Sunday, November 29, 2009

Easy-growing Gerberas

I planted some vividly coloured Gerberas (also known as Barberton daisy or Transvaal Daisy) a couple of years ago and am starting to see great results as the plants clump and produce lots of blooms.

The species is indigenous to South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province and its common name arose from the old gold‑rush town of Barberton, where it grows in great profusion. In its natural environment Gerbera jamesonii grows in well‑drained soil in grassland areas.

If grown in the right conditions, the plants will flower for many months through summer and into winter. Although these daisies grow best in sheltered, frost‑free positions, they will tolerate some frost. The soil should be well drained, and mixed with plenty of organic material. If the soil in your garden is heavy, compensate by raising the beds 15‑30 cm above ground level and mixing some river sand into the soil.

Gerbera daisies are among the best and most attractive flowers for cutting, but they should be cut a day or two before they are to be displayed, because the flowers tend to close up the night after they are cut. To make the flowers last longer you should dip the ends of their stems in boiling water after cutting.

There is a full profile on Gerbera daisies with good growing tips on my website Drop by now to find out just how easy it is to grow these magnificent plants.

Make ground covers your friend

Ground covers can be among the most attractive and useful plant groupings in your home landscape.

We’ve been getting lots of rain and the ground covers are thriving. Some have needed some radical trimming, but they do add a lushness to the garden. I have been thinking about some of the gardens I have visited that absolutely cry out for the addition of ground covers. And others where gardeners have simply planted the wrong groundcovers in the wrong places, ending up with strangled flower beds or shrivelled ground cover plants in shady areas.

Ground covering plants are just that — they spread or creep over the ground to form a dense, living carpet of foliage which can take the place of a lawn or fulfil many other useful purposes in the garden.

They include plants that propagate quickly to form a dense, lawn‑like carpet of greenery, plants that have coloured foliage or which flower profusely, and others that are really small, spreading shrubs. There is a large variety of texture and leaf form too, and there are ground covers to suit varying soil types and virtually any terrain, whether a rocky, steep bank or a damp, shady corner.

Ground covers are particularly well suited to informal gardens, and areas that are difficult to landscape in a conventional way. It is often difficult, or impossible, to grow a lawn on steep, rocky blocks of land, and even if a lawn can be established, mowing and maintenance could be a problem. Choose the right plant for the right place.

I have now added the first in a new series dealing with Ground Covers to my website Head over there now for the lowdown. Future posts will deal with Propagation of ground covers, Planting and Caring for ground covers, and profiles of a number of popular ground covers.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lilies are easy to grow

I have been filling some gaps in my garden with lilies (for now, planted in their pots). Lilies add rich colours and splendid form to almost any landscape. From the classic to the ornate, they will delight your senses and enhance your gardening experience.

Lilies provide an easy to grow, colourful addition to your garden and landscape. By choosing a combination of early, mid-season, and late-blooming cultivars, you can have lilies in flower throughout. These hardy bulbs require only minimal care. Each has the capacity to grow, eventually, into a large cluster of flowering stems.

Valued for thousands of years, lilies are among the most varied of plants in their colour, size, and flowering time, and also in the conditions in which they will grow

One of the oldest of all cultivated flowers, the lily has been cherished since the days of the earliest civilis­ations. Records show that lilies were grown in Rome, Greece, China, Japan, and in ancient Egypt at least 3 000 years ago.

Few plants are as versatile as the lily, a genus of mainly hardy bulbs with about 90 species. All are perennials, but they vary widely in size, colour, flowering period, and the conditions in which they will thrive.

The first of a three-part series on Lilies is now up on my website Part Two of this series will be posted soon and will deal with Planting and Caring for Lilies. Part Three covers Propagation of Lilies.