Style your Bougie Get the best from your bougainvillea

The bougainvillaea is an all-time favourite in the garden and never disappoints in the bold colour, daring height, and textural intrigue they bring to spaces. Get the best from your bougie this month with Life is a Garden’s insights on pruning styles, container planting, fertilising, indoor growing, caring tips and more. 

 

Planting tips for youngsters 

Available in red, purple/mauve, white, yellow, orange, magenta and many shades of pink, bougainvillaeas are simply stunning but rather sensitive when young. As adolescence, bougies have easily damageable, brittle root systems. When planting, we recommend wetting the soil thoroughly before transplanting from the nursery bag or container. Do not loosen the soil away from the roots during this process to avoid transplant stock that really takes its toll on new arrivals. 

Top tip: Bougainvillaeas love warm, sunny spots with well-drained, rich and loamy soil. They prefer infrequent but deep watering. 

 

Styling and bougie training 

Bougainvillaea plants are essentially creepers, but with nifty pruning, they can be trained to grow into several styles and shapes. Teach your bougies to grow into neat formal hedges using mesh or wooden trellises. In smaller gardens, they can be controlled by frequent pruning and even styled into ball shapes called superballs or standards. Depending on the size of the ball or the height required, bold bougie columns can also be created and are real show-stopping décor elements. 

Top tip: Go for low-growing varieties and experiment with hedging styles and wall cover-ups. Remember to use string to tie down your bougies while still in training school. 

 

Pruning yay’s and nay’s 

Pruning should be carried out once your Bougainvillaea has finished flowering. This encourages new growth upon which the next flush of fabulous flowers will grow. A good general rule is that regular light pruning will keep them in good shape with near constant regrowth and banging blooms.

Giving life to 2021’s trends Trends Article

When life gives us manure, gardeners make compost! As such, Life is a Garden would like to invite all green fingers to welcome 2021 as The Great Reset – a time to reconnect with our home space, a chance to grow food and deepen our connection with nature, an opportunity to shape remote working environments, and the ideal excuse to expand outdoor entertainment areas. Here are the top trends for the year to inspire you and help support adjusted lifestyles at home. Let Mother Nature work her magic to lift those spirits and make every space a place for life to shine!

Trendy colours that celebrate life

The Pantone colour of the year is grey and yellow: grey representing fortitude and yellow symbolising happiness. Together, these colours send a message of positivity, supported by a solid foundation (grey) upon which to build joy (yellow). Cultivate resilience and hope by planting these beauties below:

Sun in your pocket

  • Yellow canna lily: full sun in beds or containers, bold and bright, frost-sensitive.
  • Alstromeria (Inca lily): full sun or semi-shade, good cut-flowers, needs winter munching.
  • Anigozanthos bush bonanza: full sun or semi-shade with bright, golden-yellow flowers.
  • Marigolds: full sun or semi-shade, drought-tolerant, attracts butterflies, repels pests.
  • Sundial yellow portulaca: full sun annual, fine-textured foliage, low ground-hugger.
  • Yellow capsicum: a full sun veggie, sprout seeds indoors in spring.
  • Cape honeysuckle: full sun or semi-shade, attractive ornamental shrub, good for hedges.
  • Snapdragons: full sun for beds or containers, gorgeous horizontally-growing blooms.
Yellow canna lily
Anigozanthos
Sundial yellow portulaca
Cape Honeysuckle

Grey for greatness

  • Senecio cineraria, or silver dust: create contrast with this fine, low-growing sub-shrub.
  • Senecio Angel Wings: robust in size with an angelic silver/grey sheen, an absolute stunner!
  • Dichondra silverfalls: drought, frost, and salt-hardy for full sun spots in beds and pots.
  • Lamium: grow best in partial/full shade to avoid scorching the leaves of these pretties.

There’s a garden on my stoep!

Patio gardening
Patio Gardening

Be bold and go bedless! Perfect your potting skills and never leave your patio without plants again. Here’s how you can easily bring the garden to your stoep with creative containers, vertical planters, colour wheel play, and a few bloomingly beautiful flowers. Life is a Garden, even on your balcony!

Creative containers

Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to experiment with different styles. Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space. You could even upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor.

Top tip

Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.

Let it all hang out

Utilising hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Vines cascading down a pillar is a fresh break in between bricks and concrete. Your local GCA Garden Centre has a variety of hanging baskets waiting for you!

Patio Gardening
Upcycle can planter
Flower pots
Hanging Baskets
Bloomingly good

Add life to your patio paradise by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. A couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill makes all the difference. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.

Fancy TFS

One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.

Flower pots
Thriller, Filler & Spiller

Who’s lus for strawberries and cream?

Grow your own reminder of the sweeter things in life and play with the colour wheel in your pots.

