Posts Tagged ‘ DIY ’

DIY Father’s Day Pallet Tool Hanger A gift for father's day

Posted on: May 11th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

This month we’re celebrating all dads and father figures in our lives. Get the family involved with this practical, thoughtful, and fun DIY project. Give dad a hand and let’s get those tools sorted, in true gardener style. Who knows, this DIY may as well give poppa that little boost he needs to get his handy-man on and complete those outstanding projects! #Weloveyoudad

You will need:
  • A pallet
  • Paint or wood varnish and brush
  • A drill
  • Wood hooks (to hang pots)
  • Bucket-style pots with handles (make sure that your wood hooks are large enough to support the pots and fit the pot handle size)
  • Pot plants (choose non-creeping/climbing plants and go for an upright beauty instead)
  • Potting soil from your GCA Garden Centre
  • U-type double hook tool hangers and matching screws. Choose hooks that are coated with plastic/rubber to protect dad’s tools from scratches (available at hardware stores).

Top tip: Your GCA Garden Centre has a variety of bucket-style pots and baskets to choose from, and of course, a glorious selection of pot-perfect plants. Take the kids along for a fun family outing!

Plant picks: If you have a sunny spot in mind, choose Succulents and cacti as no-fuss greenery that will thrive off a little neglect (they look super rugged too!). Visit your GCA Garden Centre to discover what other semi-shade and full shade plants are available now.

 

Go-go MacGyver:
  1. Give your pallet a coat of paint or wood varnish in the colour of your choice. Encourage kids to paint some pictures for dad or little messages on the panels.
  2. Decide where you would like to hang your pots and look at what kind of tools dad uses the most. We recommend a line of 4 hanging pots along the second panel, leaving space for larger tools to hang below.
  3. Drill 4 holes, evenly spaced, across your panel. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller in diameter than the wood hooks so that you can twist your hooks into the drilled holes by hand.
  4. Twist the wood hooks into the ready-drilled holes.
  5. Half-fill your pots with nutritious potting soil. Transplant your new babies into the pots and give them a good watering. Let them drain completely.
  6. Hang your plants on the hooks by the handle-end of the pot.
  7. Now it’s time to gather dad’s most used tools and pop ‘em on the panels. Drill holes for the fancy U-type double hook tool hangers and fasten them using screws. Placement of the hooks will depend on the size of the tools you are planning to hang. Give it some thought and arrange the hooks to best suit dad’s handy-man essentials.

Top tip: Use the open compartments of the panels for dad to store other hardware accessories and perhaps a couple of beers too. You may even want to line the insides of the panels with a plastic material for easy cleaning and grab-and-go convenience.

This DIY is perfect as a heartfelt gift to any person in your life that’s your go-to MacGyver. Enjoy helping dad out this Father’s Day and show him that you support all of his hard work around the house. Thanks for all the lightbulb changes, picture hanging, shelf-assembling, and those much-loved dad-jokes!

Garden Glossary Find out more here!

Posted on: April 21st, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Unearth some of the most used garden jargon and stay on top of your game.

Life is a Garden was launched by the South African Nursery Association to promote gardening as the ultimate leisure time hobby in Southern Africa and brings relevant industry-endorsed information, at the right time of the year, to interested gardeners across Southern Africa.

Time to Make a Macramé Hanger Find out more here!

Posted on: April 21st, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Make your own macramé plant hangers in a few easy steps. Check out this DIY video with inspiration and instructions to get you going.

Life is a Garden was launched by the South African Nursery Association to promote gardening as the ultimate leisure time hobby in Southern Africa and brings relevant industry-endorsed information, at the right time of the year, to interested gardeners across Southern Africa.

DIY African Mamma Planter A gift for mothers day

Posted on: April 12th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Here's the perfect gift for the eco-mom this Mother's Day! Give like a gardener with this stunning DIY planter made from an empty bottle, some South African flavour, a cute creeper, and a splash of creativity. Whether the mom in your life is an auntie, sister, cousin, or guardian – this home-made act of gratitude is sure to show them just how much you adore their presence in your life.

You will need:
  • A clean, empty 2l milk/juice carton (remove any labels and glue, keep the lid).
  • Waterproof paint.
  • A permanent marker.
  • Knife or scissors.
  • An African-inspired cloth for the kopdoek/headband (larger piece) and neck (small piece).
  • Rope for hanging.
  • Potting soil (available at your GCA Garden Centre).
  • A cute creeper (as hair) from your GCA Garden Centre. Go for a fun outing and check out which creepers are in season now.

Plant picks: Pilea glauca bowl, String of beads, Philodendron selloum and other Philodendron varieties, Guzmania varieties, Spider plant, and Pathos.

