Flamboyant Vygies We love succulents

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Vygies (Mesembryanthemums) are a South African favourite and one of our boldest, brightest, and most versatile species of flowers. With more than 1800 varieties to suit your colour and style preference, there is a vygie for every garden and container in need of some sparkling colour.

Grow guide: Plant them in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Vygies are super forgiving and not high maintenance at all. They will flourish in almost all soil conditions, but if you want to boost their growth, add a handful of compost and fertiliser when transplanting them from seedling trays. 

Claim to fame: Vygies are water-wise and well-adapted so our SA climate. Beginner gardeners should have no problem growing a successful carpet of colour or vibrant hanging basket. In addition, vygies can also be planted during any time of the year.

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In the garden: Wish so many stunning forms of this plant, go for Drosanthemum, Delosperma and Lampranthus species that are small, shrub-like and ground covering plants. You could also try mat-forming varieties that grow well in Cape gardens such as the white and pink coastal vygie (Delosperma litorale), the yellow carpet vygie (Jordaaniella dubia), and the magenta coastal ruschia (Ruschia macowanii).

Pest patrol: Vygies are not prone to disease but be on the lookout for your usual succulent-munching insects and scale in particular. Both biological and chemical pest control solutions are available at your garden centre.

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Fun fact: The word vygie is Afrikaans for small fig.  

Winter winners: The Bokbaai vygie (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis) and yellow-bloomed vetkousie (Carpanthea pomeridiana ‘Golda’) will be in full bloom from August. 

Try these: Lampranthus spp. and ice plants (Drosanthemum spp.) are densely flowered, highly colourful vygies. Delosperma spp. live much longer but don’t flower as profusely.

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Fiery fynbos

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Fynbos is a specific group of vegetation that is known as Proteaceae. Fynbos has expertly adapted over millions of years and has thus become the world’s most diverse plant habitat, even more than a tropical rainforest.

Proteas

King Pink is our national flower and a dramatic addition to the garden. They enjoy full sun in beds and containers, are drought and frost-hardy, and make for stunning cut flowers. Enjoy their bold blooms from July to October every year. 

Ericas

Fairy Confetti is a sweetheart shrub with masses of tiny pink flowers that add happiness to the garden. Their pretty blooms can be expected from spring, along with the many indigenous wildlife visitors they attract. Plant then in full sun in beds or pots. 

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Leucospermums

The Scarlet Ribbon is a vigorous grower with no shortage of blooms. Their intricate flower heads will bring any bed or container to life with striking red, orange, and yellow details. Grow then in full sun and enjoy their flowering time from September. 

 

Leucadendron range

Inca Gold is a decorative foliage plant with bright green, lime/yellow leaves that contrast perfectly with their pink edges. Grow them in full sun beds where you can look forward to a unique flower show from November to September.

Top tip: Fynbos love organic, rich dirt and thrive in sandstone derived, acidic soil with good drainage and no manure.   

Top tip: Mulch your plants with acid compost once a year and remember to prune your fynbos after flowering or before spring for nice full growth. 

Hanging basket bulker: Plant begonia ‘Dragon Wings’ in shades of light pink and reds for added hanging basket cuteness in full to semi-sun areas. 

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In the garden

Lawn love

Give your grass the pre-spring treatment by low mowing, spiking, feeding, and firm raking (scarifying). Apply a generous layer of lawn dressing and fertiliser, available at your garden centre, and cover the area so that just the tips of the blades are visible.

El Niño ready 1: the new climate cycle

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Scientists are predicting the full impact of El Niño to play out in 2024, with temperatures expected to soar across the globe. Changing climate cycles are as old as the Earth itself and a natural part of what humanity will experience while living on our gorgeous blue planet. As gardeners, these changes are particularly influential as we already have a close relationship to rainfall and the weather in general, as well as the needs of our plants and garden wildlife. A period of noticeable changes is heading our way, imploring us more than ever to practice sustainable watering.

The coming change in weather pattern from La Nina (cool phase) to El Niño (warm phase), will affect the entire continent across multiple sectors – from food production, fuel and food prices, agriculture, plant life, and as we’ve seen – the possibility of day 0 in our own homes.

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. What is El Niño and why the change from La Nina?
  2. What has Africa learned from El Niño in the past?
  3. What can South Africa Expect? 
  4. How will El Niño impact the home gardener?

