Caryopteris x clandonensis
Magnolia Little Gem
Strobilanthes "pink bells"
Celosia argentea var spicata
Solidago (Golden Rod)
Tree Dahlias B
b = Butterflies
B = European Bees
N = Native Bees
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 fabulous summer we have had with lots of rain and such growth in the garden. There is still some humid warm weather left in autumn to kick things along before winter sets in.
AUTUMN SHRUBS FOR COLOUR
Carphalea Kirondron is the top of my list as it has big round bracts of orange which almost cover the 1 - 2 metre bush. The flowers are small and white and appear on stalks like snails’ antennae, but they soon drop off leaving the orange bracts which look like Ixora flowers that are stunning and long lasting on the bush. It does not like frost, being pruned or moved and prefers to be at the front of the garden getting plenty of light. Even though it sounds like a ‘prima donna’ I wouldn’t be without it.
Callicarpa pedunctulata is grown for its beautiful purple shiny berries which form in small clumps all along the branches of the shrub. The birds love the berries and this shrub is a very hardy asset for dry spot in the garden. Caryopteris x clandonensis is a small shrub to about 1 metre and in autumn is covered in small blue flowers that give the shrub its common name of blue beard. These three shrubs do not mind our dry periods and are not rampant growers but form a nice compact shape, ideal for a small or large garden.
Odontonema strictum is more commonly known as firespike and is invaluable for the back of the garden in some shade, but will take some sun. As its common name suggests the flowers are red and appear spiky, though not in the sense that they are prickly. The flowers are spread over the top of the bush which can grow up to 2 metres. It is a tough plant and can spread by suckering, so when it is cut back don’t leave any cuttings on the garden bed. It is sensitive to cold.
Perennials add so much colour and interest to the garden. They are ideal to add to the garden as ‘gap fillers’ and they are almost instant flowerers, adding impact to an area that maybe is looking bland because of a season change.
Trim back summer flowering perennials and some of these cuttings are ideal to propagate from. These include the Pentas as you will get another flowering flush before winter. Cleome ‘senorita’, Artemisias, Senecio cineraria, Angelonias, Heliotrope, Leonitis, Lavenders, Osteospernum and summer Salvias that have finished flowering can all be cut back to green wood. If you cut Perennials back to brown wood they can die back completely. Hedge trimmers are ideal to use if the bush is large.
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 full sun where they are watered 3 times per week.
IN THE GARDEN
Rosa Duchesse de Brabant