Giving life to 2021’s trends Trends Article

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!

Trendy colours that celebrate life

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

  • Yellow canna lily: full sun in beds or containers, bold and bright, frost-sensitive.
  • Alstromeria (Inca lily): full sun or semi-shade, good cut-flowers, needs winter munching.
  • Anigozanthos bush bonanza: full sun or semi-shade with bright, golden-yellow flowers.
  • Marigolds: full sun or semi-shade, drought-tolerant, attracts butterflies, repels pests.
  • Sundial yellow portulaca: full sun annual, fine-textured foliage, low ground-hugger.
  • Yellow capsicum: a full sun veggie, sprout seeds indoors in spring.
  • Cape honeysuckle: full sun or semi-shade, attractive ornamental shrub, good for hedges.
  • Snapdragons: full sun for beds or containers, gorgeous horizontally-growing blooms.
Yellow canna lily
Anigozanthos
Sundial yellow portulaca
Cape Honeysuckle

Grey for greatness

  • Senecio cineraria, or silver dust: create contrast with this fine, low-growing sub-shrub.
  • Senecio Angel Wings: robust in size with an angelic silver/grey sheen, an absolute stunner!
  • Dichondra silverfalls: drought, frost, and salt-hardy for full sun spots in beds and pots.
  • Lamium: grow best in partial/full shade to avoid scorching the leaves of these pretties.

There’s a garden on my stoep!

Patio gardening
Patio Gardening

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!

Creative containers

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.

Top tip

Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.

Let it all hang out

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!

Patio Gardening
Upcycle can planter
Flower pots
Hanging Baskets
Bloomingly good

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.

Fancy TFS

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.

Flower pots
Thriller, Filler & 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.

Pots of flavour in small spaces Container Gardening

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.

Why terracotta?

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.

Simple sun-lovers Marigolds

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.

Bulging Baskets of Bright Blooms Hanging baskets

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.