Saturday, May 25

3 Practical Tips for a Colourful Winter Garden


Despite the arrival of the winter chill, many of South Africa’s coastal areas’ temperate climates and sunny skies allow for vibrantly colourful gardens throughout the year. Well-known South African landscaper, Elsa Pooley, who assisted in creating the stunning indigenous gardens at Renishaw Hills, has shared some useful tips for designing a beautiful winter garden on the coast.

“The autumn and winter months are wonderfully colourful at the coast — and the air is filled with butterflies and other insects, with the seed-eating birds make the most of the seeding grasses,” explained Pooley. “The winter garden can actually be more colourful than the summer garden, it’s just a matter of knowing what to plant.”

Winter gardens

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According to Pooley, the gardens at Renishaw Hills, are a great example of how indigenous planting can be resplendent year-round: “The gardens are a rich mix of succulent and herbaceous species. In winter, the red-hot pokers come into their own, with glorious, colourful, nectar-rich flowers.”

Want to transform your garden into a winter wonderland? Keep reading to see Elsa Pooley’s 3 practical tips for a colourful winter garden:

Use water-wise plants

Winter gardens

For a garden that is truly resilient, use waterwise succulent plants which thrive at the coast. For the months of May to August, the aloes – become a brilliant splash of colour. The following plants are reliable succulents to try:

  • Crassulas: Fairy Crassula C. multicava, Trailing Jade C. sarmentosa, Pink Joy C. ovata.
  • Aloes: A. arborescens, A. chabaudii, A. ferox, A. spicata, A. thraskii, A. vanbalenii.
  • Cotyledons: C. orbiculata with many leaf and colour forms.
  • Kalanchoes: White Lady K. thyrsiflora, K. sexangularis, K. longiflora, K. rotundifolia.
  • Kleinia fulgens.

Winter gardens

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Plant nectar-rich flowers

  • Planting nectar-rich flowers will provide food for birds and many insects including a range of bee species. At Renishaw Hills, on the KZN coast, Pooley and her team planted a large range of other succulent plants among the aloes as a way to provide colour and food for birds and insects. As the cool dry weather moves in, the leaves of many succulents also change to deeper pink and red. Excellent winter flowering shrubs that provide colourful shrubbery and also attract birds, butterflies and other insects include:
  • Barleria species (Bush violets).
  • Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush).
  •  Leonotis species (Wild Dagga).
  • Syncolostemon densiflorus and S. rotundifolia (the Pink Plume).
  •  Crassula ovata (Pink Joy).
  • Polygala myrtifolia (September Bush) .
  • Eriocephalus africanus (Wild Rosemary).
  • Gymnanthemum colorata (was Vernonia colorata) now Lowveld Bitter Tea.
Green garden

Gardening tips

Plant a variety of local trees and shrubs

A variety of local trees and shrubs flower in the late summer and autumn, carrying fruit into winter. These fruits provide food for a wide range of birds and insects. Brilliant winter flowering trees are Coral trees, with scarlet flowers attracting even non-nectar eating birds. The nectar also attracts insects which, in turn, attract insectivorous birds. Reliable shrubs which flower almost throughout the year, and have a flush of flowers in autumn include:

  • Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)
  • Chrysanthemoides monilifera (Bush tick Berry)
  •  Plumbago auriculata

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