Caryopteris x clandonensis
Dichorisandra thrysiflora B
Fiddlewood Tree B
Gingers Gmelina hystrix
Ivory Curl Tree b
Lagerstroemia indica BC
Otacanthus Peltophorum africanum B
Roses Sambucus nigra
Stachytarpheta b Stenocarpus sinnuatus
Yucca recurvifolia Zingiber spectabile
B European Bees
C Carpenter Bees
Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'
Habranthus (Rain lily)
Bee Hive Ginger
WHAT IS FEATURING IN THE GARDEN IN FEBRUARY:
With summer so far being extremely dry, we gardeners are hoping that February which is usually our rainy/humid month will bring rain in huge downpours. If that is the case, it is important to make sure you have good drainage so that this rain water can get away into your tanks or dams with as little erosion as possible. Here at Coucals, we are constantly trying to improve our drainage systems so that the water gets away via channels built with bricks or plastic grates that can be bought in metre lengths. Paths need to be built up to run the water against a bank rather than over an edge where it will cause erosion.
The extremely dry summer has taken its toll on the plants. Summer flowering Salvias can be cut back by half. The Autumn Salvias have really suffered but donít cut them back or else you will not get the flowers. Shrubs are best left until the soil is moist and then tidy them by cutting off any die-back. Mulching can only benefit by keeping the soil cooler and as the mulch breaks down and conditions the soil it makes it more water retentive. Mulching also protects the soil from the heavy downpours of rain. Palm fronds, can be mulched by putting them through the shredder, and then put back onto the garden beds.
BROMELIADS are certainly the Ďstarsí of the dry garden and many of the flowers of bromeliads resemble stars, some with fantastic colours. A favourite of mine is Aechmea fasciata which has lovely grey leaves and during the middle of summer it shoots up its magnificent flower stalk which has pink bracts with purple flowers. Guzmanias do not like the cold and prefer shade. They reward you with magnificent star like flowers usually in red, yellow or both. Vriesias also like a sheltered site with shade and some have beautiful tessellated or banded foliage, some having more contrast than others. I find that the ones that have the more dramatic foliage have duller flowers and the plainer foliage ones have flowers that are either vivid red or yellow. Their flowers are shaped like feathers or swords which are very attractive. Vriesia splendens has both heavily banded dark and light green leaves with an orange-red flower spike.
Nothing conjures up images of the tropics as much as the Frangipanis do and it seems here in the Great South East, we canít get enough of them. The flowers are beautiful clusters with a simple five petal arrangement held on stiff stems arranged above the leaves. The common Plumeria rubra comes in many colours from deep magenta red through pinks and apricots to white. The flowers are also stiff as these are what Hawaiian leis are made from and they look exotic floating in a bowl of water.
Frangipanis survive in well drained situations and appreciate mulch to keep the soil moist during the warm growing season. Most lose their leaves in winter except for the hammer head Frangipani, Plumeria pudica. Its flowers are in clusters like Plumeria rubra but usually only on the top of the main branches and are pure white. It grows into a shrub rather than a tree. The nickname hammerhead comes from the shape of the leaves.
Plumeria stenophylla is the smallest frangipani with narrow small leaves and smaller white flowers, but is a delightful small shrub for the garden.
Frangipanis strike easily from cuttings as a branch can be broken from the tree and after being left to dry out for a week or so can be planted, preferably in a pot until the roots form. They do have a milky white sap which is irritating, so be careful not to rub your eyes if you get it on your hands. Double winged seed pods can also form and before the seed pod opens, tie a paper bag around the seed stem to contain the seed. Sow the seed on top of some soil, in a pot, keep it well watered over summer and dryer in winter.
It is better to water in the morning rather than the afternoon. Pruning is best done after flowering and cutting back to a pencil thick stem encourages sturdier growth.
Mangoes grow extremely well for us here and I have grown them from seed and had excellent results. Luckily they flower and seed whilst they are still a small tree so you can easily discard a tree that does not have good fruit. I find that they prefer a well-drained situation, so on a slope is ideal, however they do appreciated mulch and water in dry times. You have to accept that you will lose some but if you monitor them each day and pick them just before they turn yellow you will beat the fruit fly and possums. If growing them from seed it is best to choose a seed from a tree producing excellent fruit. Put the seed in a pot of good composted soil and allow to form good roots before transplanting into the garden.
Bananas also like a well-drained position and appreciate mulch around their base to retain moisture. It is better to cut the hand down when the bananas are fully formed but not yellow and at the same time cut the whole stem at the base. Allowing them to form a clump is ideal and you can dig up a small sucker to start a new clump.
IN THE GARDEN