Although the recent spell of sunny weather might be deceiving, it doesn’t hide the fact that winter is now upon us. Lawns have virtually stopped growing – thank goodness, and the trees are almost bare. However just because our gardens are hibernating, it doesn’t mean it’s time to take things easy. June is often a dry and windy month so it’s important to keep a close eye on our green friends. It’s also a great time to think about introducing something new into the garden in time for summer.
Add a pot plant
Are you looking for something to brighten up the area around the front door? If so, consider adding a couple of large pots of polyanthus. They come in a range of colours, are quite tough and will withstand the cold of winter well. They are not particularly fussy so use any good quality potting mix for flowers. After planting give them a drink of Seasol to stimulate growth. Keep the soil damp, but not wet, and watch out for snails and slugs.
Brighten up bare spots
By now you should have all your spring flowering bulbs in and you will have a bed that is going to look decidedly bare for the next month or two. Pop in some of the quick flowering annuals, like statice, viola or alyssum, to liven up the bed. Your bulbs will not have any trouble growing up between them and when they are finished you can always carefully work the dead foliage into the soil as a food for the bulbs.
Consider a new shrub
Are you looking for a shrub that is low maintenance, attractive and able to grow in deep shade? Go along to your local garden centre and ask for the Japanese sacred bamboo, nandina domestica. It’s not actually a bamboo but an evergreen clumping shrub that grows to about 2.5m. In light shade it will produce clusters of white flowers that become red berries in the autumn. During the winter, the foliage will change from green through pink to a coppery red and then crimson. Not only are they beautiful, they are also tough enough to withstand dry conditions and irregular watering.
Re-evaluate ground cover
Many gardens have large shrubs with a ground clearance of 15-20cm. This usually means that there is an untidy area under the shrub that accumulates dead leaves and other rubbish. Why not grow a low maintenance ground cover in that area? A good one is zenubia pendulata. It has dark green heart-shaped leaves and violet flowers. It will grow in full shade or light-filtered shade but it will burn in full sun. It grows very easily from cuttings and does not need regular watering or fertilising. The best part is, if you don’t like it, all you have to do is pull it out. Give it a trial run and see what you think.
By Hugh Meyers