Making your Mamma
  • Turn your carton upside down and conceptualise: the opening serves as the neck of your character, the handle becomes the nose, and the bottom end becomes the top of her head where the plant will go.
  • Cut off the “head” quarter of the carton (not the lid end).
  • Cut a few drainage holes/slits in the lid cap of your carton (her neck). Cut holes for the rope from which to hang your planter and then thread it through.
  • Paint or draw on her lips above the neck, create her eyebrows just above the ending of the nose, and then her eyes, either opened or closed with luscious lashes, of course! You can play with the facial features of your mamma – perhaps add a nose ring or earnings, a little blush or eyeshadow. You could even make an African pappa or a few kids to accompany her.
  • Carefully fill your container halfway with nutritious potting soil. Make sure the lid is on!
  • Pop in your cute creeper as the hair for your mamma. Add more potting soil and tuck your new baby in.
  • With your gorgeous larger cloth in hand, consult tannie Google on how to wrap a traditional kopdoek. Alternatively, you could go for a bandanna or headband style too. Arrange the leaves of your creeper as desired to give her that wild and untamed look.
  • Using the smaller cloth, cover her neck and the lid.
  • Water her up!
  • You can either hang your creation with rope, or use her as table décor, allowing her hair to hang off an end.
  • Remember to check what light conditions your creeper needs to choose the best spot for her to flourish.

Enjoy warming your mom's heart this Mother's Day with a daily reminder of your appreciation. Put your gardening passion and upcycling creativity to work!

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.

Ravishing Radish DIY for Kids Growing radish in 25 days

Posted on: February 16th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Radish

With Easter just around the corner, get the kids excited and outdoors with this DIY Ravishing Radish growing project. Did you know? Radishes are ready to harvest in only 25 days! Making them the perfect hiding spot for those secret treats and treasure quests. Radishes are also loaded with fabulous vits and mins. When transformed into candy radish apples, they become the perfectly disguised veggie sweetie.

 

Planting Radishes
  • Prepare a loose, nutrient-rich soil bed for the babies in a sunny spot. Veggie compost is available at your GCA Garden Centre, where you can also purchase radish seeds.
  • Sow the seeds directly into your beds by popping a seed on your finger, then gently pressing it down into the soil about half a cm deep. Cover the small holes by sprinkling soil over the top.
  • Water lightly once sowed and continue to water daily. Make sure your soil doesn’t dry out completely, but doesn’t stay muddy either.
  • After just 3 weeks, you can check the progress of your radishes by unearthing some of the top soil to see the gorgeous bulb.

Top tip: Pull younger radishes for crisp roots and a milder flavour. After 20 days, pull one out and test it for yourself. Radishes left in the ground too long will be very hot and pithy in taste.

Grow radish in 25 days
Growing radish in 25 days
Growing radish in 25 days
Growing radish in 25 days

Candy Radish Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 washed and dried radishes
  • 12 long skewer sticks
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • Half a cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 cup of water
  • Half a teaspoon of red food colouring
  • A sheet of baking paper

 

Method:

  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  • Bring it to a boil and cook the mixture until it reaches 150°C (the hard crack stage).
  • Remove the candy mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the red food colouring.
  • One by one, dip the radishes into the candy mixture, swirling to coat them thoroughly and allowing any excess to drip back into the pan.
  • Transfer the coated apples to the baking sheet and allow to cool until the candy has fully hardened.

*Top tip: Pick young radishes for a mild zing that will complement the sweet candy coating nicely. Small radishes can also be made into sweet-zesty candied lollies on a stick.

Candied Radish Recipe

Enjoy sowing ravishing radishes, reinventing the candy apple, and Easter treasure hunts in the garden! Radishes are a great snack for the Easter Bunny and make super hiding spots for chocolate eggs. This DIY is a great opportunity to show kids that having green fingers is cool and sweet. Pulling their own radishes from the ground offers an exciting reward to the young gardener, who will certainly be telling the family that THEY did it all on their own – how awesome!

When plants eat insects, where do they go? A carnivorous plant dissection experiment for kids. When Love Bites

Posted on: January 14th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Do plants have stomachs and teeth? How are they able to catch prey like other carnivores if they can’t run? And when they catch insects, where do they go? These are mind-baffling questions indeed and certainly worthy of a little hands-on investigation! Scientists, biologists, and creepy-crawler lovers, are you ready to find out what happens when love bites this February? Eeeeew!

Did you know?

Carnivorous plants, also known as insectivorous plants, are those which get their nutrition by catching and digesting insects. How cool is that? Carnivory in plants is owing to centuries of evolution, driven by pure instinct to survive in areas with nitrogen-poor soil. There are over 600 known species of insectivorous plants around the world, time to get yours!

The deadliest devils

Here are a few carnivorous contenders that will make the perfect dissection specimen.

