Posts Tagged ‘ Colour ’

How to perfect the art of indoor gardening 101 Indoor Gardening

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

Indoor plants promote good mental health, super Zen vibes, texture, air purification, and something beautiful to appreciate as you go about your day. Life is a Garden, indoors too, and there’s a plant just waiting to bring that side table, desk, and bookshelf to life. Good old potting soil, fertiliser, and a watering routine makes all the difference in maintaining an indoor haven.

 

Checkout these 5 top tips to perfect the art of indoor gardening:
  1. Choose the right plant and place: Start off with an easy plant from our BF (beginner-friendly) suggestions below. Checkout your space and see where’s the gap to be filled. Choose a plant that likes the light conditions of your chosen area.
  2. Choose the right pot: Choose a suitable sized pot with good drainage holes and don’t forget the saucer that catches excess water (we’ve all been there, #rookieerror).
  3. Get good potting soil: A bag of delicious potting soil goes a long way! Visit your GCA Garden Centre and grab a bag to get you going. Add a couple of small stones to your pot before adding compost. This will help with drainage and root rot prevention.
  4. Get to know your new friend: Understand the light, watering, and soil requirements of your plant. Observe how plants react in the space and change their position if needed. Poke your finger into the pot and feel the soil, this will tell you if your plant is ready to be watered.
  5. Feed your new friend: Generally speaking, every 6 weeks is a good time to fertilise. The new plant baby depends on you now to maintain the nutrient integrity inside the pot. Your GCA Garden Centre guy can advise you on the best soil and fertiliser for your plant.

Try this: To help you choose the best plant for a room, you can now download an app that measures light intensity – how efficient is that! #nomoreexcuses

Here are our top 10 plant picks that’ll bring in colour and freshness to your space.

Look out for the *BF (beginner-friendly) options for novice gardeners. 

 

1. Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)

Light likes: Pellaea enjoy humidity with no direct sun, high to medium light will do.

Soil & water: Let the top layer of soil dry between watering, he doesn’t do soggy.

On the weekends: He can be found chilling in a humid bathroom on the windowsill or in a hanging basket. His dark-green, evergreen, button-like leaves like to explore.

 

2. Blue star fern (Phlebodium aureum) *BF

Light likes: Medium to high light with no or partial direct sun, she’s very adaptable.

Soil & water: Enjoys moist over dry, water well when she’s thirsty.

On the weekends: Her forest-like foliage, with curious wavy blue-green fronds, can be seen fluffing about and grabbing attention everywhere she goes.

 

3. Bird's nest fern(Asplenium nidus)

Light likes: Medium to bright, no direct sun. She likes warmth, humidity, and moisture.

Soil & water: Moist, rich, and loamy does it.

On the weekends: She’s always cheerful with tropical light green fronds, resembling banana leaves. She’s good at limbo, but don’t touch her new fronds while she’s growing.

4. Kumquat tree *BF if you follow the rules

Light likes: Super bright light, even direct sunlight if possible. She enjoys the patio too.

Soil & water: Regular watering with excellent drainage.

On the weekends: This happy-go-lucky babe can be seen showing off dozens of bright little orange fruits. She’s good at inspiring new jam and preserves recipes!

 

5. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) *BF+

Light likes: Medium to bright, no direct sun, but they like warm corners.

Soil & water: Good drainage with weekly watering.

On the weekends: You may find them looking for things to climb on with their flamboyant, large and in-charge leaves. Beware, this beaut bites and is toxic to pets.

 

6. Triostar Stromanthe (Stromanthe sanguinea)

Light likes: Near a window with plenty of natural light, no sun. Rotate your pot weekly.

Soil & water: Well-drained, fertile soil that is kept moist but not soggy.

On the weekends: She’s the pretty, popular chick with impressive, vibrant pink foliage that’ll make you blush. Triostar’s gonna’ make you work for her though, be prepared.

 

7. Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) *BF+

Light likes: The brighter the better, but he’s adaptable.

Soil & water: Good drainage and regular watering.

