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

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.  

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

 

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

august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity
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! We also have a few beehives on the farm to collect some of that fynbos sweetness. Rhino beetles are also frequent visitors, they love the compost for breeding.  

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

5. As your nursery is based in Gauteng, which receives summer rain, could you please recommend your top five fynbos varieties to grow and what makes them stand out plants for you?  

  1. King protea – is our national flower and available in pink, red, and white.  
  2. Protea ‘Sylvia’ – cold hardy up to -7°C, could flower any time of the year when mature.
  3. Phylica pubecens ‘Veerkoppie’ – is a texture delight and something different.
  4. Erica versicolor ‘Sunbird red, pink and white’ – is a sunbird favourite and flowers almost the whole year-round. 
  5. Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ – is an easy growing conebush with beautiful red foliage. 
august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity
august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

6. If you had to design a showy fynbos bed for beginner gardeners (in Gauteng), which plants would you suggest and how would you arrange them? Are there any specific growing hacks to support the success of such a bed? 

I would recommend planting Safari Sunset, protea ‘Sylvia’, sugardaddy, and brunia for your high points (2-3m) at the back of beds. King protea, phylica, Erica, pincussion, and mimetes work well as medium to short plants (1-1.5m) for the front of beds. Remember that fynbos is a group of plants (a unique type of vegetation) that is known as proteaceae, but also includes restio, pelargoniums, vygies, bulbs and annuals. They thrive in sandstone derived, acidic soil with good drainage, consitant watering, and no manure.    

 

Be sure to fill the spaces in your bed with some of these beauties for a colour show the whole year round. The variety of fynbos is so wide and diverse. Gardeners can easily create a stunning bed with the most amazing colours and textures, without even a single flower in bloom.  

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

7. There are so many stunning protea varieties. Please spill the beans on your favourite five and a few growing secrets you are willing to share.   

Here are some of my personal favourites! 

  • Leucospermum “Veldfire” is a compact bush baring unique yellow flowers with red spots. 
  • Leucospermum “June” is eye-catching and special as its flowers remain open long after flowering.  
  • Erica “Nica” (named after my youngest daughter) is a very good cut flower. 
  • Protea “Rosanne” is part of the roupelleae selection in Magaliesberg near Hartbeespoortdam. 
  • Brunia stokoei is very striking with silver red cones when in flower (a new release is coming in 2023).  

 

These proteas like cool soils. Mulching or groundcovers around their stems is a good idea. Groundcovers like Dymondia, margareteae, Othonna capensis or Carpobrotus edulis will keep the soil cool. 

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

8. Are there any other general handy hacks and maintenance practices you could share with our gardeners?  

Scale on fynbos can sometimes be a problem so keep an eye out for these guys. Mulch your plants with acid compost once a year. Also, remember to prune your fynbos plants after flowering or before spring for nice full growth. One good watering a week during winter will reward you well in spring. 

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

Your local GCA Garden Centre is stocked with truly marvellous proteas and other delightful fynbos for you to landscape with. If you’re inspired by Nico’s top plant picks, why not call ahead and hear if your nursery has your faves in stock. You can also access our GCA Garden Centre locator here: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/category/garden-centres/   

 

Share This: