Posts Tagged ‘ Bulbs ’

The super-fun summer garden December Checklist

Posted on: November 10th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

It’s holiday season, and a jolly good reason to celebrate! Live life to the fullest surrounded by the ones you love and a gorgeous garden to host them all in. Life is a Garden’s got a fully loaded, super fun summer entertaining and planting guide to get you in the spirit of things this December.

Warm welcomes

Wet vines from the garden can be transformed into gorgeous decorative wreaths, which you can secure onto your front door. Try ivy varieties, grapevine, and big num num (Carissa macrocarpa) with ornamental grass strands that’ll maintain colour for longer too. Add to the friendly vibes by adding a textured welcome mat available from your GCA Garden Centre.

Try this: Once you’ve gotten a solid run from your wreath, tie it onto a tree branch and hang some birdseed feeders from it.

Christmas Wreath
Christmas Wreath
Eternal sunshine

Solar lights are the best-kept fun secrets this summer. Light up your pathways with lanterns, accentuate your trees with spiralled fairy lights, and make the patio pop with spotlights highlighting your gorgeous container beauts. Solar jars are also a sure win, to which you can add glass stones for extra sparkle. Solar jars look super magical when added to fairy gardens and scattered around beds.

Always lit tip: Wrap battery-operated fairy lights around your front door DIY wreath for added evening ambience as guests arrive.

Solar lights
Fairy lights
Inquisitive kids

Keep the kids entertained and educated with a ‘Find that bug’ quest. You can easily create a printable worksheet for your kids and their friends listing the goggas to be discovered in your garden. Alternatively, there are several local apps to be downloaded, which kids can use to identify their discoveries. Why not get them all to give a fun little presentation about the bugs afterwards!

 

Happy house plants

Consider playing with poinsettia (Christmas star) and amaryllis (Christmas flower) as part of your festive décor prep. Fill your house with cut hydrangea flowers (Christmas rose) if you have lots in the garden. Pick mature flowers (all the little florets must be open) and then scrape about 5cm of bark off the bottom of the stem. Leave them overnight up to their necks in cold water for max bloom power before you arrange them in vases.

Indoor garden tip: Make sure your windowsill/countertop crops are stocked with lekker herbs for braai and cocktail garnish. Pots and seedling trays are available from your GCA Garden Centre.

Poinsettia
Amarylis
Hydrangeas
Mature flowers
Good time edibles

Plant: Melons, sweet potatoes, cucumber, eggplants, peppers and the last tomatoes for the season.

Harvest: You can now finally feast on the watermelons and sweet melons sowed in August. A large watermelon is ripe if it feels a little bumpy when you stroke it. When sweet melons are ripe, a small crack appears at the point where the fruit attaches to the vine.

Tomatoes
Watermelon
Pests NOT invited to the party

Dash down to your GCA Garden Centre for effective pest control solutions and don’t allow any uninvited guests to your super-fun summer.

Look out for:

  • Scale on citrus trees
  • Orange Dog caterpillar on citrus trees
  • Tip-wilters on the soft tips of roses, dahlias and abelias
  • Amaryllis caterpillar on crinums and other bulbous plants
  • Mildew on roses, dahlias and cleomes
  • Whitefly on beans and fuchsias
  • Rust on hollyhocks
  • Pear slug on peaches, cherries prunus and ornamentals
  • Outbreak of red spider mite during hot, dry weather

 

Quirky container combos

Plant these instant annuals for pots dripping with life, colour, and nutrition. Seedlings and seedling trays are available from your GCA Garden Centre now.

