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It's Time To: Temperate Gardens in February

We're on the home stretch through summer and into the beginning of autumn.

Elizabeth Swane has the good oil on the last of the summer jobs to get your temperate garden ready for some cooler weather


Ivory curl flower (Buckinghamia celsissima) flowering all through February in the temperate zone.


In the Temperate zones

Plant now

Sow seeds of calendula, delphinium, pansy, viola, poppy, primula and stock for display in late winter/spring.

Fuchsias are reliable in semi-shaded gardens or in pots. Newer varieties are long flowering and more compact.

Swap stressed or poorly performing potted plants for heat-loving succulents. The wide range of colours and textures offers myriad creative combinations.

Add delicious summer fragrance to the garden: choose from frangipani, gardenia, orange jessamine, star jasmine or stephanotis.


Do now

Mail order or buy spring-flowering bulbs but don’t put them into the ground until it’s cooler. Prepare planting area with aged manure and pelletised poultry manure.

Deadhead spent agapanthus flowers. Split overcrowded clumps of clivia and agapanthus to improve flowering next season.

Lift and divide strappy leaved iris and discard old rhizomes. Replant the fresh rhizomes with tops exposed to the sun.

Look for lily caterpillars clustering on the undersides of clivia and crinum leaves. These voracious feeders will quickly decimate whole clumps. Spray with Success ultra or Eco Neem.


Flowering now

Ivory curl flower (Buckinghamia celsissima) features sweetly scented spires of creamy, nectar-rich blooms. Quick-growing to 6-8m it’s ideal in smaller gardens and will draw birds, bees and beneficial bugs.

Trees: crepe myrtle, white paperbark (Melaleuca quinquinervia), Hibiscus tiliaceus ‘Rubra’, bronze cotton wood

Shrubs: plumbago, large-flowered hybrid grevillea such as ‘Peaches and Cream’, tibouchina, abelia

Annuals: bonfire salvia, begonia, alyssum, sunflower

Perennials and bulbs: salvias, belladonna lilies, butterfly bush (Gaura), blue ginger (Dichorisandra)

Ground covers and climbers: liriope, seaside daisy (Erigeron), mandevilla, stephanotis

About this article

Author: Elizabeth Swane