If you’re not sure what to do in your garden in June, here’s a guide from South African gardening expects from ‘Life is a Garden’… 

The days may be colder, but there is always something to plant and do in the garden so let’s dig in

Winter woodland shrubs

Not many plants can claim to be salt spray tolerant, as well as drought and frost hardy. Add to this, creamy white bell-shaped flowers and contrasting grey-green leaves and you have a dream plant! White correa (Correa alba) is a fast-growing, evergreen shrub that has leathery grey-green leaves.

It has a dense rounded habit and can grow to 1,5m in height. It tolerates pruning well and can make a good hedge or small shrub.

Correa grows in the sun or partial shade. It is not fussy about the soil but prefers a well-draining medium, enriched with compost. It needs regular watering when young, but once established, it is quite water wise. This beauty flowers throughout the year, with a main flowering flush in autumn.

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Fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense ‘Rubrum’) is a slow-growing shrub (reaching between 1,5 and 2m) with burgundy to dusky pink-hued oval leaves. Spider-like, fragrant pink flowers appear in winter. Use it as a specimen plant in a small garden or in a patio pot, or plant lots of them in a woodland scene where they can enjoy morning sun and shade on hot summer afternoons.

This is a very cold-hardy shrub and is also invulnerable to diseases and insect attacks. It can be fully- or semi-deciduous, depending on the climate and prefers well-drained soil, to which compost has been added, and regular watering.

Azalea magenta is probably the most glorious and easy-to-grow variety of all the Azaleas (Rhododendron). It is a large shrub (reaching up to three metres) which produces large, singular magenta flowers from late winter to spring.

Plant it in well-drained soil enriched with acid compost in sun or preferably filtered shade. Azaleas like a cool root run in ever moist soil (their root systems are very shallow) and enjoy a good showering of water regularly. Feed your Azaleas in spring after flowering with Azalea food and acid compost to ensure a good flower flush for the following season. Mulch afterwards with pine needles or acidic bark.

Azalea magenta
Azalea magenta

Plant up an aloe and succulent bed or rockery

Aloes provide the best winter colour and you will be amazed at how much wildlife they attract. They are extremely water-wise and require little or no maintenance. Most succulents, like Crassulas, are much more colour-rich in winter and lots of them flower too.

Multi-use Crassulas

Amongst the diverse group of Crassulas are groundcovers which can grow and flower heartily in the poor soil around tree trunks in dry, or even wet (well-drained) semi-shade, as well as in difficult to plant retaining walls. Others can be used as bright colour accents in gravel or rock gardens, specimen plants in large containers or as tough shrubs. They can even be planted up as succulent hedges in dry or windy coastal gardens, or in hanging baskets, in window boxes, or as houseplants.

Try these two Crassulas for starters:

‘Campfire’ is a magnificent rockery plant or colourful accent plant for a gravel garden. It will set your winter garden alight with its propellor-like leaves which mature from bright lime-green with red tips, to a fiery orange-red the colder it gets. This groundcover will tolerate frost, but not hard freeze. It reaches a height of between 15 and 40cm and spreads about 1m far. It roots easily from stem nodes. Masses of tiny white flowers are borne on tall, stout stems in summer. This Crassula can also be a very pretty container or hanging basket plant. Good for full sun or semi-shade.

Crassula multicava a swath of happy and lush multicavas in full flower from May to September is a heart-warming sight to see. This fast-growing, mat-forming succulent produces an outstanding uniform effect in the semi-shade under trees and has rightly become a very popular garden plant in the landscaping trade. It can also be used to stabilise banks and in the planting holes of cement retaining walls. The leaves are oval, glossy and light to dark green, depending on position in the garden. The flowers can either be pinkish white to quite a happy shade of pink. Another form known as Crassula multicava ‘Purple’, has a dark shade of purple on the flipside of the leaves which makes it an attractive ground hugger even if not in flower.

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