 

Before we dive in, this article is number 1 of 3 in Life is a Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series. We recommend that you read them in chronological order for a comprehensive understanding. Together, these 3 articles will leave you well-informed and equipped for gardening in a drought. 

Article 1: El Niño - the new climate cycle (you are here)

Article 2: Gardener or Earth Custodian? 

  • What is the Good Gardener Ethos?
  • What is my conscious gardening advantage? 
  • How can I be a wildlife guardian and habitat creator?
  • How can I look after my family?

 

Article 3: The Water Warrior Way 

  • How can I affordably collect and store rainwater now? 

El Niño ready 2: Gardener or Earth custodian?

As we approach the new El Niño climate cycle, we also enter a deeper understanding of how influential and important the gardener is. Predicted dry times and heat waves ahead will have a significant impact on gardening and likely to our usually cheerful dispositions as hardships from around the country make the news. It can be challenging to remain positive and solution-driven during these times. However, The South African Nursery Association (SANA) and Life is a Garden are working hard to ensure you thrive, not only survive this period.

The first step in preparing for this weather cycle begins with the correct education. Be sure to have read Article 1 to school yourself on the fundamentals of El Niño. In this article, we arrive at the second phase of our El Niño preparedness, which is a change in mindset or ethos upgrade that recognises the evolution of the gardener from an everyday plant grower to a mighty Earth Custodian (if you aren’t one already).

We hope that you are just as inspired as we are to take on this shining title and join Life is a Garden on our mission to play for team plants, people, and planet!

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. What is the Good Gardener ethos?
  2. What is my conscious gardening advantage?
  3. How can I be a wildlife guardian and habitat creator?
  4. How can I look after my family?

*Before we dive in, this article is number 2 of 3 in Life is a Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series. We recommend that you read them in chronological order for a comprehensive understanding. Together, these 3 articles will leave you well-informed and equipped for resilient gardening.

Article 1: El Niño - the new climate cycle 

  • What is El Niño and why the change from La Nina?

El Niño ready 3: The Water Warrior Way

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We’ve got some time from now (August) until summer when El Niño’s heat and dryness is predicted to reach us in full swing. Estimated to last for 9 to 12 months, it is to prepare a resilient garden and make the necessary changes to our habits and water collection infrastructure.

Having read article 1 and article 2, the topics of Earth Custodian and Water Warrior should be familiar tools to have for gardening in a heatwave. In this 3rd article of Life is Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series, we will be digging our spades into some practical ways that you can save and efficiently manage your water consumption to keep your garden thriving.

To recap, a Water Warrior is part of the Earth Custodian’s everyday gardening habits - from water-wise practices to wildlife protection and rainwater harvesting. The Earth Custodian is both a mindset and ethos upgrade that recognises the gardener as more than just a plant grower, but an essential service individual who is conscious of the big-picture footprint their water habits have.

To be a Water Warrior means that we have ‘woken up’ to the accountability of our household’s water consumption and how our daily habits impact the country as a whole, as well as surrounding wildlife and the precious balance of Mother Nature. By extension, becoming a Water Warrior also means that we do not transfer all resource and infrastructure responsibility to municipalities and government.

 

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  • How can I affordably collect and store rainwater now?
  • How can I grow a resilient garden?
  • Is hydrozoning right for me?
  • How should I be watering my containers, beds, and lawn?

 

Before we dive in, this article is number 1 of 3 in Life is a Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series.

Minimalistic hacks you need listicle

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The minimalistic garden reduces maintenance time, water usage, and clutter. Moreover, sleek lines and open spaces help bring calm vibes to the busy city mind. If you’re looking to change up your style to a more sleek and modern look, minimalism may be a perfect fit for you. Check out these top tips to get you started. 

1. Less is more: rather go for one big pot than multiple smaller ones.

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2. Contrast adds interest: look for contrasts in texture and colour, whether it be shades of green or just green with a hint of a second colour here and there. Bold leaves contrasted against finely-textured plants are a perfect combo. Try elephant’s toothpick (Sanseviera cylindrica) and asparagus mazeppa.

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3. Size matters: instead of many small pavers and stepping stones, go for large elements in strong shapes. Big square pavers will fill up a space nicely while creating bold lines and the feeling of spaciousness.

