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Holiday gardening

For those who have a little extra time off work over the year-end holidays, and need a little gardening therapy, here is some inspiration.

We’re planting…a fiesta of colour for the festive season. Hot pink, fiery fuchsia, sizzling orange and knockout yellow are the colours of the samba, the rumba and Portulaca Nano, a heat-loving groundcover that is always covered with flowers.

Although not indigenous, it is extremely drought and heat tolerant, able to keep flowering through times of low rainfall. Plants do best in full sun and grow in ordinary garden soil. The flowers open early in the morning, creating a ball of colour well into the evening. It is an easy to care for summer annual that will perform as a perennial in frost free areas. Use it as a garden groundcover or on pavements, in hanging baskets and window boxes and as a ’spiller’ in mixed containers.

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Best for patio and indoors: Impatiens ‘Clockwork’ is a pot-impatiens (Impatiens hawkerii) with a wide colour range, including the two-tone Pink Star and Orange Stripe. Great for instant colour indoors and in pots or hanging baskets on the patio. Plants have the ideal compact growth (25cm high and 30cm wide) for pots. Plant in a good quality potting mix, with a controlled release fertiliser. Indoors, the best position is bright light. Keep soil moist but not waterlogged. For patios, place in a position with morning sun or dappled sunshine. Water pots once a day in midsummer and feed with a liquid fertiliser once a month.

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  • Water early morning or late afternoon, to minimise evaporation.
  • Lightly mulch beds to keep plants roots cool and moist for longer
  • In hot, dry weather, don’t cut the lawn too low. Leaving it longer shades the roots.
  • Trim off dead flowers to encourage new flowers.
  • Fertilise annuals and perennials with an organic granular fertiliser in mid-December

Going on holiday?

If your garden will be watered less or not at all while away, here are some survival tips:

  • Don’t fertilise at all: you don’t want to encourage new growth which needs more water.
  • Spread a 1-2cm layer of mulch over the soil to conserve moisture.
  • Place pot and container plants in the shade or on saucers so that they can use any excess water.
  • Pinch off all buds and new growth on the roses. This also saves water.
  • Spray the roses with Ludwig’s Insect Spray and Chronos (a fungicide) to repel pests and prevent black spot while you are away.
  • Check the automatic irrigation and unblock any spray nozzles so that all the plants receive water.
  • After holidays away, don’t mow the overgrown lawn too low. Reduce the height of the lawn gradually over two or three mowing’s so that it doesn’t burn.
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