Around the garden

One of the best winter and spring flowering plants, particularly for dry  positions where only the toughest  of plants will grow, is the dwarf  shrub,  Euphorbia wulfenii.  

The yellow tinged with green bracts surrounding the flowers  are produced in abundance and not only provide colour in the garden when it is much needed but can also make a bold sculptural statement when used as a focal plant.

Like all members of the Euphorbia family they should be handled with rubber gloves because  the white, milky sap can cause skin irritations. 

Brooms tolerate most conditions and in particular coastal areas where they prefer a slightly acidic soil. Their very showy pea-like flowers bloom in late spring through into summer. 

Another shrub that likes coastal areas is the Westringia. This member of the mint family grows in sandy, rocky areas and can tolerate salty winds and exposed conditions.

Table and wine grapes are best trained along wires, over a pergola or on a trellis.  

Vines provide shade in summer and create a charming, rustic sight when laden with fruit and again in the autumn when the leaves take on a wonderful range of colours.   

Wine and table grapes belong to the Vitis vinifera species that have a very colourful history and can be traced back to ancient times. 

Between late autumn and early spring, coloured foliage and decorative ornamental fruits can give the garden a boost.

During the otherwise drab period between late autumn and early spring, coloured foliage, decorative ornamental fruits, early blossom and bright berries can give the garden a boost to cheer the winter scene. Nurseries have a good range of potted plants for you to choose from.  

Nerines flower for a long period, if suitable varieties are planted,  from late summer through to early winter.  Nerines increase rapidly and their distinctive display of lovely colours ranging from white, cyclamen pinks to the magnificence of the orange-scarlet varieties make a stunning sight in a naturalised setting.

Nerines like a well drained, acid loamy soil rich in humus. Plant bulbs with  their long necks just above the soil level.   

Avoid planting annuals of the same type too often in the one bed especially if the previous plants were diseased. 

Green manure crops, compost or well rotted animal manure and slow acting organic fertilisers can be dug in this month, given a good dressing of limestone and left to weather over the winter.

Keep the soil around daphnes continually moist as they will die if the soil dries out quickly.