Just add flower to inject some spring fever
I love the chill that late winter has brought, with cold nights and crisp mornings. But the beautiful warm, sunny days provide a reminder that spring is just around the corner.
If things are looking a bit shabby in your garden, then now is a good time to get in there and do a bit of a spring clean. Remove plants that aren't performing, and trim off dead or damaged leaves and spent flowers. Pull out weeds before seeds form to save yourself more work later on.
Inject some spring fever by planting masses of potted colour. You can now pick up a good range of annuals that have been grown on to flowering stage.
This means that you don't have to wait six weeks for the flowering to commence. At this time of the year, you should find plenty to choose from at your local garden centre, including pansies, violas, petunias, marigolds, verbena, snapdragons, dianthus, and lots of other things.
Annuals put on a great show for several months but their life is limited. If you are looking for longer-lasting plants, choose perennials. There are short-lived perennials which last for a few years, flowering each season or even year-round. Flowering plants I would put in this category include calibrachoa and other 'perennial' petunias, centradenia, and lavender.
Then there are the longer-lived perennials which live for many years, such as geraniums, daisies, plectranthus, and perennial statice. And don't forget flowering shrubs which can live for 20 or more years, including hibiscus, gardenias, abutilons, medinillas, buddleia, camellias and azaleas.
It's a good idea to use a mixture, using annuals and short-lived perennials to fill spaces that will eventually be filled as the longer-lived plants grow to full size. Annuals and free-flowering perennials are also great for pots, either on their own, in combination, or with more seasonally flowering plants.
There is of course also a dazzling array of native plants in bloom at the moment as the heathland plants are doing their thing. Geraldton wax, leptospermum, native daisies, ozothamnus, kangaroo paw, and scaevola as well as the waratahs and grevilleas are star performers in late winter.
Summer flowering bulbs can go in now too. Lovely Asiatic and Oriental lilies can be grown in pots or in garden beds. Gladiolis, hippeastrums and dahlias are reliable, old-fashioned favourites that will flower year after year in a garden.
Give bulbs a sunny position in well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
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