The beauty of bee keeping

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F is for Fearless February! Dare to do something different and come buzz on the wild side with Life is a Garden as we explore the beauty of beekeeping. Whether you live on a plot or farm, townhouse or flat – the enchanting world of beehives, honey extraction, bee courses and baked goods are all available to you. Here’s the basics to get you going. 

 

Beekeeping has a few rules 

Before we fly on, there are specific by-laws for beekeeping stipulated by the Metropolitan Municipality Public Health. You can’t own a hive on your balcony in the suburbs, for example, but you can go on an epic beekeeping course and tend to a hive away from home. For our plot and farm dwellers to have sufficient space, here is a brief overview of the current laws:

  • No person may keep bees on any premises unless that person is the holder of a permit authorizing that activity and every beehive is situated –
  • A minimum of five metres from any boundary of the premises.
  • A minimum of twenty metres from any public place or building used for human habitation or from any place used for the keeping of animals.
  • The bees are kept in an approved beehive and the beehive is kept in an area inaccessible to children and animals, kept in the shade at all times, and supplied with a source of drinking water within five metres of the hive.

 

It is important for beekeepers to register with The South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) so that your set-up is in accordance with the regulation standards. This is to ensure all bees live a happy life and to prevent accidents or injuries to your neighbours. Now that we’re all clued up, let’s look into the benefits of starting a beehive and what treasures could be yours! 

Charming Arches

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Flowering and edible arches are arguably one of the most stylish and elegant features of a garden. Ideal in large spaces where a focal point of interest is needed, over entrances as a dramatic touch, or in small gardens where a compact cluster of blooms steals the show – arches are full of charm and for everyone! Follow Life is a Garden’s top aching tips and plant picks to get cracking on your first New Year’s gardening project.

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Good advice for getting started 

Here are a few important factors to consider when purchasing or building an arch.

  • Take careful note of the size of the space where you would like to grow your edible or flowering arch. How much sun does this space receive? Is there enough room for the plant to expand as it grows? 
  • Where will your arch steal the show most and what is your vision? Consider which other accessories will complement the structure such as a cute table and chairs nearby for tea, garden lights along a walkway that lead to the arch, or perhaps an additional flower bed all around the arch. Flowering arches are also excellent wildlife attractors and privacy shields. 
  • What material is your arch made of? Some plants get heavier as they age, requiring stronger support. If using a wooden arch, remember to use a weather-resistant sealer that won’t harm your plant. If you are using a metal arch, remember that extreme weather may also burn/freeze delicate flower varieties. 
  • Can you reach the top of your arch? Pruning your ramblers, scramblers, and climbers are essential to maintaining a nice and neat shape to your arch. Make sure you have a long ladder and access to all sides of the plant for shape pruning. Similarly, if you are growing an edible arch, make sure you have enough space to harvest. 

January Gardening Checklist

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Tidy up time

Neaten borders and beds, turn over the compost heap, and mulch well after weeding. 

January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list
January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list

Festive trees

Plant wild gardenia (Gardenia thunbergia), Henkel’s yellowwood (Podocarpus henkelii ), and Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Gold Crest’.

January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list
January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list

Homegrown herbs

Plant mint, rosemary, thyme, chives, basil, and rocket.  

January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list
January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list

Try this: Grow different coloured basil between your petunias and other flowering annuals. Go for purple basil (spicy-scented with purple leaves and pink flowers), ‘Siam queen’ (green leaves with square purple stems), and ‘Magical Michael’ (compact and bushy with purple and white flowers). 

Harvest delights 

Harvest strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, and celery.

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Waterwise tips

  • On hot days, mist houseplants like ferns and orchids to provide extra humidity.
  • Punch holes in the bottom of plastic bottles and place them in shallow holes around plants. Fill with water to give seedlings slow-release moisture.  
  • Use a soaker hose rather than a sprinkler and water early morning to reduce wasteful evaporation.
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January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list

Pest patrol 

  • Remove old flower stalks and dead material around the base of spent perennials to prevent mildew and red spider mite.
  • Spray roses against black spot, mildew, and aphids.  
  • Watch out for hawk moth caterpillars feeding at night on impatiens, arum lilies and fuchsias. Remove them by hand.
  • Be aware of lawn caterpillar infestations and treat with eco-friendly pesticides from your garden centre. 

