Home Life 15.3.2014 05:00 am

Gardening: Dainty companions

EDGY. Diascia interplanted with alyssum and violas as a border for roses. Pictures: Supplied.

EDGY. Diascia interplanted with alyssum and violas as a border for roses. Pictures: Supplied.

Plants with small, dainty blooms have an intimate charm. That makes them lovely to look at but not always easy to use in the garden.

Plants that fall into this category are the indigenous diascia, nemesia and bacopa that are at their best in autumn and spring. Because they are not as showy as plants with larger flowers, how does one use them so that they don’t disappear?

Here are five suggestions, based on their use in actual gardens.

Edging: Diascia, in particular, is an ideal edging or border plant. Because it is not over-vigorous it can be mixed with other small flowering plants. I saw this in a Cape Town rose garden where diascia, violas and alyssum were interplanted as a border in front of a bed of old fashioned “My Granny” roses. The effect was flowery and romantic. A good edging variety is Diascia “Juliet”, that’s upright and compact (15cm high and wide).

GROUNDCOVER. Nemesia Poetry Mix is a new, bushier variety.

GROUNDCOVER. Nemesia Poetry Mix is a new, bushier variety.

Groundcover: A designer garden at Garden World’s Spring Festival two years ago combined diascia with bacopa, osteospermum, nemesia and lobelia to create an indigenous spring garden. Stepping stones threaded through the bed demonstrating how a blend of different, small flowers used as groundcovers could produce a magical effect.

Companion plant: Being indigenous, this trio naturally attracts pollinators. In a kitchen garden, also at Garden World, nemesia was planted alongside violas and herbs like rocket, borage and thyme. The flowers added colour and contrasted with the leafy herbs, especially the larger leafed borage.

Massed, interplanting: The most interesting pairing I saw was in the BallStraathof’s Honeydew gardens where pink angelonia were interplanted with blue nemesia. Both have remarkably similar blooms, rather like small snap dragons. They are also upright growing, of similar height (about 30cm) and with spikes of flowers. The result was a mass of colour that lasted well into summer.

Hanging baskets and containers. This is almost a no-brainer because these plants are ideal fillers for mixed containers. Diascia “Romeo” in particular has large blooms and a mounding growth habit that suits large containers. The trailing bacopa works in both hanging baskets and containers and is useful as a base plant under shrubs or trees in containers.

 

 

 

 

 

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