BULBS, annuals, bedding plants, beautiful trees … there are many ways to brighten up your garden and your life with instant, or with long-lasting and seasonal, colour. A little fore-thought and planning will go a long way towards personalising your garden space into a reflection of your individuality and creativity.
Create a moonlight gardenGardens are wonderful sources of visual pleasure during the daytime but how about a planting to be enjoyed at night as well? A border or selection of containers filled with white flowers looks magical at the twilight hour and on moonlit nights. Plant a broad seasonal selection such as white azaleas, rothmania, magnolia, arums, begonias, hydrangea paniculata, galtonia, dahlias, gaura, chrysanthemums and fragrant white roses, tuberose, gardenia, alyssum, and jasmine to ensure interest throughout the year.
The indigenous perennial, syncarpha argentea or "everlasting", has a flowering period of almost seven months and its silvery foliage complements the tiny translucent white flowers. Create your white garden near the braai and entertainment areas for maximum enjoyment.
Improve vegetable production A few cheerful flowers planted among the vegetables add a splash of colour to the predominantly green kitchen garden, and can help improve the harvest. Bold zinnias attract the bees essential for the pollination of cucumbers, squash and melons.
Orange, red and yellow flowered nasturtiums entice aphids away from the veggies while the presence of a fragrant lavender plant actually deters many small creatures from dining on your veggie patch. The tiny parasitic nematodes in the soil, which can deplete the kitchen garden production if allowed to get out of control, are kept in check by the presence of a few dahlias and marigolds.
Vamp up the dinner tableHave you seen the gorgeous array of unusually coloured vegetables that are so fashionable these days?
Try planting seeds of the golden, or sweet-tasting pink and white striped, beetroots. Carrot seeds are available in purple, white, and yellow varieties as are string beans.
Swiss chard comes with gold and red stalks contrasting against its curled green leaves, and tomatoes can be grown with black, white, yellow and striped fruits in all sizes. Most intriguing of all, perhaps, is sweet corn with kernels in blue, red, or multicoloured varieties that have kernels in shades of white, yellow, blue and reds all on the same ear!
Make a visual statementContainers, trellises, arches and obelisks all add height to the landscape and, combined with colourful plants climbing up or cascading down, can turn a problem area into an exciting design statement.
A long stretch of wall comes into its own when trellis work panels are placed along the length. Climbers such as golden shower, thunbergia, and wisteria will flaunt their displays of colour at flowering time. A row of tall coloured planters looks good set along the shaded wall of a courtyard and will be stunning when filled with a mass of begonias.
A trellised arch can be used to frame a view, mark the division between two sections of garden, or draw the eye away from garden essentials such as water tanks and compost heaps. Cover the arch with a soft-shaded banksia or rambling rose or go waterwise with indigenous pink trumpet vine (podranea ricasoliana), yellow canary creeper (senecio tamoides), or white traveller's joy (clematis brachiata).
Obelisks, fashioned from metal or painted wood, add height and create focal interest in the garden – especially in kitchen gardens. They look great on their own and superb when covered with scarlet runner beans, green cucumbers, or purple granadillas.
Work with the treesTrees have a lot to offer in terms of colour. Graceful birches (betula pendula alba), with their small green leaves and silvery white trunks, look equally impressive planted singly or mass-planted. Fever tree (acacia xanthophloea) is equally effective with its lustrous green-yellow trunk and dainty leaves.
Many other indigenous trees are small enough to fit into suburban gardens and turn summer's end into a celebration of autumn colour. Consider making space for coastal golden leaf (bridelia micrantha), bushwillows (combretum species), rock cabbage (cussonia natalensis), and sneezewood (ptaeroxylon obliquum), all of which help to attract birds and butterflies too.
Spectacular tree wisteria (bolusanthus speciosus) flowers in a showy haze of purple flowers and is far more environment-friendly than the jacaranda. The pompon tree (dias cotinifolia) transforms itself into a cloud-like froth of pink at Christmas time. Is there anything quite as splendid as the sight of masses of fiery flowers blooming on the bare branches of the coral tree (erythrina), marking the end of winter?
Don't delay, visit a garden centre soon and get started colouring your world beautiful. SA Nurseries Association