  1. Sundew: These bad boys exude a sticky substance that attracts and then traps insects and other small prey. Their meal is quickly swallowed by a web of tiny tentacles and digested by enzymes within the plant stems and leaves.
  2. Venus Fly Trap: One of the most popular meat-eaters with trigger-sensitive, dangerous jaws! They use sweet nectar to attract their prey and then with interlocking teeth, trap their victims. Digestive enzymes get to work as the plant absorbs a lovely nutritious soup.
  3. American Trumpet Pitcher: This cleaver funnel-like plant hunts using a pit-fall trap. Insects are attracted by a nectar-like secretion on the top of the leaves. Unlucky for them, the nectar is poisonous, sending their intoxicated bodies tumbling down the funnel.
  4. Tropical Pitcher Plant: Similar to the beastie above but more sack-like in appearance. They too attract insects using sweet intoxicating nectar. Prey slip on the rims of the plant, falling into a pool of death and soon drowning inside a sticky acidic liquid. The horror!
Sundew, carnivorous plant, kids diy, school experiment
sundew, carnivore plant, diy, experiment
Venus fly trap, carnivourous plant, diy, experiment
Venus fly trap, carnivorous plant, dissecting
American Trumpet Pitcher, carnivorous plants, dissecting, experiment
American Trumpet Pitcher, dissecting carnivorous plants
Topical pitcher plant, dissecting carnivorous plants
Tropical pitcher plant, dissecting carnivorous plants

Experiment essentials:

  • A carnivorous plant
  • Crickets or similar small insects and a container to catch them in
  • Scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Magnifying glass
What you need, experiment, dissecting carnivorous plants
Insects, dissecting carnivorous plants

The dissection process:

  • Approach your plant with caution, bringing your prey as a peace offering. Know what method your plant uses to hunt and eat so that you can position your insect in the right place.
  • Once you can see that your plant has taken the bait, give it about an hour and then, off with its head!
  • Cut the plant close to the base using a pair of scissors.
  • Use your knife to make a sleek slit down the plant, from leaf/flower top to the bottom of the stem. Open it up gently with your fingers.
  • Grab your magnifying glass and check out that exco-skeleton! You should be able to see the insect remains nicely (and a few other unfortunates down there too).

A meaty-must-know: Make sure you know how your deadly devil likes their soil so that you can home them for good and keep adding to the collection. They flourish in “poor” moist soil with some acidity that activates their instinct to source nitrogen from insects.

Insect, life is a garden , dissecting carnivorous plants
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants

This experiment is loaded with opportunities for exploration, discovery, and independent learning for the hungry young mind. Inspire your child to get in the garden and show them how awesome the natural world can be. Caring for a carnivorous plant is like having an exotic pet and requires much more attention than your average pot plant. Investing in one of these for the kids is a fantastic long-term project with countless “oh my word, it just ate a… coooool!”. #TeamGreenIsWinning

Carnivore plants, dissecting

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

Hero your harvest this holiday Holiday Gardening

Posted on: December 1st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

The holiday season is a gardener’s time to shine, an opportunity to show off the goods, and the perfect occasion to “uithaal en wys”, as they say in Afrikaans. This month, you’ve got full bragging rights, so make sure you’re ready to be the gardening host with the most! It’s time to let those home-grown veggies and herbs take the spotlight.

Braai buddies

With the family on their way and the charcoal ready – it’s braai time with some buddies from the garden to bring out the flavour of your food. Highlight your hard work by making veggies and herbs the hero of your dish. Here are some tantalising ideas to please every pallet:

  1. Brazilian braai broodjies: Put an exotic twist on our local favourite by adding these herbs to your broodjies with a little olive oil – oregano, rosemary, bay leaf, basil, and thyme.
  2. Sweet and sticky pumpkin pockets: Make little parcels from foil to pop straight onto the grill, filling them with ginger, marjoram, tarragon, and a little honey or sugar. Kids will love this one!
  3. Creamy black mushrooms: A delicious sauce to baste on as you braai, using melted butter, garlic, dill, and lemon balm. Garnish with fresh chives.
  4. Watermelon wanderlust: Explore your tastebuds and impress everyone with groovy grilled watermelon! Cut your watermelon into wedges, season both sides with a mixture of salt, sugar, and a hint of chilli. Season well to get that charred look and flame-grilled taste, garnish with lots of fresh mint.
  5. Tomato hot pot: Hollow out the inside of your big tomatoes, mix the pulp with the following herbs, put it all back inside and then pop them over a gentle flame: parsley, fennel, coriander, sage, with a little salt and black pepper.

*Match your meat: Pair the flavour profile of your veggie dishes with your chosen meat for a well-balanced, complimentary dish.

Leaves are lekker

Time to ditch store-bought lettuce heads and go for leaves that say “festive and fabulous”.

Your garden centre has ready-to-go packs of mixed gourmet lettuce with gorgeous leaves to make the fanciest of salads.

Personalised salad jars are a grand gesture and a sophisticated way to hero your harvest. Find out which greens your fussy eaters enjoy, then layer a medium-sized glass jar with the chosen ingredients. Your guests will not only be impressed by your effort and presentation but will also enjoy tuning over their special salad onto their plate.

*Tip: Make your own salad dressing by blending up mixed herbs, olive oil, lemon juice and love!

Cocktails and mocktails

  1. Basil smash with gin: A shot of gin, a can of cucumber-favoured soft drink, and a handful of basil.
  2. Mint soda float: A can of cream soda, a scoop of ice cream, and a handful of mint.

*Tip: Bruise your herbs to release their full flavour!

