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Summertime … and the living is easy

Local horticulturist and author Sally-Anne Fowles, of Spirited Gardening, shares her top tips for creating a thriving spring/summer garden.

Local horticulturist and author Sally-Anne Fowles, of Spirited Gardening, shares her top tips for creating a thriving spring/summer garden.

Spirited Gardening

Local horticulturist and author Sally-Anne Fowles, of Spirited Gardening.

The classic Ella Fitzgerald song, Summertime, always conjures my thoughts to lazy, hot days, spent sipping my favourite drink on a balcony overlooking a picture perfect, green garden.

Then reality sets in, and my mind comes to the realisation that it simply isn’t that easy when it is a 40 degree day and you’re wiping sweat from your brow and swatting flies left, right and centre.
I am sure you have heard that SA is the driest state on the driest continent, and these words always make me super mindful of what I plant, how I water and what I need to do to keep my garden at its summer best.

Rather than delving into the physical workings of a garden, I thought I would share a few relaxed ideas that will see you and your garden, joyfully, through the festive season.

Take a step back – it is always a challenge at this time of the year to look past the weeds that are revelling in the sunshine. However, it is the best time to view your garden at its fullest, when your deciduous and herbaceous plants are in full leaf and flower. This is the time of the year where you can see spaces you feel like you need to fill and what plants need either removing or seriously cutting back. If some plants need a good haircut, make a note and research the best time of the year to hard prune.

Treat yourself to a garden diary – I am a great believer in having a diary specifically for your garden. This is where you can note what is happening, when you should prune a particular plant, when you have fertilised or should fertilise, what time to plant seeds et cetera. The beauty is that you can look back every year to give you a valued, historical account of the seasonal transition of your garden. And, if you are scratching for Christmas gift ideas a garden diary is a great gift for your garden-loving family or friends.

Have fun – now this is seriously an incredibly important aspect to gardening in general

It’s not the size, it’s the way you use it – don’t despair if you crave growing your own fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers but your growing space is the size of a postage stamp. Think pots, space saving pre-made raised garden beds, and think vertical growing too. Check with your local council to discover if you can use your verge to plant as well. Also, pop onto YouTube for fabulous tips on urban gardening in small spaces.

Have fun – now this is seriously an incredibly important aspect to gardening in general. To feel free of the constraints of “keeping up with the Joneses” and to simply enjoy your very own creation is so very liberating. If you want to grow, say, red flowers next to pink, or an eclectic mix of colours when monotone is perceived to be the trend, well, Mother Nature is going to love you for it. Biodiversity within a garden, however big or small, is going to encourage wonderful beneficial creatures, including insects, birds, frogs, and lizards.

A little Christmas cheer – what a wonderful time to share your love of gardening with friends and family whether they are into gardening or not. A trip to your favourite nursery will not disappoint even if you are struggling for a minimally priced gift for your brother-in-law or an easy Kris Kringle. Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme; and of course, the favourite summer herb, basil, all make great, potted presents especially when a bunch of herbs purchased at the supermarket last about four days and costs just as much or more than a living plant. A quick pot-up into a cute terracotta pot with a “Christmassy” bow is an easy, fun, and environmentally friendly gift. You never know, you may inspire the gifted to explore growing more of their own.

Until next time, Sally-Anne

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