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.

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.

March in the garden

Early autumn is like an alternative spring and March is actually the best month to plant new trees and shrubs. It’s logical – whatever you plant in this temperate month, will have the whole autumn and winter to establish before bursting into new growth in spring, which removes the possibility of the plants having to deal with replanting shock. So, get to it – get in the garden!

Trendy planting… 
Be part of changing the face of gardening by planting trialed and tested, hardy plants which need less water. These are in stock at your local GCA Garden Centre.

  • Social garlic – The hardy and easy-to-grow social or wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) has always been a popular indigenous perennial. Grown for its bountiful mauve flower clusters on tall stems, its greyish-green strap-like leaves emit a garlicky odor. Flowers, leaves and stems are edible and can be used for their flavour, as well as garnish. Wild garlic has traditionally been used as a medicinal plant, and is also planted to deter snakes and aphids. It is a water wise plant to include in the herb garden, or to be used in mass as border plants.

New exciting varieties include:

‘Himba’ – purple-violet flowers with a prominent yellow-orange crown, medium green foliage and vigorous, upright-mounding growth habit.

‘Ashanti’ – tight, full flower clusters of bright lavender-pink flowers that have a slightly darker crown and tube in the centre of each flower. 

  • Crape myrtle ‘Black Diamond’  – ‘Black Diamond’ is a new variety of the old favourite Pride of India (Lagerstroemia indica) which has survived many dry summers all over the world! This revolutionary new series, which has stunning near-black foliage, crowned with masses of vibrant blooms, is no exception. It is low-maintenance and drought tolerant, and simply beautiful! Available in a wide range of colours, including Black Diamond ‘Purely Purple’, ‘Mystic Magenta’, ‘Lavender Lace’, ‘Best Red’ and ‘Pure White’.

February in the Garden

Time to play around with heat-hardy plants and containers. Make your way to a GCA nursery today and stock up on commercial soil mixes, drainage chips, decorative pebbles, pots and start playing with lots of funky plants!

Trending: Bro’s in the air
Air plants have fascinating forms and they grow without soil, attached to virtually anything from pieces of wood to fishing line to suspend them from the air – you can even glue them onto different objects. Air plants are members of the genus Tillandsia which descends from the pineapple family. Many of them grow naturally on trees where they attach themselves on branches and can often be seen hanging from trees, like the mystical old man’s beard (Tillandsia usneoides). Contrary to popular belief, air plants actually do need moisture and nutrients to grow properly, and do not live on air alone. Buy some of these beautiful and collectable plants and care for them by using a mist sprayer. You can even soak the whole plant for a few minutes, but allow it to dry off well before displaying it again. Do this regularly in very hot weather as air plants like humidity in the atmosphere. Place them in a sheltered spot away from direct sunlight and ensure that there is good air circulation around them.    

Get ready to plant the toughest!
One of the questions most often asked in a nursery is, “what can I plant in my pot?”. Well, GCA nurseries all over have all the answers (and the plants!) to back this up. If you want something really pretty, dramatic, long-lasting and hassle-free, go for the following suggestions:

‘Lipstick’ is a succulent hybrid Euphorbia with large, bright pink flowers, distinctive lime green foliage and soft thorns. It can be used as a pot plant or in the garden in warmer areas.

December in the Garden

Have a green Festive Season this year by substituting the boring old gifts like soaps and socks, with plants and gardening products that will add lasting value to the lives of loved ones.

What mom needs…

Mandevilla ‘Cosmos White’ is a lovely climber which has super big white flowers with a yellow throat. It blooms non-stop and is perfect for mom’s garden, growing over a trellis or an arch, but also stunning on patios and balconies in a pot. This mandevilla requires little water and prefers a location with full sun or partial shade.

What dad needs…

To turn the garden’s organic waste like leaves, grass clippings, and prunings into compost, dad needs a smart compost bin and handy compost activator to speed up things. To recycle all food waste safely and to improve the quality of the garden soil even more, he will also need a bokashi composter and a packet of bokashi bran or liquid bokashi.

