Annual Garden Bed Spruce-Up

When the annuals have finished flowering, new plantings are necessary. Adding colour to the same space with more permanent plants, such as shrubs and ground covers, is sometimes preferable, especially over the holiday season when there is little time for maintenance.

The tallest plants at the back:

Phormium ‘Black Beauty’ - New Zealand flax
A great plant to put at the back of beds to create a sense of depth. The strappy foliage forms a clump of about 1m high and across. It’s best in full sun but will tolerate part shade. It’s drought hardy when established, but water well for the first few weeks. Flax plants are from New Zealand and the Maoris used this plant in medicine and also crafts.

In front:
Euphorbia x martinii – Spurge
This small border-shrub forms masses of lime-green bracts from August to January and is tolerant of dry heat. It reaches approximately 50cm high and only 30cm in width, with compact growth. It comes from a very large group of plants that typically have a milky sap (that some people are sensitive to). Its relative, Euphorbia pulcherrima- Pointsettia, is a big hit around Christmas time, because of its red flower bracts.

To contrast these colours as a groundcover:

Cerastium tomentosum - Snow in summer
This great, ground-hugging plant has masses of sweet tiny-white flowers, which sit above the furry-grey foliage. This foliage should be kept drier in winter and during humid summers, as the fine hairs on the leaves retain moisture and this can cause mildew. It is great for rockeries or the foreground of garden beds.

In the pots:

Leucospermum ’Calypso Red’
This bird-attracting, South African shrub to 1m is quite happy to be in a pot provided you use a native mix or free draining cacti and succulent mix. It needs good drainage and will tolerate part sun. Delightful clusters of small flower heads range from pale yellow to deep red, according to age. Prune after flowering and water at the base to prevent mildew or fungal problems.

Sedum’Gold mound’ - Stonecrop
This is a terrific, low, evergreen groundcover for sunny areas with poor, dry soil. This forms a trailing mat of succulent golden-yellow leaves. Clusters of yellow starry flowers appear during the summer. When planted in containers or on a wall, this develops a beautiful cascading habit. Plants may be pruned back at any time if they get too large. Foliage sometimes develops beautiful amber tones in the autumn and winter. Does well in large rock gardens where the plants can be given room to spread.

Agonis flexuosa ’Jedda’s Dream’
‘Jedda's Dream’ is a distinctive variety of Agonis, which is characterized by its bushy plant-growth habit, strong basal branching, shorter plant height, short, red-purple immature stem colour, grey-purple immature leaf color, overall red-purple foliage appearance and short leaf length. This is perfect in pots; remembering to use a native potting mix.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana – Flaming Katie
This small succulent from Madagascar has a rainbow of blooms available from winter to summer. It is frost tolerant and drought hardy.

SUPPLIERS - (soil/ fertilisers)

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