Prep your autumn garden to yield stunning spring results

As you will notice at Granny Mouse, our gardening team is just as busy during the autumn and winter months as they are during the spring and summer.

In fact, according to our green fingered specialist, Sean Granger, if gardens are well taken care of during autumn, they will look lovely during winter and most definitely be low maintenance and quite spectacular in spring.

We actually look forward to the autumn months as the beautiful countryside that surrounds us becomes clothed in a carpet of golden brown with leaves turning to deep reds and oranges before they drift to the ground.

During the winter, in KwaZulu-Natal, we also look forward to the beautiful blooms of our indigenous aloes both in our garden and even along the roadsides en route to Granny Mouse.

As autumn arrives, you should keep watering and cutting back summer flowers to help them to bloom for longer – and, while are you at it, make space or even prepare new beds or borders for various winter plants.

Be sure to add lots of compost as well as organic matter and bone meal before planting.

There are a number of ways to ensure that even a traditionally brown winter garden can still be colourful. Winter seedlings, when planted in a warm and protected spot, are perfect for adding a splash of radiance while plants with colourful leaves that do not die down during winter can also add interest.

Winter seedlings to look out for include snap dragons, pansies, alyssum, primulas, rudbeckia, lobelia, phlox, delphiniums, dianthus, foxgloves and petunias amongst others.

If, like us, you are situated in an area that is prone to frost, make sure that you protect the plants in your garden. Tropical varieties – and especially those with large leaves – may need some extra protection when temperatures drop. You can cover leaves with materials such as hessian. If planted in containers, move cold sensitive plants indoors or into warmer, protected spots.

Most importantly, make sure that you mulch. Made up of shredded leaves, sticks, grass and bark, this not only helps enrich the soil but keeps it warm and moist during the harsh winter months.

The most inspiring thing about tending your garden during winter is that this determines just how beautiful it will be in spring. Find out which plants and bulbs can be planted during the colder months, ready to burst into colour as it becomes warmer.

Last but not least, if you are planting a mixture of various varieties, remember to group plants with the same watering requirements. Water newly planted seedlings regularly until they become established and don’t forget to water those growing in the shade of trees because they compete with the tree roots for both water and nutrients. Dense trees also prevent a lot of rainwater from actually reaching the ground.

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