May in the Garden Let’s revel in our African sunshine and plant some of our spectacular indigenous seeds and bulbs this season!

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Hang in there gardeners! Your beloved, outdoor sanctuaries will soon be open.  While you wait for your post-pandemic indulgence at favourite GCA Garden Centre, let’s take this time to rejoice in this beautiful and envied continent of ours. May is Africa month with  African Day on the 25th of May. We will also celebrate World Bee Day on 20th May, and then the International Day for Biodiversity on May 22nd. Moms are also in the spotlight this month for Mother’s day on Sunday 10th May, and Life is a Garden highly recommends you spoil her with a little green treat.

With so many festivities, let’s revel in our African sunshine and plant some of our spectacular indigenous seeds and bulbs this season!

Ideas for Mother’s Day gifts from the garden

For kids of all ages: Moms love flowers, especially the hand-picked kind. If you have any of the following good cut-flowers blooming in your garden, they would be perfect as your Mother’s Day gift bouquet:

Tall flowering Dianthus, Carnations, Snapdragons, Larkspur, Alstroemeria or Sunflowers. If you don’t have these in the garden, you could always buy a few plants from your local GCA Garden Centre. The plants and their flowers will last for a long time - even till next year and then they’ll be ready for picking again.

Hot Tip: Pittosporum branches, leather leaf ferns, Aspidistra leaves and a variety of other plants, like those in Autumn berry, such as. the Pyracantha, can be added to your bunch of flowers too.

For the big kids and dads: Our indigenous wild banana plants (Strelitzia nicolai) are trendy additions to the new leafy-look, ideal in high light areas indoors, or as pretty patio plants. This plant is a stunner and even more so when planted in a lovely pot.

April in the Garden There is no planet B!

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Let us nurture our planet Earth by using sustainable practices and nourishing our soils so that they can continue to produce healthy food for us all. Besides the fact that there is no planet B, we have good reason this month to pamper our planet because Tuesday 7 April is World Health Day and on Wednesday 22nd it is Earth Day, as well as International Mother Earth Day. How about celebrating these days by eating healthily and planting any plant that will make you happy, and the Earth a better place to live in.

Time to sow

Namaqualand daisies or African daisies, (Dimorphotheca sinuata), are just so easy to sow, easy to grow and WOW, what a show they make in late winter and through spring. This indigenous plant needs full sun for the flowers to open. The seed is mostly available in shades of orange, yellow, and salmon mixed or white. They are conveniently available in larger packets which will cover more of your garden. Don’t forget to buy and plant the seed now because this is one of those plants that has gardeners rushing to their nearest garden centre when they see them in full, glorious bloom, only to be told that they should have been planted in April. Sow in-situ i.e. directly into the beds.

Another indigenous plant the Livingstone daisy or Bokbaaivygie, (Mesembryanthemum criniflorum orDorotheanthus belliidiformis), is also a winner and a firm favourite of many gardeners. (Some seed suppliers label these seeds as Vygie mixed). Their satin-textured daisy-like blooms, require a sunny position for them to open’ They are available as mixed colours of white, yellow, orange. cream, pink and crimson. The iridescent colours are jolly and uplifting. Plant as an edging, tumbling over walls or the edges of containers. Seeds can be sown in-situ.

March in the Garden Happy autumn and a merry March, maintenance month!

Happy autumn and a merry March, maintenance month! It’s time to prepare those beds for some annual autumn planting and sow them seeds for the new season. Get busy in the garden and give your seedlings a nutritious head start.

You should work in about 3 to 5cm of compost into the soil, as well as, a handful of bonemeal or superphosphate per square metre. This will ensure that plants have all the nutrition they require to get off to a great start. Give your soil nutrients so that the plants in your garden have the ability to become strong and healthy. Use a general fertilizer like a 2:3:2 or one that contains more potassium such as 8:1:5.

 

What to Sow

Autumn means it’s time to start sowing winter and spring flowering annual seeds. Some of our favourites to sow now are:

Sweet Peas: Their seductive fragrance in the garden or as cut-flowers in the home is like no other. The seed is generally available in mixed colours, which are a gorgeous mix of mostly pastel colours, for both dwarf and climbing varieties. The climbing Sweet Peas will need a sunny spot with supports to climb up – like a trellis, fence or an arch. Sweet peas will be happiest with their roots are in cool, moist soil, so it is a good idea to plant low-growing annuals in front of them to keep the roots shaded, mulching will also work well. The secret to fabulous Sweet peas starts with the soil preparation. Dig over a trench of soil, next to the supports, to the depth of a garden fork and add plenty of compost and preferably manure too. Add a handful of bonemeal or superphosphate per square metre, also sprinkle a handful of Dolomitic or Agricultural lime per running metre and dig it in.

The garden is my happy place

Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soil - Mario Quintana.

Bees or Butterflies - in your happy place

Without bees there would be very few flowers and even fewer fruits and vegetables since they are our superhero pollinators. If you would like to add more yellow flowering plants to your happy place and attract bees at the same time, here are some ideas: Calendulas, Pansies and Iceland Poppies for winter, yellow flowering Hibiscus, yellow flowering Aloes, Marigolds, Golden Rod, (Solidago spp.), Gazanias, Yellow Clivias, Rudbeckia hirta, Portulaca, Nasturiums, Euryops, Arctotis, Bulbinella and Vygies.

