Gardening / In praise of perennials

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Euphorbia “Ascot Rainbow” with its multi-coloured leaves.

I LOVE perennial plants; not just for the flowers but also for their year-round, multi-coloured foliage.

Cedric Bryant.

An example is the Euphorbia family, with more than 2000 species commonly referred to as “spurge” and classed as succulents.

I am about to plant a group of five Euphorbia “Ascot Rainbow” in our front garden to provide colour throughout winter. An evergreen perennial, its leaves change colour according to the season.

Look out also for “Cherokee”, “Tiny Tim” and especially “Rudolf”, which are all reliably bred by Plant Growers of Australia for our local climate. All make perfect pot specimens and, like most succulents, can survive long periods with a minimum of water. Perfect for the long, hot summers we increasingly now experience. They’re all available at garden centres.

Cyclamen in late afternoon sun growing in a basket.

IT’S some time since cyclamen has had a mention, but I want to share this picture of a hanging basket in our garden. It is lined with multi-coloured foam carpet underfelt with plastic backing. The multi-colours of this liner fit perfectly with the garden. The liner and cyclamen are now at least eight years old, demonstrating how long it lasts. Also how much better it is compared to, say, coconut liner, which the birds love to pull apart at nesting time. Most carpet shops will give you offcuts of the foam underlay. Place the plastic backing on the inside of the basket and punch just a few holes for drainage.

And cyclamen bought in a pot will be very happy to be planted in a shady spot in the garden once it finishes flowering.

PLASTIC weed mats are often touted as ideal for suppressing weeds in the garden, at the same time allowing water to penetrate to the roots of plants.

So, does it stop weeds? No! Most weeds do not grow from under the matting but are blown in on top. This year with long super-hot days weed seeds dried very quickly and with our strong winds this summer seeds were spread far and wide. These seeds will grow beautifully in garden mulch on top of the matting.

And on the question of water penetration, I have also found this isn’t so. If the garden is on even a slight slope, water simply runs off.

Try this experiment; you will need a second pair of hands – form a section of weed mat in the shape of a container to hold several litres of water. Hold under a tap and have the tap turned on. Does water run readily through the weedmat? No! There is only a slow drip and that’s when the “container” is full with the weight of the water.

Jottings…

  • Be sure you have the space in the garden when deciding to plant extra shrubs or trees.
  • What about some extra roses? They will also need space, allowing at least a metre apart.
  • When planting where roses were growing previously it’s essential to dig out and replace a whole barrowful of soil to prevent “rose sickness”.
  • Many plant food manufacturers have online garden clubs and previously I have recommended Yates Garden Club. Another certified organic manufacturer with an online garden club is ecoorganic.com.au

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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