Top pest tip: Spray early morning or late afternoon to avoid harming garden helps, like bees and ladybugs, that may still be active. 

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January gardening, gardening tasks, winter gardening, garden maintenance, seasonal gardening, winter plants, garden care, pruning, planting guide, winter landscape, gardening tips, cold-weather gardening, January plants, frost protection, soil preparation, winter crops, gardening chores, horticulture tips, winter flowers, garden to-do list

Small Spaces

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Utilise your space and get creative with explorer plants that love to climb and crawl. There is still plenty of gardening to be done in compact gardens, on the patio, and all around your balcony. Don’t let space restrictions limit your green fingers this new year.

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Best trellis trailers 

Creepers and climbers will go to town on any wall, pillar, or arch where trellis support is possible. Consider these indigenous showstoppers that are low maintenance and naturally adapted to our climate.  

  1. Pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) in full sun. They boast an abundance of fragrant lilac-pink flowers. 
  2. Flame creeper (Combretum microphyllum) in full sun. They are truly spectacular with flaming crimson flowers. 
  3. Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) in full sun. They bare tubular blooms in red, orange, yellow, and salmon.

Top tip: Arches, beams and pillars are a climber’s dream. Secure some wire around these structures and let your explorer plants do the rest. This is gardening and living décor achieved with simplicity and style.

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Grow a gallery

If you’ve got a barren wall, decorate it with life! Get the look:

  1. Secure a few vertical growing containers against a wall.
  2. Upcycle some large frames with character and texture, secure them around the containers. 
  3. Half fill your pots with compost and potting soil from your nursery.
  4. While you’re there, grab these lovelies to grow in your gallery:

Shaded babes - fuchsias, wild iris, September bush, and impatiens. 

Sun lovers - black-eyed Susan, climbing snapdragons, verbena, and geraniums. 

Try this: Go for a sophisticated succulent look by pairing potted rock roses with elegant white frames. Scatter white pebbles around your succulents to really bring out their eyes.

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Hacks to upsize your small space 

  • Outdoor mirrors will help make your area appear larger.
  • Suspend your furniture to save floor space.

Hybrid Hydrangeas December Notebook

Hydrangea Varieties, Garden Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, Hortensia, Landscape Plants, Ornamental Gardens, Blooming Beauties, Gardening Tips, Floral Diversity, Hydrangea Care, Seasonal Blooms, Garden Design, Flowering Bushes, Colorful Gardens, Plant Varieties

Your summer garden is in for a real treat with these three show-stopping new hydrangea hybrids in bloom now. 

  1. Magical revolution (Hydrangea macrophylla magical) is an absolute must-have. This compact, bushy, deciduous shrub bares clusters of flowers that change colour as time passes. Every day is a magical experience with a rainbow transformation of hues to look forward to. 

Grow guide: Semi-shade or full sun, moist but well-drained soil, good for containers, beds and borders. Disease hardy but look out for red spider mite and scale.

Hydrangea Varieties, Garden Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, Hortensia, Landscape Plants, Ornamental Gardens, Blooming Beauties, Gardening Tips, Floral Diversity, Hydrangea Care, Seasonal Blooms, Garden Design, Flowering Bushes, Colorful Gardens, Plant Varieties
Hydrangea Varieties, Garden Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, Hortensia, Landscape Plants, Ornamental Gardens, Blooming Beauties, Gardening Tips, Floral Diversity, Hydrangea Care, Seasonal Blooms, Garden Design, Flowering Bushes, Colorful Gardens, Plant Varieties

2. Endless summer (Hydrangea macrophylla) has a name that says it all. A truly special cultivar has arrived with the superpower of blooming on both old and new wood, resulting in a flower show all year round. An added bonus is that plants are hardier to colder climates too. 

Grow guide: Semi-shade is best but will tolerate full sun if the soil is kept moist. Good for hedging and as cut-flowers with resistance to pests and disease.

Hydrangea Varieties, Garden Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, Hortensia, Landscape Plants, Ornamental Gardens, Blooming Beauties, Gardening Tips, Floral Diversity, Hydrangea Care, Seasonal Blooms, Garden Design, Flowering Bushes, Colorful Gardens, Plant Varieties
Hydrangea Varieties, Garden Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, Hortensia, Landscape Plants, Ornamental Gardens, Blooming Beauties, Gardening Tips, Floral Diversity, Hydrangea Care, Seasonal Blooms, Garden Design, Flowering Bushes, Colorful Gardens, Plant Varieties

3. Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) is a medium-sized bush with large, cone-shaped clusters of simply gorgeous blooms (up to 30cm long). The cream-white flowers will turn pink as they mature and can be enjoyed even until mid-winter, complimented by burgundy foliage. 

