The miracle of spring can be seen in the countryside and in our gardens.
The South African countryside in spring wears a coat of many colours, of pink proteas, yellow gladioli and mauve sutera on hillsides, carmine dierama and yellow daisies in grasslands, gold gazania and purple vygies on rocky ground, fiery kniphofia and white arums in vleis, and orange clivia and indigo streptocarpus carpeting forest floors.
Life is a spring garden which is bright and colourful, with a profusion of annuals and perennials, and an abundance of bulbs. If you didn’t have time to plant for spring, or need to fill gaps, you can still enjoy a beautiful spring garden by visiting your local garden centre now. There you will find flowering spring bulbs, annuals and perennials ready for planting in borders, on banks, in rockery pockets and containers.
Pretty trees to colour your spring garden include the tree wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) which grows to a height and spread of 4-7m and has a slender form and slightly weeping branches, with mauve pea-shaped flower trusses. The purple broom (Polygala myrtifolia) has beautiful clusters of mauve flowers and can be grown as a small tree or shrub as it reaches a height of only 2m. It is not only the colours of spring that delight, but also the scents found in the butterfly bush (Buddleja auriculata) and the creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers of September bells (Rothmannia globosa).
Rockeries are bright with orange-red kalanchoe, gerbera and ursinia in sparkling orange, and the glistening flowers of magenta mesembryanthemum. A sunny slope is ideal for aloe, lion’s ear (Leonotis leonurus), plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), protea and leucospermum. Even a slight slope is perfect for arctotis, felicia, gazania and mesembryanthemum that need good drainage.
Emphasise a flight of steps with pots of showy zonale pelargoniums. Drop a pot or two in empty spaces in the border, or combine them with their scented-leafed relations. Ivy-leafed geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) with shiny foliage and flowers in pink, red, amethyst, purple, salmon and yellow, are usually seen spilling from window boxes, hanging baskets and window boxes. They are equally attractive down banks, over low fences and trellis. Compact plants are the answer where wind is a problem. Cape daisies, vygies and nemesia look spectacular when planted in clumps of colour.
Every spring garden should have some daisies. The colours of gazanias range from cream through lemon, gold and bronze, russet and maroon-red. Many are bicoloured; whilst others display a contrasting colour around the central disc. The ursinia’s daisy-like flowers come in shades of yellow and orange with red and black centres.
The dusty-pink forest lily (Veltheimia bracteata), bush lily (Clivia miniata) with trumpet-shaped blooms in shades of orange and yellow, and Clivia nobilis with pendulous dark orange flowers and green tips, will colour shady areas in your spring garden. The forest bell bush (Mackaya bella) is a dense shrub with glossy green leaves and bell-shaped white flowers with mauve veins that thrives in the semi-shade.
Spring is a time when we should forget about colour schemes and simply enjoy our bright and beautiful gardens, gardens where floral pictures are painted in glorious splashes of colour.