On the weekends: He’s a rugged, attractive guy with striking green, sword-like, red-edged leaves that stand at attention. Your friends may be jealous of his good looks.

8. Flaming sword (Vriesea splendens)

Light likes: They enjoy some morning sun with high light throughout the day.

Soil & water: Add some orchid mix to your soil, infrequent watering but not all the way dry.

On the weekends: They can be seen proudly parading their yellow-orange blooms that look like fun swords. Sadly, they do decline after blooming but they’ll leave you with offsets first.

 

9. Cymbidium orchid (Cymbidium spp.)

Light likes: Partial gentle sun and good light is her kind of vibe.

Soil & water: Loamy, moist, well-drained soil,

On the weekends: Her stunning sprays of large blooms are a sight to behold! Appreciate her while you can, it’ll be a while before you see her flowers again.

 

10. Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) *BF

Light likes: They enjoy sunlight and warmth.

Soil & water: Avoid soggy soil but water them moderately.

On the weekends: These often golden-trunked, bamboo-looking darlings can be seen growing tall at their own pace, taking time to extend all their friendly fronds.

To help keep your indoor plants looking their best and breathing well, use a damp cloth to clean their leaves from any dust. Remember to checkout which lovelies are ready to plant now, or plan ahead for the right season and home your dream indoor gem. A spray bottle is also super handy to have around for quick watering touch-ups. See what’s potting at your GCA Garden Centre and have fun perfecting the art of indoor gardening!

Back to Basics with Creepers and Crawlers

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

Climbing plants and ground covers are the easiest way to level up your gardening game. Bring walls to life, add privacy with hedges, decorate arches dripping with roses, cover-up baren spaces, create curtains of greenery for the patio, get your windowsills bustling with bees and butterflies, attract more birds, smell the sweet essence of flowers every morning, bring in colour, AND – need we even say more! Here’s some inspiration to get you going.

 

Climbing, quick spreaders
Indigenous splendours:
  • Pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) is a full sun beauty, boasting an abundance of fragrant lilac-pink flowers. Vigorous, rambling, and great for beginners.
  • Starry wild jasmine (Jasminium multipartitum) rewards gardens with a delicious sweet scent emitted by star-shaped blooms. They like morning/afternoon sun.
  • Flame creeper (Combretum microphyllum) is a truly spectacular specimen with flaming crimson flowers for the larger garden with ample sun.
  • Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) flourish in full sun where tubular blooms in red, orange, yellow, and salmon can climb up to 3m high.
Worldly charms:
  • Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a highly fragrant climber and ground cover. Blooms perform best in full sun, but they also do well in semi-shade.
  • For climbing roses, try the Stamina Rose. This pink-purple babe parades over arches and windowsills. She’s also hardy and disease-resistant, bonus!
  • Flowering Ivy (Senecio macroglossus) is a bright little explorer with yellow daisy-like flowers between dark green foliage. They enjoy full sun to semi-shaded areas.
  • Potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) has clusters of fragrant, dainty light-blue or white blooms that’ll make quick work of full sun, trellised walls and arches.
Ground covering crawlers
Ornamental grass
  • Ophiopogon japonicus 'Kyoto' is an exceptional tuft-forming no-mow grass that’s ideal as a plant filler in full sun to semi-shade. They’re cold and frost-hardy too!
  • Zoisia tenuifolia grows low to the ground and often has a wavey appearance, making it a top architectural plant that’ll cover any space with full sun to semi-shade.
  • Dymondia margaretae is a special, sun-loving, carpet-forming cover that’s hardy, fast-growing, good against wind erosion, and perfect as a filler between pavers.
  • White carpet (Falkia repens) grows low to the ground, bearing small pink flowers that create a wonderful indigenous 'daisy lawn' in full sun or semi-shaded areas.
Flowering thrills
  • Lamium, or dead nettle, is a shade-lover with variegated leaves and sweet blooms of white, pink, and purple. Great for beginners and not prone to pests or disease.
  • Spanish daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus) will transform your garden into an exquisite fairy landscape with masses of pink and white blooms. They like sun and semi-shade.
  • Sedum is a sun-loving, hardy, perky perennial with fleshy leaves and clusters of star-shaped blooms that spread out and have a most pretty party in the garden.
  • Bacopa (Sutera cordata) is a South African stunner that’s easy and versatile. Plants are covered in tiny white/lavender/pink flowersthat enjoy the sun or semi-shade.

