The Underground Internet

The Underground Network

We’ve been so spoiled with rain this summer and there’s certainly been no shortage of lush greenery in the garden. March has its own almost-autumn adventures in store with intelligent ornamental grasses leading the pack. It’s time to unearth the internet underground, prep cool-season herbs, and keep an eye out for some pesky bugs. 

 

Networking, smart grass 

Plants have a secret language underground that allows them to ‘talk’ to each other. Communities of plants network amongst themselves to transfer information about the environment, share nutrients, and even provide help to other plants in distress. This underground internet is an essential part of all forests and flourishing landscapes everywhere. 

Instead of growing plants alone, rather go for a community of intelligent ornamental grasses that will adapt and multiply, filling up barren spaces and creating the ultimate abundant look. 

Try these fantastic fountain grass varieties:

  • Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’, ‘Rubrum’ and ‘Vertigo’
  • Pink muhly grass 
  • Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ (Zebra grass) 
  • Carex ‘Frosted Curls’
  • Coman’s ‘Khaki’
  • Festuca ‘Silver Eye catch’ 
  • Indigenous restios like Elegia tectorum (Cape thatching reed)

Top tip: Collect seeds from flowering grass to keep as birdfeed for our beloved hungry winter visitors. 

Did you know? Mycelium is the multicellular vegetative body of fungi. Think of it as an underground root system that super-charges the sharing of information and nutrients to the entire plant network. Mycelium grows outwards, looking for water, nitrogen, carbon, potassium (and more), which is then transported back to plants around the garden. Incorporating some super mycelium into your landscape is easy. Edible, non-toxic mushroom grow kits are available at GCA Garden Centres with simple instructions and access to all resources needed. 

Pink muhly grass
Carex ‘Frosted Curls’

Uncapped Earth Wi-Fi

Maximise your plant network with these fuss-free, friendly perennials: 

  • Long-flowering - acanthus, campanula, centranthus, diascia, gaura, Japanese anemone, kangaroo paw, nepeta, rudbeckia and echinacea.
  • Drought resistant - armeria, artemisia, bergenia, felicia, eryngium, salvia and penstemon.

4 Season Gardening Goals

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Life is a Garden has compiled an easy-to-follow, 4 season gardening guide to help you sow, grow, and eat all year round. Enjoy another year in the garden and never miss an opportunity to plant your favourite veggies and flowers. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for those pesky pests! 

Summer (December, January, February)

Pretty plants 

  • Grab seed packets of show-stopping violas, primulas, pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kale, poppies, wildflowers, sunflowers, gazanias, and dianthus.
  • Towards the end of summer, you can sow calendula, cosmos, daisies, violas, primula, pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kale, gazanias, poppies, wildflowers, Bellis, dianthus, and marigolds.
  • Seedling trays for quick colour include petunias, impatiens, calendula, dahlias, verbena, alyssum, cosmos, marigolds, nemesias, and dahlias.
  • For picture-perfect cut flowers, harvest your roses, cornflowers, hydrangeas, carnations, delphiniums, lilies, gladiolus, sweet peas, cosmos, gypsophila, agapanthus, sunflowers, and geraniums.

Top bulb tip: Buy flower bulbs for the new season but don’t plant them just yet. Wait for the weather to cool down and prepare the soil with well-aged organic matter before planting.

Everything edible 

  • In January, sow from seed or plant from seedling treys: dwarf beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, lettuces, leeks, radishes, rocket, spinach, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, celery, eggplants, peas, potatoes, and pumpkins.
  • You can harvest beans, beetroot, capsicums, chillies, courgettes, cucumbers, eggplants, garlic, lettuces, onions, and tomatoes this month.
  • In February, you can sow beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, kale, leeks, lettuce, radishes, rocket, spinach, Swiss chard, coriander, parsley, Brussel sprouts, peas, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
  • You should be able to pick passion fruit, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, peaches, plums, and apples during your last month of summer. 

Top fruit tip: Once nectarines, peaches and plums have finished fruiting, prune the plants to shape, and remove any dead or disease-infected branches.

