We may enjoy our gardens more during the hot summer months, but winter in Cape Town and Durban (often referred to as the ‘secret season’) can also offer up spectacular days with blue skies and bright sunshine – albeit cold crisp air. And on those days, when we step outside to make the most of our beautiful weather, we want our gardens to look lovely despite the cold season – but how do we achieve that during the wet and grey months?

The first thing we need to do is ensure we have a dedicated winter-friendly area for our outdoor entertainment. In summer we can pick any spot in the garden, but in winter we ideally want an area adjoining the house like a patio or courtyard with decking or paving  to eliminate any muddy or waterlogged floor concerns. Next, we need to coral all our planting into flower pots. Many of us will have already done this during the summer months because it allowed us to frugally meter out water consumption – essential with the drought in Cape Town, but for the winter months, pots allow us to concentrate splashes of bright colour where we need it most. Because we aren’t prone to as much gardening in winter, and because not much blooms in the colder months, it makes sense to keep the rest of the garden in low maintenance mode, but placing flower pots on your paving  closest to the house so that you immediately see it when you look out of your window or step onto your patio, allows you to create the winter garden beauty you want and need on those grey gloomy days.

If you’re wondering what to plant, there are a few types of flowers that will bloom throughout most of the winter months – petunias, violas, alyssum and marigolds are all good choices, but none of them like soggy soil, so remember to fill the bottom third of your pot with gravel to allow drainage and be sure to use pot feet so that the water can run freely out onto the paving and not well up in the container. Another winter tip, to help the rest of your garden, is to use all the autumn leaves currently landing on your paths and paving and spread them across borders and flower beds – this will help regulate the temperature of the soil and release nutrients into the earth as it eventually disintegrates.

As autumn segues into winter it’s important to remember that while the mid-year months may be cold and grey, they needn’t be dull and gloomy – with a vibrant outdoor area to relax in and lift our spirits, we can make the most of our ‘secret season’. And if you haven’t yet created the perfect patio or courtyard, now’s the time to call QPave for the best-quality paving in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg and exceptional service.