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4. Repetition is key: choose two hero plants for long beds and repeat them throughout the bed border. Philodendron Hope and Xanadu are striking contenders for sun or semi-shade areas.

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5. Shape your world: geometric shapes are everything in the minimalistic garden. You can achieve this by strategically laying your pavers in a diamond shape or designing your beds with clean-cut lines and sharp corners. Garden Centres and home stores stock bold water features and garden furniture that will help to extend your theme even further.

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Got a balcony garden? 

Tall and straight-sided, narrow planters make a big statement while taking up little space. Choose a colour that will pick up a secondary colour that has been repeated throughout the space, perhaps in the frames of furniture or windows. The planter will bring it all together as your eye focuses on everything in the scene that is the same colour.

Lavish lavender DIY

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In the spirit of this month’s sleek minimalism topic, Life is a Garden brings you a lavish lavender DIY that’ll fit right in with a more is less approach to gardening.  These stunning Lavandula varieties are perfect for adding colour to big beds and containers on the patio, plus – they are low-maintenance, water-wise, and attract a host of beneficial pollinators.

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Top plant picks

1. Lavandula angustifolia: compact and bushy with small, grey-green leaves and long flower spikes in deep purple.

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2. Lavandula dentata (toothed lavender): spreading habit, bushy shrubs with scalloped foliage, which are either dark green or grey depending on the variety. Fragrant, purple-blue flowers.

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3. Lavandula x intermedia (English lavender): a vigorous hybrid with a spreading growth habit and aromatic grey-green leaves. Tall flower spikes covered in small mauve flowers.

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4. Lavandula stoechas (French lavender): numerous hybrids available of this compact bushy shrub with slender green leaves. Short spikes of purple or pink flowers topped with two colourful bracts looking like rabbit ears.

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How to keep it simple

  • Entrances and walkways: Replace many small stepping stones with large square slabs. Fill the remaining area with either black gravel for a dramatic feel or white pebbles for a clean look. Choose one lavender variety to be repeatedly planted alongside the walkway. Remember to space them evenly and keep plants neatly groomed. 
  • Containers on the patio: Carefully consider your colour scheme and think about how to bring in subtle purple accents through your garden furniture, window frames, and table accessories. Having three colours at most, complimented by other neutral colours, will create a minimalistic look. Container colours and texture are essential, so go for fewer and larger containers rather than multiple coloured ones.
  • Beds: Repetition of the same one or two plants is key when designing a minimalist bed, as well as the bed shape.

Sleek Minimalism Botanical Boss

botanical boss, sleek, minimalist, gardening, indoor gardening, outdoor gardening, plant care, plant maintenance, plant aesthetics, minimalistic design, clean lines, simplicity, greenery, potted plants, container gardening, indoor plants, outdoor plants, urban gardening, modern gardening, sustainable gardening, plant selection, plant arrangement, space optimization, natural materials, organic gardening, small gardens, balcony gardens, terrace gardens, indoor oasis, outdoor retreat, harmonious spaces, contemporary gardening, plant styling, plant decor, minimalist lifestyle, zen gardens, low-maintenance plants, efficient watering, natural light, plant propagation, vertical gardening, indoor planters, outdoor planters, plant accessories. Life is a garden

If you’re looking to change up your current garden style to a sleek and trendy look, minimalism may be a perfect fit for you. The minimalistic garden reduces maintenance time, water usage, and clutter. Moreover, sleek lines and open spaces help bring calm vibes to the busy city mind. Here is all you need to know to get you started. 

Current trends in architecture and interior décor are uncluttered simplicity, with clean lines, open spaces and natural, contrasting and complimenting materials. The minimalist approach to gardening will support and enhance what has been started by the architect and interior decorator.” - Hingham Nursery

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What is minimalism and how can you achieve this look? 

The minimalistic concept is all about simplicity and highlighting strong features with a defined purpose in the space. The goal is to have less, which then creates a feeling of increased spaciousness and order. The minimalistic garden tells the story of a space with a well-thought-out theme that is extended and complemented by colour accents, textures, shapes, and lines throughout the garden. 