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gardening, gardening guide, gardening tips, seasonal gardening, gardening for beginners, spring gardening, summer gardening, fall gardening, winter gardening, garden maintenance, plant care, garden design, gardening ideas, seasonal plants, gardening techniques, gardening advice
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Quick Maintenance

  • Mulch all beds and containers well to improve water retention and keep the soil moist.

Scale down and glam up gran’s garden

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Reduce effort and increase beauty 

If your grandparents have been living in their home for many years, their garden is likely high-maintenance and possibly a tad out of date. Ease the burden by removing water- and time-demanding plants and replacing them with our suggestions below. 

 

Waterwise, evergreen, indigenous plant picks for big beds

1. Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata): quick-spreading shrub, pest-resistant but attracts pollinators, pretty blooms year-round, fertilise in spring, full sun to semi-shade. 

2. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.): large growth, dramatic tropical-looking flowers, attracts birds, hard frost sensitive, fertilise in spring, ideal for morning sun to semi-shade.

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Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum): aromatic leaves with masses of starry pink blooms in winter and spring, attracts pollinators, coastal thriver, good cut-flower/foliage, full sun.

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Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

Easy and everlasting plant picks

1. Spekboom as a green succulent that cleans the air, looks pretty and needs little maintenance is high on our list for greening spaces for the elderly.

2. Geraniums are nostalgic and easy colour to bring back loads of gardening memories, which is particularly important for older gardeners as they age. The new varieties are even less prone to disease when they are overwatered.

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Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Salvias are always festive and vibrant. Easy, almost no maintenance and certainly showy. From bedding plants to perennials, one can’t go wrong adding them into the garden.

4. In winter, the Namaqualand daisies as indigenous, waterwise and tough annuals for colour are a winner for older gardeners. Especially if on a limited budget, sowing seeds is an easy way to get colour over as bigger patch.

5. Roses, especially Iceberg, bring plenty of joy to older gardeners. Cutting stems to bring them indoors or to give a friend makes them even more special.

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Everlasting and easy plants INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A

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April’s topic: Glam-up gran’s garden
Theme: Everlasting and easy plants 
Industry expert: Wayne Stewart
Garden Centre: Eckards based in Bedfordview, Gauteng: https://eckards.co.za/ 

If you’re in Gauteng, a visit to this multiple award-winning Garden Centre may well be the Saturday outing you’re looking for. We sat down with Wayne from Eckards to get the best advice on how you can glam up gran’s garden this winter. Come gain some elderly-aimed maintenance tips and easy plant picks to help ouma get more wow for less work.

1. We loved exploring your website, especially the awards section. Eckards certainly has an excellent record of achievements. Could you tell us about some of your favourite accomplishments and how you maintain your multiple award-winning standard? 

 

Our Eckards recipe for success is simple: great customer experience + quality plants + a passionate team = an award-winning standard. Eckards has maintained our top ten rating in the GCA competition for over 18 years, which is something we are very proud of. Winning awards is not everything but it is a great way for the team to see the fruits of their effort benchmarked against the best in the industry.

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2. Having spent decades in the industry, we’re sure you’ve seen many hybrids come and go as well as which plants seem to have withstood the test of time as SA’s favourites. Please tell us which plants and trees are your all-time best sellers. 

 

Gaura in all colours has been popular since it was re-launched when the pink varieties were added to the range. As a plant for pollinators, it has withstood the test of time as a must-have filler in any garden.

After the impatiens disease hit in 2007 we saw a big change in colour for shade. Consumers mixed it up, instead of just falling back on common impatiens.

Bodacious Bulbs April Bulbs

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Show off your gardening skills with bodacious spring-flowering bulbs. They might not look like much now, but you can certainly bank on their beauty come September. Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs as the cooler months allow roots to settle in and new growth to develop. 

 

Top tip: Garden centres supply packaged bulbs with instructions for time of planting, depth, height of growth and light requirements. Be sure to choose the right bulb for your space. 

Get the best from your bulbs

Location: Choose a place where you can enjoy their glorious display to the fullest. Plant shorter blooms in the front of a border and medium to tall ones behind them. Also try large groups, drifts, and interspersing bulbs with spring annuals such as pansies and primulas.

