Many white fl owers use perfume rather than colour to attract pollinators, and you can take advantage of this to add fragrance to your garden in summer. In warmer areas, consider planting a non-seeding form of Murraya spp. It makes a great hedge that produces a perfumed display in spring, then again in late summer to early autumn. Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia spp.) gives you large, fragrant bells on a small tree, while frangipanis are essential in the warm-climate garden in late summer, as are climbers such as Beaumontia spp. and Stephanotis spp. In colder areas, grow Chinese star jasmine or the deciduous Mandevilla laxa. Possibly the most-loved white summer bloomers, gardenias come in a range of sizes to suit most gardens.
Whe scent hit me as soon as my husband, Bryan, opened the car door. I’d been in hospital too long, surrounded by the smells of air conditioning, antiseptic and plastic hot-food covers. Suddenly, the air was not just fresh, but fi lled with all the perfumes of a garden – soil and mulch, leaves and grass – and, yes, each one had its own scent. It wasn’t rose season, when the air here is like a perfume counter. The fragrant wintersweet hadn’t yet bloomed, nor had the ‘Erlicheer’ daffodils. Gardens don’t need strong perfumes to smell good. They simply do. We humans evolved with soil and growing things around us. I found I was breathing deeply instead of trying to block out odours.There were the garden sounds, too. Not just the absence of alarms and the 20 TV sets along the corridor, but the almost subliminal ones that breeze among the branches, and the birdsong that’s so wonderfully irregular, you need to turn all your senses on to hear them, instead of trying to block out sound and smell.A garden makes you present in the moment. So much of modern life needs to be shut out. But sit yourself in the garden in the winter sunlight, or the dappled leaf shade in summer, and simply be, watching lizards sunbake or bowerbirdsstealthecumquats,andallyoursensescomealiveagain.
With a little know-how, you can grow a good crop of tomatoes in a pot, which is welcome news if you are a balcony gardener wanting to experience the full, rounded flavour of home-grown tomatoes. It’s also a good option if you’ve had persistent soil-related problems, such as nematodes and wilt, because it allows you to grow your tomato plants in fresh potting mix that hasn’t been infected.Compact bush varieties tend to be best for containers. Look out for names such as Patio, Green Grape, Tiny Tim, Cherry Falls and Thai Pink Egg. Vine tomatoes can be grown, but their stems can extend 2m or more, so you need plenty of support for training. A balcony railing would work, or put a couple of long timber stakes into the pot before planting.Tomato roots need plenty of space, so use a large, wide pot – at least 40cm in diameter for compact types, and wider for vine varieties. Plants also need plenty of water, particularly when it gets hot. Self-watering pots are a great option because they provide moisture for longer periods between watering. Otherwise, allow drainage water to fill the saucer when watering on hot days. This is normally a no-no, but the plants will quickly draw up the extra moisture when it’s hot without risk of root rot.It’s best to move a big pot into position before filling it. Choose a spot with 5–6 hours of full sun per day, with some protection from drying winds. Fill with a good quality potting mix and add a complete slow-release fertiliser. Tomatoes are big feeders, so follow up with an application of liquid fertiliser every 10 days or so. Tomato seeds germinate readily. Start them in small pots of seed-raising mix in a warm spot (on a sunny windowsill indoors, if it’s still cold at your place). Or plant two or three seeds directly in your pot, then thin out to one. If you only need one or two plants, buy established potted tomatoes to get you started. You should be able to find these easily now in most areas.