Grow guide: Dappled shade during midday is best although they perform better than others in dryer climates. Keep soil fertile and moist, look out for mildew.

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Hydrangea Varieties, Garden Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, Hortensia, Landscape Plants, Ornamental Gardens, Blooming Beauties, Gardening Tips, Floral Diversity, Hydrangea Care, Seasonal Blooms, Garden Design, Flowering Bushes, Colorful Gardens, Plant Varieties

Hydrangea pruning tips

  • There are 2 main groups of hydrangea pruning requirements so be sure to ask your garden centre assistant about the type you have.
  • Group 1 plants (old wood) bloom on last year's growth and need to be pruned in late summer. 
  • Group 2 plants (new wood) bloom on fresh growth and should be pruned in early spring after the frost. 
  • Pruning branches as leaves emerge in spring will result in multiple smaller flower heads as opposed to fewer larger clusters.

Posh nature pools

Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis

Picture your next swim; chemical-free and full of life - that’s the sort of posh pool we’re after! Success means different things to different people, but we’d like to think that a living pool is one of those grand stamps of achievement and style for the gardener. Known also as eco-pools or Earth pools, these swimmable (and often drinkable) mini wetland-lakes are the perfect waterway back to Mother Nature. Get connected and join Life is a Garden with top South African experts as we splash into the magical world of biofiltered, living water! 

 

Swap the chlorine for nature’s green

An eco-pool uses a biological filtration system instead of chemicals to clean the water. A biological filter uses natural processes, microorganisms, and selected smart plants. With the correct ecosystem in balance, biofilters actually purify water better than pool chemicals!  Although such chemicals are designed to kill living organisms (like bacteria and algae) they don’t actually remove other harmful substances like ammonia and phosphates. 

Biofilters, however, are able to remove ammonia, phosphates, and nitrogen from the water so that algae struggles to grow, resulting in water that you can even drink! Biological filters, or biofilters,  include plants and beneficial microscopic life, like good bacteria, plant plankton, and zooplankton (small good-guy animals). Aiding this process is water which is constantly filtered through a sand/gravel filter along with a powerful pump to trap any algae and insoluble material in the water.

Did you know? You can easily convert your existing pool into a natural pool as conventional set-ups are very well suited for conversions. There is a selection of creative and inspiring options to help you transform your pool into a living wetland wonderland, just be sure to seek expert advice and professional services.

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Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis

Will I swim in a swamp?

No. A regeneration grow zone with plant life and a gravel bed is built adjacent (and still connected) to the primary swimming area, which is kept open and clear like a standard pool.

The super-fun summer garden December in the Garden

December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Summer Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips

It’s holiday season, and a jolly good reason to celebrate! Live life to the fullest surrounded by the ones you love and a gorgeous garden to host them all in. Life is a Garden’s got a fully loaded, super fun summer entertaining and planting guide to get you in the spirit of things this December. 

Warm welcomes

Wet vines from the garden can be transformed into gorgeous decorative wreaths, which you can secure onto your front door. Try ivy varieties, grapevine, and big num num (Carissa macrocarpa) with ornamental grass strands that’ll maintain colour for longer too. Add to the friendly vibes by adding a textured welcome mat available from your GCA Garden Centre.

Try this: Once you’ve gotten a solid run from your wreath, tie it onto a tree branch and hang some birdseed feeders from it. 

December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Winter Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips
December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Winter Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips

Eternal sunshine

Solar lights are the best-kept fun secrets this summer. Light up your pathways with lanterns, accentuate your trees with spiralled fairy lights, and make the patio pop with spotlights highlighting your gorgeous container beauts. Solar jars are also a sure win, to which you can add glass stones for extra sparkle. Solar jars look super magical when added to fairy gardens and scattered around beds.

Always lit tip: Wrap battery-operated fairy lights around your front door DIY wreath for added evening ambience as guests arrive.

