Create summer interest by diversifying your selection

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  • Making a statement: cryptostegia madagascariensis (rubber vine) can be used as a vine or a shrub, the latter being my choice. It has glossy green foliage and is festooned with purplish pink bell-shaped flowers

    Making a statement: cryptostegia madagascariensis (rubber vine) can be used as a vine or a shrub, the latter being my choice. It has glossy green foliage and is festooned with purplish pink bell-shaped flowers


The drought, which started in April and ran through June, created a heavy flowering of oleander, hibiscus, lantana, pentas and other species.

It was, however, interesting to note that many of them were late in leafing up and flowering.

From a design principle, too heavy a massing of one species can create a real statement when in full bloom, but once the flowering is over little of interest is observed. This is especially the case with pentas and lantana which, in my opinion, are the dominant colour palettes for ground cover plants from spring to autumn.

As soon as flowering has ended, pruning should be immediately carried out to encourage new growth and, of course, another burst of flower. A good fertilising with a coated fertiliser which can be supplemented with a liquid feed should be applied. Do not apply granular fertiliser when soil is dry or temperature over 75 degrees.

Interest can be found, not only in flowers and their many colours and shapes, but also in the character and architectural outline of the plant. Leaf shape, colour and size also creates impact, in the latter case replacing temporarily the reduction of flower activity in the neighbouring areas.

Many Bermuda gardens, in general, do not accommodate large trees simply because they are too small; smaller trees, shrubs, ground covers, cacti and succulents, palms, vines and herbaceous material come into their own.

However, always remember location is a major factor in determining selection, especially if one is “designing” for year-round interest.

If a property can accommodate a tree, I have a liking for the allspice (pimenta dioica) and the pride of India (melia azedarach). Allspice has a wonderful bark, especially when up-lighting is used to accent its beauty, it is evergreen, flowers, and then seeds; a very functional plant in the landscape, and more so if planted in a random grouping. The pride of India has similar qualities, be it with a single trunk or multi-boled with its interesting bark, heavily cut foliage, wonderful lavender flower clusters followed by sandy-coloured seed. When seen against a winter sky it is a picture to behold and quite haunting.

Some of my favourite shrubs for spring-to-autumn flowering include jatropha hastata (peregrine) with its coral-red waxlike flowers making bold statement against the three-lobed leaves. Cryptostegia madagascariensis (rubber vine) can be used as a vine or a shrub, the latter being my choice.

It has glossy green foliage and is festooned with purplish-pink bell-shaped flowers. Thryallis glauca (cloth of gold) is a stand-alone plant when mixed with blue or red flowering neighbours. Its small dainty foliage with masses of yellow flowers makes a spectacular impact in any border.

Consider using cycas revoluta (sago) in combination with agave americana variegata or other variegated agaves.

Zamia furfuracea (cardboard palm) also makes a magnificent statement either as a stand-alone or in a group planting with an under-planting of liriope muscari (lily grass). Against a bare wall the candelabra cacti (euphorbia lactea) creates a unique outline with its silhouette and striated markings on its branches. As an oddity with influence in visual impact, beaucarnes recurvata (ponytail) is usually single-stemmed but can create new growth with age. Its oddity is the onion- shaped base of the plant which should be highlighted and certainly not hidden.

If you want something light and airy with a feathery effect, thysanolaena maxima (tiger grass) will fill a good area as it matures, with large leaves and a feathery flower head, it is a great contrast plant. Penisetum setaceum rubrum (purple fountain grass) shows off its beauty in many ways, especially if planted between several phoenix lourei (pygmy date palms).

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Published Jul 4, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 4, 2017 at 8:33 am)

Create summer interest by diversifying your selection

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