Posts Tagged ‘ colourful ’

Urban gardening on your balcony Balcony Gardening

Posted on: October 20th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life is a Garden – Balcony Gardening

We know that many of our gardeners have green fingers longer than their balconies can accommodate. That’s why Life is a Garden has made November all about our city living gardeners out there. You can still make your patio pop, indulge your gardening cravings, and escape the city from your stoep, here’s how:

Life is a Garden – Balcony Gardening
Consider your style and space

Before diving in, there are a few things to consider: What do you use your balcony for the most? Are you more of a lock-up-and-go or do you have some time to spend on maintaining your balcony greens? Does your space get full, partial, or no sun at all? How would you like your dream balcony to present you and your personal flavour? The answers to these questions can really help you conceptualise your space to make it practical for your lifestyle. Now that that’s sorted, let’s get your urban oasis going!

An urban escape on your stoep
Let there be light and life

Any balcony easily comes to life with a little light! Your local GCA Garden Centre has a lovely variety of solar lights you can add to the space. Try draping some LED fairy lights from your railing with a few scattered lanterns in between your new pot plants, or perhaps hanging from a beam or two. Speaking of pots, container gardening is all the rage, especially edible ones! Using different sized pots in your balcony garden adds height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to play with different styles. You could upcycle a sweet teapot into a planter with your favourite tea time herb, or get the kids to decorate some cans and transform them into pot plants for a lovely homely feel.

Zen your den

Ditch the cold concrete and cover your stoep with some lovely faux grass. Available at your favourite GCA Garden Centre, there are a variety of soft and luscious faux grasses to choose from, and the fab thing is that you never have to cut or water it! Go full out with your mini city sanctuary look and opt for some tree stump seating, a pallet sofa, a self-standing hammock chair, or a trendy reed bench if that’s more your style. Depending on what you use your space for, you could even go for a picnic-style set up on your grass with large cushions or beanbags (with space for a hubbly or ice bucket in the middle). Alternatively, ditch seating altogether and use the space for an ambient water feature – now that’ll definitely help you get your zen on in the city. If you’d like to make your own balcony fountain, here’s another DIY on us: https://bit.ly/2G0EE4n

From the window to the wall
Getting your balcony blooming
From the window to the wall

Picture a few hanging baskets framing your windows with an abundance of green life spilling over the edges – a view to appreciate from both inside and on the balcony.  Add even more jungle vibes to your city escape with a gorgeous living wall to cover up that concrete and boring brick. Green walls are actually rather simple to make and so worth a little effort. You could also invest in some upcycled bamboo wall dividers (which we always see on the side of the road) and use these as wall cover-ups and creeper support. Vertical planters are also great for space-saving gardening, plus, they are super trendy and stylish for a more modern look. Dust off the cobwebs in the corner and let’s add a vertical planter with a quirky creeper for fun.

Getting your balcony blooming

It’s important to know the sun moves across your balcony so that you can choose the right plants for your space. Here are some of our top plant picks to get you started:

Shady babies: Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) are hardy for the gardener on the go, Leather leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis) brings in texture, and Forest bell bush (Mackaya bella) do well in containers.

Sunseekers: Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is an old fave flowering vine, Climbing Snapdragons (Asarina) work well in vertical planters and living walls, and Petunias are great for cascading blooms. Geraniums are also a sure win for the balcony garden and let’s not forget roses for the most delightful potted rewards.

Transforming a balcony into your own unwinding city escape is well worth a little time and effort. In the long run, this space provides an important place of grace in between all the hustle and bustle of urban living. We tend to so often live for the weekend, so let’s bring the party to your patio and create an environment that’s so welcoming, every day is sunset on the stoep day! Caring for plants also helps your mental well-being, destresses you, and adds purpose to your daily routine. Life is a garden – how often do you tend to yours?

Getting your balcony blooming

Get the look – Food for Thought Must Love Gardening

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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This gorgeous edible garden makes you think twice about traditional row sowing. Why not create a stylish veggie garden that serves not only as a functional food source but also as a relaxing chill space where you can share and enjoy your edibles with friends.  The best part is that you too can easily get the look, here’s how.

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  • Vertical landscaping elements, such as the gazebo, provides that homely outdoor room feel. With a comfy bench, this can become a favourite spot to sit and relax. The gazebo also offers the ideal structure to grow a climbing rose. The wooden tee-pees also add to the vertical element and will be very useful for many climbing plants. You could use any other pillar or frame you like to achieve some height in the space. . In this garden, the tall Tuscan rosemary has been used to fill the tee-pees and is a refreshing new twist to sculptured gardening. Beans, peas, tomatoes and many more edibles would also work wonderfully.
  • The different levels in the design offer a clever way of making any space look larger and more interesting.
  • The strong blue colour on the back wall is very dramatic and contrasts with the lime coloured gazebo and tee-pees. It also shows up the plants in the garden, especially the architecturally shaped grey-leaved artichokes in the bed against the wall. The blue flowering plants connect with the wall while the patches of yellow and gold pop brightly. The pink chandelier and cushion are striking and draw the eye to the seating area.

Tip: Repetition is a strong design principle that is often overlooked. Notice how the tin and terracotta pots are repeated amongst the wooden planters. This repetition throughout the design helps to enhance the overall look.

