Don’t cut winter gardens

2009-07-04 00:00

AS promised, the Botanical Society have arranged the first meeting for the recently defunct Demonstration Garden. This is to be held on Saturday July 11 at 10 am in the hall at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens. As always, everyone is welcome. The entrance fee will now be R12; this is the charge for the Botanical Society gardens. At this meeting, the Clivia Society is presenting a slide show and will give guidance on propagating clivias, and also cover some general aspects of growing these plants. There will be a lucky draw, the prizes Botanic Society T-shirts.

In the past little while there has been a decided touch of very wintry weather. There has been some frost and snow and chilly gusty winds and some parts of KZN had a little rain. At this time growth is very quiet and the winter look prevails. In the cold gardens no pruning or trimming should be done, and where there is frost damage, leave the damaged tops of plants, for although untidy, they will afford some protection from further frost and cold. Also, any cutting back of the plants promotes young tender growth and further frost will take these new shoots and possibly the plants. In cold gardens leave cutting back till after winter. In warm and frost-free gardens, such as coastal gardens, pruning old growth may still be practised.

With no rain through June and little, if any expected in July, some shrubs and young trees may need to be watered deeply from time to time. It would be a shame and a setback to have them die. Follow the watering with a thick mulch; it really is effective.

Alstroemaria, or Inca lilies, seem tough in the cold and some new leafy shoots are already pushing through. These plants will benefit now with some compost or manure dug in around them. These early summer flowering lilies may be left in their same situation for several years, provided they keep flowering well and generously.

Many of the hybrid Lantana plants are still giving a pleasing splash of colour which is so welcome. If these spread and stretch too far, prune back to shape once the flowering is over. Best known of these is the mauve one; also available are white, shades of pink and a bright yellow. This latter is inclined to grow a little more upright with less of a spilling and spreading habit.

Many spring flowering seedlings are still available; pansy, viola, dianthus and lobelia all grow strongly and, when it’s warmer, these later plantings will catch up quickly to flower in the spring.

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