Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In The Garden: Getting Some Winter Colour Action

Winter is typically a time of the blahs in the garden, and most corners of our backyard would concur, but we do have a couple of bright spots, which I take a ridiculous amount of pleasure from. I go out and visit them every day, looking for new growth, new flowers, buds about the burst open with sweet colour. It does sound a bit silly, but it gives me hope and happiness in winter, the season that is most likely to see me feeling down.

Here are a few ideas for injecting some much needed life and colour into your garden over winter. Some are good for this year, others to keep in mind for next year.

My Hardenbergia 'Edna Walling Snow White' is starting to bloom, and it is so, so, so pretty. If you have a fence or a pergola you'd like to grow something on, these little gems are perfect. They're native, they're easy peasy to maintain and they will grow quite quickly - just provide a trellis or some wire from them to grow along. The flowers start in winter and continue through spring, and they are just super cute. I love having green walls in the backyard - it makes the space feel even bigger.

At the markets on Saturday I spotted a vendor selling potted ornamental kale and had to have one. They are everywhere these days, but with reason. The colours are gorgeous and they bloom in winter, which is what I'm after.

They grow well from seed, and you'll need to plant them late summer/early autumn to get the blooms in winter. They like a sunny spot and will tolerate frost. (Apparently, the colder the weather the more colour you'll get in the bloom). They're perfect to plant in herb/ornamental beds as replacement plants over winter, when some of your herbs or perennials die off in the colder months. They also look gorgeous as a winter edge planting, maybe along a path?

Ah, my sweet peas. Progress is good but slow. They've been super easy to grow from seed, and just need a sunny, open position. I'm keeping an eye on them, to make sure they keep attaching to the supports as they get taller, and keep the water and seaweed solution up to them when I remember. They should bloom in another couple of months, and I will hopefully have vases and vases of beautiful fragrant blooms for a few months after.

Lastly, my kangaroo paws have started to bloom again. Some are summer flowering, but my Bush Gems start flowering in winter and last all the way through spring, which is wonderful. Juts pick one up from your local nursery, pop it in a pot or in the ground, add some slow-release low-phosphorous fertiliser every six months and water it occasionally and it'll be great. They're fairly hardy, but do enjoy a hard prune after flowering (cut them all the way back to the ground and make sure to keep the centre of the plant clear of dead leaves and debris). Cut the flowers to keep inside - they keep really well in a vase - and the plant will send up more and more in a show of gratitude. Win:win!

None of these are hard to grow, at all, otherwise I wouldn't be growing them! They just give a bit of spark to the greyness that a garden can be in winter, so I love them by default. Let me know if you have any gems that you have in your garden. I'd love to hear about them!

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Merci! Ta! Xie xie!