 

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Get the look with some of the edible plants in this landscape that you may or may not have tried:

  • Did you know that roses are closely related to apples, apricots, pears and peaches? They are almost completely edible and some parts even downright yummy. Don’t let those thorny stems fool you, they too are edible. When using the fresh rose petals you mostly only need to remove some of the older petals and not completely strip the flower. Petals can be used as:
    • Colourful dessert garnish or added to a salad.
    • Candied and then used as a tasty garnish.
    • Chopped into a summer sorbet or frozen in ice cubes.
    • Used in syrups, jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads.
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  • Braai rosemary, otherwise known as Tuscan Blue rosemary. Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue' is an upright rosemary that grows to between 1.2m and 1.5m high. They can be planted in obelisks or tee-pees of about the same height or shorter as a fun way of growing them. The reason they have adopted the name ‘braai rosemary’ is because they have tall, strong upright stems that are amazing to cut and strip as braai kebab skewers. This is a fun project to try with the kids. Whether you use meat and veggies or melon and strawberries, the flavour of rosemary infuses subtly into the food from the skewers. Visit the following page to learn more about this family fun idea:

https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/rosemary-kebab-for-braai-day/

Fresh rosemary leaves or stem tips with young leaves, can be used in many dishes – here are just a few:

  • With potatoes and roast veggies
  • Chicken, game, lamb and veal
  • Biscuits
  • Salad dressings, sauces, herb butters and oils

Tip: There are also pink and white flowering upright growing rosemary plants, a creeping rosemary, and the old favourite ‘McConnel’s Blue’.

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  • Although fennel is not new to Italian cuisine it is trending as the go-to vegetable and herb to be used in many dishes, from appetisers to desserts. The leaves, flowers, seeds and its bulbous base are all edible. Eaten raw or cooked, it is savoured for the subtle aniseed and liquorice notes. In the landscape, fennel or Florence fennel Foeniculum vulgare, is a gorgeous plant with fine, ferny foliage and tiny bright yellow flowers. The ferny foliage is a wonderful contrast to large-leafed plants. It is easy to grow and is often planted among roses to keep the aphids off the roses since they are a host plant to aphids.

Tip: Bronze fennel has an exquisite purply colour, which is a fabulous colour to use in the garden and in your food.

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Edible faves: An edible garden wouldn’t be complete without basil in the summer and violas in the winter. There are so many delicious new basil varieties that can be sown or purchased in October. Make sure you keep some open spaces and pots ready for this versatile herb.

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The striking little flowers of Viola hederacea are beautiful as an edible garnish. Lastly, the amazing Meyer lemon is a dwarf variety that is ideal for small gardens or large pots.

Take inspiration from “Get the Look” and add your own creativity to the design – Life is a Garden, so live it to the full.

Pictures courtesy of Garden World – Show Garden by Strylitzia Landscapes.

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Get the look – A Mexican Fiesta Must Love Gardening

Posted on: July 20th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life is a Garden

Olá me amigos! This month, our inspiration stems from Mexico and their vibrant, easy-go-lucky flavour. Come salsa with us and spice up your garden by planting a colourful burst of summer fun. This water-wise garden is low maintenance and bold in its simplicity. Get your friends together for sundowners and welcome the sizzling summer vibes and braais to your backyard.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Weave a tapestry of delight with a vivid variety of plant combinations. It’s easy to highlight a medley of succulents accompanied by a diverse range of one-drop plants. These are low water requirement plants that will save your wallet and add rich textures to your space. We love the silvery shards of Blue Chalksticks (Senecio ficoides) - a spreading succulent shrub. It’s proudly South African and will thrive quickly in well-drained soil in a sunny area. Contrast these bluish grey-green patches with the robust burgundy of the Bushveld Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sexangularis) and you have a striking mix of red and blue. These guys are not thirsty so let the soil dry completely before watering. They are hardy and will forgive even the most absent-minded gardener. Their name derives from the Chinese Kalan Chauhuy meaning ‘that which falls and grows’, so yes, they will survive! These water-wise companions take low maintenance to the next level.

 

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

The show-grabber is undoubtedly the Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata) all the way from Mexico. Invite these amigos into your space to create spectacular visual focal points. They grow up to 1,2 m tall and will add height to the layout. Unlike other agaves, they won’t bite. With no thorns or spikes, they are referred to as unarmed. This makes them a friendly addition to any family. You can accentuate their sleek and stylish appearance even more by planting them in decorative pots. We recommend bright, bold red and blue mosaic pots that will tie in with the Mexican theme.

 

Throw in a dash of red here and there with the coral-like Fire Sticks (Euphorbia tirucalli 'Rosea') aka Red Pencil Trees. These striking succulent shrubs are hardy and their colour ranges from a faded yellow/orange in summer, to a deep red in winter. They love full sun areas but keep them away from pathways or where small fingers can play or break their delicate stems. Fire Sticks are very toxic so be very careful when handling them. Their milky sap can burn your skin or cause welts if one is sensitive to it. We recommend you wear protective gloves and goggles when working with them and avoid touching your face or eyes. If you feel a burning sensation on your skin or eyes, seek medical advice immediately. So, make sure you plant them safely out of the way where they can look pretty, but can’t be touched!

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Compliment this succulent ensemble with bright scatter cushions or prints from the popular Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Keep your space casual with nature-inspired floral prints and on-trend and with a few decorative pieces here and there. Now you have all the makings for a memorable outdoor fiesta. Tequila Sunrises and Taco’s, anyone?

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