  • Tomato, parsley and petunia
  • Basil, eggplant and petunia
  • Euphorbia (soft white) with red petunias
Petunias
Parsley
Basil
Eggplant
Red Petunias
Euphorbia hypericifolia
Fun-filled, sunny gift ideas for gardeners
  1. A birdbath, bird feeder and a packet of wild birdseed.
  2. A potting bench for dad.
  3. A garden bench for ouma.
  4. Trays of flowering seedlings and a bag of compost.
  5. A concrete rabbit or frog and other garden ornaments.
  6. Instead of the conventional festive stocking, use gumboots, garden clogs, or a watering can.
  7. Wrap gardening gloves, seed packets and a trowel in a flowery tea towel.
  8. For the diligent weeder, a good choice would be a kneeling pad and good quality hand tools.
  9. A garden diary or calendar so that the gardener can plan and record seasonal plantings and blooming habits of plants.
  10. Top edibles to use as gifts are chillies. There is a wide variety available from hot to very hot. One thing to remember is that some of them can reach up to 2m tall and so are not ornamental. Also think about ‘berry delicious’ in the form of strawberries and blueberries.
Garden Ornaments
Garden Chair

Smash out your holiday in the sunshine and have THE funnest summer garden parties! Life is a Garden, and it’s always better when shared with family and friends.

Goeie Goggas and Glam Growing November Checklist

Posted on: October 19th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

How delicious it is to be in full spring swing! The November garden is a thrilling spectacle of goeie goggas and the perfect season to begin glam growing. Flyers and pollinators are your best friends (for free), with the lacewing bug leading the pest control pack. Also, we’re really spoilt for choice in the edible sow zone with some extravagant crops to show off with. Pink is popping at the moment too, so be sure to check out Life is a Garden’s selection of blush-worthy trees.

 

Eco-warrior wall of fame: Lacewings

Dynamite comes in a small package with these extraordinary helpers. They are excellent additions to the garden for pest control and prevention. Adults feed on pollen, nectar, and honeydew, while the larvae are active predators of soft-bodied pests such as aphids, thrips, whitefly, leafhoppers, spider mites and larvae, caterpillars, nymphs, mealybugs and more! After feasting for 2-3 weeks, lacewing larvae spin a cocoon and emerge as adults 10-14 days later. After such a carnivorous upbringing, adults lacewings are converted to veganism, enjoying nectar and helping us by pollinating crops.

Wow-worthy facts

  • Known also as aphid lions or wolves, lacewings can gobble up to 100 nasty aphids in a day.
  • Grey lacewing larvae are super smart oaks! They camouflage by carrying devoured prey carcasses on their backs.
  • Adult lacewings have ears at the base of their wings, allowing them to hear bats’ echolocation signals. They avoid being eaten by closing their wings and appearing smaller.
  • Lacewing larvae kill their prey by injecting lethal digestive juices into their meal, dissolving their insides, and then providing our hero with a nutritious, sappige smoothie – lekker!

 

Welcome lacewings by  
  • Planting indigenous.
  • Offering a variety of pollen and nectar-rich flowers to choose from (suggestions below).
  • Learn how to identify them to avoid accidental harm to these heroes.
  • Providing a safe hibernation home during the winter, such as log piles and dense hedges (check out our Hedge-tech article here for inspiration that’s shearously worth it).
Green Lacewing
Brown Lacewing
Plants for critters that guard the garden

Lacewings, butterflies, birds, bees, and ladybugs will all come to work when adding these sweet additions to the garden now:

  • Wild dagga
  • September bush
  • Pentas lanceolata
  • Star jasmine
  • Flowering hibiscus
  • Nasturtiums are highly recommended to make your garden come alive.
September Bush
Pentas lanceolata
Star Jasmine
Nasturtiums
Glam growing

These flowers, plants, and trees are stunning spring showstoppers. Seedlings and seed packets are available at GCA Garden Centres now. Don’t forget your compost, potting soil, and fertilisers!

To sow for show

  • Full sun flamboyance: Carnations, cornflowers, dianthus, felicia, helichrysum and hollyhocks.
  • Semi-shade sassiness: Impatiens, foxgloves, candytuft, and Canterbury bells.
  • Fast-growing glories: Marigolds, cosmos, ageratums, petunias, and portulacas.
Cornflowers
Hollyhocks
Candytuft Flower
Canterbury bells
Marigolds
Portulacas

To grow for fragrance

  • Inca lilies, aquilegias, rudbeckias, dahlias, gaura, echinaceas, gardenias and bougainvilleas.

