A profusion of Autumn colours welcomes the rain

2011-04-06 00:00

IN the past week close to another inch (25 mm) of rain fell, which was so welcome, as was the drop in temperature from a week of days in the 30s. The scorching sun and no rain spells fatigue for all plants.

At present pretty colour in the garden is from the early flowering Jasanqua camellias, from the late flowering Lantana moatevidensis, from varieties of perennial salvias, from some stout summer annuals that are happy to flower on for a while, especially the zinnia Profusion and the Z. angustifolia, and from clumps of tall flowering wind anemones or anemone japonica. These in their shades of white, gentle pink and deeper mauve pink are graceful in form and velvet textured petals. All the varieties of pastel shaded plectranthus in flower now add to the garden colour.

Plectranthus, many indigenous to South Africa, are useful and easy to grow garden plants and for many reasons. The different sizes, from sprawling to tall shrub-like plants and many in-between make them handy to place in the garden. Their ability to grow and flower well in deep and semi-shade, and some species will grow in sunny places, are helpful to the gardener. Their very pretty shadings of white, through many pinks, lavender, blue and deeper mauves gives delightful colour. Their plumes and spikes of dainty spur flowers are carried well above the foliage giving a gentle picture when the patches are in full flower, usually in autumn. An additional pleasure is that some species flower in spring as well. All plectranthus can be pruned to shape after flowering. To propagate, most offer strong rooted pieces around the base of the plants, also stem cuttings “take” well in a potting mix.

The lovely deep blue plumbago and others, the white and paler blue, will all need some discipline to shaping and tidying up once their blooms are spent. This keeps them tidy and seems to offer more flowers when next they bloom again.

Michaelmas daisies are easy to grow, tough perennials, which give generously of their spikes of flowers through mid and late summer. The shades are predominantly white, blues, mauves and some deep pinks. At this time rooted side pieces may be taken from the mother plants and spread about the garden. Having plants growing in different areas of the garden tends to extend the flowering period. Those in brighter sunnier positions will flower before other in parts where the soil is cooler. Other useful daisies are the Shasta daisies and are also easy to establish and grow. Regrettably these, the Michaelmas daisies and even the once extremely popular daisy bushes all tend to be out of fashion or favour. This is a real shame as their contribution to summer colour was so pleasing. In bud at present are the garden Chrysanthemums, which in the next few weeks will give both pastel and bright colour all through the garden for a few glorious weeks. These are considered the real flowers of mid autumn. Chrysanthemums last as cut flowers for many days and are striking arranged with dry autumn grasses and with berries.

Berries bring to mind the once very popular shrubs of cotoneaster and pyrecantha to be found in all home, school and factory gardens. In the autumn these gave charming sprays of ripe berries in red, orange and yellow. Changes to the garden scene over the years have been many and for reasons of economics, diversions of sport and TV and the frequent difficulty of finding satisfactory labour and the strong trend towards indigenous gardening; and the trend towards flat dwelling.

BERRIES BRING TO MIND THE ONCE VERY POPULAR SHRUBS OF COTONEASTER AND PYRECANTHA TO BE FOUND IN ALL HOME, SCHOOL AND FACTORY GARDENS. IN THE AUTUMN THESE GAVE CHARMING SPRAYS OF RIPE BERRIES IN RED, ORANGE AND YELLOW.

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