Be sure to visit your GCA Garden Centre to check out which of these lovelies are available to plant now. To help your climbers along, don’t forget to install trellis support for them to play on. Garden centres are stocked with goodies for creepers and nutritious compost and soil to help establish your new ground covers.

How leaves change colour – an experiment for kids

Posted on: March 10th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
How leaves change colour- an experiment for kids

Autumn is a colourful time for trees and a curious invitation to all young gardeners. Do your children also enjoy rummaging around in leaves, collecting them, and admiring their unique hues? Well then, here’s a DIY kids experiment that investigates the science of chlorophyll and answers the question of how and why leaves change colour. Are you ready for some fun in the garden? Let’s go!

 

What’s so cool about leaves anyway?

For starters, leaves are part of Mother Nature’s highly intelligent network of oxygen (O2) providers, making them an essential service to life on Earth. Through photosynthesis, leaves turn light energy into food for plants to grow. Using their pores, or stomata, leaves absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and then release clean, crisp O2 for us to breath – thanks guys!

 

Chloro- me, chloro- you, chloro- phyll?  

Owing to changes in daylight and temperature during Autumn, the process of photosynthesis and the amount of chlorophyll in leaves is altered. Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes leaves green, so with less sunlight for photosynthesis, it’s only natural that some changes in colour are expected. The absence of chlorophyll is what results in the gorgeous display of sunset-hued leaves this time of year.

 

An experiment awaits!

You will need:

  • A few glass jars
  • A few coffee filters
  • Various colours of autumn leaves
  • Surgical spirits (available at pharmacies)
  • A spoon for mixing
  • A notebook to observe changes

 

Leaves at the ready:

  1. Unleash your kids upon the garden or park in search of as many different autumn-coloured leaves they can find. Equip them with a container to carry their findings.
  2. Group their leaf treasures by colour. Once sorted, smash/crumple/tear each group of leaves into pieces and then place each pile into a separate jar.
  3. Pour the rubbing alcohol into each jar until the leaf pieces are completely covered.
  4. Use a spoon and continue mixing the leaves inside your jar until the surgical spirits changes colour.
  5. Using a coffee filter, make a cone and then place the pointed tip down into the smooshed leaf/surgical spirits mixture. Make sure the tip of the cone rests inside the mixture.
  6. Let the jars chill for about a day, checking up to see magical Mother Nature and science at work!
  7. Children will see, with their very own eyes, in real life mom and dad, how the colours of the leaves begin to separate and travel up the coffee filter. Observe the absence of chlorophyll in all its glorious hues!

Enjoy this investigative, hands-on experiment with your young ones. Let’s continue our quest to inspire and educate the new generation of gardeners. After all, our Life is a Garden, and we want our kids to have one too! Don’t forget to visit your GCA Garden Centre for new autumn babies to plant and sow, for pots, beds, and baskets.

DIY Colour a Bouquet Experiment

Posted on: December 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Transform white flowers into a rainbow bouquet

Who says back to school can’t begin with a little fun? This DIY experiment is science on rainbow steroids and will intrigue both boys and girls. Learn about plant anatomy, enjoy a little magic, and become the inventor of a whole new flower species. Transform white blooms into any colour you like, here’s how:

Plant picks

Any white flowers should work well for this experiment. Here are some top picks that are currently in bloom, either in the garden or at your local GCA Garden Centre.

