SUSAN - THE VICTORIAN TEA GARDEN, NICHOLAS NURSERY, WITKOPPEN ROAD 

Susan, who is an ex apprentice at the British Royal Horticultural Society and now a seasoned landscaper in Fourways, talked to us about our winter Garden.

Gardens, like any living thing, need their rest. They work hard in Spring and Summer and need to rest in Winter. The best way to ensure an enlivened Spring garden is to let the garden rest. Cut down perennials and mulch the soil and beds to 6 cms.

Bedding plants need a lot less attention in winter providing they get planted into soil that is well prepared and this is where compost is the basis of your gardening regime. Only add organic fertiliser, then your layer of mulch. Do not worry too much about watering. Mulch will hold the moisture in the soil. Do not dig. Let the worms do their job. Use a hoe to weed. Plant your garden densely. Throw carrot seeds in flower beds and enjoy their lovely frond leaves. Plant a few blue and grey succulents.

Focus on certain areas of your garden, verge and patio for splashes of colour.

Eckards Garden Pavillion in Bedford View recommends planting poppies, pansies, primulas, Dianthus or Calendulas. In full sun spots towering above the rest grow some poppies. Poppies are special because they attract bees to the garden. The same as we help feed the birds in winter it is important to consider planting to encourage bees. More and more reports are coming out on the plight of bees and we are all becoming more aware of the importance of bees in the environment as part of our food production. Plant poppies in the most sun you can. They will grow in a bit of shade but flowering is best when they get sun. Once in, nip out the first couple of flowers so that the strength goes into the plant and it grows stronger. Once the poppies start to flower keep more flowers coming by dead-heading them as much as possible. This will keep them in full flower longer. Poppies are also great cut flowers. To make them last longer in the vase dip the newly cut stem in a bit of boiling water and then straight into the vase.

Pansies and Violas are a must in the winter and spring garden, flowering for months on end. Planted anytime from autumn through to spring they will be in flower well into October and even early November making them incredible value for money. Pansies through winter want full sun to most of the day sun to perform at their best. If you give them too much shade they will produce fewer flowers through the coldest months and only provide a mass show at the end of spring.

TIP: Keep your winter pansies slightly on the dry side and keep dead-heading them to produce more flowers. Violas look just like pansies but have a smaller flower. Violas are for semi-shade and have the added fun element that their flowers are often fragrant and make a pretty addition to salads and on top of cupcakes for lazy winter afternoon high teas.

Primulas and Primroses are our recommendation for shady garden beds or containers. The Primulas are available in white and shades of purple and last for months in well prepared soil. It is especially important to prepare the soil well for Primulas if you are planting them under trees. The past summer would have had the trees take all the extra food out of the soil. Plant them with BioGanic and Bone Meal and then keep them well watered. Feed them with Multifeed Classic regularly to get the best show over the next few months.

Primroses look like giant buttons and grow flat. Plant them in light shade where you can look at them from close up. Perfect for a shady patio container or along a pathway you use every day.

Choosing winter bedding plants is so much more fun than it is for summer as there are so many more to choose from and there are more colours and mixes in each variety. If you don't have much space winter plantings are fun to mix up and experiment with. This year plant some combos in the pots and around the garden for a cheerful uplifting display.

Idea: Under plant your bedding plants with Bulbs. That way you get a layered display of colour that changes as spring gets here.

CALL SUSAN ON 078 445 8598 for a Landscaping quote : Eckards on 011 453 8573

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