Garden Day 11 October 2020

Posted on: October 11th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt

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Garden Day returns for a virtual celebration of our beloved green spaces

Inspirational flower crown ambassadors, a packed calendar of virtual events, and DIY tips for a garden celebration are set to connect plant lovers across South Africa as Garden Day marks the beginning of Spring for the most meaningful Garden Day yet.

On Sunday 11 October, South Africans across the country will celebrate their unique green spaces and gardens in every shape and size. Created by gardening app Candide, Garden Day is a growing movement uniting people in their love for plants and flowers since 2016. From keepers of rolling lawns, community gardens, and vegetable patches to potted window sills, patio planters, and urban rooftops, the annual celebration is calling on plant lovers to put on a flower crown, down tools, and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

This year, Garden Day is especially poignant. Over the past few months, South Africans have turned to their green spaces to find solace and balance. Gardening has been proven to boost both mental and physical well-being and create a sense of belonging and connection. With spring in the air, it offers a chance to pause, reflect, and celebrate a season of new beginnings. From enjoying an outdoor picnic with your family to sharing your green haven with friends online, Garden Day is about taking a moment to celebrate the greenery that brings you joy.

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The Happiness Effect of Gardens
According to a recent survey by Candide, 96% of people said they felt happier when spending downtime in their gardens. The findings revealed the most popular garden activities are spending time in a favourite spot admiring plants, listening to birdsong and watching the wildlife, breathing in the fresh air and garden scents, enjoying a cuppa and a chat, taking me time with a quiet bite to eat, playing with the children, reading a book, or lazing on the grass.

“It’s been proven that if you surround yourself with plants and flowers, you’re likely to be happier. I can attest to that,” says Wolseley-based flower farmer Adene Nieuwoudt. “My flowers keep me energised and enthusiastic. Garden Day is the ideal celebration to express this sentiment.”

“There’s an unhurried creativity that comes with gardening,” adds award-winning interior designer Donald Nxumalo. “Typically, I’m racing against the clock, but on my balcony I can let the process evolve slowly. This balances and invigorates me. It inspires my design work.”

Nieuwoudt and Nxumalo are among the 2020 Garden Day ambassadors that will put on a flower crown and lead this year’s celebrations. They are joined by some of South Africa’s favourite flower and plant enthusiasts including landscape designer Joy Phala, Babylonstoren’s floral designer Constance Stuurman and master gardener Gundula Deutschlander, Chef Nti actor, writer and producer Donnalee Roberts, opera singer and television presenter Lynelle Kenned, and visual artist Alice Toich.

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Join the movement
To inspire South Africans to celebrate all things green, Garden Day will host a number of virtual events in the run up to Sunday 11 October including flower crown making workshops, so that you can make your own flower crown, the ultimate Garden Day accessory. On the day the movement will host its first Virtual Garden Day Gathering with a host of events, including yoga sessions, garden-inspired gourmet cooking and more via Zoom and Facebook Live. The final programme and details will be released on Gardenday.co.za/Events at the start of October.

Visit Gardenday.co.za/GetInvolved for a handy toolkit to help you plan the perfect virtual celebration, including recipe ideas, downloadable invitations for your virtual celebration and things to do and make with children in the garden. .
Catch news, updates, and inspiration at @GardenDaySA on Candide, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Tag your posts with @GardenDaySA and #GardenDaySA to share your green celebration with friends, family, and fellow plant lovers online.

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DIY Succulent & Rose Flower Crowns for Kids A little something special for the girls this October

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Life is a Garden is calling on all the fairies, princesses, queens and creatures of the garden to come out and DIY with us. We’ve got a little something special for the girls this October - drum roll, please… enter the flower crown! In celebration of October rose month as well as Garden Day on 11 October, we’re blushing shades of pink and green to bring you these lovely flower crown ideas using succulents and roses.

Here’s a step by step to creating your upcycle can masterpiece.

You will need:

  • An Alice-band and/or pliable craft wire
  • A few glorious succulents, roses, and some viney plant strands (Ivy may work nicely)
  • Green insulation tape, twine or ribbon
  • Superglue
  • Scissors and maybe some pliers
  • Bits and bobs of pretty arts and crafts goodies like shells and beads if you like
Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-Hero

Getting started

The first thing our DIY fairies need to decide on is whether they would like to decorate an existing Alice-band or if they would like to create a crown from scratch. Secondly, have a look in the garden at what kind of succulents, roses, and other vine-type plants are available. Head off to your local GCA Garden Centre for those special flowers and vinery you may want to add. Gather your arts and crafts goodies and prep your creation station.

 

Preparing your headband

If you are using an existing Alice-band, we recommend you choose one that is a little wider to give you more of a surface on which to stick and wrap your goodies. Alternately, if you’re creating a headband from craft wire, we recommend using at least two strands of wire together for more stability and also for more surface area to work with.

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Breathing life into your creation

  • Step 1: Single out your centrepiece succulents and roses. Make smaller bouquets with your additional greenery for added texture, variety, height, and a personal creative touch
  • Step 2: Shape your handmade wire crown to size, leaving a little extra room for the decorations. Connect the circle crown with a little insulation tape. You may also wish to completely cover your crown with ribbon or twine before you move on.
  • Step 3: Wrap your vinery around the crown/Alice-band. Use some twine or super glue to secure the greenery.