  • White roses
  • Lisianthus
  • Carnations
  • Gerberas
  • Hydrangeas

You will need:

  • A few white flowers (store-bought or hand-picked).
  • 4 Different shades of food colouring (or as many as you like).
  • 4 Medium-sized drinking glasses or jars (avoid plastic cups).
  • A pair of sharp scissors
Life is a garden DIY colour bouquet

Get colouring:

  1. Fill half of each glass with water.
  2. Pour half the bottle of your chosen food colouring, one at a time, into each glass of water. You want to achieve a rather concentrated colour so that your flower will have a vibrant hue.
  3. Cut any leaves off your flowers and trim the stems to fit nicely inside your glass. You want some stem sticking out with your flower comfortably resting against the glass.
  4. Pop your clean-stemmed flowers inside the different glasses.
  5. After two hours or so, you will begin seeing slight colours appearing on the edges of the flower petals. When the kids wake up, the flowers should be completely coloured in and looking lovely!
  6. As a fun little extra, kids could also name their new flower species and make little tags for their inventions. Help kids think of names by combining the flower’s botanical name with perhaps their own, other family members, or their pet’s names.
  7. While the kids wait, here’s some neat to know science stuff about how your flowers have soaked up the colour.

 

The science of how plants drink:

Out in the wild, plants soak up water from the ground through their roots. The water then travels through the stem and into the flower petals. Although we have removed the roots of our flowers in this experiment, the stems are still able to soak up the coloured water and defy gravity! Plants are super intelligent and use capillary action to drink upsidedown – pretty impressive, right?

DIY colour bouquet
DIY colour bouquet
DIY colour experiment
DIY colour experiment

Consider this – food for thinkers.

If plants are so easily affected by what goes into their water, imagine what polluted water does to them! Similarly, consider the possibilities of adding other liquids to the water and how this would affect the colour of the blooms. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:

  • See what happens if you use a light and dark soda instead of water.
  • How will your flowers turn out if you mixed two food colouring shades together?
  • What if you used orange juice and grape juice instead of water?
  • See if you could make a rainbow flower by splitting the steam and putting each strip into a different coloured glass.

 

Enjoy showing off your hybrids, kids! Go back to school with an awesome story to tell about how you invented a flower this holiday. And don’t forget to tell your friends about the importance of clean water for our flowers and their gravity-defying superpower.

DIY Colour Bouquet
DIY colour bouquet
DIY colour experiment
DIY colour experiment
DIY colour experiment

September in the Garden September Check List

Posted on: August 27th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

September always kicks off with Arbor Week and this year it officially kicks off on Monday 31 August and runs until Friday 4 September.

  • Common tree of the year is the Cape ash or essenhout Ekebergia capensis, which is a stunning, lush evergreen tree that grows in many parts of the country, except the regions with heavy frost. It has fragrant flowers and its fruit attracts many birds and mammals.
  • The second tree of the year is the baobab or kremetart Adansonia digitata. Also known as the upside-down tree, it dominates the Limpopo landscape with its swollen trunk and limbs. It yields the coveted cream-of-tartar fruits and can be grown in frost-free areas.

Tip: The initiative of Arbor Week is to promote the greening of communities. Celebrate Arbor Week by planting either of the above two trees or any other trees or shrubs. If they are indigenous and water-wise that would be a bonus. It is said that Life is a Garden … so create yours and celebrate the plants you love most.

Life is a Garden - Cape ash or essenhout Ekebergia capensis
Life is a Garden - baobab or kremetart Adansonia digitata
Sow edibles

There is a multitude of both flowering and edible seeds that can be sown now. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to see the range and perhaps consider one or more of the many tomato varieties available to sow now:

  • Roma – Firm, fleshy with few seeds. Great for canning and cooking. Fairly long shelf life. High yields, it requires a trellis or stakes.
  • Heinz – Large fruit with rich tomato flavour. One of the first tomatoes to be used to make Heinz ketchup. Requires a trellis or stakes
  • Cherry tomatoes – Several on the market. Bite-size and has a delicious flavour, is small and round and can be eaten whole in salads.
  • Cherry yellow pear – An heirloom variety with small yellow pear-shaped fruit.
  • Oxheart – Another Heirloom tomato with enormous heart-shaped fruit. Mild, sweet flavour. Requires staking.

