June, a month of floriferous et al activity
Juno was the goddess of marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth, which makes me wonder how she managed to tend her garden in June, a very floriferous month.
Obviously, that is why a majority of garden maintenance is now done by males!
With lockdown in place, in March and April garden maintenance came to a full stop.
When the lockdown was lifted in May, there were a multitude of additional tasks to be tackled. One of the most obvious was the spread of weeds, especially clover and oxalis on lawns.
Self-seeded invasive species, such as the Mexican pepper, fiddlewood, Indian laurel, etc, have started to crowd out neighbouring plants.
A major problem has also been this invasive species growth found growing out of Bermuda stone walls; in many cases root systems have “dismantled” the individual stones.
Chinese fan palm seedlings and nut grass are also prevalent at this time; all the above should be sought out and removed before they become too well established, which then makes the removal more difficult. Assuming the garden has been well-tended in the early part of the year, one can expect an explosion of colour from here on in from trees, shrubs, ground covers and herbaceous perennials.
Though large trees are not as common as they once were in the average garden, there is no denying the majesty of poinciana (Delonix regia), golden showy (Cassia floribunda), lilac tree (lonchocarpus violaceus), black ebony (Albizzia lebek) and silk oak (Grevillea robusta) to name but a few.
The number of shrub types available will bring colour in the form of flower, foliage, seed and fruit until late summer.
One of the most bountiful of shrubs is the hibiscus (both species and hybrids) with a wide range of colours across the spectrum — this, of course, is contingent in correct pruning at the right time of year.
A close contender for flowering habit is the nerium oleander.
Oleander, with its mix of white, red, orange, yellow and pink blossoms, appears in abundance throughout the summer months.
Both these popular plants are used mostly as a hedge, however, when used as a stand alone or in groups can also make bold statements.
Moving on to a wider range of subjects for the garden, and taking into consideration location, consider using peregrine with orange-red flowers (jatropha hastata) or cloth of gold (galphimia glauca) which forms a roundish shrub with masses of small yellow flowers in clusters.
Lavender starbush (grewia occidentalis) is a medium-sized shrub that bears starlike mauve flowers which appear year-round if weather is clement.
For a colour contrast with foliage, snowbush (breynia disticha) produces beautiful tinges of white, suffused with green and pink on new foliage. Although easily maintained, it requires a sheltered spot.
Plumbago auriculata (blue plumbago) can be found in light/dark blues and white and is an ongoing flowering habit.
Pomegranate (punica granatum) is usually deciduous; red flowers are followed by the reddish skinned fruits which are edible.
Pineapple (feijoa sellowiana) has greenish foliage with a touch of grey with small edible fruits.
Rondeletia odorata bears similar flowers to lantana on smallish ribbed foliage and has an upright compact habit.
The stalwart of many a garden, the ground cover is a wonderful candidate for creating a carpet of colour at soil level.
The most popular and indeed floriferous are the lantanas with a colour range including white, mauve, cream, yellow, orange and mixed tones in between.
Pentas, also a very good candidate in protected areas, also have a good range of flower colours.
A rampant ground cover for quick results is Chinese petunia (asystasia gangetica) as it sprawls across bare areas with light mauve blossoms, a constant during the growing season.
There are several vines I like to use as ground cover/rambling candidates; these include Mexican flame vine (senecio confuses) which has an unending flowering habit of orange flowers during the growing season; honeysuckle, which, as lonicera sempervirens has red flowers and as L japonica has yellow/white flowers — often grown as a vine, but do well as a ground cover.
Architectural plants worth considering include: ponytail (beaucarnea recurvata); tiger grass (thysanolaena maxima); cardboard palm (zamia furfuracea); African spear (rosmarinus officinalis prostrates inter-planted with Sansevieria cylindrica). Google them to see their value!
It is worth remembering that a garden comprises not only flower, but foliage, seed, fruit and “architectural outline” to create interest throughout the garden year, which is 365 days!
• Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in Britain. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society
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