To plant for pretty

  • Summer bulbs: Hippeastrum (amaryllis), dahlias, lilium oriental, zantedeschia, and gladioli.
Aquilegias
Gardenias
Hippeastrum (amaryllis)
Gladioli
Blush-worthy trees and shrubs

Your heart, cheeks, and garden will be filled in blushing shades of pink when planting these indigenous tickles now.

  • Trees: Cape chestnut (Calodendrum capense), and Mountain hard pear (Olinia emarginata).
  • Shrubs: River indigo (Indigofera jucunda), Pink mallow (Anisodontea scabrosa), and Forest pink hibiscus (Hibiscus pedunculatus).

 

Top tree tip: Before planting, consider the following important factors.

  1. Size: How big will the tree get and is its size suited to your garden?
  2. Roots: What type of root system does it have, and will it damage infrastructure where you want to plant it?
  3. Water: Water-wise and indigenous is always best for our local biodiversity and water shortages.
  4. Region: Can the tree survive in your specific garden conditions within your region?

 

Pink mallow (Anisodontea scabrosa)
pink hibiscus (Hibiscus pedunculatus).
Extravagant crops

Sometimes, size matters, and these impressive crops are sure to give you plenty of show-off fuel. Take your abundant harvest to the next braai or post on social media for the world to see!

  • Big shows: Sweetmelons, watermelons, African cucumbers (horned melons), pumpkins, maize, and sweetcorn.
  • Abundant grows: Beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, lettuce, okra, peppers, radish, squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and turnips.
  • Heralding herbs: Basil, coriander, chives, chamomile, echinacea, oregano, parsley, rocket, and thyme.

Grow zone top tip: Our country has been through a lot and we’ve got many hungry tummies. Share your harvest with those in need and let’s spread some lurve, gardener style!

Pumpkin
Sweetcorn
Celery
Okra
Chamomile
Oregano

Your November glam growing is sorted, and with the lacewing on your side, there’s nothing that can stop you. Remember to prune your leucospermums, buchus, ericas and proteas now as you head off into the garden for your sowing extravaganza. Life is a Garden, so make yours extraordinary this spring!

October Outdoor Eco-Celebration October Checklist

Posted on: September 22nd, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments
Flowers

Rev up and rejoice – it’s time to motor in October! Garden Day is on Sunday the 17th, giving you the perfect reason to host a little outdoor eco-celebration - #gardenyay. Welcome spring in full swing and give your garden, potted windowsills, and patio planters some much-deserved admiration from loved ones. Also, it’s rose month! GCA’s are stocked with some serious stunners, waiting just for you. There’s much to plant, grow, and sow too, as well some easy-peasy maintenance to take care of. With compost and spades in hand, let’s get to work!

 

Raging for roses

Your top 5 babes available at GCA’s now are:

  • Double Delight: Pointed, cream colour buds unfolding delicately into shades of scarlet.
  • Just Joey: A hybrid apricot/orange blend tea rose with a seductively sweet scent.
  • My Granny: A spreading shrub with full rosette blooms in shades of soft pink and white.
  • South Africa: SA’s top performer with huge clusters of large, golden-yellow double blooms.
  • Zulu Royal: Large, symmetrical blooms in deep mauve with a silver-lilac dust.

Rosey tips: Avoid wetting rose leaves in the late afternoon as this may encourage black spot and powdery mildew. Plant living mulch between your roses such as erigeron, verbena or lobularia. Remember to feed with special rose fertiliser every 4 weeks for max bloom power.

Double Delight
Just Joey
My Granny
South Africa
Royal Zulu
Erigeron
Rushing flower power

Plant and sow now

  • For instant colour, go for calibrachoas with masses of miniature petunia-like flowers.
  • Sun-loving annuals in seedling trays include: petunias, lobularias (allysum), gazanias, penstemons, Chrysanthemum paludosum and C. multicaule, Sunpatiens and celosias.
  • Shade-seeking seedling trays include: New Guinea impatiens, begonias, impatiens (Busy Lizzie) hypoestes and coleus.
  • Go-getter perennials for all regions are: agapanthus, gauras, nemesias, osteospermums and geraniums of all kinds. Also go for gypsophila and masses of pretty but tough angelonias. Star jasmine, penstemons, columbines and echinaceas are lovely too.

