Are morning frosts and dark evenings getting you down? Brighten up the winter months by planting some gorgeous potted colour and greenery in your garden.
There are plenty of ways to spruce up your garden in July, says Melissa King, horticulturalist and Northcote Pottery ambassador.
Melissa shared her top picks for what to plant this month:
We appreciate scented plants all the more through the cooler months when the weather is gloomy, so get some Daphne into the garden now and enjoy wafts of intense sweetness through winter and spring.
Winter Daphne (Daphne odora) is an old-fashioned favourite with glossy dark green leaves, a profusion of starry white flowers that open from pink buds and a tidy habit to grow just over a metre tall.
You’ll also love ‘Perfume Princess’, a relatively new variety with flowers clustered all the way down the stem and a sweet citrusy fragrance. It’s one of the earliest and longest-flowering Daphnes around, with striking blooms from mid-winter right through to late spring. Plant it in pots on either side of the front door and be greeted by whiffs of perfume as you come and go.
Bare-rooted fruit trees
Bare-rooted fruit trees - like apples, pears and plums - are sold without pots while the weather is still cold and the plant is dormant. Garden centres are jam-packed with these trees at this time of year, and they're much cheaper to buy, so now’s a great time to create your own backyard orchard.
Bare-rooted trees hate to dry out, so prepare the area for planting by digging in lots of compost and organic matter and get plants into the ground as soon as possible. Dig a planting hole wider than it is deep and create a little mound of soil in the bottom of the hole, then spread the roots over the top of the mound in a natural position. Backfill the hole, adding water as you go and firming down the soil, to remove any air pockets and settle the plant into its new home.
If the area is windy or exposed you might need to stake the tree, just until the roots have established. Take the time to give your deciduous fruit trees a good winter prune now too, to create an open, more balanced tree. When they burst into leaf in spring give them a good dose of complete food to promote vigorous, healthy growth and a hefty crop of fruit.
Packed full of Vitamins K, A and C, calcium and fibre, kale isn’t particularly fussy, but performs best in full sun and rich, well-drained soil and likes to be grown through the cooler months. Its flavour is even enhanced with a bit of frost.
Sow seeds directly from autumn through to spring into garden beds that have been prepared first with compost and organic matter or get a flying start with young seedlings.
You might like to grow ‘Tuscan Kale’, an old Italian variety with striking slate grey crinkled leaves, which taste delicious braised or baked into chips. ‘Red Russian’ is as good to look at as it is to eat, with beautiful blue-green leaves that are blushed with purple. Or, try ‘Winter Wonder’ with crinkly foliage in shades of pink, purple, white and green.
Colourful bedding plants
Winter is the perfect time to give your garden a colourful makeover, so why not liven your outdoor rooms with exuberant bedding plants like Pansies, Violas, Cinerarias or Polyanthus. Grow them in window boxes and pots you can bring close to the house for splashes of cool-season colour. Consider the colour of your blooms when choosing your pots, for maximum impact.
Here are my eight top tips for planted winter colour:
- Fill pots and planters with a good quality potting mix
- Team plants together that enjoy similar growing conditions. Sun lovers with sun lovers and shade lovers with shade lovers
- You might like to make a feature of maroon pansies and silver leafed cinerarias in stone-coloured pots or near-black violas and silver leafed Dichondra in charcoal-coloured containers
- Plant taller plants in the centre of the pot and compact or trailing plants around the edge
- Water your new plants in a seaweed-based plant tonic. It helps to promote strong healthy root growth and get young seedlings off to a flying start. Continue to apply it every two weeks, throughout the growing season
- Liquid feed your pots every two weeks to promote vigorous, healthy growth and loads of flowers
- Keep potted plants well-groomed and remove faded flowers regularly to keep the blooms coming
- Keep your outdoor room looking fresh by updating your pots every season with the latest plants and colour trends
Winter is the perfect time to get stuck into a good gardening project, so why not create a succulent ball that will be a hanging feature in your garden?
This video tutorial shows you how to make one at home.