After a disastrous winter for my flower garden – it was just too dry and more frost occasions than I’ve ever seen – time to start planning for summer.
I’m going to compensate for my bad winter by going crazy with colour. I know I can rely on my roses – they’re already starting to bud. However I’m going to practically go overboard with other plants, and this is the plan:
1. Petunias : I have a lot of empty hanging-baskets in the shed. I’m going to plant petunias in those and hang them along my front deck and along the fence at the end of the driveway, so there’s this glorious impact when you drive in. Petunias come in a variety of colours – red, pink, purple, white, variegated. There are also spreading and draping ones, as well as plants that are more compact. They are very reliable for glorious flowers and colour in the garden or pots. I’ve said before that I’m not an expert gardener but I’ve always been good with petunias – tips: diligently pluck the dead flowers off, and when the plant starts to get ragged-looking, cut it right back. Petunias can grow practically anywhere but I use a good soil, and it’s important to keep the water up while making sure your plant has good drainage if you’re using a pot because they don’t like their feet always wet. They do just as well in garden beds and look great as part of a landscape.
2. Gerberas – I’m a new fan of this daisy-like flower. I tend to go for flowering plants that are delicate, flowing or towering, preferably a combination of all three! Not an easy combination and gerberas don’t fit that description. However, these flowers have caught my eye in other gardens in recent weeks and I have a couple of random ones in my own garden that I’ve just left to their own devices. They provide a vivid splash of all different colours, so are glorious in mass-planting, and are hardy, long-lasting and cheerful-looking plants. Perfect for the climate I live in, and after my colourless winter.
3. I left the best to last! Gladioli! I first planted gladioli bulbs about two summers ago – just randomly picked up some bulbs from Bunnings one weekend. They started to burst through very quickly – they like the warm – and the next thing I know I have these gorgeous towers of white, purple, yellow flowering plants in my garden. The white ones were particularly tall – almost as tall as me! So stunningly eye-catching. They come in all varieties of colour and some are also variegated. I learned some lessons very quickly from that first year and subsequent years: 1. If you are planting the towering sort, plant the bulb alongside a stake – those slender cane ones should be fine, and they are inexpensive. You are going to have to tie the plant to it as it grows so it doesn’t fall over. It’s better you put the stake in the ground at bulb stage than when the plant is growing. I also use a strip of stocking or other soft piece of material to tie the plant rather than that green covered wire or anything like that. 2. Remove spent flowers. 3 Plant bulbs about every two weeks from early spring. The reason for this is because the flowering episodes don’t last long, so at least this way you have a constant supply of beautiful colour throughout summer.
Gladioli don’t die off all that gracefully unfortunately, and they don’t have long flowering episodes unlike the petunias and gerberas (another reason for the two week gladioli planting regime). But, goodness me, while they are flowering their little hearts out there cannot be a more stunning display, particularly if you plant them in masses.
I did put a bulb order in to Garden Express yesterday but I’m also going to head off to the garden section Bunnings this morning – probably half the town will be there. It’s that time of year again!