With the coming summer colour abounds

2011-09-17 00:00

AT the time of writing some spring rain seems possible; the fourth or even fifth north wind blew hard at the weekend.

This wind is needed for the rain to come, but regrettably it spoils the lovely blossoms, which wilt as they are buffeted about.

Everything is responding to the longer days and warmth, so colour is all about. Very subtle and a pleasure to see is the gentle shading of young green in and around large deciduous trees. They are stirring to new growth to provide the deep shade that is so necessary through our hot summer days. Where more shade is needed under indigenous, exotic deciduous, evergreen, fruit or decorative trees, the choice is huge, and if planted now they will respond to the rain and warmth as the season moves on.

At this time many gardeners are enjoying avocados, which are ripening quickly. The birds too are happy with the fruit. The avocado trees, while giving this good and welcome harvest, are among the grubbiest trees to have around.

While most other trees are decorative with fruit and blossom and new leaves, the avocados are daily dropping old leaves and masses of spent blossom. The price of cleaning up is paid for the pleasure of eating and enjoying the fruit.

Many small filler-in type shrubs are looking good. Rosemary, lavender, pineapple sage and heliotrope (cherry-pie) are flowering. The clumps of indigenous clivias are coming to their best with bright strong flowers carried well above the foliage. Clumps of indigenous Crinum lilies are thick with big green leaves and the lilies won’t be far behind. Ifafa lilies, also indigenous, are setting seed and this germinates readily, and the resulting plants bloom in the second year. Pretty and neat are the shrubs of indigenous Freylinia bearing dainty blossoms of tiny white or pale blue flowers. This must be one of the most useful plants to have come to our gardens since about the nineties.

Depending on disciplines and pruning, these quick growers may be used in many ways. They grow tall and strong enough to be used as screening subjects or as small trees in small gardens. Frelinia makes a delightful clean and neat green hedge especialy for partitioning off sections of the garden. It fits well in the border plantings. It responds ideally to clipping into shades of all forms, columns, balls or round bumps, stocky pillars, umbrella or mop-heads and even fancier shapes can be achieved. Freylinia is altogether a first-choice plant and easy to grow. Coming into its striking red flowers are the trees of Erythrina, the coral tree or lucky bean tree. These indigenous trees grow well and are extensively planted in KZN. With some cutting out of extraneous branches Erythrina trees can be given proud and handsome shape.

The 35th Sunday Tribune Garden Show is a fortnight away. It is on September 30, October 1 and 2. The venue is the Royal Showgrounds. Since its inception, with inspiration from the late Mark Shute and originally known as The Natal Witness Garden Show, this delight has always enjoyed full support with visitors from far and wide.

At one time it was the only garden show of its kind in the country and may still be. There is so much on offer at this show.

Many large and indeed many little instant gardens are created, giving ideas to gardeners on design, plant material, colour grouping and garden accessories. Specialist plants are featured and also specialist speakers and demonstrators. Advice and inspiration abounds. Teas, lunches and other refreshments are readily available and many plants are for sale.

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