 

  1. Less is more: rather go for one big pot than multiple smaller ones. Use understated design elements and a neutral colour pallet. Limit the materials used in the space and keep the area neat, tidy, and almost at the bare minimum. 
  2. Contrast adds interest: look for contrasts in texture and colour, whether it be shades of green or just green with a hint of a second colour here and there. Bold leaves contrasted against finely-textured plants are a perfect combo. In addition, including a body of water or water feature creates movement and brings even more calm to the overall landscape. 
  3. Size matters: instead of many small pavers and stepping stones, go for large elements in strong shapes. Big square pavers will fill up a space nicely while creating bold lines and the feeling of spaciousness. 

Less is more EXPERT Q&A

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July’s Topic: Sleek minimalism  
Theme: Less is more    
Industry Expert: Julie Scragg
Garden Centre: Hingham Nursery based in Durban North www.hinghamnursery.co.za 

Hingham Nursery is stocked with all your minimalistic gardening needs – from stylish plants to sleek décor accessories and planters. If you’re in the Durban North area, be sure to pay them a visit. You can access our nationwide GCA Garden Centre locator here to find your next award-winning shopping experience: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/category/garden-centres/

1. Please tell us how Hingham Nursery came to be and what inspired your personal gardening journey? 

Gardening and creativity is in our blood - from the rose that my great-great-grandmother brought here from England on board a ship in 1863, to my mother who started Higham Nursery from scratch, propagating all her own plants and laying out the nursery with inspiring landscape features.

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2. For our gardeners who are totally new to this style of gardening, please tell us what modern minimalistic landscaping/gardening is AND what makes it different/special to other styles of gardening? 

Here are some key points to consider:

- Simplicity is key

- Less is more

- Small plant palette with a lot of repetition

- Geometric shapes

- Clean lines

- Open spaces and large swathes of planting with dramatic accents.

 

Current trends in architecture and interior décor are uncluttered simplicity, with clean lines, open spaces and natural, contrasting and complimenting materials. The minimalist approach to gardening will support and enhance what has been started by the architect and interior decorator.

In a fast-paced world, minimalism calms the mind and works well for busy people who prefer not to have to make any more decisions than they have to.

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sleek, minimalist, gardening, indoor gardening, outdoor gardening, plant care, plant maintenance, plant aesthetics, minimalistic design, clean lines, simplicity, greenery, potted plants, container gardening, indoor plants, outdoor plants, urban gardening, modern gardening, sustainable gardening, plant selection, plant arrangement, space optimization, natural materials, organic gardening, small gardens, balcony gardens, terrace gardens, indoor oasis, outdoor retreat, harmonious spaces, contemporary gardening, plant styling, plant decor, minimalist lifestyle, zen gardens, low-maintenance plants, efficient watering, natural light, plant propagation, vertical gardening, indoor planters, outdoor planters, plant accessories. Life is a garden

3. Please give us your top minimalistic gardening go-to practices. What’s your secret recipe for easily achieving this look? 

- Less is more so rather one big pot than 3 small ones.

Essential oils for beginners Botanical Boss

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If you’re looking to take your homegrown pharmacy to the next level, essential oil making opens a whole new, exciting gardening doorway. Like all new adventures, trial and error is what learning is all about, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Life is a Garden, with help from industry experts at  Amorentia Estate & Nursery have provided an epic beginners guide to essential oil gardening for the whole family to benefit from. 

 

Get started: Choose a carrier oil

When using essential oils, it is important to dilute them with a carrier oil such as jojoba, rosehip, baobab, marula, almond, or coconut oil before applying to the skin. It is also recommended to do a patch test on a small area of skin before using a new essential oil to check for any allergic reactions. Essential oils are used in low doses because they are extremely potent, and safety should also be researched for medical conditions as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding. There are many other applications for essential oils like candle burners, room sprays, steaming, and bathing.Lauren Strever

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Get growing: Top plant picks

1. Rosemary is one of those mighty medicinal powerhouses! This plant helps to alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, promote hair growth, act as an antifungal, antibacterial, and antispasmodic. When inhaled, rosemary is effective against respiratory infections because of its antiseptic properties.

2. Lavender is well-known for its calming and relaxing properties. These plants have been used for centuries to help to reduce stress and anxiety, promote restful sleep, soothe headaches, and even keep bad vibes away. It is also a great anti-inflammatory, insect-repellent, antifungal, and remedy for a huge variety of skin ailments.

