Get creative in the garden with a teepee trellis

You are never too young to develop your green thumb with a spot of gardening. Inspire your kids to get into the garden this Easter, and start growing their own plants with this nifty teepee trellis project. This project is a great after-school activity for you and your child and can be used to grow a variety of vines, such as the Mandevilla seedlings featured in this activity. The teepee trellis can also be used to grow a number of edible plants, such as runner beans, peas, and tomatoes, depending on the time of the year. Encouraging your children to grow their own vegetables is a fantastic way to teach them about living off the land. They can watch their food grow from a seedling and end up on their plate.

What you will need:

  • Some dowelling rods
  • Some string
  • Mandevilla seedlings
  • Budding tape or cable ties
  • Scissors
  • A spade
  • A rake
  • Some bonemeal, a handful of fertiliser and half a bag of compost, in a Trug or wheelbarrow

Let’s get started:

The day before:

Step 1: The first step is to prepare the soil for planting and this needs to be done the day before the activity. Choose a nice big area where you and your child can plant the Mandevilla seedlings and get it ready together, by aerating the soil and adding compost, fertiliser, and bonemeal. Finish off by raking the soil level and watering it well.


  • On the day:

    Step 2: To begin the activity you’ll need to make a teepee trellis in the area that you and your child prepared for planting the day before. Help your little one arrange the dowelling rods into a teepee shape and get them to hold it in place while you tie them together with string.

    Step 3: With the teepee in place, your child can then dig holes just in front of each dowel, providing enough space for the Mandevilla seedlings.

April in the Garden

It’s April gardening – spring bulb planting time, and school holidays again. Put the kids to work and play, with you in the backyard this Easter.

Smart planting!

GCA garden centres across the country report that the following plants are on their top-selling hit parade in autumn. You can’t afford to miss out!April in the Garden

  • Aloe hybrid ‘porcupine’ – a compact aloe with striking bi-coloured flowers in deep rose pink and greenish cream shades, peaking in autumn. Perfect for hot rock gardens or pots. 
  • Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ – a compact hybrid of an old favourite with bright variegated foliage. Perfect for low hedging.
  • Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) – spiny succulent with sparse leaves and bright flower bracts. Available in a variety of different colours. Drought tolerant, and perfect for pots too.
  • Angel wings (Gaura ‘Rosy Jane’) – a desirable perennial with delicate, two-tone pink and white flowers. A new form of an old gardening favourite!
  • Horseshoe pelargonium (Pelargonium zonale) – the indigenous specie grows into a wild woody shrub, flowering in pink all the time. Modern hybrids will shower you with  colour in every shade. Great for beds, window boxes, and pots.
  • Ribbon bush (Hypoestes aristata) – masses of attractive lilac pink flowers on an indigenous shrub which likes to grow in the dry shade of trees.
  • Everlasting (Syncarpha argentea) – silvery foliage on a dainty plant, supporting small, paper-like flowers in soft pink and white. Perfect for pots too.
  • Hairawn muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) – grass with spectacular and billowing inflorescences of masses of vibrant pink, airy flowers on tall stems. This grass tolerates poorly drained soil but also drought conditions. Perfect for meadow planting.

A digging patch

If we don’t make time to teach the young folk to love gardening, who is going to plant trees, flowers, fruit and vegetables one day.

Popular Petunias

Surely there’s not a living soul who has not heard of petunias at some time or another in their lives, such has been their popularity since the dawn of time, well almost. The petunias that were first discovered in the mid-1700 to early-1800’s in South America actually looked nothing like the stunners that grace our gardens today. Petunia axillaris and Petunia violacea originally had small white and purple flowers, respectively, which were luckily snatched up by breeders in both Germany and England who began the, eventually successful, search for the large colourful blooms that we can buy from our garden centres today known as Petunia x hybrida.

It’s hard to imagine, when looking at a petunia, that it is actually part of the potato family. It was just short of thirty years ago that a genus name change was strongly suggested to more adequately reflect this connection but luckily the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature decided the damage, commercially, would be too great to make the change. Could you imagine walking into a garden centre and asking where they kept their stimoryne plants?

With the outstanding success that breeders have had over the years, your challenge now lies in the sheer choice you’re faced with not only when choosing colours but also deciding whether you’d like a plant that has fewer but bigger flowers, medium sized but more flowers or small but flowers a plenty. Decisions, decisions. Choosing their home would probably be the easiest way to decide which variety would be most suitable but when all else fails just grab some of each and let them warm up your winter garden en masse.

Petunia grandiflora, as the name suggests, has large flowers requiring regular deadheading to keep the blooms coming and spreads vigorously so would be more suitable for garden beds.

March in the Garden

It’s not really autumn in the garden yet, March in the garden is simply late summer with a ‘day-old beard growth’ – a lovely time of year when there is much to do and to plant in the garden…    

May the forest be with you!

A new trend is called “forest bathing”, and on March 21, (also Human Rights Day in our country), it’s International Day of the Forests too. ‘Forest bathing’ does not entail a tiring hike  through a huge plantation, and nor does it mean standing naked under a tree when it is raining, to save shower water… It means a little bit of quiet “me-time” in the company of green giants, to appreciate their huge value to our planet, and our mental health in general – being in the shade and protection of trees does seem to soothe anxiety!

It is therefore important that we do not allow trees to be chopped down right, left, and centre. It’s equally important that we take time to choose the appropriate tree for different situations, (your local GCA garden centre will know!) and to support all tree-planting initiatives in our communities. Trees are the green lungs of our urban areas and planting them is a symbol of love for future generations to come.

Smart planting – “The golden age”

You may have seen that metallic colours like rose gold and copper are still on-trend. Metallic décor and plants with golden foliage or bright variegation is still very ‘in’ – and they create lightness and bright accents in pots or in a garden.

Plant lots of dwarf Coprosma hybrids with their glowing foliage which will start intensifying as soon as it’s a little cooler. The foliage of a star jasmine called ‘Summer Sunset’ is coppery and gold, and the beautiful new cordyline varieties like ‘Electric Pink’ and ‘Electric Star’ are very ‘in’ too.