Containers: Enjoy your bulbs on the patio in pots. A depth of 10-15cm will suit most bulbs, but ranunculi, ixias, daffodils and tulips need a deeper container. Ensure your pots have adequate drainage but never allow the bulb roots to dry out. Remember to water daily.

Soil preparation: Prepare beds or containers at least a week before planting to allow fertilisers time to dissolve, otherwise they may burn bulbs. Before planting, dig in a generous amount of compost followed by a handful of planting fertiliser or bonemeal and water well. For pots, add water-retaining granules to help the soil retain moisture during the dry months. Feed throughout the growing season and after flowering with 3:1:5 Vita Flower or 2:1:1 Bulb Food.

Depth success: Always read planting instructions carefully. Usually, bulbs should be planted at a depth of three times the actual height of the bulb. Space large bulbs 10-15cm apart and small bulbs 3-5cm apart. Never press the base of the bulb hard into the soil as it will compact.

Fern Fountain DIY

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This month would not be complete without a hands-on gardening project that screams ‘touch me’! Enjoy Life is a Garden’s quick and easy fern fountain DIY that is guaranteed to give you all the good feels and of course, add a banging boost of texture to your space.

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You will need

  • Multiple hanging baskets and goodies to hang them (drill, cord/chain, nails, etc). The number of baskets depends on how many tiers you have space for.
  • A high beam/pillar/railing in mind from which to suspend the fountain. 
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden
  • Potting soil and compost 
  • Your chosen fabulous ferns
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

Assembling the fountain

  1. First, conceptualise how many tiers your space allows. The idea is that each basket hangs below the previous one. As your ferns grow, this will create a stunning fountain display as they spill over the edges and almost blend in with each layer of the fountain. We recommend having at least two tiers, about 30 cm apart. 
  2. Once you have your spacing sorted, secure your chosen hanging material goodies to your beam/pillar/railing. We recommend a set up with hooks or easy links that can be removed if needed (for watering or relocating). In other words, avoid permanently securing the baskets to their chain/cord. 
  3. Transplant your tenacious textures and be sure to add a good helping of potting soil and compost. You may also want to add a little liquid fertiliser to help reboot plants after transplant shock. Water well and admire for years! 
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

Plant picks

Visit your GCA Garden Centre to see which ferns attract you most. Remember to check their sun requirements and expected growth size. This will also help you plan better. Our favourites include our indigenous leather leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis), tropical maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.), and the variegated ribbon fern (Pteris spp.).

All-the-feels landscaping Industry Expert

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March Topic: Tenacious texture
Theme: All-the-feels landscaping    
Industry Expert: Jimie Malan
Garden Centre supplier: Malanseuns https://www.malanseuns.co.za/

Their stellar reputation and quality plants over the past 110 years in the industry, have put Malanseuns on top of the list as one of South Africa's best Garden Centre suppliers. Life is a Garden met with Jimie Malan to get the best advice on how to bring in bold texture into your garden this March. Come find out how to add movement, contrast, and sound to your backyard and reap all the feels before winter arrives!

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1. We loved reading the origin story on your website and how Danie Malan founded your family business all the way back in 1913! Can you tell us a bit about your personal gardening journey and how you have come to fit into the Malanseuns Pleasure Plants story?

Since I can remember, I enjoyed being in the garden. You can basically say I was brought up by plants. Some of my fondest memories are walking with my late grandma through her garden. She taught me all about plants and shared so many lovely stories about her favourite flowers. The love for plants runs through the Malan family’s veins and I too realised that my absolute passion is plants! You can almost say we have green blood and not red.

It is truly a big honour for me, as the leader, to work with this amazing Malanseuns team. Every day is a new adventure with plants. To me, it is very fulfilling to see new growth and also to follow the process of a plant growing into something beautiful!

I always say that you can be an artist with plants, simply by using their many different colours, shapes and textures.

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2. The Malanseuns brand is certainly a renowned one.

