Accessorise your entertaining space with plants
<p><em>From GARDENA and YATES Brand Ambassador Sarah the Gardener</em></p><p>A summer outdoor entertaining area is an extension of the house, especially in summer and a beautiful space will be the perfect place for spending those endless balmy evenings with friends and family. </p>
But beauty doesn’t need to be the only consideration when planting containers and hanging baskets to decorate your decks and backyards. The outdoor experience can be enhanced with a clever choice of plants.
The sense of smell is well known for its ability to help recall memories so grow a signature fragrance that will help lock in memories of a wonderful summer spent in your backyard with the people you love. Fragrant plants that will grow well in a container include Gardenia, Lavender, Star Jasmine and Roses. Night Scented Stock, while not the most attractive flower, releases a heavenly scent in the evenings.
There is nothing like mosquitos to ruin a good time out on the deck. There are several plants that are said to deter these pests and they can be easy to grow in pots and containers in strategic spots where people will gather. Protect yourself with: Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) Pelargonium (Pelargonium citrosum), Catnip (Nepeta cataria) and ordinary Basil. Crushing the leaves contribute to a less bothersome environment when combined with other strategies.
Botanical drinks are all the rage this season and having a good supply of fresh herbs in pots and containers close at hand for refreshing drinks can make your parties a hit. Try growing a range of mints including spearmint, chocolate mint and apple mint and also pineapple sage, stevia, lemon verbena and fennel. Purple basil goes well with gin.
GROW THE MOON
It is all very well having a stunningly beautiful garden if you can’t appreciate it after dark. A moon garden is designed to come into its own once the sun goes down. Plants in a moon garden have white flowers or silvery foliage that reflect the moonlight and are far more impressive than during the day. Consider planting: Artemisia, Sweet alyssum, Cineraria ‘Silver Dust’, white petunias, and Nicotiana sylvestris brings not only white flowers but a jasmine like fragrance that is stronger after dark.
For the ultimate in fresh vegetable snacks that can be plucked straight from the plant and plunged into a dip, add containers filled with cherry tomatoes (Tomato Patio Mini is a compact plant that stays small and is perfect for containers), a Lettuce Gourmet Combo is a great cut and come again crop suitable for containers that has a range of colours and textures and looks great. Dwarf Sugar Snap Peas are perfect for snacking along with Baby Bell Peppers, Lebanese Cucumbers and not forgetting strawberries for after.
The great thing about plants is they come in all shapes, sizes, colours and styles. Many are short lived annuals and will only look wonderful this season. This means you can buy plants to compliment your cushions, tablecloth, candles, outdoor rugs and throws for a stylish and cohesive look and next season you can try again with something else if you want a fresh new look. Once you know your colour scheme head to your local Mitre 10 and find plants that work well with your soft furnishings.
CARING FOR CONTAINER PLANTS
The important thing to remember with container plants is they are dependent on you for everything so will need extra care to keep them healthy.
- Choose the right plants for the right spot – consider if the containers are in full sun out on the deck or shaded under the porch.
- The bigger the pot the better, to help retain moisture.
- Position containers away from the windy corridors.
- Use a good quality potting mix for healthy plants.
- Adding Yates Thrive Natural blood at bone at the time of planting provides an organic slow-release feed.
- Provide support if the plants get tall or want to climb. Frames can be camouflaged or painted bright colours as a feature.
- Water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist. A drip irrigation system tucked in the back on a timer can help if you are forgetful or busy.
- Feed fortnightly with a liquid feed such as Yates Thrive liquid plant foods during the growing season.
- Check often for pests or disease and treat immediately to avoid a bigger problem.
- Deadhead spent flowers regularly to encourage new blooms and prune the plants back if they get too big or look too tired.