 

Top seedling tip: Give your seedlings the best head start in life by planting them in compost-enriched soil. When transplanting, avoid pulling them out by their stems and rather push them out from the bottom of the punnet. Pinch out their growth tips as they mature for a bushier plant.

Top sowing tip: To prevent small seeds from sticking to your fingers and clumping together, mix them with some dry sand, then sprinkle over moist soil.

calibrachoas
Lobularias
Chrysanthemum paludosum
celosias
New Guinea impatiens
Coleus
agapanthus
nemesias

Bustling hunger busters

  • Carrots: Sow seeds directly from spring to autumn to ensure a continuous harvest. The soil must be cultivated deeply to make it loose and friable.
  • Cucumbers: Sow seeds directly into rich soil. Plants will need sturdy stakes to keep the fruit off the ground.
  • Green beans: Plant bush-type seeds that are easier to manage if your space is limited.
  • Lettuce: Try oak and loose-leaf lettuce seedlings, available in trays from your GCA Garden Centre.
  • Radishes: Sow small amounts directly into the ground throughout summer.
  • Squashes and baby marrows:As soon as new greens emerge, thin them out to allow ample space for trailing support.
  • Tomatoes and sweet peppersare also available in seedling trays now. Pinch off lower leaves when planting for a bushier, abundant yield.
  • Spinach: Plant or sow several rows every few weeks to ensure a continuous supply.
  • Herbs: Parsley, chives and basil seeds and seedlings can be planted/sown in the veggie patch or in pots for your kitchen garden or sunny windowsills.

Edible encouragement: Feed young veggies every two weeks with a water-soluble fertiliser and keep a sharp eye on germinating weeds between rows. Set snail bait amongst strawberry plants and provide a mulch of straw, coarse clippings, or weed matting to prevent the fruit from touching the soil. Pick the fruit frequently to encourage more produce.

Carrots
Lettuce
Baby Marrow
Sweet Peppers
Board the maintenance train
  • Lawns: Fix hollows and bumps by cutting out the turf in the affected area. Add or reduce soil as needed and gently replace the turf. In shady areas with barren patches, check out our handy article that’ll help you choose the perfect grass for the job: (link to shade grass article) Spray weedkiller to get rid of broadleaf weeds. Before treatment, fertilise your lawn and water well, wait two weeks before applying spray.
  • Weed alert: Weeds compete with healthy crops for space, water, sunlight and nutrients, ultimately reducing your crop yield. They grow quickly and reproduce in large numbers. Seeds are easily dispersed by wind and animals, especially whilst mowing the lawn. Weeds are also hosts for pests and plant diseases, so make sure to visit your GCA for a variety of effective treatments to use.
  • Succulents: Tidy up succulents like echeverias and Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, which have stopped flowering. Divide and replant into other parts of the garden.
  • Fruit trees: Thin out peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums when they are about pea-size. Apply a fertiliser that’s high in nitrogen and potassium to promote plump, luscious fruit. Continue spraying and baiting against fruit flies and codling moths.
  • Pests: Put out snail taps and cutworm bait to protect all new seedlings.
  • Anti-fungal: Encourage strong root systems and combat fungal disease by watering your garden early in the morning, instead of in the evenings.
  • Re-potting: Ferns are ready for new homes! Repot and transplant all ferns now, followed by a feeding every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser mixed at half strength.
Weeds
echeverias

There you have it -  your October to-do list is complete. Life is a garden is always on your side, and we want to see you take charge this spring. Your GCA Garden Centre is fully loaded with all your compost, fertiliser, pest, and plant needs. Go snatch up some stunners for Garden Day and enjoy all the new blooms that have come out to play.