Tenacious Texture Botanical Boss

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Texture in gardening is not only about the physical appearance of plants, although this is an essential element. It’s easy to create texture with bold spikey plants paired next to delicate and flowy flowers, for example. Let’s take this a step further! Life is a Garden invites you to come and explore the tenacity of specific mood-generating plants and accessories that extend a theme, create movement, and cultivate depth around the garden.

“Think of texture as the relationship between the physical appearance, colour, and growing habit of certain plants that together, create layers of atmosphere and dramatic diversity in the landscape”
– Life is a Garden

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The Shire: Frolicky and friendly

Plant picks

1. For full sun, plant trays of dianthus ‘Dash’ and ‘Bouquet purple’, along with petunia ‘African sunset’, and alyssum. These will add dainty charm in shades of purple, pink, plum, white, and orange-peach throughout the cooler months. Mini pots at the tea table, anyone?

2. Canterbury bells (Campanula medium) like semi-shade to full sun. Their fairytale-like dangling bell blooms will dance cheerfully in the breeze, adding movement and a whimsical feel. They reach around 60 cm in height and are frost-hardy.

3. The white stinkwood (Celtis africana) is loved for its sculptural shape. This stunning indigenous tree also attracts birds, creating a sweet soundscape to your Shire. Plant this tree for the perfect picnic spot and enjoy its flowers in spring. In winter, you can look forward to its illuminating bark that turns white like the wizard’s beard!

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Accompanying accessories: log seaters, driftwood and moss, river stones, water features, birdbaths and bird feeders, chimes in trees, bark mulch, mosaic pots, fairy lights over arches, floating tea candles in the pool, hammocks, and raised, wooden edible beds.

Top tip: Avoid planting the same seedlings into the same beds every year as this can deplete the soil of nutrients that lead to fungal diseases.

The Autumn Harvest

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It’s Autumn, and probably the last opportunity to soak up a lovely warm-ish day in South Africa before the winter chill sets in. Why not arrange some outdoor time on your patio with friends and family and surprise them by preparing some dishes, almost exclusively from your garden? Get your preserve recipes ready and let’s fill some bags with produce to share with those in need. 

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Pick me

A tasty host of herbs to be picked now include thyme, parsley, marjoram, and mint. Veggies like squash, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, chillies and, beetroot are also ready for the lunch buffet. Juicy fruit such as melon and tomato will be coming to an end now as well. 

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Harvesting tips

  • Prolong your lettuce harvest by only picking the larger, outer leaves each time, allowing the inner leaves to keep growing.
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  • Tomatoes are ready to be picked when they’re uniformly red – just before they soften. Spray preventatively against various fungal diseases.
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  • Lemons, depending on variety and care should be available to harvest pretty much all year round. Keep your tree well-watered, prune when necessary and protect it from pests to keep your bounty flowing.
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  • Peppers are a Catch-22 harvest. If you want volume you should pick them frequently and before they mature since they’ll keep trying to produce viable seed but if it is flavour you’re after you need to let them reach maturity before harvesting knowing you’ll have less but tastier fruit.
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Preserve your bounty

Fresh produce has a limited shelf life but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your harvest for longer. Fill jars with homemade pasta sauces, relishes, and pickles that can be enjoyed for months after you’ve harvested your vegetables. There are some stunning preserve recopies out there, not to mention fire ciders and other health conics you can create.

Water Wise Watch: May 2019

This month at Water Wise

 

'Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health'

International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is an annual event that takes place on 22 May. This initiative was declared by the United Nations (UN) in 2000, and has been celebrated throughout the world ever since. The theme this year is 'Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health', which focuses on the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. The aim of IDB is to increase the understanding and awareness of worldwide biodiversity issues. Biological diversity, known as biodiversity, is formally defined as the the number and variety of living organisms on Earth. This includes the millions of plants, animals, and micro-organisms, as well as the genes they contain, the evolutionary history and potential they encompass, and the ecosystems, ecological processes, and landscapes of which they are integral parts. Overall, biodiversity is the life-support systems and natural resources upon which all living organisms depend. There are three main components of biodiversity, namely genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. Sometimes, landscape diversity is included in the definition.

