It’s April and the Cape is alive. The sun is retreating and now it’s cooling down sufficiently for evening watering to have real effect. Autumn is the season when the Cape floral kingdom wakes up. So this is the best time of year to start planting indigenous plants. A lot of these plants have their peak flowering time in the spring and early summer to come.
If you are after late summer, autumn and early winter colour then consider the indigenous ‘Duvernoia adhatodoides’ for shady areas (see insert picture). This handsome upright shrub can grow to a height of two meters. It has generously large glossy leaves and produces funky bright white flowers always useful in low light areas. Duvernoia is also water-wise.
Take the opportunity to take stock of the garden now.
Those plants that have survived the hot windy summer unscathed are the best suited plants for your garden. Those that have withered and declined should be pulled out and replaced with new plants species that are more in nature like the survivors. To find out which plants like similar conditions and requirements you need to speak to your local landscapers and horticulturalists at the garden centres.
The water-wise gardens that don’t need watering in the summer are designed to endure during the dry months. The summer is a dormant time for gardening here. However the next five months are critical in such gardens as this is the time to start planting in the Cape.
If you have weeds it’s because the lawns are being cut too low. To avoid this situation don’t mow for a week so that it can grow back. Then raise the lawn mower so that it only cuts the very extreme tips. You need the thatch to thicken sufficiently to prevent sunshine getting through to the soil level below. Weed seed is carried under shoes, on animals and it also blows in on the wind. These seeds will not be able to germinate so easily if the lawn thatch is thick.
Aim for a thatch thickness of up to five to seven centimetres, or the full length from knuckle to fingertip. This is the ideal.
Buffalo and Berea lawns are entering their dormant season. They now grow at a slower pace. So it would be prudent to skip a week in the mowing program.