December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Winter Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips
December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Winter Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips

Inquisitive kids

Keep the kids entertained and educated with a ‘Find that bug’ quest. You can easily create a printable worksheet for your kids and their friends listing the goggas to be discovered in your garden. Alternatively, there are several local apps to be downloaded, which kids can use to identify their discoveries. Why not get them all to give a fun little presentation about the bugs afterwards!

Handy helpers top tip: To bring in friendly flyers and pest-munching bugs, check out this article: (link to that other article we did about bug/bird-friendly gardens) 

December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Winter Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips
December Gardening, Garden Maintenance, Winter Garden Tasks, Seasonal Gardening, Plant Pruning, Cold Weather Gardening, Soil Preparation, Winter Plant Care, Garden Cleanup, Frost Protection, Indoor Plants, Mulching, Garden Planning, Weather-Resistant Plants, Gardening Tips

Happy house plants

Consider playing with poinsettia (Christmas star) and amaryllis (Christmas flower) as part of your festive décor prep.

A passion for poinsettia

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Poinsettias, also known as Mexican Flame Leaf, are traditionally associated with the festive season owing to their bright colours and sweet charm. With a selection of vibrant pink, red, white, cream, purple, yellow, orange, and bi-colours on the market, your holiday collection would be incomplete without one of these sweethearts. Join Life is a Garden as we explore this fiery foliage plant further.  

Did you know? The ancient Aztecs used poinsettias to make red dye, and they turned to poinsettia sap to control fevers.

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Humble beginnings

The legend of the poinsettia dates back to 16th century Mexico and tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. An angel appeared and inspired her to gather weeds from the roadside and to place them in front of the church’s altar. Crimson ‘blossoms’ sprouted from the weeds and grew to become beautiful poinsettias.

Try this: If you want your poinsettia to grow larger and even more spectacular, plant them out in your garden below a tree or shaded area. Plants can quite easily grow up to 3 metres tall when given enough room and in the correct environment. 

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Flamboyant foliage we love

In South Africa, poinsettias are a common garden plant that flowers during winter. Potted varieties have been specifically grown for the summer season and are available in a variety of intense colours. The plant is synonymous with the upcoming holiday season, making a bold statement that will last for months!

Grow them in full shade or indoors with plenty of good light. Plants must be protected from the hot summer sun if it is to flower. Only water a poinsettia when the soil is dry to the touch. Water until water seeps out the bottom of the drainage holes. Although poinsettias do not like to dry out, they also do not like to sit in water.

How to DIY a rainwater collection system

Your gorgeous rainwater collection barrels will be your best friend this summer and you can garden on happily during dry spells.

When it comes to maintaining a lush and thriving garden, one invaluable resource often falls from the sky, completely free of charge – rainwater. As the scorching days of summer loom ahead, it's high time to equip yourself with the knowledge and tools to create your very own rainwater collection system. In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the process of setting up your DIY rainwater collection system, allowing you to conserve water, lower your bills, and contribute to a greener, more sustainable world.

Step 1: Gathering barrels

Ideally, you would want at least 2 or 3 large 200 to 300l barrels (like those blue ones we often see on the side of the road costing around R 300 a pop). Having multiple barrels means you will have reserved tanks and can store any overflow as well. If purchasing a secondhand barrel, be sure to check that it didn't contain oil, pesticides, or any other type of toxic substance. 

 

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Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

Step 2: Collecting barrel accessories

The following supplies can be purchased at most hardware and home stores. These little accessories will make all the difference in the practicality and convenience of your rainwater set-up. The following items needed are per barrel. 

  • 1 hose spigot tap goodies so you can easily access water from the barrel.
  • 1 PVC pipe couplings and 3 PVC bushings to manage water pressure and secure pipe connections. 
  • 1 hose adapter
  • 4 metal washers per barrel (12 in total if you are working with 3 barrels) 
Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability
Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability
  • 1 roll of sealing tape
  • 1 tube of silicone caulk
  • 1 s-shaped aluminium downspout elbow to direct water from your downspout to the barrel
  • 1 piece of aluminium window screen to keep leaves, bugs, and other materials out of your water
Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability
Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability
  • A water leveler 
  • Drill
  • A few bags of gravel - optional 
  • 4-6 concrete blocks
Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability
Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

Step 3: Level the barrel platform

Make sure that the area where you want to place the barrel(s) is levelled and has good access to the gutter downspout pipe.