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3. Cape jasmin (Gardenia augusta) is known in perfumery to be one of the most well-balanced oils and can be used as a top, middle, or base note.

Top 3 flu busters from the garden

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Your homegrown pharmacy would not be complete without these must-have mutis. Enjoy an outing to one of Life is a Garden’s award-winning nurseries to garb these seeds and seedlings, as well as all your gardening essentials. 

 

1. Peppermint steam

Harvest a handful of peppermint leaves and then place them in a large pot of boiled water. Cover your face and chest with a towel and then inhale the steam from the pot. You could also add other mint varieties (spearmint, apple mint, pineapple mint) to the steam pot. This home remedy is great for clearing sinuses and phlegm. After steaming, chew nasturtium leaves to soothe a sore throat.

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2. Honey and onion syrup

Finely chop an onion and then place the pieces in a glass saucer. Add plenty of quality honey to the saucer, fully covering the onion. Take 1 tablespoon 3 times a day to treat the common cold. For body pains, add 1 spoon of organic turmeric to the mix to decrease inflammation. 

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3. Tonic tea

Steep some harvested ginger, mint, and lemon with a few bags of rooibos tea leaves in warm (not boiling) water (you want to extract the goodness not burn the plants). Allow the tonic to strengthen for at least an hour then pour half a cup full into a mug. Add some honey and drink for respiratory congestion. Keep refreshing the herbs and strengthening your tonic for as long as needed.

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Did you know?

Many weeds are also medicinal! Try these top picks and remember to do your research on how to best use them and in what quantities. 

  • Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica urens)
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
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  • Wild garlic (Tulbachia violacea)
  • Wild sorrel (Oxalis pescaprae)

 

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Special thanks to our industry experts at Sought After Seedlings for these mighty medicinal plants and recipes. 

Earthy aloe & cinnamon playdough DIY

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With only 3 simple ingredients, you and the kids can make your own aloe-inspired playdough. This easy mix is so fresh-smelling, soothing to the skin, non-toxic, grounding, high in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, AND of course, FUN. When you’re done playing, pop it in the compost for 0 waste. Here is Life is a Garden’s original aloe and cinnamon playdough recipe.

 

You will need

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of harvested aloe sap from the garden. Remember to use a clean, sharp knife when working with leaves and look out for aloe teeth! 
  • Half a teaspoon (or more if you like) of organic, finely ground cinnamon. 
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  • Corn starch. 
  • Mixing bowl and spoon.
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How to 

  • Add your 2 tablespoons of aloe sap into the mixing bowl. Having some pieces of the flesh is no problem either as this will add another interesting and fun textile experience during play. 
  • Add the cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of corn starch to the bowl and mix together with the sap until just combined. You’ll need to use your estimation skills to determine whether to add more sap or more starch. This process is part of the thrill – a little more, a little less – ah, perfect! 
  • Now for the super fun part. Get the kids the kneed and work the dough until you reach the desired stretchiness. Your dough should be soft and squishy, and a beautiful earthy colour that awakens all the senses. Can you smell it?
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Try this: Once the playdough is ready, parents can hide other fun toys inside the dough to extend playtime and stimulate both right and left brains. For older kids, try blindfold moulding and see what curious things they create. If the dough gets a bit hard, simply splash some water on.

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Top tip: Garden Centres are blooming with a variety of indigenous and hybrid aloes right now.

Top 5 aloes for a living firebreak

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Did you know? Owing to their moisture-retaining leaves that contain no flammable resins or oils, aloes can be utilised as gorgeous living firebreaks around property perimeter, along berms, and in island beds for added fire resistance. Create more habitat for our wildlife, add to your property security, AND increase the structural intrigue of your garden. 

Jargon check: A berm is a mound, path, or ledge typically found at the top or bottom of a slope or hill and can be naturally occurring or man-made. Berms are used to blend into landscape designs, slow down run-off, and create a focal point in the garden.

Life is a Garden’s top 5 firebreak aloes 

Aloe ‘Arborescens’

Fast-growing and will tolerate drought and neglect once established. It is grown mainly as an ornamental or as an accent plant but is also an excellent and impenetrable hedge plant. Known also as the Krantz Aloe, it develops into a multiheaded shrub 2 – 3 metres high.

