Invasives and Natives: Spring serenade

Sweep your leaves into your garden beds where they will serve duty as mulch.

IT’S official. Spring has arrived. It is such a life-affirming season and all sorts of exciting things are happening in the indigenous garden.

One of the most cheerful spring flowers must be the humble Gazania, a bright, easy-to grow perennial ground cover that adds colour and character to any garden.

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In her field guide to the Wildlflowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region, Elsa Pooley tells us that South Africa has about 16 species, two of which to occur naturally in KwaZulu-Natal.

The first, Gazania krebsiana, is the ancestor of many boldly coloured hybrids, adored by gardeners across South Africa. Then there is tough Gazania rigens or trailing Gazania that is quite at home in harsh environments like the windward side of the coastal dunes.

Nutshells make a good mulch and can also be used to keep pathways weed-free.

I’ve seen it happily thriving on a grassy coastal path in spite of the regular trampling it receives. In my garden it provides an excellent ground cover for the sandier, wind-blown corners and it flowers beautifully.

I also like the fact that its glossy green leaves have a mat white underside, making for an interesting contrast, especially on windy days. It is very easy to grow from runners, is water-wise and thrives on benign neglect.

Spring time is traditionally spring cleaning time but don’t restrict this activity to inside your home. Now is a good time to give your garden a little spring time care. All sorts of plants will be germinating and growing but, unfortunately, not everything will be wanted.

Take a good look around your garden, checking carefully that no invasive aliens have made landfall while your back was turned. Get rid of them before they become a problem.

Common or garden weeds, not necessarily invasive, can also become a nuisance, so do some seeding early in the season, while it is still pleasantly cool. It’s a relaxing activity and good for the soul.

Cheep and cheerful – and easy to grow – gazanias will brighen your spring garden.

To prevent problems later in the year, treat your garden to a good mulching. After winter there are probably quite a few dead leaves lying around.

Don’t waste this excellent source of plant food and mulch by sending bags of them to a landfill. Simply sweep them off the pathways into the beds where they will help to cover the soil, keeping it moist and well-fed and helping to ensure your garden is healthy and weed free.


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Judi Davis

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