What grandma needs…

Gran will love some colourful Coleus hybrids to turn her shady garden’s floor into a tapestry of leaf colour. Coleus plants are regarded as summer annuals since they do not take kindly to cold and frost. They are available in the flashiest leaf colours and are super simple to grow. Plant them in compost enriched soil in light shade, and do not overwater.

What brother needs…

Boys love the macabre, like plants which are carnivorous, so beaker plants (Sarracenia), which attract and “catch” insects will be a super choice. They must be kept in a sunny and warm spot in pots containing real peat. The pots must always stand in at least 2cm deep water as the plants like to be wet all the time. Repot them every year into fresh peat and never ever fertilise them as it can kill them.

November in the Garden

Summer is about colour – everywhere! Old favourites are in full bloom so you need more of them. The best news is the availability of modern dwarf hybrids of many perennials and edibles, which can be planted and enjoyed in the smallest of spaces!

On trend – containering

Container gardening is gaining popularity by the day and what’s not to love about it?

  • you can garden in small spaces – even indoors;
  • you can take your garden with you if you move home;
  • you can change your garden according to the seasons or if you get bored with it;
  • you have perfect control over the soil
  • from the traditional and pretty decorative pots, to gumboots and repurposed wooden pallets, the variety of different containers you can use is endless.

GCA garden centres are stocked to the rafters with everything you need to really get stuck into containering – you will find top quality soil mediums, a wide range of pots, drainage chips, suitable plants in variety, (very few plants are not conducive to growing in pots in any case!), water soluble fertilisers, water retention products and very decorative mulches. (Pssst… Coming into the festive season, look out for red and green-coloured mulches!)

You can feed yourself royally from pots

Plant blueberries, strawberries and Cape gooseberries in large pots. Look out at garden centres for ‘The Patio’ range of veggies like ‘Roma’ (a container tomato), a mini-butternut called ‘Honeynut’, and the golden zucchini ‘Easy Pick’.

To health with blueberries!

They say that the blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is one of the world’s super foods due to a high concentration of antioxidants, and luckily for us, good blueberry varieties are now readily available – just in time for those scrumptious summer smoothies. Plant them in full sun in a space which will allow for a mature height of 1,5m and a spread of up to 2m wide.

October in the Garden

We pack a colourful punch this month with bright, flowering suggestions for you to plant and sow right now. Enjoy the beautiful face of October!

Smart planting

Enhance your gardening pleasure and manage your budget and water bill with these hardy beauties:

  • Pelargonium pizazz!

Fill up pots, window boxes, your rock garden, and the openings in cement retaining walls with pelargoniums (more commonly known as Geraniums) in different colours. These plants are ideal to add colour to hot and sunny places.


Although they are easy to grow and quite tough, they can sometimes be shy to flower profusely. Here are some good tips:

– The right soil: Geraniums hate wet feet and heavy, slow draining soil. Use a good quality commercial potting mix for pots, and condition garden soil with lots of compost.

– The right food: Keeping these plants hungry for food will cause them to sulk and stop flowering. They are gross feeders and need feeding in the garden every six weeks with a slow release general fertiliser. Plants in pots should be fed fortnightly throughout the year with a water soluble fertiliser.

– The right cut: Remove spent flowers regularly and prune the plants back in spring or autumn to keep them bushy. Tattered old plants can be given a new lease on life by cutting up to two thirds of the plant away, ensuring you leave some leaves on the plant.

– The right way with water: Geraniums are water wise. Only water them when the surface of the soil is dry.

  • Jasmine time – the October stalwart must be star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). This versatile creeper with its glossy, dark green foliage and aromatic, pure white flowers, can be used to trail over pergolas and fences and if planted in mass, as groundcovers under trees.

