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Magical Winter Wonderland


IN COOLER parts of the world, winter is cold, bleak and pretty dull, but in South East Queensland gardens offer a stark contrast.

Redcliffe Garden Centre is bursting with colour, as winter wonders take centre stage.

The centre's Sondra Grainger and Tylor Elmsly said cooler temperatures and the warm winter sun combined to create prime growing conditions for many flowering plants including annuals, natives and succulents.

“I always say, winter is just as colourful as spring,” Ms Grainger said.

Natives such as grevilleas, along with callistemons, camelias, roses, flowering cottage garden varieties, daisies, lavender are in full bloom as well as annuals such as pansies, violas, snap dragons, primula, osteospermum and pentas to name a few.

There are also plenty of indoor varieties flush with colour at this time of year such as African violets, cyclamen and orchids.

Succulents are also colourful in winter, with many flowering or displaying deeper colours on foliage.

Mr Elmsly said fire sticks had orange growth, flapjacks turned red and aloes produced an orange flower spike.

“Kalanchoes are a nice, pretty succulent that can have double blooms and big clusters of flowers,” he said.

Other winter wonders to consider are angelonia, mona lavender (will tolerate shade), camelias (full sun) and nasturtium.

Did you know you can even make a striking standard from a daisy bush by removing the lower part of the plant as it grows? A couple of these would make a stunning statement at the front of any home, and they perform well in pots and in gardens.

Local birds will love you and the beautiful yellow flowers, if you plant a bush lemon grevillea in your garden. Ms Grainger said kangaroo paw was also looking good at the moment.

“You can create a very stunning winter native garden very easily up here (in Queensland) and many will flower through into spring as well,” she says.

“Foliage colour is out of control this time of year. This is because plants are not under the stress of the hot summer sun.”

Creating a winter show in your garden is also a good excuse to do some companion planting using pansies and marigolds to keep pests at bay.

“There’s nothing better than a big planter of annuals,” Ms Grainger said.

Gardening at this time of year can also be fun for the kids. Get them to look for the faces in pansies and make snapdragon flowers “talk” by squeezing them in just the right spot.

Many flowers in bloom right now are also edible, such as violas, pansies, nasturtiums, calendula, dianthus and cornflowers.

“They will brighten your plate and your garden,” Ms Grainger said.

If you’re looking for a flowering, shade-loving plant that will also do well indoors, vriesea is a bromilead that has a flower spike that will last for months.

Fertiliser: Ms Grainger said it was a good idea to give flowering plants a hit of fertiliser to promote blooms. Native plants should be given Searles Native Plant Food, while plants such as lavender would benefit from Searles Flourish. Ms Grainger said liquid fertiliser was good for annuals because they flowered hard and fast. “They’re here for a good time, not a long time,” she said.

Watering: While temperatures may be cooler, the sun still has plenty of punch and westerly winds will dry plants out. “You need to keep an eye on hanging baskets, especially when it’s windy, and small pots, which will dry out quickly,” Ms Grainger said. Use the ‘finger test’ to determine if your containers and hanging baskets need a drink. As for garden beds, you should give them a half-hour soak once a week. “It’s a good idea to mulch to conserve water. Mulch will keep the moisture in there,” she said.

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