Tip: There are rainbow coloured cherry tomatoes such as Green Zebra, Clear Pink, Black striped and even Green Sausage seeds available for those of you that want to be a little different and create a talking point at the dinner table.

Life is a Garden sow tomatoes
Life is a Garden - Heinz
Life is a Garden sow tomatoes
Life is a Garden - Sow tomatoes
What to Plant

Our indigenous Clivias are favourites worldwide and it’s not difficult to see why when they bloom in September.

  • Beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers
  • Clivias do well in pots.
  • They readily multiply and spread to fill shady beds.

Tip: There are many different hybrid Clivias. If you are a Clivia fan or would like to see some of the more unusual Clivias, take some time off and visit a local Clivia show this spring.

Read more: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/clivias-for-shade

What to Spray
  • Spray your fruit trees preventatively every 2 weeks for Codling Moths and Fruit Flies.
  • Only start spraying after about 80% of the flower petals have dropped so that you give the bees enough time to pollinate the flowers.
  • Make sure you alternate the insecticides you use so that the fruit fly cannot build up a resistance to anyone insecticide. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance.

Tip: It would be wise to use spraying in conjunction with a fruit fly trap.

What to Spray
  • Spray your fruit trees preventatively every 2 weeks for Codling Moths and Fruit Flies.
  • Only start spraying after about 80% of the flower petals have dropped so that you give the bees enough time to pollinate the flowers.
  • Make sure you alternate the insecticides you use so that the fruit fly cannot build up a resistance to anyone insecticide. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance.

Tip: It would be wise to use spraying in conjunction with a fruit fly trap.

What to Feed
  • Spring is the correct time to feed the plant roots to activate good root growth at the beginning of the season. Good roots make good, strong plants. This is most applicable to lawns and leafy plants.
  • Flowering plants, shrubs and fruit trees will benefit from early season fertilising too. Your local GCA Garden Centre can advise you on the best fertilisers to use.

Tip: When you ask your local GCA Garden Centre for advice be sure to mention your preference for either chemical or organic fertiliser.

Bedding plants

Focus on annual Phlox

  • The flowers are mostly flat and star-shaped in a variety of colours including violet, pink, blue, red, white and cream. Flowers are fragrant and should be deadheaded regularly to encourage more flowers.
  • Phlox prefers full sun to light shade, require good drainage and well-composted soils.

Tip: Phlox are easy to care for as long as you understand that they prefer moist soil and that drying out too much hinders growth and flowering.

Balcony or pot plants

Cape daisies or Osteospermums:

  • Indigenous eye-catching flowers in a range of colours.
  • Easy to grow.
  • They flower freely and love to cascade over the sides of pots or troughs.

Read more: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/osteospermum

Focus on annual Phlox
Water-wise

Its heritage month so why not brag about our own indigenous plants a little?

  • Cape honeysuckles Tecoma capensis:
    • Flower mostly in autumn but sometimes flower sporadically throughout the year.
    • Can be used as a formal or informal hedge.
    • Flower colour ranges from red, yellow,orange and salmon.
    • Attract birds and butterflies.
  • Both the kingfisher daisy (Felicia bergeriana) and the blue marguerite (Felicia ammelloides) have:
    • Striking small blue daisy-like blue flowers with button-like yellow centres.
    • Both have variegated forms and are all gems in the front of garden borders or in mixed containers.
Inland gardening

Spring fever is in the air, here are a few things you may forget to look at in the garden:

  • New beds on a slope and newly terraced areas should be planted up with groundcovers so that they can bind the soil before the summer rains.
  • Consider beautiful arches, arbour benches, obelisks and other decorative items that will add a new dimension or feature to your garden.

Tip: Spring is the time that garden centres feature new and exciting products as well as loads of explosively colourful plants – do yourself a favour and go into your favourite GCA Garden Centre…. you will not be disappointed!

Coastal gardening

The bulk of spring planting is almost behind us and that gives you a little breathing space to look at:

  • Removing any rust on metal features in the garden before the summer rains start, (excludes the Cape winter rainfall region).

Tip: Baking soda and steel wool are a home remedy you may want to try.

