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Flower Farm: Spring

In the Flower Farm Linda gives us her advice and plans for the flower garden this Spring.

Spring is a great time for choosing shubs, admiring ceanothus and Cherokee Rose, feeding orchids, and of course picking armfulls of Spring flowers.


Echium. Photo - yhelfman/


Choose shrubs

Shrubs are the backbone of the flower garden, offering a profusion of blossom and fragrance in spring and summer with little effort. Echium, commonly called Pride of Madeira is a favourite. It thrives in high temperatures in areas of little rainfall. The elongated spires are prolific, come in pale pink, sky blue, lilac and purple and hum with the sound of happy bees. The soft grey foliage is handsome all year. Look out Echium candicans ‘Pink’, ‘Blue’, ‘Duxfield Blue’ and ‘Cobalt Towers’. FInd more shrubby pleasures in philadelphus, daphne, abelia, elderberry and viburnum.

Echium candicans, commonly called Pride of Madeira. Photo - Carlos Neto/

Keep damp

Giant blue puffball flowers decorate Mexican mist flower, Bartlettina sordida, in spring. Originating in Mexican cloud forests, if prefers a moist spot.

Mexican Mist Flower. Photo - Linda Ross

Keep dry

Too much summer water is the usual cause of death of the otherwise hardy and long-lived, honey-fragranced California lilac, Ceanothus. Find it as a tree, shrub or groundcover.

Ceanothis, commonly called Californian Lilac Flowers. Photo - Juriaan Wossink/

Do now

Fertilise rock orchids after flowering with a specialist liquid fertiliser such as Strike Back for Orchids.

Dendrobium orchids. Photo - Linda Ross

Admire the Cherokee rose (Rosa laevigata), one of the best roses for warm climates. Single white blooms with a striking boss of golden stamens are followed by orange hips.

Feed frangipanis by applying slow release fertiliser for flowering plants right around the drip line. As temperatures rise give them a soak of liquid flower fertiliser as a top-up.

Feed spring bulbs as they flower and again as they die down to feed next year’s blooms.

Water the garden with Gogo Juice to increase populations of good bacteria in the soil, boosting plant health.


Pick now

To maximise rose vase life, pick early in the morning, strip lower leaves from the stems, nip the bottom of the stems and plunge them up to their necks in cold water with a dose of Chrysal, a commercial flower food. Alternatively use a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, an aspirin or a spoonful of sugar. Place arrangements out of direct sunlight and if the heads flop sear the stem end in boiling water. Many will then perk up and last another couple of days.

If cut when buds are coloured but not open, ranunculus will last 10 days in a vase.

Picking flannel flowers to enjoy indoors has the extra benefit of encouraging another flush of flower.

Maximise rose vase life this spring. Photo - Linda Ross

Plant now

Sow summer annuals or plant out seedlings of zinnia, cockscomb, coleus, cosmos, nasturtium, petunia, sunflowers and snapdragon.

Plant summer and autumn flowering bulbs such as nerines, liliums, both oriental (support needed to hold stems) and Asiatic (no support required), gladioli, crocosmia and dahlia.

Choose sensible hardy plants in pots such as these two bedfellows - Osteospermum ‘Blue Eyes’ and Limonium perezii, often called sea lavender or statice.

Double white may bush, Spiraea, is easy to grow, with arching stems, covered in show-stopping white blooms in spring. Plant in well-drained soil and remove old stems from the base of the plant after flowering to preserve the waterfall shape. Grows 1-2m and nees moderate water once established.

Blue Eyed Beauty with Stattice

About this article

Author: Linda Ross