Never mind “winter is coming”, with the crispness in the air it already feels like winter has begun to spread its cold fingers. Winter can be a miraculous time in the garden if you know how to look. Beauty can be found in a bare tree’s silhouette against the setting sun, or in the flurry of wildlife activity in our gardens as all they prepare for winter. The morning chill is also invigorating and we have been spoilt of lately with an eerie fog in the mornings transporting you to a different world.
There is no reason for your garden to look dull and dreary with the amount and variety of colour options available for this time of the year. With winter’s more subdued hues you will also find that any colour in your garden stands out a lot more than usual. Let’s have a look at some of the colour options for your winter garden.
What to plant for winter
- Winter is all about the three P’s – Poppies, Pansies and Primula’s.
Poppies will spoil you with bright, big blooms on long elegant stems that are also ideal for use as a cut flower. They prefer a sunny spot for prolific flowering.
- Out of all the seedlings, summer and winter, Pansies are by far my favourite. Not only do they have the most amazing selection of colours but they produce larger and more intense blooms the colder it gets.
- Primulas are ideal for those shady areas in the garden. For height, plant the normal fairy Primrose (Primula malacoides) which can grow to about 30cm. For something a bit more compact, normal Primroses (Primula acaulis) are ideal. They rarely grow taller than 15cm. This makes them ideal for vibrant borders and containers.
- Worried about watering? Bokbaai vygies (Mesebryanthemum) are water wise winter flowering Vygies that are sure to brighten up any sunny spot in the garden. Being a succulent they require the least amount of water to keep them looking at their best.
- Adding colour to your garden doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking. Try your hand at sowing African daisy seeds this winter. They are a low maintenance indigenous option for sunny areas in the garden and is one of the few seeds you can sow directly into your garden beds with success.
Other winter beauties to keep in mind
- Aloes truly come into their own during winter. They are low maintenance and never cease to amaze with their abundance of brightly coloured flowers. The great news is that the new varieties bred right here in South Africa are hardier and produce superior flowers.
- Fancy a cup of tea? We tend to forget that our garden camellias are related to tea bearing Camellias. Camellias are by far the best option for adding colour to shady areas during winter. Find out more about Camellias right here.
- Trees aren’t the only plants that change their leaf colour during winter. Holy bamboo and certain succulents change into the craziest colours during winter.
- Ornamental kale is one of the most underrated plants for the winter garden. Used on its own or in groupings they provide long-lasting colour in the most unusual shapes and hues.
- Another unsung gem of the winter garden is Caroline Jasmine (Gelsinium sempervirens) due to its mass of yellow blooms and fast evergreen growing habit.
Now that you know how you can create a riot of colour in your garden this winter. Now is also the time to plant your winter bulbs for that Spring show. Remember to mulch your garden beds but I will leaf that up to you. I hope these suggestions will brighten up your winter hibernation.