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.

Everlasting and easy plants INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A

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April’s topic: Glam-up gran’s garden
Theme: Everlasting and easy plants 
Industry expert: Wayne Stewart
Garden Centre: Eckards based in Bedfordview, Gauteng: https://eckards.co.za/ 

If you’re in Gauteng, a visit to this multiple award-winning Garden Centre may well be the Saturday outing you’re looking for. We sat down with Wayne from Eckards to get the best advice on how you can glam up gran’s garden this winter. Come gain some elderly-aimed maintenance tips and easy plant picks to help ouma get more wow for less work.

1. We loved exploring your website, especially the awards section. Eckards certainly has an excellent record of achievements. Could you tell us about some of your favourite accomplishments and how you maintain your multiple award-winning standard? 

 

Our Eckards recipe for success is simple: great customer experience + quality plants + a passionate team = an award-winning standard. Eckards has maintained our top ten rating in the GCA competition for over 18 years, which is something we are very proud of. Winning awards is not everything but it is a great way for the team to see the fruits of their effort benchmarked against the best in the industry.

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2. Having spent decades in the industry, we’re sure you’ve seen many hybrids come and go as well as which plants seem to have withstood the test of time as SA’s favourites. Please tell us which plants and trees are your all-time best sellers. 

 

Gaura in all colours has been popular since it was re-launched when the pink varieties were added to the range. As a plant for pollinators, it has withstood the test of time as a must-have filler in any garden.

After the impatiens disease hit in 2007 we saw a big change in colour for shade. Consumers mixed it up, instead of just falling back on common impatiens.

Hybrid gift giving December perfect plant picks

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Give a living gift this holiday and show off your eco-tribe vibes with a fancy new addition to your loved one’s plant fam. Here is Life is a Garden’s top 5 latest seasonal hybrid plant picks.

1. For bae: The Hannon rose

This new hybrid tea rose has gorgeous deep pink flowers that bloom throughout the season. An added bonus is that they are exceptional cut-flowers, perfect for adding ambience on date night dine-ins. They have a mild perfume as well. 

Planting and perks: Full sun beds or containers, cold and frost hardy + petals used for DIY pot pourri (add essential oils for extra heavenly fragrance). 

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2. For bestie: Hibiscus graff 

Here is the latest hibiscus species that boasts even longer-lasting flowers. Speaking of blooms, hibiscus bushes bear large flowers in bright colours, creating an exotic feel to any space they occupy. Wherever planted – they’ll steal the show. 

Planting and perks: Full sun, plenty of fertiliser, water daily + petals can be brewed to create a simply delish floral tea (good for hair and digestion).

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3. For moms: Hydrangea ‘endless summer’ aka the Christmas rose (but on steroids

Living up to its name, this new hybrid blooms in massive pink or blue mophead flowers on both old and new wood, you guessed it - all summer long.

Planting and perks: Partial shade beds or containers, frost hardy + customisation option by adjusting the soil’s pH to yield different colour blooms (ask Google).

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4. For rad dads: Pelargonium interspecific ‘rose splash’ 

A real breakthrough in floral genetics, the ‘rose splash’ features large, semi-double flowers with a dark pink centre and lighter pink borders. They reward gardens with outstanding colour throughout summer and are quick growing. 

Planting and perks: Full to partial sun beds or baskets, drought hardy + resilient to a little neglect once established (just avoid frost).

Fab and fragrant patios

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Marry your senses to the spring stoep and fall in love with these indigenous catches that smell as sensational as they look. Container gardening brings your horticulturist skills and landscaping passion right to your doorstep, balcony, patio, and even roof!

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Full sun stunners

  1. Orange Hermannia (Hermannia pinnata) is a hardy, evergreen, water-wise groundcover that’s ideal for baskets. Flowers are apricot-coloured and smell simply wonderful. 
  2. Wild Rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) grows rapidly and boasts strong, aromatic leaves. In winter, they show off their white, daisy-like flowers with purple centres. 
  3. Honeybells (Freylinia lanceolata) are appreciated for their creamy-yellow, tubular flowers that emit an alluring honey fragrance, attracting birds and butterflies.

Semi-shade babes 

  1. Starry Wild Jasmine (Jasminum multipartitum) is an all-time fave owing to their hardiness, fast growth, and sweet-smelling, star-shaped white flowers. 
  2. Small-leaved Plane (Ochna serrulata) produce bright-yellow scented blooms, followed by striking black fruit that attract many local bird species to the garden.
  3. Rose-scented Pelargonium (Pelargonium graveolent) is an evergreen shrub with velvet leaves emitting a lovely rose perfume. They produce showy, pinkish-white blooms.

*Maintaining moisture, good drainage, regular feeding, and location are all vital components to a flourishing basket and pot.

Bulging baskets

For the ultimate bulging basket look, go for containers with wire on the outside and fibre lining on the inside. By cutting through the material, trailing beauts can be planted all around the outside of your basket. Pair this with a fab focal bush in the centre and voila!

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A lot a’ terracotta

Before planting, soak your terracotta pot overnight to saturate the clay and prevent it from stealing moisture from new plants. Place a paper coffee filter inside to avoid losing soil during watering. Heavier pots with thicker walls will last longer and handle frost better too. 

Marktfees Botanics

Marktfees is hosting a BOTANICS market aimed at the home gardener, the avid plant collector, and everyone who shares a desire for botanical inspiration in all its dynamic facets. From botanical décor, houseplants, specimen plants, gins, teas and beer to name a few, join us for the first of its kind market for Port Elizabeth.

SANA’s 2022 Garden Centre winners! SA’s Best Garden Centres for 2022

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South Africa’s Nursery Association (SANA) hosts an annual GCA Garden Centre competition to present to you, dear gardeners, the cream of the crop! Garden centres and home store garden departments are measured against a set of criteria aimed at assessing and improving product standards and professional service in the industry. Here are the best garden centres in SA! Did your favourite make it?

Stodels Nurseries Bellville – Garden Centre of the year 

 

Address: Eversdale Rd, Bellville 

 

From humble beginnings, Stodels Garden Centres have developed into a household name in gardening in the Western Cape. From the outset, Stodels Garden Centres focused on providing their customers with excellent service, top quality products and affordable prices. Fifty years later, the trio of service, quality and affordability has built a respected and much-loved brand. 

 

Originating from a mail order catalogue and door to door sales, the Stodels brand has grown to its current complement of seven award-winning garden centres today, two of which are based in Gauteng. The company was started by Mr Robert Stodel, in August 1962, when he started selling flower bulbs door to door and from the Parade in Cape Town. A mail order bulb catalogue soon followed and within a few years, Stodels Flower Bulbs became the biggest flower bulb retailer in South Africa, posting nearly 600 000 bulb catalogues to Cape households and importing up to 20 million bulbs from Holland every year.

 

 

Find out more: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/stodels-bellville/   

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Garden Pavilion Eckards – Runner up 

 

Address: 101 Boeing Rd East, Bedfordview, Germiston 

 

Eckards is a well-established garden centre that received a new lease on life in 1993. Along the way it became a Garden Pavilion and has continued to move with the times, maintaining a traditional feel with modern influences. Eckards prides itself on a high level of service, quality plants and helping gardeners and growers alike.