Originally from South America, Avens (Geum ‘Fireball’) is a hardy, perennial forming a spreading, cushion-like clump, reaching about 65 centimetres high and wide.
From spring to autumn, long-lasting, semi-double, vibrant, orange flowers with scarlet red, gently-scalloped edges, appear on sparsely-leafed, wiry stems well above the lush, coarsely-textured foliage.
This repeat-flowering perennial prefers a sunny spot in organic-enriched, well-draining soil. It looks most effective when mass planted in the garden in groups of three or five to create a bold, glowing, apricot mound.
The vibrantly coloured blooms never fail to attract attention in containers or hanging baskets and last well in indoor floral arrangements.
Fireball is low maintenance. Simply remove old flowers to promote further blooms, cut back after flowering has finished and apply slow release fertilizer in spring.
Watering requirements are low, once established, requiring only the occasional deep watering over extended periods of heat.
Top gardening tips for February
• Move pot plants and hanging baskets into a cool, shaded spot to prevent them becoming stressed when it’s hot and windy. Apply sealant to the inside of terracotta containers to reduce evaporation and add water-storage crystals to potting mix for extra moisture retention.
• Trim climbers such as wisteria, jasmine and grape vines. These vigorous growers tend to take over during the warmer months and may need to be pruned.
• Prune back fuchsias that have finished their first main flush of flowers and trim straggly native plants to maintain an attractive shape. Don’t cut back too heavily. If too much foliage is removed at this time of year, there’s a risk that the inner parts of the plant may get sunburnt.
• Watch out for black spot on rose bushes. This fungal disease causes mottling on the leaves and is more prevalent in high humidity. Gather up any affected foliage and place it in your garbage bin. Don’t add it to your compost heap. Spray your roses with an organic fungicide.
• Get rid of snails and slugs. Place a shallow container of stale beer so the rim is the same as the soil level in your garden. The brew attracts (and drowns) these garden pests that like to hide in strappy-leafed plants such as agapanthus and daylilies.
Plant Propagation Workshop: Why buy plants when you can propagate them? Take home at least 20 free plants from this workshop. Learn the many methods of propagating, including cuttings, division, layering, grafting and more. Comprehensive notes are provided and bookings are essential. 10am to 4pm, Sunday, 1 March, Northern Beaches Community College (9970-1000).
Garden Design for Large and Small Gardens Workshop: Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping an existing area, you’ll enjoy learning how to transform an open space into a haven for relaxed living. Comprehensive notes are provided and bookings are essential. 10am-4pm, Sunday, 5 April, Northern Beaches Community College (9970-1000).
Judith Sleijpen is an experienced horticulturist, columnist and garden designer, advising clients on all aspects of their gardens. For more information, phone 9907-6460.