May marks the final stretch of autumn, when most gardeners will be sowing their last flower seeds and bulbs ready for a glorious spring display. However, winter needn’t be a dormant month in the yard as there are a wealth of beautiful flowers that can be grown for a pop of winter colour right around the country.
In the Mediterranean-esque regions of South Australia and WA, the dainty forget-me-not will thrive, whilst in the cooler climes of Tasmania and Victoria, gardeners can add the prized saffron crocus to their veggie plots…
An old-fashioned flower that has stood the test of time, beautiful gerberas are well suited to growing in the hot, tropical climate of Queensland. Potted plants or crowns can be sown out in the garden at this time of year in a sunny position with very well drained soil, as they are susceptible to fungal disease. The large colourful blooms usually grow in vibrant pinks, yellows, oranges and reds, and make excellent cut flowers that can last up to two weeks in a vase.
Unlike in other states, nasturtiums grow freely right across the Northern Territory, best suited to sunny spots of the garden with well-drained soil. This rapid-growing annual has pretty and palatable petals that are rich in vitamins and impart a peppery kick when picked and sprinkled over salads. Its bright blooms grow in resplendent shades of red, yellow and orange with pale green leaves, and make a cheery sight in the flower bed. Nasturtiums do spread easily and can be viewed as a weed, but the plant has many benefits, including preventing more invasive weeds from taking over, as well as its cut flower potential.
A wild flower native to Western Australia – also known as the paper daisy – the annual everlasting daisy flourishes in spring and summer when a carpet of pastel pink and white flowers reminiscent of an English meadow come into bloom across the WA countryside. Best sown from seed in autumn, when the earth is cool, plant in sandy soil positioned in full sun or partial shade. The compact daisies attract a wealth of pollinating insects and make a striking feature in a garden bed or border. The flowers are also well suited to drying as they retain their lovely colour.
New South Wales
Viola tricolor var. hortensis
A distinct winter flower available to grow in a whole spectrum of vibrant colours, the cheery face of the pansy blooms throughout the winter season in warmer climates, whilst its hardy nature means it thrives at different times of the year in cool climes. The darling of the flower world is fuss-free and extremely versatile, happy to be grown in garden beds, borders, window boxes, pots or hanging baskets, in a sunny spot or light shade. You can sow pansies from seeds, seedlings or purchase established flowers from nurseries. Tip: Digging compost into the soil before planting will get your new flowers off to a great start.
Australian Capital Territory
An evergreen woodland shrub best suited to growing in cool climates like that of ACT, daphne is a match made in heaven for rockeries and borders, adding interest throughout winter. Many varieties boast an intense citrus perfume and showy flower heads that reveal themselves in varying shades of pink and cream from winter through to spring. Sow seeds in cool, humus-rich soil with good drainage and full sun or partial shade, depending on the species. A sheltered spot and moist soil are essential for this tender shrub to survive.
Favouring a shady position in the garden and flowering in winter, hellebores have long been a gardener’s friend. The drought-tolerant, hardy plants are commonly known as winter rose and help to bring a splash of colour to gardens with their pink, purple, yellow and cream flowers. They are easy to grow from seed and face very few problems, though enriching the soil with compost before planting will help them to perform at their best. The cool weather triggers a triumph of blooms underneath trees and in dark corners of the yard, brightening up a usually barren season. They’re long-lived and excellent at self-seeding too, making hellebores a great all-rounder!
Crocus sativus, or saffron crocus, is a remarkably hardy, low-maintenance bulb that, once established, needs very little care. Prized for its precious saffron threads that grow from the flower, once harvested these can be used in cooking, as a dye or as a natural healing remedy. The mostly drought-tolerant plants perform best in cooler regions, ideally suited to Victoria or Tasmania, where their goblet-like purple blooms put on a dazzling show in spring. Sow corms in a sunny or partially shady spot in the garden in well-drained, humus-rich soil. Crocuses can also be grown readily in containers.
These small, self-seeding plants belong to the Boraginaceae family and thrive in a Mediterranean climate, as found in some parts of South Australia. Its dainty flowers, historically seen as a sign of remembrance, are distinctly blue with yellow centres that pop up in spring. They are extremely low maintenance plants well suited to sowing in containers or directly into the garden. Plant in a partially shady spot in particularly hot regions, or full sun elsewhere, and keep soil moist for the best chance of survival. Forget-me-nots are a rapid spreading species that can pop up in unwanted areas, so it’s a good idea to contain them if you do not want this.