September in the Garden

September in your garden

As Margaret Atwood so finely put, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”, we couldn’t agree more! The birds are chirping, the days are getting longer (and warmer!) and it’s the perfect time to do a happy dance and get into the garden. Get up and garden!

Trending – Gym in nature!

Giving yourself a good workout in the privacy of your own backyard is much nicer and cheaper than taking out a gym contract, and you don’t have to force your ‘love handles’ into unbecoming lycra!

While you are getting fitter and trimmer with pruning, weeding, composting, raking, digging, planting and mowing, your garden will reward your spent time and perspiration with lush growth and great harvests of flowers and edibles. Another advantage is that spending time outside in the sunshine and fresh air, has a positive influence on your psychological health as well – it relieves stress and depression too.

Smart planting in September

Cape thatching reed (Elegia tectorum): This graceful restio specie is found from Clanwilliam in the Western Cape to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and naturally grows in moist, sandy dongas. The plant is, however, quite hardy against frost and dry conditions and will grow virtually anywhere. It is a fast grower with a rounded, tufted growth habit and can reach a mature size of about 1,5 m high, with a spread of 1,5m – 3m. The reed-like stems are dark green and smooth with dark brown bracts. Slender, compact flower spikes with brown bracts appear in autumn.   

Hebe ‘Sunset Boulevard’ flowers heavily with bright purple and pink, from spring far into the summer. This plant and all the many other veronica (Hebe) varieties, are irresistible to butterflies. It grows into a beautiful bright green sphere of about 80cm high and wide.

July in the Garden

July in the garden will be cold and dry in some regions and cold and (hopefully) wet in others, but winter can never be boring if we dip into our treasure chest of saucy succulents and splendid shrubs which are dressed in their best right now. So, let’s plant lots more!

Melt the ice with these hot sellers   
Winter-flowering aloes like the trusty Krantz aloe (Aloe arborescens) grows from sea level to the highest mountain tops and sets winter gardens alight with its bright orange-red flowers. Birds and bees adore the nectar-rich blooms too.

If you want to choose a very dramatic plant for a large container, choose the sculptural and very striking Tree aloe (Aloidendron barbarae). This aloe is a perfect focal plant for the garden as well but, needs space to grow in as it can reach a height of 15m. Expect pink flowers in winter. There are plentiful and pretty new aloe hybrids of all sizes to choose from as well. Enhance your aloe collection with other types of succulents like crassulas, kalanchoes and sedums, which are equally pretty now, even if not in flower. Their foliage colours intensify and with their strong structural forms, it is hard to ignore them in a winter garden.

Fine planting is fynbos!
Heritage plants like proteas, pincushions, blushing brides, and cone bushes are common stock in garden centers nowadays, so do plant some of your own. In a natural habitat the members of the Proteaceae family grow in poor, well-draining soil with a low pH (slightly acidic – between 5 and 6). The plants prefer hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters, but many will grow well in summer rainfall areas too.

Bad drainage is a recipe for disaster, although some species and cultivars are more tolerant of heavy soil than others.

June in the Garden

The so-called ‘bleakness of a midwinter garden’ is a total myth, as many plants (whether indigenous like aloes, or exotic like camellias), flower with abundance in winter. Pretty foliage reigns supreme too, as the colour spectrum of plants like conifers, coprosmas, nandinas and leucadendrons intensify spectacularly in cool temperatures.

Shades of green
Colour makes the world go around but green (a colour too!) grounds us to the goodness of Mother Earth giving us a sense of wellness and peace. Create a little “pause architecture” this month on your patio and indoors with soft décor items that have bold botanical prints, and lots of indoor trees such the narrow leaf fig (Ficus binnendijkii), fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) and the cute pseudo bonsai called Ginseng Ficus (Ficus retusa) – all of these are high fashion and very tough indoor plants, which anyone can keep alive, and which are the perfect gift for Father’s Day. All you have to do is to supply good light, a dust-free atmosphere and watering only when the soil has dried out completely, and they’ll do just fine.