Alternately, if you would like to add blue flowering plants to your happy place and attract butterflies at the same time, here are some ideas: Cornflower, Borage, Lobelia, Blue Michaelmas daisies, Delphiniums, Pansies, Buddleia davidii, Agapanthus, Penstemon, Larkspur, Scabiosa, Plumbago, Wild Peach (Kiggelaria Africana), Geraniums, Ribbon bush (Hypoetes aristata) and Duranta “Sapphire Showers”.

Bedding besties

Pentas (Pentas lanceolata), has large clusters of gorgeous, dainty star-like flowers that bloom almost all summer long and attract bees, butterflies and sun birds. Pentas are medium sized semi-hardy shrubs that grow to about 2m in frost free regions and around 1m in areas or moderate frost. They are equally well suited to being planted in a garden bed or in pots. The flowers range in colour from lavender to red, pink or white. Plant this lovely shrub in full sun and in moist, well-drained soil.

Tip: Remove spent blooms to encourage further flowering.

Blooming babes

Barberton daisies (Gerbera jamesonii), have showy flowers in the most beautiful, eye-catching colours. They make for fabulous indoor plants and are exquisite gifts for Valentine’s day or any other occasion. Tip: water around the edge of the pot and not close to the stem.

Blooming Christmas Garden Christmas flowers

Looking for festive plants to add to your holiday décor? Christmas themed flowers aren't just a lovely gift for your loved ones. They also add a hint of magic and sparkle to your home, addng onto that Christmas spirit filled with good cheers and compliments to your festive preparations. Consider adding the poinsettia (Christmas star) and Amaryllis (Christmas flower) to your festive deco prep.

Beautiful flowers undoubtedly  help bring the Christmas spiriand good cheer like beautiful flowers for Christmas. There are a few standard Christmas plants and flowers that you may like for your home this holiday.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) - also known as the Mexican flame leaf or Christmas star is abundant in nurseries and homes around South Africa during Christmas time.

This common garden plant actually flowers during winter, however potted varieties are specifically grown for the festive season and are available in a variety of intense colours. So, don’t be surprised if the poinsettia plant in your garden doesn’t flower over Christmas.

  • Their red foliage is commonly mistaken for a flower but actually, they are coloured bracts.
  • The actual flower is the yellow in the centre of the bracts.
  • They prefer being kept in bright light which ensures that they maintain that lovely red leaf colour.
  • They can even tolerate morning sunlight. A spot on a patio or covered area will be perfect, as long as there is no afternoon sun.
  • Try to keep them out of droughts and cold winds.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum), known as the Christmas flower, typically bloom around 5 weeks after being planted (during the warmer months). For this reason, amaryllis make a wonderful gift at Christmas time. They can also make effective centrepieces for the Christmas dinner table.

Amaryllis do well in most soil types, provided they get adequate drainage.

October in the Garden Celebrating Gardening

With the 9th of October being ‘Garden Day’ and October being ‘Rose month’ – what an opportune month to celebrate gardening!

Rose month

Your roses should be producing their first flush of perfect blooms and the sun is still not too scorching – allowing the blooms to last longer. Spring is also the ideal time to select and plant new rose bushes in your garden. These are some of our favourites:

  • Ingrid Bergman POULman unfading red
  • Memoire KORfuri   unspoilt white, fragrant
  • Zulu Royal DORient mauve, fragrant
  • King David TANmarsal bronze
  • South Africa KORberbeni golden

Pop in to your nearest GCA Garden Centre for more inspiration and supplies.

 

What to Sow

As soon as the soil warms up in mid spring, you can start to sow all your summer veggies, including beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes. Two of your main “must haves” for your summer salads are cucumber and celery.

  • Cucumber seeds should be sown in composed enriched soil in a sunny site. When flowers start forming, feed with potassium-rich organic fertiliser. Support plants well so they can climb upwards, even when the cucumbers get large. This also protects the cucumbers from slugs. Harvest /cut the cucumbers off the plant when they are still quite young, avoiding the skin becoming hard. Regular harvesting encourages a more continuous production of
  • Celery needs rich, moisture-retentive soil which is achieved by digging in plenty of compost. Sow in shade or semi-shade. Feed weekly liquid feed in mid to late summer. Plants should be spaced 20cm apart and kept moist. You can cut stems frequently as required.
What to Plant

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) - one of the easiest and most rewarding bulbs to grow, amaryllis produce showy, trumpet-shaped blooms that add a flamboyant touch to your garden or home. Often referred to as the Christmas flower because they typically bloom around five weeks after being planted (during the warmer months).

Bursting Clivias Blooming Babes

Spring is in the air, and with it, many of our favourite plants are blooming.  No South African garden should be without the beautiful blazing orange of a blooming Clivia. Clivia minniata is one of our more famous plants in South Africa and it has managed to find its way into gardens around the globe.  Not only do Clivias produce amazing flowers during spring, but they also continuously multiply over time. What’s more, being indigenous, they are used to our extreme South African weather.

Clivias prefer to be planted under evergreen trees or shady areas. They also work great in containers, which enables one to move them around. They dislike the hot afternoon sun which can burn their leaves and should also be sheltered from heavy frosts. A soil with adequate drainage and loads of organic matter topped off with a layer of mulch is preferable. To get the best out of your Clivias feed them before and after flowering with a fertiliser for flowering plants such as 3:1:5.

Watch out for the lily borer in your Clivia’s. The caterpillar and their larvae damage the stems and leaves and if left untreated will cause a lot of damage. If you see any traces of larvae or damage to the plant, apply contact insecticide every two weeks to control.

For more gardening tips and advice pop in to your nearest GCA Garden Centre, https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/category/garden-centres/   or join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa .