This month in your garden

Hemerocallis and tulbaghia flowers are open fully now and add some glamour to the garden. Agapanthus, for some a tricky plant to get to flower, needs feeding after flowering and again in spring.  Some say that in order to flower they need to be crowded together in a pot, and they can sulk for a year or two as well after being split up and re-potted.  Choose a fertiliser with a low first number (nitrogen) or they will produce many leaves and few flowers. Although they come from very sunny countries, avoid growing them in full sun here, as the strap-like leaves may burn.   As the outer leaves of irises begin to die off, remove them gently by pulling them away from the base of the plant. Then after a couple of weeks cut the remaining leaves into an inverted ‘V’ shape, which will expose the rhizome to the sun, helping the plant prepare for next year’s flowers.  Strew some bone meal around the base area or if you can’t get that, use a rose fertiliser and again in the early spring.

Roses are looking good and are perfuming the evening air.   However, they need regular deadheading to keep them blooming.  Cut back the stem to an outward facing leaf bud and make a slanting cut just above it.  Always wear strong gloves when you work amongst roses and protect your eyes, as some of them have very sharp thorns and can cause you serious injury. Other perfumed plants such as sweet peas are generally over by now as temperatures rise, unlike their northern European cousins that last all summer.  Collect their seeds for next year, keeping them in a paper bag or envelope.

Annuals, those plants that grow from seed, flower, set seed and die all in one season, need dead heading regularly.  You can collect seed from them now or let some of them fall to the ground where you will find that they will come up of their own accord next year, much earlier than those that you sow in the spring.  Some of my favourite annuals are larkspur, most attractive in pinks, mauves and dark purples looking like dainty delphiniums, along with heavenly blue cerinthe, pretty petalled cosmos and nigella, with their feathery foliage and pastel-coloured flowers. 

Canna lilies grow as well in pots as in the ground. They are such handsome plants if their paddle shaped leaves are not torn by summer winds or eaten by locusts or others insects, which find them very tasty. With many more varieties available here in a myriad of colours, I like ‘Durban’ best, with its very striated leaves and huge orange flowers, and I have grown this canna for a very long time here.  Another favourite is ‘Lucifer’ which has bright red flowers edged with yellow, along with ‘Lenape’, which has a mottled flower.  You probably won’t find them named in a garden centre, but you may be attracted to the leaves or flowers, so look up the names when you get them home.