Smart greens for mass planting  
Add a permanent ‘wow’ factor to your garden with the following top sellers as recommended by GCA garden centres across the country:

Scotch moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’) – a very popular grass alternative which forms a moss-like carpet with bright, neon yellow foliage. Very dainty white flowers appear in spring. Perfect for full sun and remember, it does not like to be too dry or too wet.

Braai rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Barbecue’) – Evergreen and with and upright growing habit and strong, straight stems which are perfect to use as skewers for the braai. The leaves have a remarkable flavour and aroma and the blue flowers appear in mass.

May in the Garden

The mild month of May is a perfect time to add new plants to your autumn garden. Plant some winter and spring beauties on ‘Workers’ Day (you will be at home on the public holiday on 1 May!) and see how smart plants can ‘work’ for you in the seasons to come…

Trending – ‘Colour blocking’

Colour blocking is a fashion trend which originated from the artwork of Dutch painter, Piet Mondriaan. He used clean, and simple lines, and solid colours opposing each other on the colour wheel. This trend works very well in the garden too, if you plant bold patches of opposing, but complementary colour combinations. An example: blue delphiniums paired with bright orange calendulas. You can even add a little grey in there by using bold swathes of silvery grey sedge grass (Festuca). Midnight blue and bright yellow is another good combination and you can do this by planting a mass of dark blue pansies set off by bright yellow violas. If you’re not sure about this concept, visit a top GCA garden centre’s seedling tables and flowering perennial displays (many indigenous daisies, diascias and nemesias are flowering now), where you will clearly see which colours go together well. Colour blocking doesn’t stop with plants – you can paint a background wall in a contrasting, but complementing colour, to the plants near it.

Spoil mom!

Mother’s Day is on Sunday 13th May. As moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) are always available in bloom and stay that way for months on end, why not spoil your mom or grandma with a beautiful specimen to keep her company with its floral elegance throughout winter? You will find the widest variety and healthiest specimens at your nearest GCA garden centre. They will also have smart cover pots in stock to display it in.  

April in the Garden

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

Smart planting!

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

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

A digging patch

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

March in the Garden

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

May the forest be with you!

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

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

Smart planting – “The golden age”

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

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

February in the Garden

It’s the month of love! Valentine’s day falls in February and while lovers across the land will spend just one day to romance each other, gardeners will take full advantage of summer’s flowering favourites that GCA nurseries will have on offer, to romance their gardens – not only for a day or a month, but well beyond!

Romancing the patio and balcony

Why settle for one short-lived, long-stemmed red rose when you can rather go for intense gardening pleasure in a small space filled with ravishing potted roses? Miniature rose varieties collectively known as ‘patio roses’ are freely available in warm seasons. They flower profusely if kept in a sunny spot for a few hours and are protected at root level with a layer of organic mulch to keep their roots cool and moist. There are also top selling garden roses like ‘Little Red Hedge’ which one can plant in large containers to add a splash of bright colour on a patio. Rose grower Ludwig Taschner describes ‘Little Red Hedge’ as follows: “Imagine a deep red delphinium spike and you have the best description of this rose. The small, pointed buds of clear carmine-red are produced on rigid little side-stems and open into firm, double blooms which seem to last forever. The bush continues to produce basal flower spikes in the shortest time and will form a dense ‘little red hedge’.”

Double up on patio or balcony romance by adding pots and tubs filled with dreamy hibiscus with flower colours so bright, it will feel like you have been carried off to a far-away tropical island paradise! The latest ranges of hibiscus sold includes compact and very floriferous plants especially bred for container growing (although they will do well in the garden too!) They like full sun, do well in semi-shade too and can even be kept indoors as flowering house plants for short periods.

January in the Garden

The new year has arrived with a bang! There are 365 days ahead to grow something, which makes every day a gardening day!