Terrific tip: Use a whip-like stem from a willow tree, or similar sort, to make a bow. Intertwining the stem will hold your flowers in place nicely.

  • Step 4: Place your focal point roses and succulents around the crown/Alice-band. You may want them all in front or perhaps spread around the crown. You can secure them by weaving the stems through the wire, or by using a mixture of superglue and twine for Alice-band crowns.
  • Step 5: Arrange your mini-flower bouquets and any additional decorations such as shells and beads to all remaining open spaces. Once again, secure your flowers and décor goodies with a little super glue, craft wire, ribbon, or twine. You may want to use some tongs here if you’re working with wire.
  • Step 6: Make sure your crown has fully dried and set. Place on top of your head and parade around like a magnificent fairy princess, Earth goddess!

Terrific tip: Store your living floral crown in the fridge to keep it fresh. Lightly spray your blooms before you wear it to pucker them up a little.

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This DIY floral crown is a fabulous opportunity for the girls to engage with the garden and get some hands-on education about crafting with flowers. The best part is - there’s no right or wrong, just the perfection of creativity married with the flawless creations of Mother Nature. Life is a Garden, so create away!

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A Bee-Friendly Backyard

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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This month, Life is a Garden is taking part in the important global conversation about the need for urgent bee conservation. Like you, we are gardeners on a mission! And this month our mission is to #PolliNationSA and gather all the green fingers we can to join us in creating nation-wide, bee-friendly backyards. Here’s how you can help our crop crusaders by planting their faves, making small adjustments to your current garden, and even building homes for these hard workers.

 

Let’s speak bee

We are inviting gardeners to awaken their inner eco-warrior and consider the bee as an essential service to mankind! The balance of Mother Nature and Her creatures are in a delicate little dance with humanity, with the bees playing an ever-important role in sustaining the following:

  • In South Africa alone, over 50 different food crops are dependent on bee pollination.
  • The honey bee not only pollinates our fruit and vegetables, but they also improve the weight and quality of them.
  • Bees sustain our wild flora, which in turn supports the growth and preservation of almost all biodiversity and ecosystems in South Africa.
  • These guys are THE most important group of pollinators visiting over 90% of the leading 107 crop types worldwide.
  • Bees also contribute to job creation and employment on a beekeeping and farming level.
  • Honey offers many medicinal benefits such as anti-bacterial and diabetic properties.
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Planting for bees

Welcoming honey-makers into your garden is easier than you may think. Once you know how to cater for bees, planning your next flower pot or gardening project becomes super easy. Similarly, a few simple additions to your current garden could make all the difference. Here’s what you can plant for bees:

  • Herbs such as sage, fennel, lavender, thyme, and rosemary
  • Flowers such as sunflowers, coneflowers (Enchinacea purpurea), Cape Daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis), dahlias, roses, Cape Forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis), and cosmos
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  • Shrubs such as Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Aloes (Aloe spp), proteas, September Bush (Polygala myrtifolia), and porkbush (Portulacaria afra)
  • Fruits and veggies such as watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkin are a bee-fave!
  • When thinking of what to plant next, try picking plants with long blooming cycles, which will keep your yellow friends returning to the garden.

Buzzing advice: Bees love most flowers but they are especially fond of blue and purple buds. Read more about bringing blue hues into your garden here: http://bit.ly/2TUs1N4

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The bee’s knees

If your garden is all planted up, not to worry, you can still be the bee’s knees by boasting your pro-pollination garden. Become a bee-warrior, make your mark, and do your bit for the bees by including the following into your garden:

  • Group the same plants together to form one square metre of beelicious food.
  • Let your plants flower for longer allowing honeybees to come back for seconds.
  • Provide a freshwater source such as a birdbath, water feature, or even freshly watered pot plants will thirst quenching droplets.
  • Avoid all pesticides and other chemicals as the majority are toxic to bees.
  • Flowering weeds are actually a very important food source for bees. Try leaving a weed-friendly section in your garden to show your support for the greater good of life on Earth.

Buzzing advice: Your local GCA Garden Centre has a full range of products for all your bee gardening needs – from spades and rakes to soil and seeds!

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Roses are a bee’s best friend

Roses, specifically those with more open blooms, are available in almost every colour imaginable! Roses invite bees with a great variation of scents, flowering for most of the year, and ranging from miniature, bushes and shrub roses, to enormous gorgeous climbers.

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How to home bees

Out of all the bee species, the solitary bee is probably the most family-friendly as they pollinate flowers and they don’t sting. These guys are different from honeybees although they look very similar. You can home the solitary bee by building your very own bee hotel. Now that’s a sure win for team-bee! We’ve got step by step instructions for you here: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/family-fun-in-the-garden-make-a-bee-hotel/

You may also wish to home some honeybees in an organic hollowed out tree stump. We love this idea as the wood is close to home for the little guys. There are several ways you can go about setting up a natural beehive at home, as well as many DIY ways you could build one. Google is your friend, dear gardeners, and your local GCA will help you bring your idea to life!

