While most people are huddled up under their blankets to keep warm, there are still a few of us die-hard gardeners trying to make the most of any little bit of sunshine to enhance the gardens of their Blouberg properties.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much colour around Blouberg in July, but if you have planted Icelandic Poppies, they should be flowering now with their single long-stemmed flower. To keep it flowering until spring when other plants on your property start to flower again, make sure it has full sun, rich soil and excellent drainage.
Gardens aren’t normally looking their best this time of year in Bloubergstrand, especially after storms like we’ve experienced. Take advantage of the odd sunny day to tidy up the garden on your property. Rake up fallen leaves (taking care not to damage young shoots) and maybe plant some winter bedding plants to liven up dull patches. Alyssum, Diascias, Primulas, Pansies, Violas and Lobelias are all widely available in seedling trays and will flower in July until early summer.
Other plants that flower beautifully during Cape Town winters are Camellias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, available in a wide range of colours. Be sure to add some compost and pine needle mulch to their soil to ensure a long flowering season. Just remember that these plants don’t enjoy too much attention.
This is the time to be planting new trees and shrubs around the garden of your Blouberg property, as well as to transplant any perennials. Stone fruit trees (peach, plum, etc.) enjoy lots of lime in the soil and it’s a good idea to scatter some over the surface.
July is also a good time to compost any areas of the garden where you intend making a mixed or herbaceous border in spring.
July is the best month for pruning roses and certain fruit trees like peach and apple trees. This should take precedence over any other gardening chore this month. If you’re new to pruning, it’s best to get advice from your local garden centre as not all trees and bushes require the same pruning.
Pruning fruit trees in their early years helps them to develop into well balanced trees with the branches well-spaced into strong frames to carry the fruiting branches.
Another reason to prune trees and shrubs is to get rid of dead wood which may land up harbouring pests and to remove weaker shoots and unwanted branches that will grow into the centre of the plant, blocking light and air.
- Keep all your pruning tools sharp and clean.
- Where large wounds are made on trees, paint over them with lead paint, builder’s knotting or a sealing compound.
- Cut cleanly above a strong bud pointing in the direction you wish the branch to grown.
- Afterwards, collect all the prunings and burn them to ensure you’ve got rid of all pests.
- Remember that the harder you cut back, the more vigorously the plant will grow; pruning a weakly growing tree severely will encourage more robust growth.
Here in the Cape, we don’t experience too much frost in winter, but the occasional frost can do a lot of damage to plants on your property. Plants that have been affected will be easy to spot – they’ll be bent over and not look well at all. To save them, spray them lightly with cold water before the sun reaches them as thawing will cause frozen cells to expand too rapidly and may even kill the plant.
Plants grown indoors on your property will need less watering now – only water (with room temperature water) when the soil starts looking dry. This is now the resting season for most potted foliage plants. Keep plants clean and out of any drafts.
Indoor plants that are currently flowering or budding (like primulas and cyclamen) respond well to a little weekly feeding and require a little more water than dormant plants. African Violets are indoor favourites but be careful not to get any moisture on the leaves when you water them.