Aloe ‘Commixta’

Has slender intertwined stems that sprawl beautifully over a stonewall or large boulder. Endemic to the Cape Peninsula, it grows well in winter rainfall areas. Flower colours vary from reddish at the top to yellow-orange at the base of the flower cluster.

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Aloe ‘Brevifoli’

This little aloe is efficient at propagating itself. It frequently sends out offsets, also called suckers. This propagation is what makes it a great groundcover. The leaves form tight rosettes that like to spread horizontally if given space. Use this smaller, dense aloe along berms or in island beds. 

Aloe 'Ciliaris'

Is ideal for planting around the gate or arches. This aloe is a charming climber, reaching 10 meters and higher! It is one of the easiest to cultivate and will adorn spaces with its leafy, fleshy foliage and bright orange flowers. 

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Aloe ‘Tenuior’

Also known as ‘the fence aloe’, its rambling growth habit is ideal for covering large areas. 

Sunset-scaping with aloes Botanical Boss

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It’s chilly! Let’s crank up the heat with aloes and landscape an eternal sunset to enjoy this winter. Our experts from Ndundulu Aloes in KwaZulu-Natal gave Life is a Garden some sizzling seasonal plant picks to help cultivate warmth in the garden as well as which aloes to plant as living firebreaks! Come check out our aloe pest list and learn how to identify possible infestations.

 

On the aloe hot list this May

Indigenous gems

  • Suprafoliata 
  • Ferox 
  • Marlothi 
  • Aculeata 
  • Microstigma
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Sunbird hybrid aloes

  • Aloe ‘Candy floss’ 
  • Aloe ‘Baby blush’ 
  • Aloe ‘African sunset’ 
  • Aloe ‘Frosty days’ 
  • Aloe ‘Abundance’
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Living firebreaks

Extend your sunset-scaping passion to all around your property. Plating aloes as living firebreaks host a variety of benefits including:

  • Reducing water usage 
  • Assisting in soil erosion 
  • Increased food and habitat for our wildlife 
  • Preventing fires from spreading to your lawn
  • Adding to the beauty, colour, textural and structural elements of your garden
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Top 5 fire-resistant aloes (although all of them will do the job wonderfully) 

  • Aloe ‘Neon orange’ is a popular, small, tough plant for pots, the rockery, or a retaining wall.  During August and September, conspicuous glowing orange flowers will dazzle the landscape. If allowed to cluster and given enough space, plants will quickly grow a secondary rosette, creating a better and longer flower display. 
  • Aloe ‘Octopus’ is the first large winter flowering aloe hybrid with deep yellow flowers. The tentacle-like leaves of this plant have a funky spreading growth style. Its other outstanding feature is the length of the individual flower – it is the hybrid with the longest recorded individual flower of all the cultivars in the collection.
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  • Aloe ‘Saturn’ stands out as another amazing hybrid. Its flower buds are initially brick red but change to yellow as the flowers open, displaying a showy bi-colour combination in late winter and spring.

Rooftop gardens and living firebreaks Sunset-scaping with aloes

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May’s Topic: Sunset-scaping with aloes
Theme: Rooftop gardens and living firebreaks. 
Industry Expert: Ruthe Gray
Garden Centre: Ndundulu Aloes based in KwaZulu-Natal.

Have you tried growing aloes on your roof? What about around your property as a living firebreak? Ndundulu Aloes has shared some fantastic advice on this exciting topic that’s sure to inspire you and leave you well-informed. Take your aloe passion to new heights and learn about some gorgeous new varieties the Sunbird Aloe range has to offer.

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1. We loved browsing your website and looking at the lovely selection of Sunbird Aloes you have. What inspired you to begin growing aloes? Why this species specifically?

I started to grow indigenous aloes out of necessity after moving to an old farm where the garden was neglected, old and overgrown.  After clearing out a lot of dead trees and trees planted in the wrong places, I looked at the framework of the garden. 

In summer, the temperatures can get up to 56°C.  There was no irrigation in the garden and plants were scorched by the heat and the blazing sun. 

After 3 years and the farm taking priority, I started to plant Indigenous aloes.  They could cope with the climate here in Northern KZN.  I started with 20 hybrids from the Sunbird Aloes range in 2015.