What relevance does biodiversity have to you and me? Biodiversity is not something important to scientists and environmentalists only. Biodiversity is essential for the survival or each and every one of us. A healthy environment provides what is known as critical ecosystem services. These include food security, clean and secure water supply, clean air, flood attenuation, building material, and biomass energy. Natural ecosystems provide the foundation of our economy and society, without which neither would function.

Unfortunately, the growing human population and subsequent pressure on the natural environment through urbanisation, water demand, agricultural needs, pollution, habitat destruction, over-exploitation of natural resources, and invasive alien plant and animal species has severely impacted biodiversity across the globe.

Juncus Effuses (Common rush or Soft rush)

Juncus effusus is an evergreen perennial plant with a striking vertical habit. It is highly ornamental with a fanning growth pattern and is often used in landscaping which includes sunny water gardens and freshwater wetlands.

Juncus effuses produces multiple culms (hollow stems) arranged in dense tufts that grow about 1 metre tall. These narrow, smooth stems are rounded with pointed tips and no obvious leaves. The lustrous green culms are strong but flexible making them perfect specimens to provide cover and nesting sites for wetland birds and other wildlife.

Summertime months bring on unobtrusive coppery clusters of small flowers which appear along the side of the culms. These florets are arranged in loose umbrella-like clusters and while they are not showy they do add interest to the plant

This ornamental rush adapts to a wide variety of growing conditions and it performs well in a full sun or partial shade location. It can be planted in standing water to approximately a 10cm depth or in water saturated mulch like soils. It will however also adapt to normal garden soils with fluctuating water levels. For extra radiant specimens ensure that Juncus are planted in acid soil if possible. One can create this by using products that lower the PH of the soil. Cut back old foliage in early spring to encourage healthy growth.

In garden situations, where plants have not been planted in wetland areas, plants may need irrigation during extended dry periods. Juncus plants spread in the landscape by rhizomes and self-seeding.

Juncus effuses can also be grown indoors as a house plant or outdoors in containers that have a regular supply of water. They can be used along small streams or in water gardens and natural pools where their soft rush stems will be the perfect nesting place for water birds and insects. Juncus’

Container gardening on the balcony with Poppies and Petunias

Balconies are the meeting point for the great outdoors and the comforts of the home. Fresh air and shelter coexist in one space. As day turns to night with a sky of beautiful colours, the balcony is the perfect place to enjoy the golden hour. Making your balcony a happy area to relax is as simple as inviting nature’s most treasured pops of colour to join you. Petunias and Poppies are the perfect flowers to grow on your balcony for year-round colour and brightness.

How to grow Petunias in pots

Petunias are available in a range of colours – each as bright as the next. Place Petunias in a mostly sunny position, and ensure they are never completely dry. In terms of watering, perform the “finger test” to see when to water Petunias – poke your fingers gently in the soil around 2cm down and only water if the soil is dry. If you’ve sightly underwatered, they will recover, so steer towards water.

  • Soil: Petunias require well-draining, aerated and slightly acidic soil. Potting soil works well, especially if you mix it with a little peat moss, to lower the pH levels.
  • Fertiliser: Petunias love lots of food. Most potting mixes have the right amount of nutrients. To be sure, you can use a slow-release fertiliser when you plant them. Alternatively, compost will give them the nutrients they need – just remember to ensure the compost doesn’t interfere with the soil’s drainage abilities.
  • Deadheading: Deadheading encourages the plant to direct its energy into creating more flowers, rather than wasting it on fading flowers. It also keeps your plant looking neat and tidy. Remove flowers that are beyond their prime, ensuring you pinch off the bottom area that produces seeds, too.

How to grow Poppies in pots

Poppies are a timeless classic we’ve known and loved for generations.

May in the Garden

Tie a knot somewhere to remind you that it is Mother’s Day on Sunday 12 May. Take Mom to a GCA garden centre to spoil her with graceful Phalaenopsis and stunning Cyclamens – both in flower now!

