Sunday, May 19

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Celebrate Mother’s Day by giving yours the finishing touch for the garden – a focal point that shouts creativity and individuality.

Are you still looking for a perfect gift for mom for Mother’s Day? Why not consider a plant or ornament to provide a finishing touch to her garden?

Every garden needs a focal point
to create drama, draw the eye and add a personal touch. Focal points can be small and simple or extravagant and sophisticated. Either is
effective, as long as you consider the size and theme of the garden. 
One or two focal points can be successful in a smaller garden but in larger gardens, the various sections need their own features.
Good positioning of the focal point is as important as the object itself. Locations include the area along a
pathway, particularly one leading to the front door; around a corner; in a garden bed close to the patio or at the end of a pathway.
Enjoy a focal point in both the day and at night by installing lighting to enhance the feature at night. Uplighting, at the base of the focal point, will enhance texture, while backlighting is dramatic and makes
the object stand out. 

Plant up pansy colour for Mother’s Day. Picture: Loren Shirley-Carr
New trends
Traditional focal points include statuary, urns, sundials and water
features. Modern gardeners are thinking outside the box and choosing unique objects that shout creativity and individuality.
Focal points can be practical and functional or they can be quirky and fun. A focal point like a birdbath, garden bench or pergola provides a practical purpose in the garden. Focal points can also be used to disguise an unsightly wall, pool pump or unwanted view.

Living focal points
Architectural plants make exception focal points, with their unusual colouring, foliage, flowers, shape or texture. A form tree planted in the correct location can be a showpiece, drawing the eye skywards. Consider
the quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma), tree aloe (Aloe barberae), cycads or tree ferns. Trees can also provide a privacy screen or windbreak.
A succulent topiary provides a water wise and attractive living focal point. Wire mesh is crafted into the desired shape. A coir liner
is placed inside the frame and filled with potting soil. Succulents are planted through the liner. Completed topiaries can be suspended from a tall tree or patio roof, wall-mounted for vertical interest or placed in a sunny garden bed. Bonsai in pots bring artistic flair
to the garden. For an inexpensive and changing focal point, consider pots of colourful annuals.

Artefacts from childhood or a hobby can be successfully incorporated into the garden. Consider a collection of shells, old farming implements, an anchor, bicycle or recycle tyres into pleasing planters. If the colour of the object doesn’t suit your space, paint it.

Natural items
Items from nature can be beautiful in a country, cottage or wildlife garden. Large rocks; old tree stumps
and branches; driftwood or bamboo can be arranged naturally to form an interesting and eye-catching focal point. Insects make their homes in stumps and logs, providing free natural pest control and food for insect-eating birds in your garden. Gabion baskets filled with rocks or pebbles can be used as a standalone focal point or be used as an attractive retaining wall.

Edible planters
Vegetable, herb and fruit gardening is a major trend in 2017. The vegetable patch is no longer relegated to the back of the garden but rather is part of the overall design. Fancy vertical planters are being used for vegetables and herbs and
placed close to the home or on the patio as a stunning focal point with a practical and healthy purpose.
Grow vegetables and herbs in a tall planter. Picture: Lukas Otto
Vertical interest
In smaller suburban gardens, all available space must be utilised. By choosing plants or structures that draw the eye upwards, you can create the illusion of more space. Use wooden trellis or palisade fencing to turn a bland view or perimeter fence into something special. Arbours and pergolas can be practical in the garden but when
planted with a combination of two or three flowering climbers, they can be eye-catching. Choose climbers according to their flowering
season. As the seasons change, the space transforms.

Fun suggestions
Bring vivid colour and an element
of fun into the garden with colourful planters, game “boards” and vibrant ornaments. Think whimsical, magical and childlike. Turn a concrete stepping stone into a garden noughts and crosses game with a little craft paint and “noughts” and “crosses” of your choice – perhaps stones and shells or playful bug or butterfly-painted rocks.
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