August in the Garden Checklist An extraordinary, rewarding August

Posted on: July 13th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

With the great winds of change upon us, dare we say the smell of spring approaches! All your hard work this winter will soon pay off as August comes to reward the garden with extraordinary blooms in gorgeous hues for every mood. There’s one more month of cool-season stunners to enjoy with daisy bushes leading the pack. Make sure to tick off your maintenance checklist and begin prepping the lawn for September. Edibles are exciting in August too and there’s much to sow and munch on. Hold onto your hats and let’s glide right in!

 

Fulfilling flowers
Strikingly crazy for daisies

Colour blast your way through the wind and immerse outdoor beds in bold and brave daisy bushes. The vivid variety of daisy blooms will pop off brilliantly against the winter landscape and are simply stand out additions to the  garden. Daisies flourish in containers, beds, and borders that receive full sun. Bushes can be sown and/or planted in autumn for a vibrant August gust of colour. Here are seven striking inspirations:

  1. Cape daisy (Osteospermum): Indigenous and water-wise in deep shades of many magical colours to choose from, flowering from spring to autumn.
  2. Marguerite daisy (Argyranthemum): Blooms attract butterflies, available in pretty coloured hues for every mood that flower from spring to autumn. Single and double flowers available.
  3. English daisy (Bellis perennis): A fast grower and spreader with uniquely rounded red, white, and pink flowers, blooming in masses from winter to spring.
  • Golden daisy bush (Euryops chrysanthemoides): Compact and evergreen with bright golden-yellow blooms peaking from autumn to spring.
  • Livingstone daisy (Mesembryanthemum): Dark centres blend into radiant shades of pinks, purples, orange, yellow, and crimson. Flowering begins in August, peaking in September.
  • Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum): Cheerful and quick-spreading with robust all-white petals and a yellow centre. These lovelies bloom from late spring to autumn.
  • Kingfisher daisy (Felicia amelloides): Local and lively with masses of sky-blue petals and yellow centres.  They attract butterflies and flower from spring to autumn.

 

Daisy do’s: Although performing best during colder climates, daisy bushes will flower repeatedly throughout the year. If you maintain them well with regular watering, feeding, and deadheading, your garden will be rewarded with near-constant colour and frequent surprises popping up.

 

Top tip: Fly over to your GCA Garden Centre and see which crazy daisies are in-store and in bloom now. Don’t forget your compost and organic fertiliser while you're there.

More mad blooms to sow now: It’s wakey-wakey to winter beds with marigolds, cosmos, lobularia, cleomes, godetias, lavateras, phlox, sunflowers, impatiens, and begonia.

Blushing August bulbs to plant now: These summer-flowering bulbs are ready for some rich soil, sun, and water: gladiolus, calla lilies, cannas, spider lilies, George lilies, tuberoses, galtonias, schizostylis, crocosmias, storm lilies, arum lilies, and dahlias.

Top tip: Don’t be tempted to cut off the leaves of your spring bulbs just yet. Although they have finished flowering, they need these leaves to make food for the developing bulb.

A rosy reminder: Ensure all roses have been pruned and increase watering. Spray bare stems to kill insect eggs and fungus spores. Relocation and transplanting should also be done now, followed by a good feeding. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for rose care essentials.

Marigold
In the grow zone

Edibles for sowing from seed packets

  • In frost-free areas, sow these summer crops now: runner beans, dwarf beans, maize, sweet corn, pumpkins, and squashes.
  • Herbs heralding the spring sunshine: sweet basil, coriander, and rocket.

* Remember to harvest your root veggies: parsnips, turnips, beetroot, carrot, and radish.

 

Edibles for growing from seedlings

  • Plant out rhubarb, shallots, garlic, globe artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

*Also remember to top-dress perennial crops such as asparagus.

Motivated maintenance

Lawn loving

  • Begin prepping the lawn for spring with lawn dressing, fertiliser, and compost.
  • Your pre-spring treatment includes low mowing, firm raking, leveling out, and covering with lawn dressing.
  • Sow seeds for shade lawn now.