With their four different flowering seasons, this meant that I could naturally provide food for the wildlife in the garden.  From there, the garden was redefined, with new Sunbird Aloes beds, berms and barriers. We only had 2 sunbird species in the garden before planting the aloes: olive and the scarlet chested.  Within 4 years, we had 11 different sunbirds, which were recorded on the same day by a visiting bird group.

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2. We all know aloes offer the benefit of being waterwise, a wildlife favourite, and popping with colour.

Designer fynbos beds for summer rain regions Industry Expert Q&A

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Topic: Fynbos and friends
Theme: Biodiversity and fynbos beds for summer rainfall regions
Industry Expert: Nico Thuynsma
Garden Centre: Madibri Nurseries - https://madibri.co.za/  

 

Come check out the fynbos vibe with Nico from Madibri Nurseries. He’s got some great tips and plant selections for growing the most stunning indigenous beds in regions that receive summer rain. Find out what his fab five protea picks are and get excited about garden visitors!  

 

1. Out of all our stunning South African plants, what makes fynbos stand out for you?  

The variety of colours, textures, and species is heaven on earth for plant lovers! There are 650+ Erica species, 330 protea species, 320 restio species, and 137 phylica species – pure paradise for gardeners.  

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august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

2. A little birdie told us that Madibri uses eco-friendly farming methods. Would your average gardener be able to make a difference to the environment from their backyard?  

Yes, everyone can make a difference and we need all the green fingers we can get! Use your organic waste to create valuable compost to use in your garden. Fynbos loves organic, rich soils. 

 

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august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

3. Would you please share some of the ways that you have implemented environmentally friendly and sustainable growing practices at your nursery?  

We have used drip irrigation as a very effective and precise way to use water. We also reuse organic waste as mulch or compost in the fields to further increase water efficiency, as well as reusing greywater. In addition, we have increased our use of biological friends to protect plants from insects and fungi, like Trichoderma and Bacillus. 

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august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

4. After having been in the fynbos industry for so many years, what are the most frequent flying and crawling visitors to your farm and are there any visitors that gardeners can particularly get excited about seeing?  

Gardeners can definitely look forward to sunbirds galore!

Fynbos on the patio for winter rain regions Industry Expert Q&A

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august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

Topic: Fynbos and friends
Theme: Biodiversity and fynbos beds/containers for winter rainfall regions
Industry Expert Garden Centre: Arnelia Nurseries - https://arnelia.co.za/  

 

If you are a gardener living in a winter rainfall region – this Q and A with Arnelia Nurseries is your next must-read. Learn how to perfect your fynbos beds, utilise natural predators for pest control,  successfully grow in containers, and find out which top plants are suited for your area.

1.Out of all our stunning South African plants, what makes fynbos stand out for you?  

 Fynbos generally is adaptable and with an understanding and appreciation of the basic growing requirements, one is assured of success and a great deal of pleasure.  The variation in colours, foliage, heights, and the potential use of so many different varieties make fynbos in the garden a must-have.   

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august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

2. We love the fact that your nursery specialises in Proteaceae varieties. Could you please tell us about the biodiversity benefits of growing these indigenous plants? What kind of wildlife visitors do you get the most of on your farm?  

The Cape Floristic region is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and Proteaceae are the flagship of the Cape Flora. I think getting people to grow these indigenous plants in their gardens allows them to bring a piece of the famous Cape Flora home and hopefully create more awareness of the wonderful biodiversity that exists on our doorstep. Beyond creating awareness, planting fynbos has the benefit of attracting indigenous wildlife. On our farm, we have a lot of sunbirds as there is always something in flower to keep them interested. It is really special to see. Growing these plants in the city creates a space for all the animals, birds and insects to flourish where they would usually have no habitat and stay hidden.

Celebrating Citrus Landscaping and decorating with citrus

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Topic: Celebrating Citrus
Theme:
Landscaping and decorating with citrus
Industry Expert:
Dane Montana
Garden Centre:
Montana Nurseries - https://www.montananurseries.co.za/

 

If you are looking to begin a citrus growing journey, come and learn some trade secrets, exclusively shared by our industry expert, Dane from Montana Nurseries. Incorporating these vibrant and versatile fruit trees as part of your landscaping design is easier than you may think. Check out Dane’s recommendations for which trees to grow in your province and get the best head start on your juicy journey.

