Whilst the garden holds its breath during this time and growth is slow, there are bugs out there to wage war on. Lots of Med flies are looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. They need soft skins on fruits to be able to penetrate and if any of your new season oranges or grapefruit are colouring up at all, they will be in there. Their other favourite fruits are nectarines and peaches. Do watch out – a mouthful of white grubs is not pleasant! So refresh any yellow sticky cards as they become filled.
Potted cycads may look rather strange at this time of year as their outermost layer of leaves turns brown. No need to worry about that as it is a natural occurrence and if you look inside the plant you will see a new crown of leaves emerging from the centre of the plant. It’s alright to cut off the dying leaves. If your cycads are as big as trees than you may have to saw the branches off. There are some specialists about who could do this for you. Aeoniums can look weak and tired whilst the heat continues, as they use up all the water inside their stems and leaves to keep going, but come the autumn they will fill out again in time to show off their attractive flowers in late winter.
The garden centres are full of climbing plants at this time of year for you to try. Hoya and stephanotis are soaring skywards, as are the lovely pink Mandevilla splendens. These will be followed by Pandorea jasminoides, an Australian woody climber with delicate trumpet- shaped flowers in white or pale pink. These plants would be eminently suitable if your garden is a veranda, provided that you give them some support so that they climb away. Although you wouldn’t want to try Campsis radicans, known as the Trumpet Vine, on an apartment veranda with its mile-a-minute growth leaping up the nearest power pole. Originally from Virginia in the USA so preferring some humidity, this is a very attractive climber in the right place. How lucky we are to have all these different plants that we are able to grow here.
I am always hearing that supposedly ‘drought proof’ plants disappoint and keel over.
Chrysanthemoides, a grey felted-leaf good ground cover plant covers a huge area, whilst the favourite Carpobrotus edulis known here as Aphrodite’s tresses, gives bright green areas of cover too. Leucophyllum frutescens, a desert plant, whose grey felted leaves protect the lovely pink flowers that only appear when it is rained on or where there is heavy humidity, was another good choice. The popular shrub Plumbago auriculata from South Africa grows well too, with blue or white flowers. With all the winter rain this year this has put on lots of growth and when the first flowers are finished and before the sticky seed pods appear, it’s best to cut the flower stems right back and you will be blessed with another flowering in a short while. Lots of rosemarys and lavenders do well here with very little attention now that they are established and that is what I am looking for. Various clumps of Aloe vera and echium, although the latter is rather short lived, give height whilst groups of Iris albicans, originally found growing in Yemen and Saudi Arabia and otherwise known as the white flag iris grow along the front of the bank. Apparently, Iris albicans is thought to be the oldest iris in cultivation.
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