With the 20th of October being ‘Garden Day’ and October being ‘Rose Month’ – what an opportune month to celebrate gardening!
Your roses should be producing their first flush of perfect blooms and the sun is still not too scorching – allowing the blooms to last longer. Spring is also the ideal time to select and plant new rose bushes in your garden. These are some of our favourites:
Pop in to your nearest GCA Garden Centre for more inspiration and supplies.
What to Sow:
As soon as the soil warms up in mid spring, you can start to sow all your summer veggies, including beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes. Two of your main “must haves” for your summer salads are cucumber and celery.
What to Plant
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) – one of the easiest and most rewarding bulbs to grow, amaryllis produce showy, trumpet-shaped blooms that add a flamboyant touch to your garden or home. Often referred to as the Christmas flower because they typically bloom around five weeks after being planted (during the warmer months). For this reason, amaryllis make a wonderful gift at Christmas time and can also make gorgeous centre-pieces for the Christmas dinner table.
Amaryllis do well in most soil types, provided they get sufficient drainage. Plant in a sunny or semi-shade position and for the best results, give your amaryllis some bulb food every two weeks. These beauties are perfect for pots, and can be planted in groups in your garden.
As they retreat into dormancy at the end of the warmer months, you can decrease watering and leave them in the soil throughout the various seasons. Do not stop water them until all of their foliage has receded.
Star Flower or Egyptian star cluster (Pentas lanceolata) – a fast-growing, small to medium-sized herbaceous shrub with light green foliage. Pentas comes in a variety of colours, including pink, red, mauve and white. The beautiful flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds and make great cut flowers. The shrub grows quickly in full sun or semi-shade and vary in height but the modern hybrids are lovely compact bushes, growing +-100cm tall and +-30cm wide. Plant them into rich, well-drained soil. Cut off the dead flowers regularly to encourage re-flowering or continuous blooms.
What to Spray:
Chat to a specialist at your nearest GCA Garden Centre for advice on the various products available and what would work best for your needs.
What to pick:
Growing your own veggie garden is both fun and rewarding. Ready for harvest in October are: asparagus, broad beans, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, lettuces, rocket, spinach (Swiss chard) and spring onions. The perfect ingredients for some very tasty and creative summer salads and veggie dishes. If you don’t have your own edible garden established yet – it is never too late to start.
It’s not hard to see why October is “Rose month” as you enjoy your roses in all their glory.
Water deeply at least once a week – for roses to flourish it’s best to water them twice weekly giving them 15mm of water each time. Roses that were fertilised in mid-September should be fertilised again in mid-October or early in October if September was skipped. Apply Atlantics Flower & Fruit evenly to pre-soaked soil around the drip line of the plant and water again, well. Keep fertiliser at least 20cm away from the base and avoid contact with foliage or flowers.
To prevent aphids, bollworm, thrips, powdery mildew and black spot, spray fortnightly with the correct organic spray. Visit your local GCA for advice on the best products to use to meet your needs.
For quality blooms, disbud hybrid teas by removing side buds out of the leaf axles beneath the terminal bud. Remove spent blooms; not only will your rose bed look tidier; this also encourages the production of new quality stems. If you’d like long stemmed blooms for the house, don’t cut more than half of them on a bush.
Edibles in your Garden
Cape Gooseberries (Physalis edulis) is a quick-growing annual or perennial fruit plant that originates in South America. It has been grown extensively in many parts of South Africa for the little golden berries that are produced in abundance, on bushes that can reach a height of about 1m.
Gooseberries are a worthwhile fruit to grow in your garden as they are excellent for making jams, jellies, desserts, chutneys and wine.
Grow them from seed, in almost any, well-drained soil – they even cope with poor or impoverished soils. Position them in full sun in an open, exposed area where the plants can literally grow wild. You can grow them all year round in frost-free climates.