 

Wind whirling

  • The windy month has arrived. Stake all newly planted trees to prevent toppling and breakages.
  • Ensure all creepers are securely supported on trellises and tie-down branches where needed.
  • Mulch around your edibles to prevent wind erosion and help retain warmth.

 

Slug repelling

  • Slugs and snails are eager to feast on soft spring plantings. Go to battle by planting barrier plants around new greens.
  • Barrier plants include mint, garlic, chives, geraniums, and fennel.
  • Goggas are deterred by the pungent smell and taste of these natural pest-repelling plants.

 

Ladybugs to the rescue: Our eco-hero of the month is the sweet little ladybug. She may be pretty, but mealybugs, aphids, scale, caterpillars, and thrips beware of her deadly munching crunch! These pesky critters are her favourite meals and she’ll make quick work of them too.

Some cold caution: In very cold regions, leave pruning of frost-damaged plants until next month as the affected foliage protects the plant in case of another frostbite attack.

Your GCA Garden Centre is ready to receive your August enthusiasm, so head on over to see what grabs you and sparks your inspiration. Have an extraordinarily rewarding last month of winter and well done for keeping your crops and flowers flourishing. Daisies are your best colourful cover-up for gardens that took a little beating in the cool season. Plant some now and blow away the haters! Life is a Garden, just grow with it.

April in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: March 9th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Like the calm before the cool, winter preparations are smooth sailing this month with Life is a Garden’s crisp April checklist. Gardening during the cooler months definitely has its own challenges, but also so many exciting flowers and veggies to look forward to. Did someone say spring bulbs already? Head over to your GCA Garden Centre and let’s plant right in!

 

Chillax with flowers
  • Bulba-licious beauties: You can plant all spring-flowering bulbs now, hooray! Bulbs with fingers or claws, like ranunculi, should be planted with their fingers pointing downwards. Try plating small bulbs like anemone, leucojum, muscari, lachenalia, tritonia, and ranunculus, or larger bulbs such as hyacinth, freesia, and Dutch iris.
  • Pretty and pleasing: April is the perfect time to buy and plant out pretty primula, poppy, pansy, and gazania seedlings.
  • Indoor inspiration: Spathiphyllum, known also as Peace lily, is an easy-care, low-light houseplant with majestic, long-lasting white blooms.
Leucojum
Ranunculus
Dutch Iris
Primula
Spathiphyllum Peace lily
  • Colourful corners: Try planting a corner of ericas, restios, leucadendrons, and Proteas – they provide stunning autumn and winter colour.
  • Balmy blooms: Plant cool-season annuals at the base of bare-stemmed bushes. Choose sun lovers like alyssum, calendulas, dwarf snapdragons, lobelias, Namaqualand daisies, phlox, and pansies.
  • Bedding babe: Available in many bright hues, Cineraria enjoy moist soil in semi-shade beds.
  • Pot of purple: Lavender is waiting to perk up your patio pots with an easy-going purple flush.
leucadendrons
Lobelias
Cineraria
Lavender
Feeding and frost
  • Feed aloes and flowering succulents for a glorious winter show.
  • If you’re living in a frost-prone area, be sure to purchase some frost protection from your GCA Garden Centre before winter arrives in full force.
  • Continue feeding your evergreen cool-season lawn to ensure it remains lush during winter.

 

In the grow-zone
  • Grow garlic bulbs, which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre. Pick a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant the cloves about 15cm apart in drills of about 7cm deep.
  • Plant a lemon tree now to enjoy summer lemonade on the rocks!
  • Veggies to be sown now include: peas, parsnips, carrots, onion ‘Texas Grano’ (short-day varieties), beetroot ‘Bulls Blood’ (the leaves provide extra vitamins for winter), broad beans, winter cauliflower, and good old broccoli.