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Join us, gardeners of all sorts, and lets #PolliNationSA loaded with green thumbs and hearts that beat and buzz for the bees. Let’s get planting, building, and using our resources to make every day a bee-conscious occasion and every backyard a bee-friendly safe-haven. WE can make a difference, and the difference lies in what we can make together. Life is a Garden, how will you sustain yours?

Upcycle Cans Can you dig this DIY upcycle?

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

We love upcycling almost as much as we love gardening – and that’s like, allot! For this month’s DIY, Life is a Garden is inviting you to accept our eco-friendly, trash to treasure project, all about cans, creativity, and décor. If you also get that funny feeling whenever you throw away a can, that’s probably because: A – you care about the environment and just can’t bear the thought of a turtle choking on baked beans packaging, and B – like us, you can see the exciting, uncharted, open canvas of that baked beans tin that just screams “decorate me”.

Here’s a step by step to creating your upcycle can masterpiece.

You will need:

  • Some empty washed cans with a few holes made in the bottom (time to put that buying in bulk stage to good use)
  • String/twine/ribbon (natural fibre string or coloured string, depending on your vibe)
  • Some pebbles (store-bought or from the garden)
  • Moss (real moss available at your GCA Garden Centre or visit your local craft shop for fake moss sheets)
  • Arts and crafts accessories you have lying around
  • Super superglue or double-sided tape

How to decorate:

  • Start by thinking about which cans will be for outdoor and indoor decoration to determine which décor accessories would work best.
  • Have a look at all your goodies and think about the theme/colour scheme you’re going for to spice up your chosen area.
  • Use the superglue or double-sided tape to secure your string/twine/ribbon around the can.
  • If you are using pebbles or shells, pop them on too with some superglue.
  • Add a little texture to your can by tying a different piece of string/twine/ribbon around it. This will also help to keep your design together.
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Décor tip: You could always decorate half of the can one way, and the rest with a different accessory. For example, try decorating the base of the can with pebbles or shells, and the top half with moss or twine. This will give you added texture and bonus points for creativity!

 

Plant picks:

Indoors

  • For an easy to maintain, low light tolerant, and occasional neglect forgiver, we recommend the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia).
  • Vriesea varieties are a great choice if you’re looking for a colour-poppin’ plant with interesting foliage and texture.

Outdoors

  • Wild iris (Dietes grandiflora) is a lovely flower choice for a spot on the patio with sun or semi-shade.
  • The Mickey-mouse bush (Ochna serrulata) is a charming can contender and will flourish on your stoep in sun or semi-shade.
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Upcycling cans is all the talk of the town and for good reason. There are infinite ways you could go about decorating cans to use as pot plants and other DIY projects too. We’d love to see how you turned your trash into treasure. Share your creations with us on our Facebook and Instagram pages and join the Life is a Garden community.

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Upcycle Doll Planter Upcycle fun

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

No doubt some of you organised and de-cluttered over lockdown, but there are some items that we just cannot bear to part with. We’ll show you how to transform your sentimental doll into something functional with a new look to exhibit the beauty of the memories. After all, it’s not considered clutter if it brings you joy.

For this upcycle planter project, you will need:

  • An old doll
  • One and a half cups cornstarch
  • One cup white liquid school glue
  • One tablespoon vinegar
  • One teaspoon body lotion
  • One tablespoon glycerine or baby oil
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Start by mixing the cornstarch and the glue. Add the vinegar, body lotion and glycerine, keep mixing. Warning: it will be messy! But mission on, the texture will improve the more you combine the ingredients. If you find at this point that the mixture is too flimsy, add a little extra cornstarch until the mixture is smooth, soft and squishy. Prepare a clean countertop with a little cornstarch and spread out the mixture. Knead it as you would dough for bread.

Top Tip: dust your hands with a little cornstarch to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. Once the clay mix is firm but still soft and pliable, you can cover it with plastic and set it aside while you prepare the doll.

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Wipe the doll clean and remove any clothing or accessories. Take a craft knife and cut the head open. Make sure that the doll you choose can sit upright without any help, otherwise the planter might be too top-heavy and topple over.

Once the doll is prepped you can now cover it with thin layers of clay. We’ve covered the one side and let it dry overnight before we flipped the doll over and covered the other side. The drying time is about 12 hours but may be more depending on the thickness.

Let the clay dry completely. We’ve let ours dry over a weekend before we painted the doll with white spray-paint. This is optional, but it gives the finished product a bit of shimmer.

Top Tip: Cover the doll with one or two coats of clear varnish. This will ensure that the planter is more durable and water-resistant.

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We’ve planted Sedum Little Master, a hardy succulent that makes for an excellent spiller plant. Their beautiful heart-shaped leaves with red edges give our doll a trendy green hairdo. Sedums are low maintenance and will thrive in a sunny spot. Be careful not to over-water them. Only water when the soil is completely dry.