Louisiana Irises (Iris), and Waterlilies (Nymphaea) are beautiful and elegant water-loving, flowering plants.
Louisiana Irises (Iris) bloom from mid-September to mid-October – this is the prime-time to buy them in flower from your GCA Garden Centre.
They like to grow in full sun to semi-shade and will grow successfully in garden beds where they receive regular irrigation, preventing the soil from drying out. A thick mulch layer will assist in keeping the soil moist (not the mention all the other benefits such as suppressing weeds and feeding the soil). As Louisiana Irises naturally occur in swamps, ditches and other moist sites in the Southern USA, they are at their happiest when grown in a bog or shallow pond and make superb aquatic plants. They can also be grown in large pots with no drainage holes – creating a mini-bog.
Louisiana Irises have one of the most diverse range of colours of any Iris. After flowering, the spent flower stems on your potted Louisiana Iris, should be cut back and the plant can then either be planted into the garden or transplanted into larger containers, in both instances lots of compost should be added to encourage new growth for next season.
Waterlilies (Nymphaea} – the prima donnas of the water garden are among the simplest of ornamentals to grow, all they need is full sun (a minimum of 6 hours per day), some good soil and at least 30 cm of still water, although some varieties can grow in water more than 1.5 meters deep. Full sun is necessary for the plants to grow vigorously and produce flowers as well as for the flowers to open during the day. They do not like to be in a pond with a fountain or in swiftly moving water, neither do they like wind.
They are winter dormant and usually start emerging from dormancy towards the end of August / early September. Feed your waterlilies with designed aquatic plant soil (available from GCA’s). We recommend using bone meal: apply by lifting the pot out of the pond, making two or three holes in the soil (approximately 10-15 cm deep) and pouring 15 ml of bone meal into each hole. Backfill hole with some sand to prevent the fertiliser from leaching and set waterlily back in pond. Bone meal can be applied every three months thought-out the growing season to maintain optimum growth and flowering.
For summer colour in abundance, Nemesia (Nemesia strumosa) and Twinspurs (Diascia integerrima) make the best of indigenous friends.
Nemesia (Nemesia fruticans) – The flowers resemble little snapdragon flowers and are dusty-pink or mauve or even whiter in colour – decorated with bright yellow. Used mostly as a flowering bedding plant and as an ornamental pot plant. Various colour forms are available from specialist nurseries.
Plant in well-drained soil, enriched with compost in a sunny position.
Twinspurs (Diascia barberae)- a dainty little perennial plant originating from the Drakensberg mountain range. It produces numerous upright stems growing to 30cm tall. The tubular flowers are rich salmon pink in colour. They grow best in full sun and look spectacular in rock gardens, especially tucked into joints and cracks between large rocks.
Birds and insects
Encouraging birds, bees and butterflies in your garden is a great way to nurture an environment that supports biodiversity. These creatures are crucial pollinators in our eco-system and every small haven created for them ensures a better future for our green and wild life.
The way to attract these pretty creatures is to make sure your garden has a ready supply of what they love and need. And think variety: the bigger the variety in your garden, the more varied your inhabitants will be. This includes plants, rocks, nesting logs, water features and even rich soil. Boost your soil with nutrients (Chat to the professionals at your local GCA Garden Centre for advice on the best products to use). Happy soil = happy plants = happy garden visitors.
Contribute your own little piece of Eden to the Earth and invite the buzz, whir and tweet of some colourful little guests that will appreciate it as much as you do. The beautiful colours and scents that attract these special creatures are also a treat for your own senses
On Sunday, 20 October 2019 we will celebrate Garden Day. Instead of working in your gardens – this is a day to put down your garden tools, invite family and friends around, relax and celebrate your garden with them. Flower crowns are a beautiful way to celebrate your garden. Making and wearing the fun and colourful accessory is a great way to show off your garden blooms. Pick a few flowers from the garden and make your own flower crown.
(Gauteng, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)
(Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)