1. What made you first fall in love with citrus growing? Why are citrus trees so special?

My dad, Alan Ross, started Montana Nurseries and began growing and farming citrus trees in our nursery. I have grown up with citrus and have always loved the variety of lemons, oranges, naartjies, and limes. Citrus trees are very rewarding and there’s always something happening, whether it be a new flush of sweet flowers or delicious fruit.

 

2. What are some of the reasons why gardeners should be growing citrus at home? Are there any benefits/advantages?

The main benefit is their juicy produce that’s loaded with vitamins. Citrus can be eaten as is or used in cooking or oils. The leaves of some varieties, such as the Thai lime, are used to create many fragrant and zesty dishes. The flowers are wonderfully scented too.

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3. Besides utilising citrus trees for their produce, how could gardeners incorporate trees as part of their backyard landscaping design?

Citrus trees make great feature plants, either in the ground or in containers. There is a wide variety of cultivars with different coloured leaves, flowers and fruit. The ornamental types such as calamondins and chinotto are more of a shrub, whereas the commercial types such as lemon eureka and navels grow more like trees.

Lemonade super-boost juice July DIY

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With so much citrus in season now, you may be looking for some inspiration on what to do with your harvest. Life is a Garden invites you to get seriously super with your lemons this July and juice up a nutritious storm in your kitchen. Re-invent the lemonade with this zesty booster juice DIY. 

Lemonade super-boost juice recipe

Aren’t we lucky to have Mother Nature on our side as we enter the last stretch of winter! Your lemon harvest, herbs, and spices are talking – do you know what they say?

Ingredients

- 2x peeled lemons for a flush of Vitamin C and multiple essential minerals and plant proteins

- Half a finger of fresh, peeled ginger for respiratory system clearing and protection

- 1x celery stalk for detoxification and opening of the toxin release pathways of the body

- Half a teaspoon of raw, organic turmeric to reduce inflammation 

- A quarter cucumber for rehydration and cholesterol-lowering properties

- A handful of parsley as a systemic anti-fungal and gland health ally

- 2x tablespoons of raw honey for holistic antibacterial support (place your honey in lukewarm water before juicing to ensure it will dissolve well inside your juice)

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Method

There is a difference between a smoothie and a juice: a smoothie contains all the pulp and fibres of the chosen ingredients whereas a juice contains only the liquid gold. You can use the recipe above as a smoothie if you’re looking for something more meal-like, or you can extract the liquid from the ingredients as a potent super shot or juice for the family. Juices are generally gentler on the digestive system as the absence of plant fibres allows for easier absorption of all the goodness. 

Option 1: Nut milk bag

A bit of effort will go a long way when using a hand-operated nut milk bag, which you can purchase at almost any health store. 

The Secret To Citrus Success Botanical Boss

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If you are reading this, somewhere inside you there is a special place that longs to uncover the secrets of the mighty citrus. Life is a Garden invites you on a juicy journey to the epicentre of this stunning fruit. Learn about ornamental varieties, decorating, utilising leftovers, citrus for your province, and gossip-worthy growing hacks. Let’s go! 

 

What’s so great about growing your own? 

  • Health wealth: The high quantity of Vitamin C boosts the immune system and keeps skin smooth and elastic. Citrus are also loaded with B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and copper. Tending to your trees is a super stress reliver and a chance to get active in the sunshine. 
  • Year-round food: Growing a variety of cultivars that fruit at different times of the year allow you to spread out and extend your harvest window. With the right cultivars and planning, you can grow citrus almost all year round! 
  • Organic & eco-friendly: Growing your own has the added benefit of product control. If organic produce and eco-friendly growing is top on your list, a citrus plantation is definitely for you. 
  • More money, more C power: Most citrus trees begin producing fruit even as adolescent plants. Once established, their large yields will save your family and the community a significant amount of money, while also providing possible forms of income, depending on what you choose to do with your harvest (resell or jam making, for example).  

 

Garden jargon check: The word ‘cultivar’ refers to a plant within that specie that has been specifically developed through controlled plant breeding. A citrus cultivar is therefor a specifically bred variation of this plant ‘created’ to deliver a special purpose, such as to produce more fruit or grow smaller. 

 

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Ornamentals on the patio

These sweet trees are the ideal patio décor asset!