Summer is here, and that means that your garden should burst with colour! Some tips on how to achieve this, while using water sparingly, follow below.

An indigenous summer garden: Indigenous plants can survive on very little water. Nothing beats the impact of a yellow and blue border. The easiest way to achieve this is to combine blue agapanthus with yellow daisies (Euryops spp). A more adventurous idea would be to plant yellow red-hot pokers (Kniphofia spp) and gazanias (‘lemon shades’). Plant indigenous yellow and orange cat’s tail (Bulbine frutescens) or Barberton daisies (Gerbera Jamesonii) in dry spots.
Your herb garden: Just like you, your herbs need a ‘haircut’ every now and then. By cutting out dry leaves and flowers regularly, you encourage lush, healthy plants that will grow faster. Fast growing plants should be pruned more regularly, as they absorb space and vitamins of other plants in the container or bed. Mint is one such a boisterous grower – plant it separately (Vrouekeur, March 2014).
Bulbs: Like other bulbs, hardy irises should be watered for forty minutes every fourth day (Hadeco: www.hadeco.co.za).
Attract birds to your garden: Diane Ward (Cooking for birds: Fun Recipes to Entice Birds into your Garden, Struik 2004) provides a nice recipe to keep our feathered friends happy. Many birds enjoy young, green sprouts or leaves. Fill egg shells, small pots or coconut halves with good potting soil. Pack egg shells in an egg box or put pots or shells next to each other on the kitchen window sill. Sow bird seed in these and water regularly till the seeds germinate. Put outside and let the birds enjoy the young, fresh shoots. Water regularly until all the seeds have germinated. Substitute the potting soil and repeat the process.
In praise of Epsom Salts: Just as many people add a little salt to their food, we should be adding a little Epsom Salts to our garden. Completely one of a kind with a chemical structure unlike any other, Epsom Salts, or Magnesium Sulphate, is also a wonderful facilitator to your garden, helping it reach its fullest potential and creating a lush and vibrant outdoor space. Unlike common fertilisers, Epsom Salts does not build up in the soil over time, so it is very safe to use. Before planting, sprinkle some Epsom Salts and mix well into the soil. During the growing season, sprinkle about a tablespoon around the base of plants and water. Epsom Salts can be used with all fruits, vegetables and herbs, except for sage. It is a natural, pesticide-free remedy for slugs, and because it is non-toxic, it is also child-friendly (Gauteng Smallholder, April 2015).