Island Gardens – July 2, 2021

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HI GARDENERS AND WELCOME TO AN EXCITING TIME OF COLOUR FOR OUR WINTER GARDENS.

Many of us wait patiently for spring – when our gardens bloom with growth again. It’s the time of year that everyone associates with life and colour. But while winter is a dormant time for lush growth, it’s yet another perfect time to visit our local nurseries and markets. With many flowers in bloom, buying now means our gardens will have colour all year round. (As long as we keep buying throughout the whole year, and if you’re a lover of colour, you’ll know it’s an irresistible urge). I mean, there’s ALWAYS room for another plant in the garden right?

Many succulents come to life in autumn and winter. Zygos (zygocactus) is a favourite among many, and they are just beautiful in autumn and early winter. Literally hundreds of succulents come to life now. Check out the kalanchoe pictured here in the top-left. In autumn it flowered pastel pinks, oranges and cream. Now in winter, it has a new flush of flowers but with brighter orange and yellow. Just magic really.

Pictured top right is some beautiful ‘blue’ ageratums. They come in a variety of colours including light orange and white. Make sure they’re planted in good soil or potting mix as the roots like to keep moist much of the time, even if just a little, with only short spells of dry. So just a little care and you have some beautiful blooming blue.

The bottom left is a new discovery to me, and now one of my favourites – a senetti (or Senecio) – flowering from March till October, its daisy-like ‘blue’ flowers are pretty amazing. Appearing behind it is an orange geranium.

And lastly, on the bottom right (for something a little larger) – a poinsettia. This one is quite young at under 30cm, having been planted at the beginning of autumn. It has the pink leaf bract (bright red being the most common). The bracts also come in orange, pale green, and even yellow or purple. To keep them looking attractive, a little maintenance is usually required. Being classed as a shrub (some growing to over 3 metres), perhaps lookout for the ‘dwarf’ varieties that grow to under 1.5 metres – and most poinsettias can be easily pruned just a couple of times a year to remain under one metre. Then, as autumn sets in, those delightfully colourful leaf bracts will brighten up your garden right through to late spring, after which a good prune will stop them from getting sparse and ‘leggy’.

A note: The red poinsettias have long been a very popular Christmas plant in their native Mexico. Their yuletide popularity is now global, so in Australia, they are grown commercially – indoors in summer under controlled conditions to mimic the cooler, shorter winter days. This encourages the leaf bracts to form bright red in time for Christmas.

See you all again in Issue 145 on 30th July and as always – happy gardening. P.S ‘Yes’ is the correct answer