettuce, turnip and spinach. Sow into trays and transplant the seedlings when they are about 5cm tall. If you've had no success with sowing vegetable seed, plant nursery grown vegetable seedlings. Seedlings such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and Swiss chard (spinach) can be planted now.
The dry heat of summer has seriously weakened lawns and the best way to build them up is to sprinkle organic lawn granules (3:2:1 (28) SR - slow release) fertiliser which can be spread at the rate of 45g or a handful per metre square every six weeks.