When life gives us manure, gardeners make compost! As such, Life is a Garden would like to invite all green fingers to welcome 2021 as The Great Reset – a time to reconnect with our home space, a chance to grow food and deepen our connection with nature, an opportunity to shape remote working environments, and the ideal excuse to expand outdoor entertainment areas. Here are the top trends for the year to inspire you and help support adjusted lifestyles at home. Let Mother Nature work her magic to lift those spirits and make every space a place for life to shine!
The Pantone colour of the year is grey and yellow: grey representing fortitude and yellow symbolising happiness. Together, these colours send a message of positivity, supported by a solid foundation (grey) upon which to build joy (yellow). Cultivate resilience and hope by planting these beauties below:
Sun in your pocket
Grey for greatness
*Pantone planting tip: We’ve given gardeners some of the top yellow and grey plant picks for the year. Take our suggestions with you the next time you visit your GCA Garden Centre and inquire about seasonal planting and sowing. Your GCA expert will be able to recommend which beauties can be planted now and help you plan ahead for your Pantone paradise.
Balcony, patio, and container gardening allows everyone to become part of the eco-tribe, regardless of space limitations. You can always go vertical or experiment with hanging baskets too. Include these lovelies to your small-space haven for a gorgeous breath of fresh air and tranquil vibes:
Easy indoor elegance
Ideal outdoor delights
The collector’s dream
Welcoming nature’s handy helpers is simple and magnificently rewarding! Get your veggies pumping, your flowers flourishing, seeds spreading, and most importantly, help sustain the precious eco-system in your garden. Attract bees, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting these:
· Antirrhinum (Snapdragons)
*Pollinator tip: Remember to provide a fresh water source for your all your visitors with a way in and out to avoid any casualties. Consult your handy GCA Garden Centre advisor to see which plants can be sown and planted according to season.
Homegrown goodness is all the rage and with deliciously good reason too! South Africans are rediscovering the pleasure of growing food and harvesting the fruits (and veg, and herbs) of their labour. Any open space is an opportunity to unleash your inner permaculturist and start a #victorygarden, which benefits not only your own family but also the community around you. Sharing your harvest with a hungry tummy is awesome!
Cool-season crispy crops
Spinach and leafy greens, thyme, spring onions, garlic, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, and microgreens.
Scrumptious summer harvest
Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, watermelon, cucumber, peppers, berries, squash, basil, and sage.
*Grower’s reminder: Make sure to plant and sow according to your province and season. Your GCA Garden Centre is loaded with seed packets, seedling trays, fruit trees, herbs, compost, and more!
There you have it – your top trends for the year and a ton of inspiration to keep you going during The Great Reset! Keep your hearts green, teeming with life, and your green fingers ever on a mission to let Mother Nature shine. Our Life is a Garden, always, so pick a trend, plant away, and harvest that happiness for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
Be bold and go bedless! Perfect your potting skills and never leave your patio without plants again. Here’s how you can easily bring the garden to your stoep with creative containers, vertical planters, colour wheel play, and a few bloomingly beautiful flowers. Life is a Garden, even on your balcony!
Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to experiment with different styles. Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space. You could even upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor.
Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.
Utilising hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Vines cascading down a pillar is a fresh break in between bricks and concrete. Your local GCA Garden Centre has a variety of hanging baskets waiting for you!
Add life to your patio paradise by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. A couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill makes all the difference. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.
One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.
Who’s lus for strawberries and cream?
Grow your own reminder of the sweeter things in life and play with the colour wheel in your pots. Incorporate a delicious variety of deep reds and indulgent cream hues to create your own sweet escape in a container. Using the trusty TFS planting method, here’s how to create your desert pot:
The Fuchsia Bella is simply stunning and makes for a picture-perfect pot plant. They grow as a compact, bushy, and deciduous shrub with ovate, toothed, dark green leaves. You can expect a sensational flower show throughout summer with blooms varying in shades of red, pink and purple. They enjoy sun to semi-shade and grow best in moist, fertile soil.
An empty wall is simply an invitation to bring it to life! All you need to do is to secure a few pots against the wall in a symmetrical grid style, leaving a little space between each pot (4 pots across by 4 pots down is a good start). Cascading ferns and creepers take care of the rest and will soon cover the wall or frame windows and doorways beautifully. Vertical planters bring the garden bed to you, are great space savers, and add a modern feel to the space.
Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is an all-time favourite flowering vine. Climbing Snapdragons (Asarina) work well in vertical planters and living walls.
Instead of just using bottled braai spice, imagine snipping some fresh garnish for your guests! Having herb pots around are rather handy for a little fancy flavour and is by far the most nutritious way to spice up your braai.
There are so many creative ways for you to get the patio in bloom and booming with life. You can still fulfil all your gardening cravings, despite the lack of traditional gardening beds. Day trip to your local GCA Garden Centre for flowers and containers and see where the adventure takes you. For more gardening trends and inspiration, visit Life is a Garden and explore your world!
You don't need acres of garden to grow fresh salads and veggies. All you need is a balcony, patio or a postage-stamp of a garden, some good-quality terracotta pots, the right growing medium and a watering can, and you're A for away. Life is a Garden offers these tips to assist you in creating the perfect container garden.
Whenever we're asked what containers to use on a patio, we tend to recommend a nice big terracotta pot or a matching set of terracotta pots. Why terracotta and not plastic? Terracotta pots are made of clay, and natural materials like clay tend to work better with plants. Terracotta pots can breathe, allowing air and even moisture to move through the walls, keeping plants healthier and helping to prevent fungal root disease.
Plants don't like sudden changes in temperature, and terracotta pots act as insulation, slowing down variations in temperature.