Top of the pops

Here are some recommended top sellers for autumn:

Obsession – Get totally obsessed with the glorious Nandina domestica‘Obsession’, an intensely coloured upright growing nandina with fiery red young foliage which is retained all year while the plant is actively growing. Mature foliage is deep green. Nandinas are known for their striking autumn colours, hardiness, and many uses in a garden. Use ‘Obsession’ as a low hedge, in pots, or as a filler shrub in a border and remember that they are very giving and forgiving plants. Mature size is approximately 60 x 70cm.

Trending: Grow your own coffee tree indoors! The coffee plant (or rather tree!) botanically known as Coffea arabica, can earn you kudos from coffee snobs if you can manage to grow it successfully in your sitting room as an indoor plant.

  • Why should you try it?

It is a very ornamental novelty plant with dark, shiny leaves and fragrant white flowers. If all goes well, it can soon become a large plant, but it can luckily be pruned into a manageable level which commercial coffee growers often do. If you want to try your hand at this pretty plant simply for bragging purposes, (you will only get a harvest of beans after a number of years), plant it in a good-sized pot in slightly acidic soil, which drains very well. Water well and spritz it regularly in hot weather, as it loves high humidity. Keep it in good light but not in hot spots, as it likes cool growing conditions. If you are still unsure about the right growing conditions, just remember that the coffee tree naturally grows in the shade of other trees in tropical East Africa.

Water Wise Watch: April 2019

This month at Water Wise

"Protect our Species"

The Earth is made up of a diverse number of elements that co-exist together to formulate a harmonious environment for all. When an imbalance is experienced, some of the Earth's processes are negatively impacted. One such example is the extinction of certain species due to human activities. Over the past years, scientists have begun studying the extinction of species as a result of human activities. It was discovered that human activities such as the introduction of invasive species, poaching of animals, over-population, deforestation, habitat fragmentation by buildings, development and roads, and over-utilization of resources have had a direct impact on species depletion. By understanding the cause of species extinction patterns, scientists are able to formulate possible solutions that can be implemented to mitigate further species extinction.

Recent studies of terrestrial and marine ecosystems have indicated that the Earth is at the beginning of its greatest extinction and this could result in about 75% depletion in species' (animals and plants) populations. The following numbers, taken from the Earth Day Network website, are an indication of species extinction events that has occurred over the years: "The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% since 1970. Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall. Overall, 40 percent of the world’s 11,000 bird species are in decline. Animal populations in freshwater ecosystems have plummeted by 75% since 1970. Insect populations have declined by 75% in some places of the world. About a quarter of the world’s coral reefs have already been damaged beyond repair, and 75% of the world’s coral reefs are at risk from local and global stresses." These types of studies and the results they produce emphasize the importance of educating the public about the implications of our actions and how we can help slow down and prevent species extinction.

Cheeky Chimeni (Plectranthus chimanimaniensis)

Plectranthus chimanimaniensis is one of the lesser known Plectranthus varieties and is a firm favourite amongst gardeners!

Plectranthus varieties are indigenous. Plectranthus varieties have forest as well as savannah origins. With a natural ability to cope with difficult conditions, they tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions from cold and wet to extremely hot and arid. However, possibly their most sought after ability is their affinity and ability to perform well in shaded areas.

Plectranthus chimanimaniensis is an evergreen shrub reaching 80cm to 1m in height.  The delicate small green leaves are plentiful and support a mass of flower spikes that start bloom from Spring and reach their peak colour display during Autumn and early winter. From a distance, the plants present a beautiful and consistent pink haze in the garden!

The individual flowers are soft pink in colour, with the darker buds opening into delicate soft pink wings with a white lip.  The individual flowers are carried on pink flower spires which ensure the flower to foliage ratio is particularly high – the tall flower spikes are both striking and stunning!

Plectranthus chimanimaniensis performs well in either sun or semi-shaded positions and requires well composted soil. These plants are shallow rooted and need adequate watering, however once established they can withstand periods of drought.

Plectranthus ‘Cheeky Chemenii’ are frost tender but if grown under trees they are afforded some frost protection. Frost protection measures are advised during their first winter, however in their second season the plants will be much stronger.

Plectranthus ‘Cheeky Chemenii’ require low maintenance and have no specific pest control measures. To maintain a neat shape and lush foliage, this variety should be pruned after each flowering period.