Flex your gardening muscles

Giving yourself a good workout in the privacy of your own backyard is much nicer than going to a gym and you don’t have to force your ‘love handles’ into unbecoming lycra!

While you are getting fitter and trimmer with pruning, weeding, composting, raking, digging, planting and mowing, your garden will reward your time and spent perspiration with lush growth and great harvests of flowers and edibles. Another advantage is that garden gym, which means spending time outside in the sunshine and fresh air, has a positive influence on your psychological health as well – it relieves stress and helps with depression. Regular hours spent in the garden will work out the muscles in your legs, back, stomach and will also give you a healthy cardiovascular buzz while the calories slowly melt away.       

Before starting your garden gym session, warm up those cold muscles by stretching a bit – it gives you time to decide what you are going to tackle first. Vary your garden workout with different actions like pruning, raking, mowing, digging and weeding, and spend about 15 minutes on each activity to work out different muscles. Do some stretching and releasing exercises before moving on to the next action. If you stick to this regime regularly, everything which needs to be done in the garden will be done, and you will become trim and fit!

Plant smart… “Verdure” smart!

Be on trend with one of the Pantone colour group for 2018 called “verdure”. Complementing shades in this group include “celery green”, “berry-infused purple” and “egg shell blue”. It is said that these colours are “symbolic of health”.

Another gardening trend is to plant veggies in between flowers in garden beds and containers, flying the old fashioned idea of traditional vegetable gardens hidden away in an unseen corner of the garden.

December in the Garden

Do dream of a ‘green’ festive season, as your nearest GCA garden centre will have everything in stock to make your dreams a reality, with festive gifting ideas and foolproof plants to smarten up your yard.

Smart planting – Foolproof greenery

If the idea of planting lovely texture in all the shades of green like lime green, spring green, apple green, bright green, dark and olive green appeals to you, then pick from this list of delightful plants which are also top sellers:

Japanese sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is a very sculptural palm-like plant growing up to about 1,5m in height. It has dark green feathery leaves shaped in a wide rosette. Evergreen and suitable to full sun or shade, semi-hardy and requires medium to low water usage.

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a dense, clump-forming indigenous species with dark green, spear-shaped leaves on sturdy stems. Both the flowers (which appear from autumn and stay throughout the winter months) as well as the leaves are very popular with floral artists. Strelitzias prefer temperate to subtropical climates and have a very low water usage when properly established.

Cape box (Buxus microphylla ‘Faulkner’) is a tough, evergreen shrub. It is compact and upright growing, with a dense coat of oval-shaped, bright green leaves. It can be pruned into any topiary shape and is suitable as a hedging plant (and also as a small festive tree!). Cold hardy and frost resistant, requiring medium water use.

Lilyturf (Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’) has dark green leaves reaching nearly 1m long. This is a lovely accent plant for sun or deep shade, in pots and near the swimming pool. It is semi-hardy and has medium water usage requirements.

Dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Kyoto’) has dark green leaves and is a very compact size (10 x 30cm).

November in the Garden

Summer’s all about colour… Everywhere! The all-time favourites are in full bloom and you need more of them. The best news is the availability of modern varieties of many perennials and edibles which can be planted and enjoyed in the smallest of spaces. You can also plant future health today!

Petite, but powerful

The new-age dwarf Inca lilies are magnificent for the garden and suitable to grow in containers too, as they reach a height of only 30-35cm. They flower profusely from spring to autumn and can be found in a wide range of bright colours. These shorty’s can, just like their taller family members, be picked as long-lasting cut flowers.    

Growth in a nutshell

  • Good for sun or light shade.
  • Plant in well-aerated soil, enriched with compost.
  • Water and feed regularly in the summer months with fertiliser for flower production

Queen Hydrangea

Brighten up shady areas with glorious hydrangeas, which will now be available in flower. Colour in between them with impatiens, begonias and browallia.