Rainwater Collection

Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

The word is out – it’s going to be a hot summer gardeners! Rainwater collection is a smart, simple technique to green your home and lessen your environmental footprint, providing significant economic, social, and environmental benefits. Join Life is a Garden’s Water Warrior initiative as we explore ways to utilise every drop of our blue gold. 

 

Where and how can rainwater can be used?

1. Watering lawns, beds, and containers

Use rainwater in watering cans or attach the rainwater storage tank directly to an irrigation system.

2. Wildlife, pets, and livestock

You can use harvested rainwater to fill birdbaths and is typically safe for pets or livestock to drink or bath in as well. 

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Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

3. Composting

Water is essential for proper decomposition of your compost heap. 

4. Rinsing veggies from the garden

A bucket of rainwater beside the veggie patch is a quick way to remove dirt from root veggies and other edibles. 

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Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

5, Outdoor ponds and water features

Fill outdoor ponds, pools, and features with collected rainwater.

6, Drinking and cooking

Installing a filtration system, boiling or distilling the water will make it drinkable. 

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7. Bathing pets 

Connecting a hosepipe to a rainwater barrel or tank outside makes water access easy and eco-friendly. 

8. Laundry

Using eco-friendly washing detergents with clean harvested water is a big buck saver. 

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Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

9. Washing cars and outdoor goodies 

Washing outdoor items is an excellent use for untreated water. Wash cars, garden tools, lawnmowers, the driveway, and garden furniture.  

10. Flushing toilets

Toilets use almost 27% of water in your home. Simply use collected rainwater in a bucket and pour it into the top bowl of the toilet.

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Rainwater Collection, Rainwater Harvesting, Gardening, Water-wise Gardening, Sustainable Gardening, Xeriscaping, Drought-Tolerant Plants, Eco-friendly Landscaping, Water-saving DIY, Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Home, Water Management, Water Conservation Tips, Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Sustainability

Embracing rainwater collection is not just a trend; it's a lifestyle choice that offers numerous economic, social, and environmental advantages. By joining the Water Warrior initiative, you're not only nurturing your garden but also contributing to a more sustainable and water-wise future.

Zebra Plant We love succulents

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Haworthiopsis attenuata ‘Zebra plant’ is a local hero, indigenous to the Easterm Cape. They are from the same subfamily as aloe and are equally eye-catching in appearance with pointy leaves and zebra-like white stripes. Grown both indoors and out, this succulent is next on your summer adoption list!

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Getting to know your Zebra plant

Grow guide: With a high tolerance for different light conditions, you can grow them pretty much anywhere. Outdoors, they prefer morning sun and need to be acclimatised to full sun areas. Indoors, they can handle low light but need to be moved to bright light locations every few weeks to keep them healthy. 

Claim to fame: Zebra plants are hassle-free, non-toxic, and can tolerate mild frost for short periods. Locals also use this plant to ward off evil and protect homes. Zebras produce aloe, which can be applied to minor cuts and skin irritations. Plants are highly decorative with a lovely ridged texture on the white stripes.

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In the garden: This succulent will liven up any container and rock garden, reaching a sweet height of 15 cm. Pair them with other low-growing plants in well-draining soil (they do not like wet feet). Water once the soil has dried out completely and fertilise once a month during spring and summer. 

 Pest patrol: Plants are generally pest and disease hardy but be aware of the usual suspects such as mealybugs and spider mites. Keep plants healthy and you will be rewarded with a friend for a decade!

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Did you know? This plant is used in a variety of cosmetics – from shampoo to lotions, homeopathy medicine, and beauty products. 

Top tip: Your Zebra plant will produce pups and offsets. Separate new arrivals by removing them from mom and transplanting them into moist, prepared soil. Wait until new growth appears before watering again. 

Robust roses

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October is rose month and the perfect time to plant your heart out! Fill containers and beds with the queen of flowers and indulge in the robust variety on show at GCA Garden Centres now. While you’re there, don’t forget some rose food, compost, and potting soil. 

Top 5 most irresistible roses to plant now

  • Double Delight: Pointed, cream colour buds unfolding delicately into shades of scarlet.
  • Just Joey: A hybrid apricot/orange blend tea rose with a seductively sweet scent.
  • My Granny: A spreading shrub with full rosette blooms in shades of soft pink and white.
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  • South Africa: SA’s top performer with huge clusters of large, golden-yellow double blooms.
  • Zulu Royal: Large, symmetrical blooms in deep mauve with a silver-lilac dust
  • Natalie Douglas: Produces large, fully petalled solitary blooms on long, stiffly upright stems.
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Did you know?

