Pointing to summer

2008-01-05 00:00

We are back to full summer, and once again the large, colourful and beautiful hillside garden of Phillippa Butlin in Winterskloof will be open to visitors from today and for the next couple of weeks. In this garden, dahlias predominate and they come in all colours and in many shapes and sizes; most are the result of seed that has fallen and over the seasons grown up into strong tall plants, so there are lots of exciting different shapes and shades of blooms.

Garden chrysanthemums are growing rapidly with leafy stems getting very tall and spreading to neighbouring plants. To keep them in bounds, cut back now by at least a half. This practice allows them to grow back into better shape and sturdier plants with more flowering stems. Bougainvillea too are making a lot of new growth — trim back now to keep control. Poinsettia are so much better for cutting back their long leafy growth: this gives them a tidier look and stronger and more flowering stems. And if you didn’t do the early summer pruning of the long tendrils of Jasmine, Wistaria and Petrea, see to it now before you have a jungle situation.

Still looking to put in some summer annuals? Consider seedlings of the “new” Vincas. Perhaps these are better known as peri-winkles and in the past could be a little boring. Vincas have much improved leaves, bushiness and plant shape and generosity of flowers. The flowers are larger and many have a bright “eye” colour contrast in the centre of the petals. Colours are lovely ranging from white through pink, rose and lavender shades to deep magenta. To screen an unsightly view or to achieve an area of privacy in your garden, there are many small trees and strong growing shrubs to help you. Many conifers, being evergreen, are good. Golden cypress is recommended. Cammellias are excellent, particularly the sasanqua varieties. These will take an amount of sun and like to grow in acid soil. Both Viburnums and Pittosporamus have some attractive evergreen trees of a handy size.

Date to note: The garden of Phillipa Butlin is open now. It is on Dennis Shepstone Avenue between Hilton and Winterskloof. From Hilton, after passing Cowan House School on your right, it’s in the next corner about a kilometre away on your left.

Date to note: The January demonstration garden meeting will be held in Alexandra Park on Saturday, January 12. There will be a talk by the Bonsai Society.

For more information phone Vincent at 072 965 7145.

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