Preparing plants for summer
DECEMBER, the month we all look forward to warm weather, holidays and catching up with family and friends.
Entertaining on the patio, outdoor living area or under a rustic structure with wisteria forming the roof.
That laid-back time when we can all relax and enjoy.
Summer is the season most associated with relaxation and a time to really enjoy working in the garden.
Pots can be used to make strong statements and can even set the style of your garden.
Large pots containing architectural plants can provide the essential elements to complete an overall design.
In small spaces, pots can become the main focus.
Changes of level offer great opportunities for container use.
A cluster of pots marching up a set of steps is very eye catching.
A large pot placed on each side of the top or bottom step will make an entrance more welcoming.
Our gardens are mostly about flowers, shrubs and trees.
But for some time we have embraced the abundance and diversity of foliage.
We now recognise if the garden is a mass of interesting textures, few flowers are required and how these few feature flowers may enhance the effect.
The introduction of grasses has added movement to our gardens.
They respond to the smallest breeze and bounce back if faced with high winds.
Not only that, most grasses will survive drought.
I have always found these grasses to be interesting but have been hesitant to plant them in my garden.
However, a few years ago I planted Miscanthus Sinensis in three large pots and placed them at the back of the garden in front of a fence.
The effect is stunning and adds to the overall look of the garden.
This elegant grass growing to 1.3m has leaves of blue/green with white margins.
Silky flower heads rise above the leaves and turn cream in winter.
In early spring they are cut to the ground.
The Australian native grass poa labillardieri grows to 1m with narrow grey-green leaves and makes a statement when planted in clumps.
Festucas are the grasses to choose if you want a small, drought-tolerant plant with true blue foliage.
They look good in rock features, gravel gardens and pots.
In pastel borders they contrast well with blue and yellow.
Grasses and grass look alike, such as sedges make good partners for perennials as their elongated forms and elegant seed heads contrast well with all types of leaves and flowers.
In winter, grass seed heads look brilliant on frosty mornings.
This month Hydrangeas are old stalwarts.
They will grow anywhere the soil is reasonably moist and prefer a south facing wall as protection from hot weather when their large leaves can droop.
The dome shaped bushes grow to 1.5m though they'll grow bigger when placed in the right spot.
Their larger rounded heads of pink, blue or white are now at their best.
The flowers come in mopheads filled with flowers and lace caps, which have a fringe of flowers around a cluster of smaller ones.
Other species are hydrangea Arborescens growing to over 2m tall and the oak leaf Hydrangea with vibrant autumn leaf colour and white flowers.
To all the gardeners and their families, have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy and happy new year.