 

Green steam ahead
  • Start sowing herb seeds in windowsill containers. Avoid leaving your babies near glass overnight as the cold chill may affect their growth.
  • Revitalise your veggie beds to boost winter crops and give roots added nutrients. Mix in a hearty dose of compost to your soil with a handful of organic bone meal.
  • Prune back old canes of raspberries and blackberries that have finished fruiting.
  • Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts.
Garlic bulbs
Lemon tree
Sow herb seeds
Prune rasberries

Enjoy your time chilling out and ticking off your April checklist. Ride the wave of cool-season thrills and all that’s up for grabs in the garden. Whether you’re maintaining, sowing, planting, or pruning, there’s always something to do in the backyard. Life is a Garden – welcome the refreshing autumn breeze into yours.

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

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life-is-a-garden-may

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. Make sure mom stays modern and get her some wild bananas.

Hot tip: There are many beautiful orchids, cyclamen and other stunning plants available at your local GCA Garden Centre, just waiting to delight Mom this Mother’s Day.

Life-is-agarden-mothers-day
Life-is-agarden-mothers-day
Edibles

What would sausage and mash be without peas? Peas are also one of the few veggies that kids enjoy eating, especially when combined with corn. If you love peas, you will love fresh, home-grown peas even more. They are just so easy to grow from seed or seedling. Offer the climbing peas a variety of support to climb up, plant with a little compost, feed regularly, and hey presto, there you have your own home-grown peas.

Hot Tip: Peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, including vitamin C and vitamin E, and more.

 

What to Sow

Some of the best seeds that can still be sown are indigenous beauties, which honour our African heritage with a parade of colourful flowers. These are:

Gazanias, Livingstone daisies (Mesembryanthemum), Scabious africana (the indigenous cape scabious or pincushion), and Namaqualand daisies (also called African daisies).

May is also a good time to sow Calendulas. Their perky orange and yellow flowers are great in plant borders and their edible flowers also make them a winner in the herb and veggie garden.

The month of May is an ideal time to sow shade grass and cool season seeds. They can provide the following solutions and more:

  • Shade grass can be sown into your existing lawn during winter. This is called over-seeding, which helps your lawn look green and healthy in the winter. Sowing shade grass can also be used to fill patches in an existing lawn.
  • Several different shade lawns can be sown. These are often available as both coarse and fine leaf lawns, and some can even withstand tough wear, such as areas where dogs like to run. .
  • Evergreen lawn seed is available for planting as a new lawn too.
Plant African bulbs in Africa month

There are beautiful indigenous bulbs that rival the Ranunculus, Daffodils and Hyacinths, [M1] especially once you take the time to get to know them:

Sparaxis or harlequin flowers prefer well-drained, composted soil in the sun or partial shade. Striking flowers that are often marked with a contrasting colour in their centre are good cut-flowers. These plants do well in the garden but are also excellent container plants.

Tritonia, also called blazing stars, offer a lovely range of spring-flowering colours - from bright orange to salmon, cream and white, and are also great cut-flowers. Make sure that you plant them in very well-drained soil, positioned in the sun or in semi-shade.

Lachenalias have cheeky and brightly colourful hyacinth-like flowers. Most hybrids have sweetly scented flowers that start flowering in winter. Good drainage is essential, so add some sand to poorly drained soil to increase the drainage. Their flowers are also great in vases.

Hot Tip: Don’t complete your bulb shopping before you’ve purchased bulb food. Before you go, take peek at the following other indigenous bulbs that are really something special and worth looking at:

  • Babiana, or baboon flowers, are the cutest little plants with attractive hairy leaves and fragrant flowers.
  • Freesias, which are fragrant and colourful, are great in containers and are very pretty cut-flowers.
  • Ornithogalum, or chincherinchees, have attractive white or green-white fragrant flowers, which are exceedingly long-lasting cut-flowers.

