Gardening in Llandudno
So you’ve come to live in Llandudno and want a garden that will add to your pleasure - but if it’s roses and hydrangeas that you crave - move to Constantia. With our salt-laden nor-westers in winter and relentless sunshine interspersed with cruel, dying, southeasters throughout the summer, it’s a case of adapt or die; so consider indigenous plants.
These plants cope with the vagaries of the climate and, if carefully chosen, give colour throughout the year.
Nevertheless, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because it’s “indigenous “it will thrive here. Seek advice before you buy. Experts at Kirstenbosch will give the best advice.
Lawns and Terraces
If you feel a lawn is imperative -plant buffalo grass which requires less water than Kikuyu, remains green throughout the year and grows in shade. When you decide to switch, deprive the stray Kikuyu roots of water. The more you pour onto the new buffalo shoots to encourage their growth, the faster the Kikuyu will recover, to overwhelm them.
Trees & Shrubs
Spider gums, rooikrans and port jackson are the scourge of Llandudno. They impoverish the soil, stifle undergrowth and contribute to erosion of our steep slopes. Other trees that flourish here may not attain the height of the blue gums but they are more sympathetic to the environment and are not competitive in the garden. The loveliest of these is the keurboom which grows to a height of 8m, but because surface roots can be a problem plant well away from flowerbeds. Melkhout and kamferbos, once established grow steadily to 9m. The wild plum, wild peach and the wild olive all grow to 15m. Yellowwoods should also be considered. The sugarbush proteas as well as pincushions and conebushes (Leucodendrons) flower from early autumn through to summer. Instead of the invasive, alien Spanish broom, Strelidzia reginae (crane flower), Euryops virgineus and E. pectinatus will provide the same splendid yellow hue from autumn through to spring. Both orange and white fonns of Leonotis leonurns (wide dagga) are highly recommended. Not only are they striking accent plants but if judiciously pruned after each flowering will provide nectar for sunbirds at least twice, if not thrice a year. Blue Plumbago auriculata - or the white form - blooms profusely throughout the summer.
Extensive use of ground covers will keep the soil cool and save water. Varieties of Arctotis Felicia, Gazania, Helichrysum, Osteospernum, and Plectranthus, thrive here and provide colour in due season. Ribbon bush and bush violet present a stunning display in autumn and early winte whilst Pelargonium varieties flower throughout the year.
Aloes and Succulents
Aloes are not everyone’s favorite but for a blaze of scarlet during winter colonize a group of Aloe arborescens on an awkward north or west facing slope. Cotyledon and Crassula varieties are also excellent plants for difficult, hot dry areas. Crassula multicava will even flourish in partial shade. Vygies which are so spectacular in spring should be carefully placed as they bloom facing the sun and so may turn their barks on one!
If your garden is enclosed, bulbous plants, being secure from the ravages of porcupines, can give pleasure throughout the year. For winter colour grow Clivia and forest lily in partial shade. Species of Babiana, freesia, Lachenalia, lxia and Sparaxia bloom during spring. Agapanthus, Aristea major. Crocosmia, Dietes bi-colour, red hot poker and wild garlic flourish in the summer sun.
Walls and Pergolas
Canary creeper is a golden cascade in early winter whereas natal ivy carries yellow daisy-shaped flowers throughout the summer. Jasminum multipartitum, flowering from spring through summer smells as sweet as the exotic J. polyanthum and remains in flower for a much longer period.
The ambience of Llandudno often tempts people into developing a Mediterranean type garden. We have the wild olive but need to add the grape, lemon and fig. Unless one is prepared to cope with the pillaging red-wing starlings, a non-fruiting ornamental vine colouring from midsummer and holding its scarlet leaves until the onslaught of the winter storms is preferable. Instead of the ubiquitous “Cape” lemon, plant either a “Meyer” or “Eureka” - they have blossoms, ripe and green fruit simultaneously throughout the year. “Adam” figs with their deep red flesh and delicious flavor ripen in January/February and can successfully be protected by a bird net. The plants suggested in this guide have proved themselves over many years but enthusiastic gardeners should introduce more examples from our precious sixth floral kingdom.