In last month’s newsletter I commented that there seemed to have been fewer flowers in the garden this summer. The November and December heat waves were almost a distant memory after the arrival of the rains in January but then I started wondering about a possible connection between the hot dry conditions and flowering.
Then there was also some interesting feedback following the newsletter that linked with my train of thought. One friend wrote that she had noticed smaller blooms on her impatiens and speculated: “Do you think this is a way of exposing the tiniest possible surface to the hot air and sun as a survival mechanism?”. Someone else told the story about fruit farmers in the Western Cape whose plum trees had apparently had plenty of blossoms and bees but only a few fruits at the end of the season.
So the questions proliferated and I eventually took them to one of the ever informative gardening forums on Facebook, The Garden Professors blog. Linda Chalker-Scott had this to say: “It’s all due to too little water during tissue development. This leads to smaller flowers (and leaves) and can reduce fruit set. So yes, it’s due to the heat wave, which could be partially offset by increasing irrigation and mulching.”
In our water scarce country simply irrigating more is of course not always an option so I just have to climb back onto my mulching soapbox! It would seem that keeping the soil covered with a layer of dried leaves, grass cuttings, pine needles or other material (winter and summer) can also help our plants produce the flowers that are probably gardening’s greatest reward.
IN THE GARDEN
There is so much happening in the garden as the season draws to a close! We have had to cut back, prune and remove plants that have been encroaching on their neighbours.
The dogs enjoying a rain shower
Gorgeous tibuchina granulosa Rosa
Justicea carna alba
Hemizygia (or Syncolostemon)... I need a name!
Lycoris - an unexpected pop of colour in the garden
I am blessed with wonderful and generous friends in the nursery trade. One special friend is Quinton Bean of CND Nursery. About six months ago he phoned to say he had some salvia seedlings for me. Six trays he said - as it turned out the plants filled the entire packing space in my combi car! The salvias are now all starting to come into flower and giving me such pleasure. Tall to medium sized perennials with wispy sprays of blooms in a variety of colours - what more can we ask for to light up our lives. We have moved a number of the plants to the nursery so our clients can also enjoy them.
IN THE NURSERY
Click here to view all the plants featured in this newsletter.
· Indigenous plants
Argyrolobium tomentosum mini is a gorgeous soft evergreen perennial with attractive white edged trifoliate leaves and yellow pea like flowers from summer to autumn. Indigenous to KwaZulu-Natal, it likes semi shade. It is hardy and grows about 40 cm high.
Barleria greenii from the Estcourt region also in KwaZulu-Natal is a rare rounded shrub (about 100 cm high) with thick smooth shiny dark green leaves and open scented pink flowers that give it its apt common name of wild bush petunia. It is evergreen and very hardy and likes sun or semi shade. A good choice for gardeners dealing with clay soil.
A beautiful very hardy summer deciduous bulb, Nerine sarniensis has dark green strap like leaves and umbels of red flowers in autumn. It reaches a height of about 30 cm and likes full sun.
The deciduous Pavetta gardeniifolia has the lovely common name of Christmas bride’s bush. A beautiful compact hardy shrub that grows about 300 cm high, it has glossy green foliage and sprays of scented white flowers in summer which attract birds, bees and other insects. Plant in sun or semi shade.
· Exotic plants
Dichorisandra thyrsiflora (blue ginger) is an upright 150 cm high perennial from Brazil with lance like leaves on cane like stems and spectacular deep violet flowers in autumn. It is evergreen and semi hardy and likes semi shade. My mother used to have an entire bed filled with these plants in her garden. What a spectacular show in autumn.
A member of the borage family, Echium pininana is a robust biennial with a woody central stem and hairy silver leaves that reaches a height of about 200 cm. It has single panicles of blue or white flowers in summer (our plants seem to be mostly white). It is evergreen, semi hardy and wants full sun and dry, sandy soil.
Holmskioldia sanguinea, commonly known as the Chinese hat plant, is a scrambling lax shrub with slender pointed ovate leaves and saucer shaped orange flowers that attract butterflies from summer to autumn. Indigenous to the Himalayas, it is evergreen and hardy and grows about 250 cm high. It can take sun or semi shade. We also have the red variety in stock.
Libertia formosa is a clump forming 90 cm high perennial with a basal fan of spiky sword like leaves and spikes of white bowl shaped flowers in summer. Evergreen and very hardy, it likes full sun. Cut back hard in spring.
Remember our autumn Open Weekend on 9th and 10th March. I will be posting the new plants that will be available on the "New on the Site" page. There are some good ones so don't miss it! Wwill be open from 09h00 to 15h00 on Saturday and from 09h00 to 14h00 on Sunday.
082 482 0257