Some of our rose specialists Garden Centres offer a divine range of edible rose products including rose jam, vinegar, liqueur, and other food products. They use organic rose hips and red, super fragrant rose petals of ‘Mr. Lincoln’, ‘Ecstacy’, ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘Red ‘n Fragrant’ locally grown. These roses give the distinct rose taste, fragrance and colour, which naturally occurs by stewing the petals. 

Visit our online store locator to find a GCA Garden Centre or Home Store stocking your favourite roses, and remember to ask about their edible rose product range:  https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/category/garden-and-home-centres/

Top 10 tips on how to get the most from your garden

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Garden Day is on Sunday the 15th of October, although we’ll certainly be celebrating all month long! Life is a Garden invites you to become part of this special occasion by taking the time to really enjoy the fruits of your labour. Join us as we offer inspiration on how you can get the most from your garden and include time with your plants as part of your everyday routine and event hosting.

Top 10 tips on how to get the most from your garden 

Morning coffee nook 

Try changing up your morning routine to allow for 10 minutes of welcoming the day amongst your plants and a cuppa’. This should put you in a great mood and set a peaceful pace for the rest of your day.

Experiment and expand

Dare to grow something exotic and different this summer. Look for plants and edibles that excite you and that you may not have thought to grow before. You may also want to experiment with a different growing style such as trailing, creepers, or cascading baskets.

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Festivity-ready 

Is your garden ready to host a little get-together without you needing to set up first? Consider installing flood lights, fairy lights, chimes, and other permanent garden accessories. Also look into what weather-resistant furniture you can include that’s always occasion-ready. Having a space that’s open to receiving guests may take a lot of pressure off the host. 

Outdoor storage

Invest in an outdoor cupboard or crate where all your scatter pillows, throws, and other goodies can be easily stored and taken out to use. This also reduces trips back to the house and makes the effort feel less when your outdoor essentials are organised nearby for easy access. 

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Cocktail corner

Growing garnish for all your favourite cocktails is another way to encourage more time with your plants.

Mother-in-law’s tongue We love succulents

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Mother-in-law's tongue (Sanseveria trifasciata), known also as the snake plant, has long been an indoor and outdoor favourite with its sharp, witty nature. This succulent makes for a striking feature in almost any light condition and is a perfect choice for the beginner gardener.

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Getting to know your Mother-in-law's tongue

Grow guide: They will grow faster in bright, natural light but will also fare well in moderate to low light. When planted outdoors, be aware of harsh direct sunlight as this will burn their leaves. Water plants directly onto the soil (avoiding the rosette centre) to prevent root rot.

Claim to fame: Hardy and packed with attitude, their sword-shaped leaves are bold and unapologetic with bright yellow borders from base to tip. Indigenous to SA, these plants are adaptable and easy to care for. You may even be lucky to see their elusive white flowers if you look after them well.

In the garden: This succulent is ideal as a potted attention-grabber, both on the patio and indoors. They will also fill large beds where they bring in height (up to 60cm) and texture. Plant them in rich soil with excellent drainage. Water infrequently and avoid frost-prone areas.

Pest patrol: Plants are generally low-maintenance and not prone to pests. Keep an eye out, however, for mealybugs and spider mites and ensure roots are never waterlogged. Feed with a balanced cactus fertiliser monthly during spring and summer to increase pest resistance.

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Did you know? Snake plants are known as CAM plants, which means they can remove carbon from the air at night and store it for later use.

Top tip: Dull leaf colours and thin foliage may indicate that your plant is not receiving enough light, whereas crispy, yellowing foliage is a sign that there is too much light or sun.

Crucial Cross-Pollination

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Cross-pollination is when pollen from one plant is transferred to another with the help of insects (like bees and butterflies). Certain plants depend on this process to produce their edibles. Try growing the following trees together.