Eastern Cape Stockists:

Floradale Nursery – Port Elizabeth
Builders Express East London
Builders Express – Jeffreys Bay
Builders Express – Newton Park
Builders Express – Queenstown
Builders Express – Uitenhage
Builders Express – Walmer
Builders Express – Walker drive
Builders Warehouse – Port Elizabeth

Free State Stockists:

Alma Kwekery – Welkom
Bruwer Kwekery – Bloemfontein
Builders Warehouse Bloemfontein
Greenside Kwekery – Bloemfontein
Plants@Preller – Bloemfontein
Platberg Nursery – Harrismith
Pretty Garden Tuinsentrum – Bloemfontein
Urth Garden Centre – Bloemfontein

Gauteng Stockists:

Colourful Splendour – Craighall Park
Garden Pavilion – Brandmullers
Garden Pavilion – Eckards
Garden Pavilion – Sunkist
Keith Kirsten Waterfall – Midrand
Lifestyle Home Garden – Randburg
Plant Paradise Garden Centre – Pretoria
Schaffler’s Nursery – Johannesburg

North West Stockists:

Garden Pavilion – Potchefstroom

Western Cape Stockists:

Starke Ayres Garden Centre – Rosebank
Starke Ayres Garden Centre – West Coast Village
Stodels – Bellville
Stodels – Constantia
Stodels – Kenilworth
Stodels – Milnerton
Stodels – Somerset West
Builders Express – Knysna
Builders Warehouse – Cape Gate
Builders Warehouse – City
Builders Warehouse – Constantiaberg
Builders Warehouse – Table View
Builders Warehouse – Tygerberg

**Please note that not all stockists will have every plant featured**

April in the Garden

Folks in South Africa are lucky to have two ‘spring’ seasons every year – the traditional spring in September when plants from the Northern hemisphere flower, and another one in April when many of our own flowers abound. Now is the time to spend long hours in our gardens, planting and sowing with abandon!

On the menu for sunbirds 

Keeping the theme for Earth Day on 22 April 2019 in mind, which is to “protect our species”, we give you an annual menu to encourage sunbirds to your garden all year long. The plants suggested are naturally indigenous and April is a perfect time to plant them:

For summer: Plant a dwarf coral tree (Erythrina humeana) which covers itself with scarlet red “pokers” drenched in nectar. Also go for summer flowering aloes like the very pretty Aloe cooperi, with apricot flowers with green tips.  

For autumn: Wild dagga (Leonotus leonurus) – the velvety bright orange flowers resemble huge rain spiders sitting at the ends of each stem. Their rich nectar is irresistible to butterflies, bees and sunbirds. This large shrub will supply colour throughout autumn. There is also a form with creamy white flowers, which is well worth planting.     

For winter: Any winter-flowering aloe specie or hybrid will do to attract many other bird species as well, but the centerpieces should be the other coral trees. The coastal coral tree (Erythrina caffra) is a large tree, producing magnificent flowers smothered in nectar. The smaller, common coral tree (E. lysistemon) is equally generous with spectacular flowers, but more suitable to smaller gardens. The broad-leaved coral tree (E. latissima) will produce its pretty blooms from late winter to spring. Every frost-free garden should at least have one of these species. For colder gardens there is the local mountain bottle brush (Greyia sutherlandii) and woolly bottlebrush (Greyia radlkoferi) – perfect and showy for small gardens with well-drained soil.

Water Wise Watch: Mar 2019

This month at Water Wise

March is the month of water!
This month we celebrate water, nationally and internationally, with National Water Week from 17-23 March, and World Water Day on 22 March. National Water Week 2019 will be driven by the theme 'Water is Life - 20 Years of Water Delivery for Social and Economic Development". The theme for World Water Day 2019 is 'Leaving no one behind' and refers to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which states that as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.

All over the world, people are experiencing water stress. In fact, more than 2 billion people worldwide still live without clean, accessible water today. It is an international human right to have access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. This is an important issue to highlight, especially as we celebrate Human Right's Day on 21 March!