Make your own edible container wetland DIY Edible wetlands

You can create your own wetland at home and produce delicious edibles at the same time.

World Wetland day is celebrated annually on the 2nd February and we at Life is a Garden think that a beautiful way to support and celebrate these habitats is by creating container wetland gardens to add as a design element to your garden. Many water loving plants are also edible, so be sure to include some of the edible varieties in your wetland masterpiece.  This will be something different to your usual herb garden edibles.

A wetland is found where the land is wet enough (saturated or flooded) for long enough to be unfavourable to most plants but are favourable to plants adapted to anaerobic soil conditions. It is important that we understand and protect the incredible biodiversity of these beautiful and vital South African habitats. Not only do wetland ecosystems support a host of animal and plant life - but they are critically important for the survival of humans too, from the modification of climate change to the protection of human settlements from floods. If we protect wetlands, we also protect our planet and ourselves.

Here is an easy step by step tutorial on making a container water garden that is simple and inexpensive.

What you will need:

  • Container that holds water
  • Water plants (don’t forget your edible varieties)
  • Rocks or bricks
  • And of course - water!

Choosing a Container

When choosing a container for your water garden, keep in mind that technically, anything that holds water will work. Make sure however that it is not porous. Choose a container large enough to comfortably hold at least three or four water plants. A 60 cm wide container will be a perfect start. We chose a beautiful, stylish powder blue glazed pot.

Choosing Plants

When choosing water plants for your container, keep in mind to choose based on the size of your container.

Simple sun-lovers Marigolds

Hello sunshine! That’s the cheerful greeting from marigolds, and what better tonic is there than a bed, border or container filled with marigolds.

Marigolds are fuss-free, quick-growing, and cope with the heat even during the hottest time of the year.  They are relatively drought tolerant, needing regular but not excessive watering. The flowers are edible, the leaves can be used in insect-repelling sprays and the roots produce a substance (alpha-terphenyl) that suppresses the growth of plant-parasitic nematodes and other organisms such as fungi, bacteria, insects, and some viruses.  A good, all-round garden citizen.

There are two types of marigolds, and each has their charm and use in the garden. 

African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) have large double flower heads that are ball shaped. Most varieties are 30 – 40cm high, carrying the round heads above dark green leaves on sturdy, compact plants that always look lush and healthy. In addition to yellow, gold and orange there is a creamy-white variety called ‘Vanilla’. They are best used as a bedding and landscape plant, massed in front of taller perennials like salvia, pentas, ornamental millets, grasses and shrubs.

French marigolds (Tagetes patula) have a variety of flower shapes; anemone, frilly doubles and crested doubles. The anemone type is the showiest, with a wide range of colours, the prettiest being mahogany edged with yellow or golden yellow tipped with red. The double crested varieties have larger frilly flowers that come closest to the pom pom shape. Novelties are ‘Fireball’ and ‘Strawberry Blonde’ that produce multicolour blooms on the same plant. Most French marigolds grow 25cm high and wide but there are very compact dwarf varieties that stay 15cm high and wide and are very heat tolerant.

French marigolds are good edging and border plants for smaller spaces and can be used en masse as bedding plants.

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).

Bulging Baskets of Bright Blooms Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets and containers are ideal to brighten up small balconies and large patios. Whether you are looking for bursts of brilliant colour or more muted tones there are various options to delight your senses.

For the most glorious displays, follow the general rule of using thrillers, spillers and fillers in your containers and baskets. The thriller is the central feature plant, like a pelargonium, salvia or other eye-catching plants. The filler provides the bulk and is usually compact and full of flowers, like impatiens, osteospermum or lobelia. Spillers are planted around the edge and are trailing or cascading plants. Here are a few basket combinations to wet the appetite:

Shades of Pink - Shock Wave Petunias (Petunia x hybrid) are the earliest flowering of all petunias and their strong branches spread out quickly to fill up baskets and containers. The Pink Vein variety is a soft pink with darker veins that run through the petals. These pink beauties are combined with Blue Bacopa (Sutera cordata) to weave in pops of lavender or blue amongst the show of pink, creating an overflow of cotton candy coloured blooms in the basket or container.

Yellow & White – This basket of sunshine combines the bold, bright yellow blooms of Osteospermum Voltage Yellow with the crisp Petunia Easy Wave (Petunia x hybrida) in white. Expect an abundant gush of big, bright blooms from spring through to autumn. This combination is easy to grow, hardy and will make a lasting impact when placed in a sunny spot.

Bold - This basket is like a rainbow of colour bursting out of the pot. Plant Calibrachoas in deep yellow, rose and purple for a colour sensation that will bring happiness to any balcony, patio or garden. These brilliant blooms grow best in low-light and tolerate shade well.