Each season has its own magic – here’s our calendar of fun (and important) things to do in the garden.
• In the winter rainfall regions, now is the time to paint wooden window frames, doors and stoep posts while they’re nice and dry. Check and waterproof your roof and parapet walls.
• Water your garden in the early morning or late afternoon to reduce unnecessary evaporation.
• Give perennials such as salvia, penstemon and plumbago a light summer pruning to ensure that they flower right through to autumn.
• Enjoy summer flowers – zinnias, dahlias, sunflowers and marigolds – while they’re at their best.
• Dry bunches of oreganum, thyme, bay and lavender and store them in airtight containers in your pantry.
• Wear a hat while gardening and add mulch to your flowerbeds – protection from the sun for everyone! • Check your irrigation system to make sure it’s watering your plants efficiently. • Bottle excess stone fruits and tomatoes for the winter months. Jams and chutneys make wonderful Christmas gifts.
• Rake up a pile of crunchy autumn leaves for you and your kids – and jump in it like no one is watching!
• Make leaf mould if you have lots of deciduous trees. Use a separate container for this as leaves take longer to decompose than green waste on the compost heap. Sink four wooden poles into the ground, wrap chicken wire around them and add a 10cm layer of leaves. Cover this with a thin layer of soil. Repeat the process until the container is full and leave for about a year. You will eventually have rich leaf mould perfect for mulching flowerbeds.
• Sow Namaqualand daisy seeds every autumn – they’ll always reward you with swathes of spectacular spring colour.
• Poppies, delphiniums, hollyhocks, stocks and sweetpeas will also add a splash of spring colour.
• Transplant anything that hasn’t grown well in its current spot to a new position (do this during April and May as the plant is going into dormancy and it won’t be as negatively affected).
• In winter rainfall areas, clear autumn leaves from gutters before the first storms occur. Trim all the creepers around boundary walls. Start cutting back shrubs and trees that are losing their leaves. • Plant spring bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and Dutch irises in April and May, then wait for them to pop up through the soil over winter and flower in spring… Magnificent!
• Sharpen your pruning tools. July and August are peak pruning months – from roses and bougainvilleas to fruit trees. Don’t prune spring-flowering shrubs now; rather wait until after they’ve bloomed. Cut back big trees that have lost their leaves or are encroaching on the roof and gutters.
• Brighten up winter salads with a few nasturtium flowers! Remember to collect seeds so you can sow them and ensure a ready supply for next year
• Use citrus fruit to make a syrup that can be added to sparkling wine or soda water in summer. Delish!
• Dig out weeds from driveways and make new garden bed edgings with pole droppers.
• Choose a camellia while they’re in flower for colour in your winter garden. Aloes are also at their best now.
• Cut off the dead blooms of pelargoniums to keep them flowering for months on end.
• In summer rainfall regions, scarify the lawn at the end of winter by mowing it as short as possible and raking off the dead stems and roots. Add some topsoil if needed.
• Winter-flowering plants such as magnolias, flowering quince and hellebores will provide a gorgeous seasonal display. • Set your irrigation system according to the season – in the winter rainfall region, it can now be switched off. • Neaten and reset loose pavers around the lawn and flowerbeds.
Spring• The first week of September is National Arbor Week. The common Tree of the Year for 2017 is the Hairy buffalo-thorn (Ziziphus mucronata), while the rare Tree of the Year is the Ebony tree (Euclea pseudebenus). • Sprinkle fertiliser such as Bounce Back on your lawn and flowerbeds to give them a boost, and water in well. • Like this colour? Paint your garden shed in the same fun summery shade – Dulux Minted Glory 6.
• Plant new veggie seedlings – nothing beats harvesting your own crops!
• Service your lawnmower and weed-eater; from here on, your lawn will need mowing once a week.
• Start a worm farm – worm compost is pure gold for your garden.
• Identify the healthiest plants in your garden and take cuttings as gifts for friends.
• For rose lovers
October is the most beautiful month, so enjoy the first flush and display your best blooms or share them with loved ones. Fertilise monthly with Ludwig’s Vigorosa fertiliser or any other rose fertiliser.
• National Braai Day is on 24 September – get those coals going!
• If you have a fig tree, pick the green figs before 15 October for preserving.
• Fruit trees are now in full blossom – if you don’t have one in your garden, visit your local nursery and choose one that catches your eye.