Plant a herbal tea garden
A tea garden can be created in a sunny corner in the garden, between paving squares, in raised beds, in pots, and even in the shape of a teapot. Most herbs need well-drained soil and sun. As in all edible gardens, no pesticides or herbicides should be used. Make a refreshing hot or iced tea with the leaves of these herbs:
● Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Aromatic grey-green leaves with spikes of purple flowers.
● Lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Aureus’)
A low-growing, mounded plant grown as a groundcover or edging with tiny bright green and yellow leaves.
● Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Spreads easily, with flowers that attract bees and lemon-scented leaves.
● Lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora)
Woody stems and narrow green leaves with a lemon-rind flavour. Needs a protected spot in cold climates.
● Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)
A tall-growing shrub with pineapple-scented foliage and scarlet flowers.
Add a little romance
The rose is a symbol of love and romance. On Valentine’s Day, spoil a loved one with a rose named for a princess:
• ‘Sharifa Asma’, named for an Omani princess, is a lovely, medium-sized shrub rose with blush-pink petals and a strong fruity fragrance.
• ‘People’s Princess’ named for Diana, Princess of Wales has deep rose-pink blooms on thornless stems.
• ‘Garden Princess’ has strongly fragrant, delicate pink flowers.
Leap into Action
Did you know that frogs are one of the most threatened species on earth? Do your bit in support of Leap Day for Frogs on 28 February (check out leapdayforfrogs.org.za) by creating a frog-friendly garden. Install a pond that they can use for breeding, create a hiding place in compost heaps or logs and grow plants that provide shelter from sun and predators. Keep the shape of the pond simple and of varying depths with ledges, gentle sloping sides and the occasional rock.
The blue water lily (Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea), floating hearts (Nymphoides thunbergiana) and waterblommetjies (Aponogeton distachyos) are great aquatic plants for frogs to rest on and hide under.
Planting for Autumn colour
Attract butterflies to your garden with a late planting of cosmos. As well as those with pink, white and maroon flowers, there are smaller gold and orange single and semi-double cosmos that grow on bushy, upright plants.
For a gentle autumn colour scheme, plant indigenous mauve ribbon bush (Hypoestes aristata); pink sage (Orthosiphon labiatus) or white, pink, mauve and purple Plectranthus species and cultivars.
The graceful evergreen growth habit of autumn-flowering sasanqua camellias makes them suitable for screening or as accent plants. Spread a generous layer of mulch to retain moisture in the soil.
Gardening tips for February
• Make a small sowing of sweet peas from the middle of the month. Soak seed overnight and plant in an open sunny position in well-composted soil.
• Divide overcrowded clumps of bearded irises and replant in freshly composted soil. The rhizome of bearded iris should be planted at soil level for it to flower well.
• Remove weeds before they have a chance to seed. Pour boiling water over weeds that are growing between paving stones or bricks.
• Shorten leggy growth on shrubs and climbers, but make sure that the remaining stems have sufficient foliage to avoid sunburn.
• Give citrus trees an application of 3:1:5 (26) to encourage fruiting and add a bucket or two of recycled grey water from your shower or bath after fertilising.