Weight is also an advantage – terracotta pots are heavier than plastic or wood, which is great when you've got a cat that keeps rubbing itself against your veggie pots and knocking them over! Finally, terracotta pots get better and better with age, weathering and developing a beautiful patina that cannot be replicated.
What to plant?
Choosing what to plant can be overwhelming when you're starting out. Our first rule of thumb is to plant what you eat! There's not much point in growing coriander if the flavour offends your very being. But if you love cooking with other herbs, start by planting things like rosemary, thyme, mint and origanum.
Another thing we suggest is to mix things up a bit – don't be boring and grow only edibles. Beautiful ornamentals can do well in containers alongside their edible bedfellows, and some have the added benefit of being edible too. Viola flowers can be tossed in a salad, while the flowers of lavender and calendula have a range of uses.
A good base
The key to potting success is a growing medium that can fulfil a plant's nutritional needs.
Whenever we're getting ready to plant up containers, we start by mixing up a big batch of potting medium. To do this, we mix four parts good-quality potting soil, 1 part palm peat (soaked in water beforehand) and a big handful of pelletised organic plant food. Prepare the medium in a big bucket so that you've got enough for all the pots you'll be planting up.
When planting, place a handful of gravel or stones in the bottom of the pot, to ensure proper drainage and prevent the drainage holes from becoming blocked. Then fill the pot with potting medium to about 2/3 full, place the plants in the pots and fill up the pots to a few centimetres below the rim.
Keep them hydrated!
Plants will put up with a lot, but you can't expect them to survive without water. Containers have a limited water-holding capacity, which is why we add water-retentive materials such as palm peat to our mix.
Check if the soil is dry by pushing a finger into the first inch or so – if it is dry, add water. In hot weather, you'll need to water your containers daily, in the morning before it gets too hot. Check again in the afternoon and water again if necessary. In cooler weather, especially in seasons when plants aren't growing as fast, you can get away with watering pots about 2 – 3 times a week.
Remember that overwatering can be as bad as underwatering, so always do the finger test before watering.
Container-grown plants need regular care, including feeding, as the nutrients in the limited quantity of soil get depleted.
You will find a great selection of pots and all the other supplies you need to get your container garden started at your nearest GCA Garden Centre.
Hello sunshine! That’s the cheerful greeting from marigolds, and what better tonic is there than a bed, border or container filled with marigolds.
Marigolds are fuss-free, quick-growing, and cope with the heat even during the hottest time of the year. They are relatively drought tolerant, needing regular but not excessive watering. The flowers are edible, the leaves can be used in insect-repelling sprays and the roots produce a substance (alpha-terphenyl) that suppresses the growth of plant-parasitic nematodes and other organisms such as fungi, bacteria, insects, and some viruses. A good, all-round garden citizen.
There are two types of marigolds, and each has their charm and use in the garden.
African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) have large double flower heads that are ball shaped. Most varieties are 30 – 40cm high, carrying the round heads above dark green leaves on sturdy, compact plants that always look lush and healthy. In addition to yellow, gold and orange there is a creamy-white variety called ‘Vanilla’. They are best used as a bedding and landscape plant, massed in front of taller perennials like salvia, pentas, ornamental millets, grasses and shrubs.
French marigolds (Tagetes patula) have a variety of flower shapes; anemone, frilly doubles and crested doubles. The anemone type is the showiest, with a wide range of colours, the prettiest being mahogany edged with yellow or golden yellow tipped with red. The double crested varieties have larger frilly flowers that come closest to the pom pom shape. Novelties are ‘Fireball’ and ‘Strawberry Blonde’ that produce multicolour blooms on the same plant. Most French marigolds grow 25cm high and wide but there are very compact dwarf varieties that stay 15cm high and wide and are very heat tolerant.
French marigolds are good edging and border plants for smaller spaces and can be used en masse as bedding plants. They combine well with Angelonia, alyssum, bedding salvia, Felicia, petunias and vinca. They are durable, rewarding container plants that don’t overwhelm other plants in a mixed container.
Hanging baskets and containers are ideal to brighten up small balconies and large patios. Whether you are looking for bursts of brilliant colour or more muted tones there are various options to delight your senses.
For the most glorious displays, follow the general rule of using thrillers, spillers and fillers in your containers and baskets. The thriller is the central feature plant, like a pelargonium, salvia or other eye-catching plants. The filler provides the bulk and is usually compact and full of flowers, like impatiens, osteospermum or lobelia. Spillers are planted around the edge and are trailing or cascading plants. Here are a few basket combinations to wet the appetite:
Shades of Pink - Shock Wave Petunias (Petunia x hybrid) are the earliest flowering of all petunias and their strong branches spread out quickly to fill up baskets and containers. The Pink Vein variety is a soft pink with darker veins that run through the petals. These pink beauties are combined with Blue Bacopa (Sutera cordata) to weave in pops of lavender or blue amongst the show of pink, creating an overflow of cotton candy coloured blooms in the basket or container.
Yellow & White – This basket of sunshine combines the bold, bright yellow blooms of Osteospermum Voltage Yellow with the crisp Petunia Easy Wave (Petunia x hybrida) in white. Expect an abundant gush of big, bright blooms from spring through to autumn. This combination is easy to grow, hardy and will make a lasting impact when placed in a sunny spot.
Bold - This basket is like a rainbow of colour bursting out of the pot. Plant Calibrachoas in deep yellow, rose and purple for a colour sensation that will bring happiness to any balcony, patio or garden. These brilliant blooms grow best in low-light and tolerate shade well.
These are just a few of the stylish ways you can fill your baskets or containers, however, the options are endless. You can create your masterpiece according to your personal taste and remember colours don’t clash when it comes to plants. For more inspiration visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre and select from the wide variety of hanging baskets, containers and flowers to brighten up your home