August in the Garden Spring into action

Posted on: July 20th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
August in the Garden

Although spring only officially starts on the 1st of September, we don’t need a calendar to see that spring has sprung! For most of the country there is a delightful springiness in the air. For the Free State and Western Cape, your time is soon to come. Although August is warm to even hot in various parts of the country, always apply the following rules when planting or sowing plants that are sensitive to frost damage:

  • In frost-free areas, start planting at the beginning of August.
  • In areas of light to moderate frost that lasts until about the end of August, plant in early September.
  • In areas with late frosts or winter rainfall, wait until late September.

With pruning behind us, there is so much to do in the garden, so push aside the winter chills and spring into action. Your spring bulbs and annuals should be a riot of colour by now, inviting you out onto the patio with family and friends during our balmy, warm August days. The beauty of spring may only be rivalled by the stunning women that surround us. The 9th of August is National Women’s Day and the perfect opportunity to celebrate both Mother Nature and all of womankind!

 

An African appetite

Have you considered growing an edible local fruit? The following shrubs, trees and ground covers can form an aesthetic part of your garden and become a valuable, unusual food source:

  • The kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra) is an evergreen large shrub, or small tree, that creates an impenetrable hedge with its spiny thorns. The yellowish-orange fruits are delicious and mostly used for jam, jelly, and syrup-making. The flowers feed honey-bees and attract butterflies whilst the fruit is a delicacy for several birds.
  • The shrub num-num (Carissa macrocarpa) and the ground cover num-num (Carissa macrocarpa ‘Green Carpet’) both have beautiful glossy leaves with compact, thorny growth. They have star-like white flowers which have an orange-blossom fragrance with elongated mini plum-like num-num fruit, which is red when ripe. They can be eaten raw or made into jams or jellies. The num-num shrub is also rather impenetrable as a hedge. Carissa’s love the coastal weather but grow in most areas with light to mild frost e.g. they grow in most Johannesburg gardens but are harmed by the heavier frost in the Vaal and Free State regions.
Life is a Garden

Tip: They attract birds and butterflies and their flowers feed honey bees.

  • Have you ever had a bush milkshake? Well, now you can in the comfort of your own home. The cross-berry (Grewia occidentalis) is a fine, hardy landscaping shrub that produces little purple berries, which are relished by birds and man alike. The dried fruits can be boiled in milk to make your bushveld milkshake. If you’re feeling adventurous, they also make great tasting African beer.
  • Arguably the best liqueur is made from the fruit of our own marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea). The sweet/sour fruit can be eaten fresh or made into jellies, beer and commercial liqueur. If your area is not prone to heavy frost in winter and has space for a fruit tree, dare to be different and plant a few marula beauties. You may need to plant more than one since trees are either male or female and only the female tree bears fruit.
  • Need to know: The nut inside the marula fruit can also be eaten as is or added to vegetable dishes.
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Play & plan with the COLOUR palette

Your spring and summer palette of plants can be a crazy cacophony of colours with a wonderful variety of colour combinations for your consideration. Have fun playing with these flowering plant colours now available in pots:

  • Reds: Pelargonium or geraniums, Verbena, Petunia, Argyranthemum and Dianthus. Impatiens or Sunpatiens in frost-free areas.
  • Pinks: Calibrachoa (or million bells), Verbena, Petunia, Dianthus, and Argyranthemum. Impatiens in frost-free areas.
  • Yellow: Argyranthemum and Gazania.
  • Purple: Lavender, Verbena, and Petunia.
  • Blue: Salvia farinacea, Petunia and Lobelia.
  • Orange: Gazania. Impatiens in frost-free areas.

No wonder, they say Life is a Garden – let’s enjoy it!

