Caryopteris x clandonensis
Magnolia Little Gem
Strobilanthes "pink bells"
Celosia argentea var spicata
Solidago (Golden Rod)
Dendrobium Hard Cane
Mansoa alliacea (garlic vine)
WHAT IS FEATURING IN THE GARDEN IN APRIL:
Autumn is upon us with its beautiful cool mornings, afternoons and generally lower temperatures. What a dry summer it has been with virtually no growth in the garden. There is still some humid warm weather left in autumn to kick things along and some rain before winter sets in.
A very dependable, attractive and useful Salvia to grow for its compact size is Salvia Microphylla. Their leaves are small (hence the name micro for small and phylla meaning leaf) and they can be kept in a nice compact form easily. There have been many crosses done with Microphylla and Gregii as well as a natural hybrid jamensis and they come in a wonderful range of colours. These small salvias grow to about 40 centimetres by about 40 centimetres at the most and flower spring to autumn. They just need a trim with the hedge shears after flowering in spring and then in autumn to keep them nice and compact. Like most Salvias they are extremely drought tolerant and are not at all fussy about soil and pests do not seem to worry them. The blue banded bees love salvias and will visit them early morning or late afternoon. The foliage is clean and green and they are happy in full sun or light shade in well-drained soil. There is no need to fertilize them but they appreciate mulching.
Two of the oldest hybrids is Hot Lips which has white petals with a red lip and Raspberry Royale, which is a dark cerise colour. Some of the new hybrids are from the heatwave series including angel wings, which is a soft pink, lavender pink, coral pink, bright pink and there is also purple and a brick red one which has black calyxes that really accentuates the red. Tangerine and a pure white as well as a creamy lemon make them a great colourful accent plant
Because of the dense foliage and compact nature of these baby Salvias, they could be used as a small hedge. Around a vegetable garden ideally to attract beneficial insects.
What I have missed the most this summer are the wonderful Coleus that add such a wonderful tapestry of colours to the garden normally. Because of our extreme dry conditions they have withered away as they do love the hot humid wet summers. Thankfully I kept some in the bush house which got watered daily and so I am putting a few out in the garden to add colour over autumn.
I used to have to keep cuttings over winter in the bush house a few years ago in case we had a chill as I would lose them, but that hasn’t happed for a while.
The autumn flowering Salvias, Iodanthe, Purpurea, Pink Icing and Pink Icicles are coming into flower and looking brilliant. These can be trimmed after flowering.
With the cooler temperatures, seedlings of tomatoes, pak choi, silverbeet, eggplant, and kale will also take off. These vegetables look great amongst the flower garden as well as the vegetable garden, but they all need full sun.
Herbs do especially well during this time, so pop in some basil, dill, parsley, mustard, oregano, tarragon, borage and thyme. Not only are they great in cooking but they also look great in the garden amongst the perennials if you don’t have a vegetable garden.
Make sure that Phalaenopsis and Hard cane dendrobiums have a warm spot for winter. They don’t like night temperatures to drop below 10 degrees Celsius. April is the time we start closing the doors on the orchid house at night to keep the temperatures higher than 10 degrees Celsius. The orchid house is not heated but with all the other ‘tropicals’ growing in there it creates a micro climate which helps keep the humidity and warmth higher than outside. We also take the shademesh off the roof to allow more winter light into the orchid house.
All the orchids can take more light in winter as it is not as harsh as the summer sun. The Softcane Dendrobiums in particular can take full winter sun and that will also encourage flowering and no extra watering. The wisterias are losing their leaves now. This means that all the orchids in the courtyard will slowly get more and more light which of course means more flowers.
This is the time to look at Rose catalogues and order your roses. I think that the best time to plant roses for us is summer, when our rains come. However the best time to buy roses is during winter as you can get them bare rooted for a lot cheaper price than buying them in a pot. So I order my roses now, get them delivered in May/June. As soon as they arrive I plant them into pots, establish the roots and then plant them out into the rose garden when we have good rainfall in Summer. The potting mix I use in the pots is compost straight from my compost bin which is very water retentive and full of nutrients. I then keep the pots in the bush-house in full sun where they are watered 3 times per week.
IN THE GARDEN
Duchesse de brabant Rose