The art of gap-filling

Since last summer was officially a non-event, we’re revelling in the December sunshine, warm temperatures, every-day living and entertaining in our gardens again.

So, more than ever, your garden needs to look healthy and fabulous throughout what is forecast to be a long hot summer.

There are, however, always a couple of plants that turn up their toes despite all your TLC; because they were neglected during your holiday break away; or, in the case of annuals, because they’ve done their dash.

The result? A “hole” in your beautiful landscaping. The solution? Cull them out, rejuvenate the soil and plant afresh.

In some situations, obviously, that means replacing with the same species – with hedging for instance, or a gap in a row of grasses that create movement in your garden.

Otherwise, it can be excuse to hunt down that special specimen you have been hankering after, or to opt for an easy solution: mass planting the gap with a riot of colourful annuals or popping them in a large pot.

A mass planting in one colour that complements or mirrors the existing plant scheme also creates a pleasing effect.

If a large pot is called for, think about adding different species in the same colour, perhaps in lighter or darker tones, that will grow to different heights.

There are plenty of annuals to choose from. The wonderfully versatile Lobelia, for instance,  Zinnia, Petunia, Geranium, Impatiens, Coleus, Alyssum, Begonia, Californian poppy, Celosia, a pretty Cosmos, Dahlia, Gazania, Gerbera, Viscera, Gypsophila, Nasturtium, Antirrhinum, Calendula or Rudbeckia, commonly known as coneflowers or black-eyed susans.

If hunting down perennials, check their tags for drought and heat tolerance. Reliable choices include Coreopsis, Canna, daylilies, Lantana, Hibiscus, Verbena and Nepeta (catmint). These flowering plants require little maintenance, simply a regular drink of water.

In the right surroundings, an Agave is an ideal choice for a sunny dry spot, particularly a patio. It comes in various shapes and forms that draw the eye, and can go without water for weeks.

Another temporary option is to place a water feature in a container. It will enhance the sense of tranquility in your garden by bringing in the elements of sound and movement. It may look so good you decide to make it a permanent feature.


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