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GARDENING: Annuals, summer style

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Whether you favour a patchwork of bright colours, pastel prettiness or a stylish colour grouping, there are plants to suit every garden

Annuals provide glorious colour, completing their life cycle in a single growing season. They are perfect for filling spaces in a new garden, gaps in borders, edging paths, brightening verges, entrances and patios, and attracting bees and butterflies. They come in bright colours, pretty pastels and subtle shades, in varying heights, flower and foliage shapes and textures, for sun or light shade.

Annuals for borders Create vertical interest with the spider plant, cleome, with white and pink petals and long seed pods; the cup-shaped pink and white flowers of lavatera and the painted tongue (Salpiglossis sinuata) with red, pink, purple and yellow trumpet-shaped flowers with veining on the petals.

Cosmos, with their white, pink and carmine silky petals held above lacy foliage, are as pretty as the butterflies they attract and, because they are “see-through”, add lightness to a border.

Cosmos can be planted now for spectacular colour in April. Picture: Lukas Otto

For the middle of the border, grow the summer snapdragon, angelonia, with spikes in white and shades of pink and purple, and nicotiana, with pink, salmon, white or lime-green funnel-shaped flowers.

A new introduction from Starke Ayres, Marigold “Eskimo”, has large creamy-white double flowers that would add interest to a twilight border, as would fragrant, tall-growing flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris), white cosmos and angelonia.

Shady ladies

The favourite of shady summer gardens, impatiens, are back! A recent introduction, Beacon Impatiens, is highly resistant to downy mildew and easy to grow. It is available in vibrant colours of bright red, coral, orange, violet and salmon, as well as white. Grow in composted soil that will retain moisture, but is well drained, in semi or filtered shade.

Torenias are summer’s answer to the pansy for edging paths, beds, hanging baskets and window boxes. These compact growers with dainty blue, purple or pink flowers do well in filtered shade and rich, well-drained soil.

Coleus are tropical plants grown for their colourful foliage that can be plain, blotched or splashed, fringed or plain. New varieties known as “sun coleus” have more sun tolerance.

Bedding begonias are also happy in filtered shade. The neat, bushy plants have waxy flowers in white, pink or red, and shiny bronze or green leaves. Grow as a ribbon of colour along paths, massed, or in window boxes and pots.

Short and sweet

Alyssum, a favourite of bees, spreads sweetly scented carpets of white, pink, lavender and purple along paths, in gaps in paving and spilling from pots. Line a path, a driveway or verge with a broad ribbon of pink, purple or red water-wise verbena.

Lobelia “Curacao” is heat tolerant and comes in brilliant colours in a mounding or semi-trailing habit. Million bells (Calibrachoa parviflora) with dainty petunia-like blooms in bright and pastel colours are perfect for pots and hanging baskets.

Fill in gaps between pavers with portulaca. They need well-drained soil and a sunny position for their single or double rose-like flowers to open.

Annuals for the veggie patch

Sweeping marigolds. A border of a range of marigold varieties. Picture: Connell Oosterbroek

Annuals planted among or between rows of vegetables, or planted on the perimeter attract bees that aid crop pollination. Make sure taller plants do not block the light from smaller plants.

Marigolds in bright colours are a deterrent to nematodes in the soil. Bush nasturtiums are a catch plant for aphids. “Alaska” has marbled green and white leaves.

Boldly beautiful

Celosias grow in full sun, providing a change of texture in a border. Picture: Lukas Otto

Extroverts of the flower world, sunflowers spill sunshine in summer gardens, peering over garden walls, as temporary windbreaks in vegetable patches and mixing with aristocrats in the flower border. There are also compact growers more suited to small gardens. Colours range from cream through to lemon, gold and bronze, to russet and maroon.

If you want flowers that cope in the hottest weather, pretty colour along pathways, in borders and in pots, then grow vinca cultivars. They have a branching growth habit, with rounded petals in pink, apricot, lilac, orchid and white, often with contrasting centres.

Introduce a different texture and form with celosias (cockscomb). They are among the most colourful and long-lasting summer bedding plants with silky, feathery plumes of yellow, orange, pink, red or burgundy. Heat- tolerant globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) has small globe-like flower bracts in bright colours.

Zinnias have brightly coloured pom-pom, quilled or daisy-like flowers in a range of heights, from dwarf thumbelinas that brighten rockery pockets, to tall zinnias that suit sunny borders. The narrow-leaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia), with dainty flowers of white, gold and orange, is ideal for spilling over low walls and containers.

Bedding salvias are deservedly popular in summer gardens because of their glorious colours, their heat resistance, and their ability to grow in full sun, or morning sun, in hot gardens.

They are eye catching when grown in broad sweeps of colour. Grow scarlet and red for impact and cream, salmon, burgundy and lavender with gentler colour schemes.

Stellenberg Gardens open November 9 and 10

The Stellenberg Gardens evolve annually, with something new to view each open day. Picture: Supplied

The internationally acclaimed Stellenberg Gardens will be open for viewing next weekend.

The iconic Walled Garden was originally a tennis court and designed by English designer David Hicks to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Andrew and Sandy Ovenstone.

Now, 30 years later, this garden room continues to honour Hicks’s legacy and style, while constantly evolving.

Proceeds go to the St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children. Dates: November 9 and 10. Time: 9.30am to 5.30pm.

Address: 30 Oak Avenue, Kenilworth. Cost: Adults R50; Tea and refreshments R30. Under 12s free. Pay cash or with Zapper.

For more information, call 021 762 7733 or see the website:


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