In your garden
- Add a cool summer touch with a hedge of deep blue-flowered Plumbago auriculata ‘Royal Cape’. Flowering in summer, autumn and spring with blooms that resemble clusters of phlox, it’s hardy and needs little more than an occasional shaping trim.
- Give ponds nocturnal pizzazz by installing underwater lights (available in kit form), or perhaps a spotlight directed on them from a nearby tree or wall.
- Create tropical pot appeal with the new Tradewinds hibiscus from Colourwise (www.colourwise.com). Bred to produce a better habit when grown in a container, it has a reduced bud drop compared to other hibiscus and comes in colours ranging from white, yellow and orange, to red and pink.
- Attract butterflies into your garden by planting nectar-producing favourites such as candytuft, dahlia, catmint, sedum, verbena, alyssum, heliotrope and flannel flower – and avoid spraying insecticides.
- If mowing is getting you down, check out the dense-foliaged Liriope muscari ‘Isabella’. It creates a lush foliage that requires mowing only once a year to keep it at about 21cm high, or twice a year, if you’d like it shorter. Considered by many to be a better alternative to mondo grass, it’s available from Ozbreed. Visit www.bestplants.com.au for stockists.
- Water wisely over summer. If you’re concerned about your garden’s water, invest in a Neta Litre Meter. It allows you to monitor water by volume as you use it. Simply set the arrow on the dial to zero and begin watering. You can use it with your current spray-gun or buy it pre-assembled with a Neta spray-gun.
- Like to test your topiary-growing skills? All you need is a container, a good-quality potting mix and an English box (Buxus sempervirens). As it grows, clip and coax it into a shape, watering and feeding regularly with a foliar fertiliser. You can encourage the branches to grow in your desired direction by using a soft wire.
- Clean out excess plants from your pond that have exploded in number from extra sun. You can use them to make a highly nutritious mulch for garden beds.
- Collect seeds from your favourite annuals. Store them in an envelope in a dry spot for sowing next spring.
FLOWERS All zones: Alyssum, marigold, petunia, portulaca, salvia, verbena and zinnia.
Zones 2-6: Ageratum, amaranthus, aster, coleus, dahlia, gerbera, impatiens, linaria, nasturtium, pansy, phlox, poppy, primula, stock, sweet pea and wallflower.
Zones 7-8: Begonia, cosmos, gomphrena, sunflower, torenia and vinca.
VEGETABLESAll zones: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cress, leek, lettuce, radish, rhubarb, silverbeet and spring onion.
Zones 2-6: Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, carrot, endive, herbs, kohlrabi, parsnip, swede and turnip.
Zones 7-8: Artichoke suckers, capsicum, celery, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, marrow, melon, okra, potato tubers, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato tubers, tomatoes and zucchini.
Add a splash of style and charm to your summer garden by merging the formal and the tropical in a beautiful container. A standard hibiscus in a pot gives the structural look of a topiary, while those fabulous showy flowers add unexpected zing to the scene. Don’t be too particular about rounding off the top growth – let it flower first, then trim it back to shape when the blooms finish. For a gorgeous planting in the base, try a begonia, such as ‘Bonfire’ (used here), to create a heat-loving combo that will look spectacular throughout the season.