On your knees – and in the gar­den

It’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new in a bid to make your per­sonal oa­sis a dream come true

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

CEL­E­BRATE New Year in your gar­den this week­end. It’s the time to em­bark on a plan to re­plant tired ar­eas, in­stall new fo­cal points, ac­knowl­edge the lat­est trends and re­design your gar­den. In the US, it is es­ti­mated that a land­scaped gar­den with es­tab­lished trees can in­crease the price of a prop­erty by up to 50 per­cent of its value.

What ad­vice would a land­scape de­signer give you to im­prove your gar­den this week­end? Con­sider these tips and ideas for your gar­den in 2012:

Vis­tas are paths of vi­sion which in­ter­est the eye and con­trib­ute to an in­ter­est­ing gar­den. A grand vista can be cre­ated down a trel­lised walk­way. A sim­ple vista from the pa­tio is cre­ated when your eye is drawn to a par­tic­u­larly en­joy­able cor­ner across the lawn.

Fo­cal points such as ponds, wa­ter­falls, stat­ues or an in­ter­est­ing plant will cre­ate vis­tas. But be warned, too many fo­cal points (such as too many stat­ues in the gar­den) can be dis­turb­ing to the eye.

If your gar­den is af­fected by salt­laden wind, choose plants with small leaves that fil­ter the wind and avoid shrubs with large trop­i­cal leaves. If your pa­tio or bor­der faces west, choose heat-re­sis­tant, water-wise plants such as pelargo­ni­ums and desert roses ( Echev­e­ria). Don’t waste time and money grow­ing plants that are un­suited to a spot in the gar­den – there are so many oth­ers which are suit­able.

Do you want to make a bor­der seem fur­ther away or closer to you? Think about colour be­fore you plant. Red, orange and yel­low are bold colours which make a bor­der ap­pear closer to the house, while blue, white and pink are soft colours which make beds dis­ap­pear into the dis­tance.

The beds of a well-de­signed gar­den should make use of a sec­tion of a geo­met­ric shape (cir­cle, square, tri­an­gle or rec­tan­gle). For ex­am­ple, the sweep­ing curves of an in­for­mal gar­den should al­ways be part of a true cir­cle. If your flower bed has waves of fussy lit­tle curves which re­sem­ble the edge of a doily, smooth them out.

Water is the key to at­tract­ing birds, but­ter­flies, drag­on­flies and frogs into your gar­den. De­sign a nat­u­ral pond with slop­ing edges for wad­ing birds, or sink a shal­low bowl of water in a pro­tected bor­der. If you are look­ing for a fo­cal point, make sure to choose a non-splash, wa­ter­wise foun­tain or bub­bler.

Can you see your en­tire gar­den in one sweep? The best gar­dens, like the best homes, are screened off into dif­fer­ent “rooms”. Cre­ate ex­cite­ment by de­vel­op­ing dif­fer­ent rooms in your gar­den, each with a dif­fer­ent theme and at­mos­phere.

Plant for a pur­pose. Plant a de­cid­u­ous tree to the north-west of your house so that your home is warm in win­ter and cool in sum­mer. If you like birds, plant shrubs with berries or flow­ers filled with nec­tar.

If you have a tele­phone pole out­side your prop­erty, plant a conifer or small tree to ob­scure the ugly view. Erect a trel­lis cov­ered in climbers to ob­scure a rain tank, and paint the in­te­rior side of a white­washed perime­ter wall green, so that it pro­vides a re­lax­ing, calm back­drop to the gar­den.

Iden­tify the listed in­va­sive alien species lurk­ing in your gar­den, and re­move them. Go to www.in­va­sives.org.za to see im­ages of listed in­vader plants.

Do you plant one species of each plant through­out the gar­den? Gar­dens filled with masses of dif­fer­ent colours can look spotty. Plant drifts of one species or one colour for im­pact.

Shrubs or peren­ni­als of the same va­ri­ety look far more artis­tic when planted in an in­for­mal bor­der in un­even numbers (one, three, five, seven) rather than in even numbers.

In a for­mal gar­den, place a pair of con­tain­ers filled with a sin­gle plant

on ei­ther side of a gate or front door.

Would you wear an orange tie with a pink shirt?

Plant­ing orange marigolds next to pink petu­nias or plac­ing a sunlov­ing, water-wise aloe next to a shade-lov­ing, wa­ter­holic camel­lia will never achieve re­laxed har­mony in the gar­den. De­sign plants with sim­i­lar water needs to­gether in zones, and place plants in drifts of com­ple­men­tary colours.

Is your gar­den a sym­phony in beige? Con­trast cre­ates ex­cite­ment. Red petu­nias look stun­ning on a green back­drop, while yel­low marigolds will come alive be­side lime green fo­liage. The gar­dens around Mc­don­alds fast food out­lets use red and yel­low flow­ers to at­tract at­ten­tion, while the gar­dens around En­gen are land­scaped in blue, red and white to em­pha­sise the brand.

Group­ing con­tain­ers with flair and imag­i­na­tion will con­trib­ute to the at­trac­tive­ness of the gar­den. Twenty small con­tain­ers never look as good as a group of one, three or five large con­tain­ers. A clas­sic com­bi­na­tion for a group of three con­tain­ers in­cludes one tall nar­row pot, one medium pot and one wide, low con­tainer.

Yel­low arums need to be dry in win­ter and hy­drangeas need to be wa­tered once a week in sum­mer. Ig­nore the ba­sic needs of your plants and the con­se­quences will be dire.

Gar­den­ing is a re­lax­ing hobby, but even low-main­te­nance gar­dens re­quire ten­der lov­ing care.

Your gar­den will re­flect the time that you spend on it.

PIC­TURE: KAY MONT­GOMERY

FO­CUS: A large chicken is the fo­cal point of a for­mal herb gar­den in a farm gar­den.

PIC­TURE: LUKAS OTTO

COLOUR CON­TRAST: Yel­low marigolds and red ama­ran­thus make a spec­tac­u­lar state­ment in a gar­den bor­der.

PIC­TURE: KAY MONT­GOMERY

BOR­DER LINE: A sim­ple path­way di­vides a vegetable gar­den with a bor­der filled with sum­mer flow­ers.

PIC­TURE: KAY MONT­GOMERY

COLOUR COMBO: Blue irises make an eye-catch­ing cor­ner be­side white daisies.

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