Summer seeds, flowers

2011-10-08 00:00

WEATHER wise it’s still hot days, cold days and wet days. Fortunately steady spring rains have been welcome to gardeners. Spring blossom is still beautiful, moving now through the midlands and up into the mountains.

When a season is as successful as this spring has been, gardeners are alerted again to the beauty of plants, shrubs and trees that may have been getting lost in the ever-present fashion change.

So splendid and happy have been azaleas, flowering crabapples, prunus, jasmine, dogwood, May, the Viburnums (snowball trees or tree hydrangeas) and the Honeysuckles and many others plants that gardeners are inspired by. This awareness gives gardeners an incentive to plant more and fill spaces.

Amazing has been the success this season of all irises — bearded, Japonica, indigenous, Siberica — and other species.

This family of plants are so useful in the garden. Most are evergreen and grow and some have grassy foliage. All make good ground-cover plants. Some prefer shadier positions, which is often difficult to clothe. Dietes are the indigenous group. Their leaves are strong and sword-like. Currently these Dietes grandiflora are abundantly full of white iris flowers marked with mauve and orange. Huge groups of these are planted in many public places and spaces and are all being admired.

The King Shaka Airport is home to hundreds as are factory gardens around the city. There is also the Dietes iridioides. This is a smaller version of the grandiflora. Both are well recommended for all gardens and are happy in sunny and semi-shade positions. To clothe an area, the Japanese irises are obliging and take care of themselves throughout the year.

One has white flowers and it repeats flowers often. Another is the Iris japonica fimbriata and this has ruffled pale-blue flowers with markings of yellow. These bloom on and on make a pretty picture for weeks. The Iris japonicas spread readily and produce many new plants all the time.

They flower well in areas of dappled and semi-shade, and they are very useful ground- covers. An Iris for damp and swampy parts is the Waterflag (Iris Psuedocorus). It gives bright yellow flowers in late spring, and is striking and handsome and quick to spread into large dumps.

The seasons come and go quickly, which makes gardening interesting and busy. Summer seeds to think about now include two that always oblige, zinnias and marigolds. Both families offer a huge variety in the size of plants from low growing to tall and also in the form of flowers — from small to big and from single to semi-double to double zinnias and marigolds. Other colourful small summer seedlings are the annual bedding dahlias.

The seed germinates in three or four day and the small bushes in flower offer pretty single­ flowers in lovely colours. The leaves vary from green to maroon.

Perennials of chrysanthemums and Michaelmas daisies may be divided now to increase stock. Take small rooted side pieces from the parent plant. Where clumps are large dig up and divide. Plant into well prepared soil and the Michaelmas daisies will flower through summer, while chrysanthemums will flower in autumn.

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