Ixia’s star-shaped flowers produce a riot of colour in spring, flourishing in a sunny or semi-shaded bed or container, especially when mass planted

It’s time to plant in the cool season with the 4 P’s. P is for princess and poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas - the royalty of our winter and spring annuals, which are now available as seedlings at your local GCA Garden Centre:

  • Iceland poppies are just gorgeous and available in mostly mixed packs of pastel or brighter colours. They are easy to grow, good cut-flowers, and overall just WOW!
  • Pansies and their smaller cousins, violas (which have edible flowers), are world-wide favourites and available in striking colours and vivid combinations.
  • Petunias are available in an array of colours too. These mound-forming annuals can appear cascading, while others are bushy. We recommend watering according to the natural winter rainfall in that area. Be careful not to overwater petunias.
  • Primula malacoides, or fairy primulas, put on a superb show and are shade-loving favourites for the cool season.

 

Bedding besties

Hot Tip: Regularly remove spent blooms from winter annuals, especially Iceland poppies, pansies and violas, to encourage more flowers.

Hot Tip: Tie sweet peas to their supports and remove tendrils or side shoots to encourage the nutrients in the plant to be used on necessary growth, and later, flowering.

Pick/Prune

Clean up perennials by removing any brown or dead leaves. Remove flower stalks from the summer and autumn flowering ones. Mulch them up with a little compost and water regularly.

The following Summer flowering bulbs require a little TLC at this time of year:

  • Once withered, cut back the foliage of Canna hybrids to the ground. Cover them with coarse mulch or compost and water regularly.
  • Once the leaves on your Liliums have died back, cut them off and cover them with mulch or compost and water regularly.
  • If you are not lifting Dahlias, cut the withered leaves down to about 15cm above the ground.
What to Feed

Do you eat in winter? We sure hope so! And we hope that you remember your winter and spring-flowering bulbs and annuals need food too! After all, they’re growing furiously at this time of year and need a little extra nourishment. Use a fertilizer that is rich in potassium since this will not only promote flowering or fruiting, but also make the plants healthier and stronger against the cold, pests, and diseases. A selection of liquid and granular/pelleted fertilizers are available to choose from at your local GCA Garden Centre.

TIP: The annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen for growing and flowering through winter. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for advice on a liquid fertilizer that will do the trick over the next month or two.

Blooming African star

Have you planted water-loving starlet (Spiloxene aquatica) in your water-feature? If you have, you would notice that from May, this indigenous “star” is peppered with little white, twinkly star-like flowers with bright yellow centres. Its spiky dark green, needle-shaped leaves grow up to 30cm long, making it a dazzling plant for a sunny spot in the pond, or water-feature.

Tip: If you have limited outdoor space, any waterproof pot can be turned into an exciting water feature for the patio, balcony or garden.

Rose care

Rose blooms may be picked with long stems. If the plants are in full leaf, continue to adhere to a spraying programme where watering may be reduced. It is a good time to plant winter flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, on the edges of rose beds.

Lift and divide

Hot Tip: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, now is a good time to split or divide them.

  • The obedience plant (Physostegia virginiana). It has eye-catching bright-lilac flowers, is easy to grow and has a resilient nature and ability to spread freely. These flowers are truly beautiful, long-lasting cut-flowers.
  • Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) have large, interesting leaves and gorgeous blooms.

Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii formerly known as Aster novi-belgii, have fine foliage and tiny daisy flowers borne on long stems. They are great cut-flowers and available in a range of purples, pinks, and white.

Inland gardening

In frosty areas, it is best to water between 10 am and before 2 pm. If you keep the roots of roses and many other plants moist, they are able to withstand light frost much better than dry plants.

Jack Frost will soon surprise you in frosty regions, especially the very cold Free State areas, closely followed by the Highveld, so start protecting your susceptible plants with frost cover. Frost cover allows the light in, while protecting the plants at the same time. Ask for it at your local GCA Garden Centre.

Hot Tip: To add gorgeous Autumn colours to a medium or large garden, consider planting a Liquidamber (Liquidamber styraciflua), or some of the smaller Maples in modest gardens.

Coastal gardening

If you’re in the Cape, make the most of your abundant winter rainfall by harvesting water from the roof. Check and clean your gutters, which may be clogged up with leaves.

Hot Tip: In coastal and lowveld areas, feed granadillas with a nitrogen and potassium combination fertilizer. You can ask for advice at your local GCA Garden Centre.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.