Other beautiful spiller plants to consider are String-of-Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), Hen and Chickens (Chlorophytum comosum), also known as the Spider plant. For a more whimsical look, try Peace-in-the-Home (Soleirolia soleirolii). This delicate-looking, evergreen loves low to medium light areas. Keep the soil moist, so find a spot where you see them often such as the kitchen or bathroom.

As we try to minimise our plastic waste, upcycling has become the cool new norm. We would love to see what you’ve done with your old toy collection. Show us your creation by sharing photos to our Facebook or Instagram pages. Have fun!

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Life is a Garden

Growing Spinach in a Jar Experiment

Posted on: July 6th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Our gardeners from Life is a Garden conducted this family-friendly, insightful little seed germination experiment during the lockdown days. Our gardeners set out to grow some spinach in a glass jar, allowing them to enjoy every step of the growing show, from above to below ground. Our gardeners watered each jar differently to determine how much water is too much, too little, and just right. The results may surprise you!

What you need:

  • Large spinach seeds
  • A glass jar
  • Kitchen roll
  • Water
Setting up your seed experiment:

STEP 1:  Get your little-handed scientist to assist you here, by folding and scrunching up a few pieces of kitchen roll. Place the folded kitchen roll inside the perimeter of the glass jar, then stuff the scrunched pieces into the middle.

STEP 2:  Carefully push seeds down into the paper towels around the edge of the jar so they can still be seen. Make sure they are firmly held in place.

STEP 3:  Gently water your seed jar to wet the paper towels. Be careful not to flood it as this spells certain disaster for our seeds.

 

What do you see in your seed jar?
  • You are looking for a root to pop out of the side of the seed.
  • Next, you are looking for roots to push down into the towel.
  • Also, you are looking for root hairs.
  • Next, you are looking for the seed to push up while the root hairs push down.
  • Lastly, you are looking for the shoots to come up.
Our watering findings:

Our gardeners wanted to see how much water would be best for the spinach seedlings. They set up their three jars and measured the same amount of water to be given to each jar. The water quantities were the same; however, the frequency of watering is what made all the difference:

  • Jar one: Watered once a week.
  • Jar two: Watered twice a week.
  • Jar three: Watered three times a week.
What would you guess are the different watering results? Our gardeners concluded that the seedling stems grew the following amounts during 12 days:
  • Jar 1: 6 cm
  • Jar 2: 5 cm
  • Jar 3: 3 cm

As you can see folks, the spinach seedling grew the most when watered only once a week, with twice a week watering coming in second place. In jar 3, there was half the growth and the roots were over-watered, beginning to rot.

You can also try growing sunflower seeds, peas, and beans in a glass jar. Try out this little experiment for yourself and get to know your greens up-close and personal. You could also investigate whether seeds need water at all to germinate by setting up 3 jars and measuring how much water goes into each so that one is fully wet, half wet and one has no water.

Good luck and happy experimenting!

For more fun DIY projects, click here. 

Build a Bat Box for Daddy

Posted on: May 27th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy

This Father’s Day, we’re taking dads back to their childhood with a superhero bat box, DIY style! Give dad a heartfelt, handmade gift with this fun activity for the whole family. It’s time to get out those tools, that leftover paint, a couple of nails, and a little bravery if needed.

The fact of the bat is
  • Most bats spend the summers in trees, under bridges, or in old buildings.
  • They are a protected species in South Africa and it is illegal to harm them.
  • They are not vampires (thank goodness). There are 3 species of bats which feed on the blood of large mammals, but they do not bite into human necks and suck our blood.
Why should you build a bat box?
  • One bat box can host up to 50 brown bats, who in turn will eat thousands of bugs each night, hooray!
  • Bats love to eat mosquitos, yippee! One little brown bat could eat over 1000 mosquito-sized insects in one night. Amazing!
  • Bats play a role in plant pollination too. Fruit trees, night flowering plants, and a variety of other flora can all benefit from having more of these friendly pollinators around.
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Tools needed:

This project will require some basic carpentry skills. It’s a good idea to get dad involved in helping you build his gift.

  • Table saw or handsaw
  • Caulking gun
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape measure
  • Staple gun (optional)
  • Two clamps for clamping wood while you saw or drill
  • Safety glasses for when you use power tools
Materials needed:
  • Piece of plywood: 60 cm x 120 cm x 1.5 cm
  • Piece of cedar or pine board: 2.5 cm x 5 cm x 250 cm
  • Piece of cedar or pine board: 2.5 cm x 10 cm x 60 cm
  • Tube of paintable, nontoxic, latex caulk
  • Exterior-grade, non-toxic, water-based paint or stain
  • Wire or rubber mesh
  • A super-cool Batman stencil
  • Spray paint

 

Steps to building the bat house
  1. Measure and cut the 60 cm x 120 cm x 1.5 cm piece of plywood into three pieces:
    1. 60 cm x 65 cm (for the backplate)
    2. 60 cm x 40 cm (for the top half of the front plate)
    3. The remaining 60 cm x 15 cm piece will be used as the bottom half of the front plate
  2. Cut grooves into the entire backplate (for the bats to hold on to), or attach wire or rubber mesh using a staple gun.
  3. Measure and cut the 2.5 cm x 5 cm x 250 cm cedar board into one 60 cm piece and two 55 cm pieces. These are referred to as “furring strips,” and will be sandwiched between the front and backplates.
  4. Apply caulk to all 3 of the furring strips and attach to the inside of the backplate (the side with the grooves/mesh).
  5. Apply caulk to the other sides of the furring strips (that are now attached to the backplate), and attach the top section of the front plate first.

