July is all about colourful comforts in the garden and enjoying the hearty harvest winter has to offer. Keep your beds looking lush with a sensational selection of flowers available from your GCA Garden Centre. Don’t forget your July maintenance to help your garden stay in top shape and ready for the last cold stretch. Enjoy the journey with your landscape and take some time to appreciate the remarkable changes of Mother Nature.
Beat the winter blues
- Surround yourself with colourful comforts available at nurseries now: primose, alyssum/lobularia, violas, pansies, verbena, Primula malacoides, Primula obconica, Primula acaulis, and ornamental kale.
- Robust succulents: Aloe Hedgehog, aloe Ferrox, and aloe Speciosa.
- Gems: Krantz aloe, Basuto kraal aloe, nandina, viburnum, camellia, holly and Elaeagnus.
- Indoor babies: Move indoor plants to warmer parts of the house if needed. Also check that your plants are getting enough light.
A flying reminder: Help the birds out and ensure your birdbath and bird feeder is well-stocked. Food is scarce for the flyers during the winter months.
- Garden centre treasures: Fig, olive, grape, cherry, peach, plum, and apple trees are available at GCA Garden Centres from July.
- Harvest now: Horseradish, asparagus, celeriac, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and waterblommetjies.
- Split & divide: Divide your asparagus and rhubarb now for a larger yield and remember to mulch well after transplanting.
- Support: Stake broad beans and Brussels sprouts to give them more support and increase growth.
- Feed: Remember to feed your winter veg seedlings with nutritious fertilisers and compost. Also, feed your spring bulbs and clivias now.
- Mulch up: Much beds well to retain warmth and moisture.
- Water down: Be careful of overwatering during winter every 3rd day should be sufficient.
Top tip: Use bird netting or frost cover sheets to deter birds while also allowing light and air into the veggie garden.
Consider the June garden as an inviting blank canvas, welcoming you to paint with a rainbow of winter blooms. For your cool-season muse, Life is a Garden has gathered a few vibrant beauts to plant-paint with, as well as some artsy edibles to inspire your soups. Learn how to defend your plant babies against black frost and enjoy our handy maintenance tips. Embrace the cold and plant on!
Chilled thrills in the Western Cape
- Have faith in your fynbos and head over to your GCA Garden Centre to checkout new protea hybrids and visit some old faves too. Leucospermums (pincushions) and leucadendrons are stunning choices you can go bos with in the garden. Remember, proteas grow in pots too!
- Aunt Gale’s wind is always around the corner so make sure all ties and stakes supporting young trees and roses are super secure. You may also want to check your garden furniture and make sure that nothing will end up in your neighbour’s yard.
- Avoiding flooding at home by clearing drains and gutters of old plant material.
- Begin winter pruning on vines, peach, plum, and apricot trees. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for products to spray on dormant trees after pruning.
Plant flowers from Wonderland
- Pansies and Violas: These annuals are perfect to plant as borders and edgings, in window boxes and containers. Position them where they receive full sun in winter but partial shade in spring and early summer, to give them a longer lifespan. They like fertile, composted soil with good drainage and regular watering.
- Snapdragons: These short-lived, yet super-cute perennials are ideal in mixed border gardens, flower boxes, and as potted patio décor. Bright snapdragon flowers will bloom profusely all winter long in full sun to partial shade. Begin germinating seeds indoors and when they’re ready, pop them into nutrient-rich soil that drains well.
Like the calm before the cool, winter preparations are smooth sailing this month with Life is a Garden’s crisp April checklist. Gardening during the cooler months definitely has its own challenges, but also so many exciting flowers and veggies to look forward to. Did someone say spring bulbs already? Head over to your GCA Garden Centre and let’s plant right in!
Chillax with flowers
- Bulba-licious beauties: You can plant all spring-flowering bulbs now, hooray! Bulbs with fingers or claws, like ranunculi, should be planted with their fingers pointing downwards. Try plating small bulbs like anemone, leucojum, muscari, lachenalia, tritonia, and ranunculus, or larger bulbs such as hyacinth, freesia, and Dutch iris.
- Pretty and pleasing: April is the perfect time to buy and plant out pretty primula, poppy, pansy, and gazania seedlings.
- Indoor inspiration: Spathiphyllum, known also as Peace lily, is an easy-care, low-light houseplant with majestic, long-lasting white blooms.
- Colourful corners: Try planting a corner of ericas, restios, leucadendrons, and Proteas – they provide stunning autumn and winter colour.
- Balmy blooms: Plant cool-season annuals at the base of bare-stemmed bushes. Choose sun lovers like alyssum, calendulas, dwarf snapdragons, lobelias, Namaqualand daisies, phlox, and pansies.
- Bedding babe: Available in many bright hues, Cineraria enjoy moist soil in semi-shade beds.
- Pot of purple: Lavender is waiting to perk up your patio pots with an easy-going purple flush.
Feeding and frost
- Feed aloes and flowering succulents for a glorious winter show.
- If you’re living in a frost-prone area, be sure to purchase some frost protection from your GCA Garden Centre before winter arrives in full force.
- Continue feeding your evergreen cool-season lawn to ensure it remains lush during winter.
In the grow-zone
- Grow garlic bulbs, which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre. Pick a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant the cloves about 15cm apart in drills of about 7cm deep.
Although spring only officially starts on the 1st of September, we don’t need a calendar to see that spring has sprung! For most of the country there is a delightful springiness in the air. For the Free State and Western Cape, your time is soon to come. Although August is warm to even hot in various parts of the country, always apply the following rules when planting or sowing plants that are sensitive to frost damage:
- In frost-free areas, start planting at the beginning of August.
- In areas of light to moderate frost that lasts until about the end of August, plant in early September.
- In areas with late frosts or winter rainfall, wait until late September.
With pruning behind us, there is so much to do in the garden, so push aside the winter chills and spring into action. Your spring bulbs and annuals should be a riot of colour by now, inviting you out onto the patio with family and friends during our balmy, warm August days. The beauty of spring may only be rivalled by the stunning women that surround us. The 9th of August is National Women’s Day and the perfect opportunity to celebrate both Mother Nature and all of womankind!
An African appetite
Have you considered growing an edible local fruit? The following shrubs, trees and ground covers can form an aesthetic part of your garden and become a valuable, unusual food source:
- The kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra) is an evergreen large shrub, or small tree, that creates an impenetrable hedge with its spiny thorns. The yellowish-orange fruits are delicious and mostly used for jam, jelly, and syrup-making. The flowers feed honey-bees and attract butterflies whilst the fruit is a delicacy for several birds.
- The shrub num-num (Carissa macrocarpa) and the ground cover num-num (Carissa macrocarpa ‘Green Carpet’) both have beautiful glossy leaves with compact, thorny growth.