Remember that: Hydrangeas love dappled shade, well-aerated soil and lots of water. If you want to grow them in pots, place them on the Southern side of the house for early morning sun and afternoon shade. They need to be fed monthly from August to March with a balanced combination fertiliser.

More smart planting…  

The Pondo Waterwood (Syzygium pondoense) is a perfectly sphere-shaped shrub to add structure or formality to any garden setting, and is known as an absolute bird magnet. It is indigenous and endemic to the Northern Eastern Cape and the Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal area, where it grows along the rocky beds of streams. It is evergreen and can reach a height and diameter of 3m. The new shoots and leaves are reddish in colour but as they mature, become shiny and dark green with a leathery feel.

October in the Garden

We are excitedly marching off to our nearest GCA garden centre to buy flower and vegetable seedlings, seasonal perennials, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, flowering shrubs, fruit trees, and all the other stalwarts of mid-spring to plant now. AND, it’s “rose month”! We also know that October is a fine time to feed all plants and to protect mid-spring treasures against pests and weeds. But most of all, enjoy your spring garden!

Seedling newsflash!

Ready-to-plant annuals in seedling trays are the fastest and cheapest way to turn any garden into a garden of Eden and at this time of year, and you are spoiled for choice. Flower seedlings to plant include: petunias, lobularias (alyssum), gazanias, dianthus, penstemons, summer chrysanthemums, Sunpatiens, salvias and celosias – all perfect for sunny spots.

Remember that seedling success relies on: Compost enriched soil and regular feeding with a water soluble fertiliser. So, make sure that you stock up on these products as well.

Bountiful flowers and food

Summer-flowering annuals like cosmos, marigolds, lobelias, Portulacea, zinnias and sunflowers, and most summer vegetables and herbs can be sown, now that night temperatures are higher. Here are some handy tips when sowing:

  • Large seeds – place a piece of chicken wire over the seed tray to make a template for sowing evenly. Use one seed per hole.
  • Small seeds – fine seeds such as lobelia can stick to your fingers and are difficult to spread out. Mix them with dry sand or bread flour in an old flour shaker and shake the mix lightly over the moistened soil.

Some easy-to-grow veggies to sow now:

Cucumbers – sow seeds directly. The plants will need sturdy stakes to keep the fruit off the ground.

Green beans – plant seeds of bush types which are easier to manage.

Squashes and baby marrows – sow seeds directly.

September in the Garden

Spring is here! The quote “We’re so excited, we wet our plants!” is really appropriate to how we feel right now! 🙂 Time to create a rainbow of early spring colour with lots of exciting plants which are in flower now, and to start working on your summer veggie harvest.  

Trees for Africa!

National Arbor Week is from 1 – 7 September which gives you seven official days to plant trees. The following are recommended by GCA nurseries:      

Buffalo Thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) – this is an attractive, small to medium size deciduous tree, reaching up to 9m in height and is the official tree of the year for 2017. It produces a fairly dense spreading canopy. The young trees have sharp, paired and dissimilar thorns, one being straight and the other hooked. The flowers and fruit of these trees are sought out by birds and bees. This pleasing little shade tree withstands drought, is moderately frost resistant, and succeeds in most soils and conditions.

Pomegranate ‘Wonderful’ (Punica granatum) is a leading cultivar with a resistance to adverse conditions and a high yield potential of huge blush red fruits. It is a small deciduous tree (2,5 m high), for climates with cool winters and hot summers.

Olive varieties – these hardy, but beautiful trees with their dull green leaves with the silver reverse, can tolerate very cold (and hot) temperatures and wind. Good varieties are ‘Manzanilla’ and ‘Mission’. Olive trees are not only functional, but become really pretty shade trees that blend well within any planting scheme or garden design.

Lilies to please!

As 6 September 2017 is officially ‘Secretary’s Day’ visit your local GCA nursery for potted calla lilies (Zantedeschia) which will be in magnificent flower, to present with love to your faithful ‘slave’ in the office.