  • Almond trees grow well in the Western Cape with a more Mediterranean climate. With the help of bees, two almond trees are required to pollinate one another. Grow then in full sun with plenty of organic matter added to the soil. Planting clovers and other legumes around trees will contribute to soil fertility and attract pollinators.
  • Apple trees need a cross-variety pollination partner. You can ask for help from your garden centre assistant for advice on which varieties to grow together for the best results. Most apple trees will blossom in spring with fruit ripening in late summer to early autumn. Plant them in full sun with rich soil and feed with a fruit tree fertiliser.
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  • Papaya trees grow so easily from seeds in the compost heap. They will produce fruit when there is a male and female tree planted within a 3-metre proximity. The male (or even a hermaphrodite) can cross-pollinate the female. For best results, grow at least three trees together in full sun with nutrient-rich soil and good protection from frost. 
  • Avocado trees are definitely worth a little patience. Each tree is either type A or type B and needs to be pollinated from trees of the opposite type. Type A varieties are Hass, Pinkerton and Gwen. Type B varieties include Fuerte, Bacon and Zutano. Plant your trees six to nine metres apart with plenty of sunshine and well-draining, rich soil. 
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Cross-pollination increases yield and fruit quality.

Top tip: To attract more pollinators, plant lavender varieties, marigolds, and an assortment of seasonal herbs around your fruit tree beds. Allow your herbs to come to flower for max honeybee power! 

Green beginnings

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The garden is your canvas this time of year, and you are invited to become a landscaping artist! No matter what size your garden, patio, or balcony is, there’s a blushing flush of colour and texture to play with. Let the plants be your paint and create a space that inspires you this spring. 

 

What’s potting?

Warm-season bulbs like tuberous begonias, dahlias, and amaryllis can be planted now for a vibrant summer spectacle, lasting until the start of next winter.

For sizzling summer bedding colour, plant masses of petunias, dianthus, gazanias, and Zantedeschia hybrids now. All of these plants are sun-loving and will quickly thrive with a dose of plant food. Visit your Garden Centre for advice on which products to use.

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September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community

Trending now: Ornamental grass

Take your garden artistry to the next level with pebbles and semi-precious stones as yard art. Get creative with stone arrangements and ornamental grasses that are water-wise and low-maintenance. 

Pair pure white pebbles with contrasting black tiles or black-painted pavement slabs to give walkways and entrances a sleek look. Plant summer-flowering, white button sedge (Kylinga alba) to set off the contrast. This indigenous ornamental grass is sun-loving and evergreen, producing a clustered white flower head that is carried on an elegant, long slender stem.

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September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community

You can also purchase bags of pink rose quartz to use as centrepiece stone mandalas or walkable labyrinths. Plant some local steekblaarblinkgras (Melinis nerviglumis) to compliment the pink notes from the rose quartz. This very hardy ornamental grass will thrive in full sun, producing the sweetest plumes of fluffy pink to red seeds that appear all year round and attract seed-eating birds.

Top tip: The key to long-term pebble arrangement success and almost no maintenance is good quality weed guard sheeting beneath your stone feature. 

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Edibles are everything

September is the time to sow all your tasty summer salad ingredients.

Bio-diversify Your Backyard

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Welcome South Africa’s handy helpers to the garden and reap the rich rewards. Fall in love with your eco-friendly backyard that’s flying, swarming, and crawling with life! 

Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!

Bring in biodiversity by

Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.

Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch. 

Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).

Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.

Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.

Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit. 

House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too! 

Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure. 

Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity. 

The tree’s knees: Our local Wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) tree is a massive wildlife attractor and butterfly breeding gem that is also spring-blooming and suitable for container planting and small gardens.

Heroic Hydrozoning

Become the hero of your garden by saving water and protecting your plants from dying in a drought. The new climate cycle, El Niño,

Become the hero of your garden by saving water and protecting your plants during the dry summer ahead. The new climate cycle, El Niño, is predicted to reach us at the start of 2024, which includes heat waves and less rainfall. Luckily Life is a Garden is preparing all green fingers with loads of practical ways you can go about maintaining a lush garden. One of the easiest ways is to begin with Hydrozoning. 

Garden jargon check

Hydrozoning is a landscaping technique where plants of similar water requirements are grouped together, grown in the same area. This can be done in beds as well as mixed containers. You may have to do a bit of admin in the beginning, but once you have made the necessary transplants, hydrozoning will save you hours of maintenance time and many litres of water. 

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Water warriors

Hydrozoning also allows you to keep better track of your watering schedule and it prevents over/underwatering of plants. You can set your irrigation system to only water certain beds as opposed to the full garden that isn't actually at risk of dying soon. For example, a mixed bed with aloes and canna lilies are not the best match as aloes are low water and canna lilies are high. You can see that a bed like this would not be efficient during a drought as the aloes will be receiving unnecessary water. 

