Magnificent blooms a reward for harsh winter

2011-09-14 00:00

IT’S not just your imagination. Spring really is more abundant and beautiful this year. And it seems that this is our reward for having battled through a colder, wetter winter.

Gardeners around the city have been pleasantly surprised by the magnificence of their blossoms this season.

Weekend Witness gardening correspondent Jean Mitchell said she has had people calling her to say that they have noticed that their flowers have been more prolific.

Mitchell said she’s noticed over a couple of decades that if there is natural rainfall in June and July, gardens respond very well.

“The bearded irises flower beautifully. One has never seen so many blossoms on azaleas, although Sunday’s wind did spoil them. As I look out my window the white dogwood is just a greeny-white haze.”

And the beauty of spring will likely be reflected in the bounty of fruit trees later.

“Even oranges and lemons and other citrus trees have been smothered with blossoms and the avocados are full of flowers,” said Mitchell.

“It definitely seems to be a very splendid spring.”

And while the gardens are sublime right now, Mitchell said, it has become quite dry.

“They say you need five hot winds to bring the rain, and we have had our fifth, so the rain shouldn’t be far off now,” she said yesterday morning.

And the weather gods seem to agree with her if the forecast is anything to go by.

Mitchell’s gardening lore was backed up by Alison Young, a horticulturalist at UKZN.

“We had over 40 mm of rain in Pietermaritzburg in July and all the dams were full, indicating that water tables were quite high. This led to early growth. We also had a colder winter with more frost. Some plants respond well to frost. Roses, for example, rely on a dormant period and come out rejuvenated.”

— Witness Reporter.

newsed@witness.co.za

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