The water situation in South Africa is already critical. The Institute for Security Studies indicates that water demand in South Africa will exceed supply by 10% by 2035, if good governance is adhered to. If planned water schemes and other urgent matters are not addressed, this gap could increase to 21%. However, we need to be aware of the impact future technologies such as groundwater extraction and new water infrastructure can have on our natural water supply. South Africa is already over-using its renewable water resources. Research shows that only a third of South Africa's rivers are in a good condition, while 60% of them are currently over-exploited. In addition, it is expected that climate change will cause a decline in average precipitation across the country, increasing the risk of severe droughts.

The key is to look for sustainable, low impact, environmentally-friendly solutions to the country's water crisis. The focus should be on water conservation and water demand reduction measures, and this is where you come in: South Africans must use water more efficiently.

How to encourage bees in the garden

Symptoms/Signs

“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden” Elizabeth Lawrence. You may hear the buzz of bees and see them buzzing around in the garden.

What does this mean for me/my plants?

Bees collect pollen and in their travels, carry this pollen with them to other flowers. This results in cross-pollination, which is critical for flowers produce more seeds. The process allows for more plants to grow, and the garden to become full of flowers.

Suggested Action

Enjoy the hum of bees and plant flowers which bees will be attracted to. Examples of these include Sweet Alyssum, Monarda, basil, sage, thyme and lavender. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for the most beautiful plants and expert advice!

Pride of India/Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Black Diamond)

This new and very dramatic Crape myrtle  (Pride of India) has dark black leaves forming a vivid contrast to its vibrant purple blooms.

It is a deciduous shrub that performs best in the full sun, however will cope in afternoon sun areas too. Clusters of bright purple flowers appear in summer.

Black Diamond ® will grow to an approximate height of 3 meters and can reach a width of 2, 5 meters if left unchecked. That being said, it is easily pruned and shaped if desired and works well in small gardens.

Black Diamond ® has an excellent resistance to mildew, it is wonderfully low maintenance and very cold tolerant. It grows in most soils but prefers well drained, compost enriched soil. Feed with an organic fertilizer when new leaves appear in summer, try ‘Atlantic Flower and Fruit’ for excellent results. When first planted, water regularly to establish. Once established it is water wise and drought hardy.

Black Diamond® Purpley Purple™ is wonderfully versatile. It is a fabulous specimen for containers or it can be used to create a flowering hedge. Prune late winter or early spring to achieve desired height and shape.

Eastern Cape Stockists:

Floradale Nursery – Port Elizabeth
Builders Express East London
Builders Express – Jeffreys Bay
Builders Express – Newton Park
Builders Express – Queenstown
Builders Express – Uitenhage
Builders Express – Walmer
Builders Express – Walker drive
Builders Warehouse – Port Elizabeth

Free State Stockists:

Alma Kwekery – Welkom
Bruwer Kwekery – Bloemfontein
Builders Warehouse Bloemfontein
Greenside Kwekery – Bloemfontein
Plants@Preller – Bloemfontein
Platberg Nursery – Harrismith
Pretty Garden Tuinsentrum – Bloemfontein
Urth Garden Centre – Bloemfontein

Gauteng Stockists:

Colourful Splendour – Craighall Park
Garden Pavilion – Brandmullers
Garden Pavilion – Eckards
Garden Pavilion – Sunkist
Keith Kirsten Waterfall – Midrand
Lifestyle Home Garden – Randburg
Plant Paradise Garden Centre – Pretoria
Schaffler’s Nursery – Johannesburg

North West Stockists:

Garden Pavilion – Potchefstroom

Western Cape Stockists:

Starke Ayres Garden Centre – Rosebank
Starke Ayres Garden Centre – West Coast Village
Stodels – Bellville
Stodels – Constantia
Stodels – Kenilworth
Stodels – Milnerton
Stodels – Somerset West
Builders Express – Knysna
Builders Warehouse – Cape Gate
Builders Warehouse – City
Builders Warehouse – Constantiaberg
Builders Warehouse – Table View
Builders Warehouse – Tygerberg

**Please note that not all stockists will have every plant featured**