Winter is almost upon us and we can now look forward to a cool dry period for the next 4 months.
I prefer the cooler months as it allows you to work in your garden with not too many delays from rain. This has been a very wet summer with the hot weather coming late in the season. The heavy downpours we have experienced this past summer season helps secure the new planting that you may have done this past growing season. I never complain about the rain because without rain we would not have a garden. During the dry winter months there is a lot you need to think about. Come up with a concept on how you would like to improve your garden and what new features you would like to add to improve the aesthetics of your garden. It is interesting to see people planning gardens and selecting plants that require less water. With the cost of water going up all the time it is a good idea to use local water wise plants. There are many ways you can garden for such changes which would include using more succulent plants and more containers and ornamental stones.
- Enjoy the many color forms of the Aloes that will start to bloom form late May. Take a drive into the midlands and in particular along the road to Pietermaritzburg which has Aloes all along the road side. It is a site not to be missed. Plant some Aloes in your garden as they do not require much attention and not much water. The drier the plants the better they flower.
- Mulch your flower beds with the leaves that have fallen from the trees this past month. Mulching keeps the moisture in and the roots warm of your shrubs plus keeps weeds down.
- Prune shrubs and trees that need reducing in size and that require shaping. When the trees loose their leaves this gives you the opportunity to see what needs to be removed. Do not remove more than a third of the foliage of the tree.
- This is the ideal time to repot indoor and outdoor pots. Remove the plant from the pot and remove most of the old soil from around the roots. Wash off any excess soil with water and then using fresh potting medium replant the plants in the existing pot. Reduce the size of the plant by pruning some of the leaves and side branches to prevent the plant from wilting. Sprinkle some blue chips on the top of the soil. This is a high nitrogen fertilizer that will boost the growth of the plants.
- Reduce the cutting cycle of your lawns to every 2 weeks. This allows the surface area of the grass leaves to trap as much light for photosynthesis thus keeping the grass alive. You can water the lawns periodically in winter. Unlike Johannesburg our lawns in Durban continue to grow but at a much slower rate.
- Many of the winter flowering trees, shrubs and groundcovers will be pushing flower spikes. Keep an eye out for the Coral trees, Erythrina sp which produce red to scarlet flowers and most Aloe species. Many birds and monkeys are attracted to the flowers for nectar. Other plants that flower in winter include the wild dagga, Leonotus leonorus which produce orange and white flowers down the stems and which are also big bird attracting plants and the orange Gladiolus dalenii which you will see in flower along the freeways especially in Westville and Kloof. Succulents such as Crassula multicarva or better known as the fairy Crassula will flower in the next few weeks. Add these plants to your garden to attract birds and butterflies