Top tip: Improving your SOIL is the priority at this time of year. Before or at the time of planting, add and mix into it plenty of organic matter to the soil such as compost, manure, autumn leaves or other suitable products offered by your local GCA Garden Centre. This will boost soil fertility and ensure healthy plant growth.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

It’s a pet’s life

Dogs will often eat grass blades when they have a stomach ailment. Did you know that there is a plant aptly named dog grass (Elymus caninus) that your dog will simply love to chew on rather than your lawn? You have the ideal excuse to indulge your dog this month since 10 August is Spoil your Dog Day! Why stop there, cats are smitten over catnip (Nepeta cataria) and love to chew and roll all over the plant.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

What to sow

Got that green finger tingle? Let’s sow some seeds!  Marigolds germinate within a week.

Even the lightest and laziest green finger will have success sowing the following seeds:

  • Marigolds: A no-fuss annual that germinates quickly and blooms in no time. Sow marigolds after the threat of frost has passed. Marigolds are your first choice for an easy-go-lucky beauty in a sunny spot. There are many varieties to choose from, dwarf to tall and single to double flowers. Their colours range from sunshine yellow to cream, orange, gold, copper, brass and some with red highlights.

Claim to fame: Planted among veggies, marigolds are great companion plants since their scent repels many different pests including Nematodes.

  • Cosmos: Like marigolds wait for frosts to pass before sowing. Cosmos is easy to grow and attracts birds, bees and butterflies. These pretty daisy flowers held up on delicate stems are mostly sold as a cheerful mix of colours and are fabulous to pick for the vase.
  • Cornflower: It is always so beautiful to find true blue flowers in the garden. Cornflower is a great cut-flower and attracts birds to the garden. Enjoy their edible paintbrush looking flowers in your salads.

Tip: The cornflower has nectar-rich flowers, which attract many beneficial insects to the garden. These are nature’s helpers and keep unwanted insects away.

  • Beans: Beans such as string beans are exceptionally easy to grow. They take up little space and are very productive. You can choose between growing bush beans or climbing beans. Bush beans grow to knee height and will benefit from something to hold on to or lean against, whereas a trellis or tall stake framework will be required for the climbing beans. Tip: beans can be blanched and frozen for later use, used in fresh salads, hearty stews and soups, or pickled as a tasty treat

Need to know: Bean flowers and leaves are also edible.

Tip: In areas that experience late frosts, hold off sowing beans for a few weeks until frosts are past.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to see what else you can sow now!

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Plant: Love these locals

Many of the most popular plants in the world are our very own. Here are two local lovelies which you can buy as flowering plants in pots, ready to add colour to the patio or the garden:

Pelargoniums: Bush geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) and ivy, or cascading geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum), are some of the most sought after of our indigenous plants. Geraniums are incredibly rewarding as garden plants and do exceptionally well in containers too. They love a sunny to semi-shade position and well-drained soil that should be moist but not wet. Give them a weekly mild liquid feeding for excellent results.

Osteospermums: These are also known as the African daisy. Their masses of gorgeous daisy-like flowers with dark centres come in shades of white, yellow, pink, purple and blue. Their eye-catching, bold coloured flowers make them a fabulous choice for a sunny spot in the garden, tumbling over rocks or spilling down the sides of containers. Osteo’s are water-wise, flower for long periods, and are perennial in areas where frost is not heavy.

Coloured arum lilies: Although hybridised, they stem from our indigenous arums or Zantedeschia’s. Often referred to as Zant’s, they have the most beautiful, elegant vase-like flowers in gorgeous colours. You can buy them already in flower, in a pot, or as bulbs.

Tip: Zant’s are best planted in the sun.

Need to know: There is a whole range of summer bulbs at your local GCA Garden Centre. These include Amaryllis, Eucomis or pineapple lily, flame lilies and more. The flame lily is the most delicate, precious climbing plant with exquisite flowers that is best planted where it can easily be seen and shown off, whether on an arch or frame in a pot. Tip: Wait until next month to plant in very cold areas where late frosts are still expected and areas with winter rainfall.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

WOW and water-wise! There are a few different perennial vygies and each is as stunning as the next, especially when in full spring bloom. Their rich, luminous jewel-like colours cover the plant and stand out as a jaw-dropping colour bomb. These sun-worshippers make stunning border plants, are great for rock and succulent gardens, spilling over low walls and pots or hanging baskets too. Your local GCA Garden Centre will be proud to show you their vygies. If you prefer to use vygies as seasonal colour then ask for the annual vygie or Livingstone daisies that are available in seedling trays.

