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Early Autumn: That March-April Garden – Gardening with JC

Seasonal change is an exciting time in any garden, and the transition into autumn is no different. This is an excellent time of year to plant new trees or shrubs, the “down-time” of the seasons (autumn and winter) allow the plants to settle into its new environment while it readies itself to burst forth into spring.

However, due to the ever-changing nature of our climate, it is always a consideration to plant plants that need less water. Here are a few ideas.

WILD GARLIC: this hardy and easy-to-grow perennial produces lovely star-shaped flower clusters on long stems. The flowers, leaves and stems are edible and can be used for flavour and garnish. It also deters snakes and aphids. It is water-wise and is fantastic in herb gardens or as border plants.

CRAPE MYRTLE – BLACK DIAMOND: this is a new variety of the beautiful and hardy Pride Of India. Low maintenance and drought tolerant, this variety has stunning near-black leaves crowned with vibrant blooms that come in a range of colours: Purely Purple, Mystic Magenta, Lavender Lace, Best Red and Pure White. It should be protected from harsh winds and sea spray, and performs best in bright full sun; it is suitable for small gardens or pots and can be trained as a small tree (2m) or into a full shrub.

HIBISICUS: South Africa has about 60 indigenous species of hibiscus, from small ground coverings to 5m tall shrubs. A late summer flowerer to plant in sunny to lightly-shaded containers, on a balcony or patio, or directly into the garden. However, it must be protected from salty winds. Medium to low water usage in the garden, but the pots will need a lot of watering. Their flowers come in a variety of lovely colours – pink, red, yellow, orange and a beautiful white. Depending on which variety you have, you may get spectacular double blooms – some varieties also have variegated leaves. A tropical splendour in any garden.

ROSE CARE FOR MARCH: Apart from being the perfect time to plant new roses, it is time to build healthy leaves by fertilising with a rose fertilizer this month. This will strengthen the plant stems for fast sprouting in spring, and will also enable them to flower beautifully on new stems well into winter.

WILD DAGGA: A very hardy, drought and frost resistant evergreen perennial shrub. This shrub produces abundant clusters of tubular orange or white velvety flowers, repeating in circles up the length of long stalks, from February to July. It’s an important food and nectar source for sunbirds, bees and butterflies during autumn and winter. Plant in sun or semi-shade and cut back severely after flowering for mass flowering the next season.

OTHERS, HARDY AND ADAPTABLE: March is the perfect time to plant the hardy and adaptable types – verbena, lobelia, alyssum, dianthus and petunias.  They will enjoy the last of the summer heat, as well as the cooler weather when autumn finally arrives.

VEGGIES: Sow lettuce, kale, leek, radishes, Swiss chard, peas, cabbages, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and turnips. You do not need to have a veggie patch, most veggies will grow quite comfortably in-between other plants in your garden, or even in containers. 

GOOD TO KNOW: If you notice that water just runs off the soil surface without penetrating to the soil beneath, you need to add compost. DO NOT dig it in, simply layer it on top and water as usual.  The compost will trap the water and slowly release into the soil beneath taking the nutrients from the compost with it.

Feed all shrubs and lawn with potassium-rich fertiliser to strengthen cells and stems before winter comes.

As we move into autumn and our daylight hours start to change, so do we. As we look after our beloved gardens, so we need to be mindful of “The Blues” and embrace every day as a chance to experience, see, learn and appreciate something new.

Until next time, Enjoy your time outside.

For more gardening tips or to connect with me please visit my website or find me on social media.

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