The key is not to get rid of your beloved canna lilies, for example, but to provide these plants with a bedding bestie that has similar needs. Your Garden Centre will be able to give you great advice on which plants to pair up. If you are unsure about your current bedding companions, post a picture on Life is a Garden’s SA Seasonal Grow Guide group on Facebook and our experts will help you identify the plants and make helpful companion suggestions. 

The flower tribe has spoken

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Here’s a quick overview of SANA’s stats accumulated over the past two months. How well do you really know your consumers? 

Most-bought seed packets

  1. Flowers
  2. Vegetables

 Big spenders

  1. Perennials flowers
  2. Annual flowers
  3. Trees and shrubs

 Outdoor top-sellers

  1. Flowers
  2. Seedlings

Garden care

  1. Compost and potting soil
  2. Plant food

 Hard landscaping

  1. Hoses and fittings
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A trendy heads-up 

Get your Garden Centres and Home Stores stocked. Here are the gardening trends looking to take root in a fertile bed and container near your consumers! 

Sexy small spaces

This trend is all about unique growing styles combined with sassy plants that may be small in size but large in personality. Our significant townhouse/balcony/patio demographic will be looking for something special that expresses their individuality within a limited space. 

  • Dwarf varieties in mini pots for the patio
  • Stylish kitchen windowsill herb farms
  • Statement-making vertical walls and hydroponics

Stock list: attractive dwarf hybrids, minimalistic rectangular containers for windowsills and all the herbs, leafy greens and cherry tomatoes for hydrophonic growing, hydro set-ups, and vertical wall containers with charismatic indoor and outdoor plant options. 

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El Nino-proof gardens

With the predicted dry and hot summer ahead, indigenous landscaping, rainwater harvesting, and wildlife habitat creation is top priority. Our Earth Custodians will be looking for drought-proof plants, inspiration on how to redesign beds for water conservation, as well as ways to support wildlife. 

  • Indigenous hydrozoning
  • Water collection and storing
  • Pollinators and friendly critters 

Stock list: In-store labels that indicate hydrozone compatibility as well as a large variety of local plants, rainwater tanks and other water harvesting supplies, wildlife houses and plants for pollinators that are grouped together and highlighted in-store. 

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Indoor jungles

As temperatures rise, indoor gardening will see an increase in demand for exotic collectables and classic creepers. Consumers will likely be more willing to spend on indoor landscaping owing to water restrictions and heat. 

Local Luxuries

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Celebrate the return of spring with some spectacular indigenous plants and trees that are in bloom now. 

Colour popping plants 

  • Plectranthus ‘Mona lavender’  is an evergreen shrub with dramatic purple flowers and aromatic dark green leaves. They are shade-lovers and well-suited for containers. 
  • Botterblom (Gazania krebsiana) will flourish in full sun and require little water. This tufted, evergreen groundcover boasts blooms in a vibrant array of colours and petal details. 
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  • Wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) is an excellent pest repellent with brilliant pink to lavender flowers. Grow them in sun to semi-shade and enjoy their flavoursome leaves in salads.
  • Blue Daisy Bush (Felicia amelloides) will reward the garden with sweet blue flowers contrasted by a bright yellow centre. This fast-growing bush likes full sun in beds or pots.
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Try these too: The Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) has tubular red flowers that attract nectar-feeding birds while the Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) has blue-purple blooms and is host to the common blue butterfly (Cyclyris pirithous). Does not show up in the directory at all, not by its common name and not its official name either 

Top tip: Remember to prune back all bushes and shrubs after flowering to increase their blooms during the next regrowth period. 

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Local trees for wildlife 

  • Tree wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) may well be the epitome of local luxuries. With its graceful weeping habit and gorgeously fragrant, violet-blue blooms, this small tree is the perfect addition to all sunny beds and containers. They attract a host of butterflies and wild animals like monkeys, gemsbok, and grey duikers. 
  • Tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida) is medium-sized and hardy with brick red to orange tubular flowers that grow in clusters directly off the branches. Regarded as one of the most valuable, they attract sunbirds, white-eyes, thrushes, robins, pigeons, flycatchers, loeries, mousebirds, barbets, as well as bees and butterflies.