 

Plant: Fruity fragrance

Lemon-scented verbena: Also known as Aloysia, this is a must-have if you enjoy drinking deliciously refreshing lemony tea. A delightful drink is easily made from the scented leaves or you could use them to add fragrance to the garden. If you locate the plant close to a path, the lemony scent will be released whenever a person brushes past the leaves. This rather wispy looking shrub can reach up to 2m in ideal conditions, but normally about 1m tall in areas of light to moderate frost as it can survive a little icy chill. Prune back every spring if you prefer a dense, bushy plant. It is easy to grow and the sprays of white flowers it bears are a bonus.

Claim to fame: The lemon-scented verbena leaves contain essential oils, which have many culinary and aromatherapy uses.

Bedding plants:

Choosing Verbena for your warm-season colour would be a wise choice. Their dazzling range of colours will add va-va-voom to the garden. They will cascade over hanging baskets, window boxes or containers. Treat yourself - go and have a look at the Verbenas on offer at your local GCA Garden Centre.

Tip: Verbenas like well-drained soil and prefer not to be watered in the evenings.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Feed and pick

Feed fruit trees and vegetables and reap the rewards of the last of the winter veggie harvest.

Prune

Did you know that blueberries should be pruned about every four years? When pruning them, try to prune them into a wine glass shape to encourage good air movement and light penetration.

If you want good quality fruit from your peach, nectarine, apricot and plum tree, it is best to prune them every year (this is also true for most berries). However, if you want your fruit trees to grow tall and provide shade, then only prune to shape it when necessary.

Tip: Pruning is easy if you know how. Call your local GCA Garden Centre or visit them for pruning advice.

If you forgot to prune your roses in July, August is a better time than never! Especially tend to the espaliering of climbing roses. With the rapid increase of new shoots, water at least once a week with a deep drenching.

 

Water plants

Repot water lilies and add bone-meal into the soil - it is organic and safe for fish. Make holes in the soil, insert the bone-meal, and then cover it with soil on top so that the fish do not eat it. While you are busy with the pond, maintain and clean the pond and service the UV light if you have one. Clean out the algae and start with algal control.

Inland gardening

Lawn: proud or pitiful – what makes the difference?

It’s time to give your Kikuyu lawn a boost with some spring treatment:

  • Scarify: Use a steel rake to remove thatch- the dry matted grass at the base of the leaves. The vigorous use of a plastic rake or hard-bristled yard broom can also work.
  • No 1 haircut: Mow the lawn with the mower blade set low.
  • Spike: Use a garden fork or aerator to punch holes all over the lawn.
  • Fertilise: Chose a fertiliser recommended by your local GCA Garden Centre.
  • Water: The lawn gets thirsty too!
  • Dress: Spread lawn dressing over the lawn and rake it evenly over the surface. A 30dm3 bag of lawn dressing covers 4 to 5 square metres.

Now just watch and wait for your stunning new grass to appear though the lawn dressing. Fertilise monthly for best results and water at least once a week until the rains start.

Shopping list:

  • A good, strong rake
  • Sharp new lawnmower blades
  • Garden fork or hollow tine aerator
  • Lawn fertiliser
  • Hosepipe and sprinkler
  • Lawn dressing

 

Coastal gardening

Lowveld and in warm frost-free coastal regions:

Sow the following vegetables now: asparagus, Capsicum (peppers), carrots, cucumber, bush beans, aubergines (brinjals), all melons, all marrows, parsley, pumpkin, radish, runner beans, Swiss chard.

Western Cape – winter r­­­­­­ainfall areas:

Sow the following vegetables now: asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, Capsicum (peppers), carrots, cucumber (under protection), aubergines (brinjals), leeks, lettuce (Cos), all melons, all marrows, onions, parsnip peas, radish, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, tomato, turnip.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden