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A large variety of attractive, flowering succulents are available at your local nursery. Planning for autumn planting Fill your boot with compost, compost & more compost! Apply to each and every planting bed as nutritious mulch. Prepare soil by digging it over to the depth of a large spade, while working in copious amounts of compost and include bonemeal to promote strong root growth. Start sowing sweet peas It is sweet pea sowing time – prepare deep trenches for them by digging in compost from your local garden centre and generous dustings of bonemeal or superphosphate (do not use bonemeal if you have dogs). Soak the seeds overnight in tepid water before sowing directly. Bedding plant of the month: Lobelia There are very few flowers that can match the true blue of Lobelia, that comes in light to dark blue, as well as white and dark pink. These grow anywhere in full sun or semi shade and like loose, gritty soil. When nothing else seems to grow, punnets of seedlings can still be planted out, provided the area does not receive heavy frost. There are also trailing Lobelias, which have a more cascading habit and suitable for hanging baskets, window boxes and for softening edges of raised beds. Rose care for March Roses are simply spectacular in autumn! To ensure quality blooms into the winter, continue with regular preventative treatments/spraying for black spot, beetles and bollworm. As the days get shorter, the roses start to go dormant and withdraw food from their leaves. To compensate for this and to provide enough food for new growth and flowers, fertilise with rose food – your local garden centre will advise you on the best option. Regular watering is very important if there is insufficient rainfall. Heirloom veggies Spice up your food garden with these deliciously different veggie varieties. Heirloom varieties are kept true to type, handed down from generation to generation and produce very healthy plants. Some of the exciting varieties on the market these days include strange-looking and fiery chillies, different coloured cauliflower, carrots and broccoli, striped beetroot, and different varieties of tomatoes and brinjals. In the herb garden Start harvesting and preserving herbs for winter, harvesting small quantities at a time. Chop mint, parsley, basil and lemon balm, place in an ice tray, fill with water and freeze. Aromatic herbs, like oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, bay and rosemary, are better air dried. Continue to feed herbs monthly with fertiliser and water regularly. For patio and balcony gardens, visit your local garden centre for ready to pick potted up miniature veggies for cooking. Pruning Neaten evergreen shrubs and hedges without cutting back too harshly. Take care not to prune winter or early-spring flowering plants – as you’ll miss out on their annual display. March is a good time to prune overgrown conifers and to experiment with conifer topiary. Remember to spray them preventatively against infestations of Italian Cypress aphids. Coastal gardening (Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal) Your local nursery will have some beauties to plant now. Look out for these: Gardenia augusta hybrids (Cape jasmine) are possibly the best known scented shrubs in local gardens. These neat evergreen shrubs are seldom without buds or blooms from spring through to autumn. Grow in rich, well-drained soil in sun or...read more
I have noticed some lovely new stock of Cupressus macrocarpa in our local nurseries, so don’t wait until a few days before Christmas to get your tree! Press Release on behalf of Life is a Garden Indoor Plant for December: Cupressus Macrocarpa ‘Gold Crest’. Opt for a living tree for the festive season – choose Cupressus. There is something very special about living trees being used for the festive season… As consumers continue to become more eco-conscious, we see a move away from the convenience of artificial trees towards indoor potted tree options. The holiday season is all about that ‘feel good’ feeling… and opting to go ‘green’ somehow just makes you feel great! Cupressus conifers are hardy, easy-to- grow conifers with the perfect festive tree shape. They require minimal maintenance and are an excellent indoor plant option for all year round. Cupressus is the ideal ‘beginner’ option if you are considering going green. Trees are available at all GCA garden centres in a selection of different sizes ranging from 40 – 50cm in height to up to 2m tall! If your budget is small – opt for a small tree! If you are looking to make a bold statement, then go BIG! Be innovative when setting up your living tree. You may choose to invest in a festive pot or to simply wrap the base in festive fabric. Whatever you do, remember to include a drip tray to ensure excess water is contained. The tree should be planted directly into the pot for permanent indoors use. If you plan to transplant the tree into the garden after the holidays, then planting is unnecessary – simply ‘drop’ the pot into its cover, or wrap it (remembering the drip tray!) Have fun adding the lights and decorations – make sure the festive holiday music is on full blast… After the holidays, Cupressus can be used on the patio or in the garden for 11 months of the year – and brought back indoors as your ‘recycled’ festive tree the following December. Cryptomaria and Areca Palms are also commonly grown for use as seasonal living festive trees, and your local GCA garden centre may have advice on other alternatives. Indigenous festive trees: South Africa has over 2000 indigenous trees so there are multiple options to be considered. The indigenous Yellowwood trees – Podocarpus var., are a popular option as the tree shape is full and symmetrical – typically not dissimilar to the traditional festive tree shape. Indigenous trees add a unique local flavour to the holidays and are awesome, but it is important to realise that they are not conducive to growing indoors. If you go the indigenous route, select a solid, strong tree and position it in a high light location for 2 – 3 weeks. Thereafter, please return the tree to its natural outdoor location where it can eat, sleep and be merry! Caring for Cupressus indoors: Position – position trees in a well lit area away from direct sunlight and draughts. Water – keep the soil moist. Watering 2 – 3 times a week is advised and remember the drip tray if your pot has drainage holes! Fertilise – adding foliar feed weekly will enhance and boost tree growth and general health. For more information on bringing Life to your Garden, visit our website www.lifeisagarden.co.za or join the conversation on our: Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa. ...read more