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Colourful Winters

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ViolasViolasOne of nature’s gifts to us during winter is the sweet, fragrant face of pansies and violas. These gorgeous little plants really take the bite out of winter. Bring some joy to your winter garden with these special flowers which are extremely easy to grow! Pansies have bigger faces and leaves than their cousin the viola which is also known as Heart's Ease.

Vygies, otherwise known by their hard to spell name, mesembryanthemums, are quite possibly South Africa’s most colourful group of plants! What more could you ask for in a winter garden. Did you know that their most commonly used name which is Afrikaans in origin, ‘vygie’, means ‘small fig’? This is because its fruiting capsule resembles a small fig.

 

ViolasViolasViolasPansies and Violas

Both pansies and violas brighten up an early spring garden with their multi-coloured faces that are delicately perfumed and edible too. The blooms offer a soft, sweet fragrance that is most noticeable in the early morning and at dusk. For those of you who want to plant pansies for their smell, choose yellow or blue blooms; they have the strongest scent.

Pansies generally have fewer blooms per plant, but make up for it with much larger flowers. Violas have small, dainty flowers, but they are very florific. Both perform well in a sunny or partially shaded position, so planting under deciduous trees in autumn is ideal. Violas are even happy in quite shady positions, so are perfect for brightening up dull areas. If we happen to experience a hot “Indian (late) summer, be Vygie Vygie Vygie sure to mulch well around your newly planted seedlings as they don’t like warm soil.

Mesembryanthemum

Technically classed as succulents, vygies are excellent for those areas that are experiencing drought or even prone to drought conditions. The best know spring-flowering vygies are Drosanthemum, Delosperma and Lampranthus species. With a range of colours to impress even the fussiest gardener, these species include everything from shrub-like plants to ground covers.

Depending on what you choose from the vast selection at your disposal, you can plant them anywhere from rockeries to borders, containers and even as ground covers in beds that receive a lot of sunlight. The key really is that they are sun lovers and don’t require a lot of maintenance, so make sure they’re not paired with anything requiring regular watering.

BroccoliBroccoliBroccoliBroccoli

Broccoli is now one of the most favoured of all veggies to grow because of its health properties. If you’ve ever eaten shop bought broccoli that was so tough it was barely edible, you’d be forgiven for not enjoying this incredible vegetable much. The good news is that this unfortunate by-product of the way they are stored is something that can be avoided when you grow your own!

When harvesting your broccoli, it’s never good to leave them too long in the hope that they will get bigger, only to let them go past their best. The heads should be tight when harvested and at the first sign that they are separating, they should be harvested immediately.

Dianthus Dianthus Dianthus Carnation

The dianthus family includes the well-known perennial carnation, dianthus caryophyllus, perfect for picking with its long history of being used as an expression of loving care, encouraging them to flower more, another reason to love them! Pot carnations, specifically bred for containers, are also available to brighten up those patios during winter!

Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za.

Books

Gardening in the Shade

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Growing Vegetables in South Africa

Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa

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