Then, attach the bottom half of the front plate, leaving a 2 cm gap between the top and bottom halves for ventilation.

Wait at least 30 mins for caulk to dry.

  1. Apply caulk to the 2.5 cm x 10 cm x 60 cm cedar board and place on the top of the box, with the edges equally off the box, to function as the roof. Add one or two screws to the top corners to hold the roof in place.
  2. Seal the entire box up by caulking every joint of the exterior of the box where wood touches wood. Bats want a dry home, free from drafts.
  3. Add some screws through the front plate, the furring strips, and the backplate, to ensure the structure is firmly secured.
  4. Apply your Batman stencil and spray paint away! Wait until all your stencils are completely dry.
  5. Paint the exterior of the box with the water-based exterior paint/stain.
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Where to position your bat box

These shelters need to be placed in a mostly sunny location. East-facing is usually best, where it will get morning light while being protected from afternoon sun. Position your bat house at least 5 metres off the ground to protect them against predators. A water source nearby would be super so that mommy bat doesn't have to leave her young for too long.

Life is a Garden – Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy

For more fun DIY projects, click here. 

Mother’s Day Macramé Plant Hangers

Posted on: May 4th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a hand-crafted, Mother's Day gift. Brush up on your knotting skills because the sassy 70's décor is back, baby! Try making this DIY macramé plant hanger for your mamma and gift her something genuine, from the heart.

You will need:
  • Four pieces of 2-meter cotton cord (3.1mm thick)
  • 1" brass ring
  • Two pieces of 30 cm rope
  • Scissors
  • Plant of your choice - we have used a Sweatheart Creeper (Philodendron scandens oxycardi)
  • Pot plant container
Getting to know the Sweatheart Creeper

Sweatheart Creepers (Philodendron scandens oxycardi) can be identified by their unique heart-shaped leaves. They are fast-growing climbers and one of the most popular foliage plants used as room or conservatory decor. This plant is adaptable, tolerates low levels of light for long periods, and thrives in summer or winter room temperatures. Click here to find your local GCA Garden Centre for more indoor plants suitable for this project.

Step by step to making your macramé masterpiece:

Step 1.
Begin your DIY macramé plant hanger by cutting the pieces of the cottob macramé cord. You will need four, 2-meter cords and two, 30 cm long cords.

Step 2.
Fold the  four, 2-meter cords in half and loop it through the bass ring.

Step 3.
Next, secure your cords in place by using the wrapped or ring knot. This is a simple knot that has a sophisticated, finished look. You will need your 30 cm piece of cord for this knot.

How to tie a wrapped, looped knot
  1. Place the short cord over the looped cords with the short tail to the left, the loop pointing down, and the long tail to the right.
  2. Wrap the long tail around the looped cords and around the loop of the short cord.
  3. Continue wrapping the long tail, pulling it tight and leaving the bottom loop of the short cord uncovered.
  4. When you are happy with the length of your wrapped knot, thread the long tail through the loop at the bottom.
  5. Pull up on the short tail to tighten the knot and pull it underneath the wraps.
  6. Cut off the tails as close to the knot as possible.

And that's it! We will be using this knot again later for the tassel.

Step 4.
Next, hang your rig on either a hook, door knob, or a friend’s finger. Group your eight cords into groups of two and tie the cords together using a simple knot. Continue this until you end up with four separate knots and make sure they are all the same distance from the top.

Step 5.
Now, you will continue to your second row of knots. Take two adjacent knots and one cord from each knot and tie the cords together. Repeat this until you have four knots and make sure they are the same distance from your first row of knots.

Step 6.
Make sure your pot plant fits, and if it does not fit, adjust the second row until you feel your pot plant is secured and will not fall through the knots.

Step 7.
To finish off your DIY Mother's Day macramé plant hanger, you will need to tie all of the cords together with one final knot. End off with a wrapped or looped knot.

Step 7.
To finish off your DIY Mother's Day macramé plant hanger, you will need to tie all of the cords together with one final knot. End off with a wrapped or looped knot.

Step 9.
Trim off the excess cord to create a tassel finish.

Step 10.

Insert your plant with care. Carefully arrange your plants' branches between the groups of cords and make sure that the hook you hang the plant from is secure and able to handle the plant's weight.

For more fun DIY projects, click here. 

Make your own edible container wetland DIY Edible wetlands

Posted on: December 31st, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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. Huge plants in a tiny container will just look like a wet jungle and too many tiny plants in a large container will just look like clutter.

Choose your types of plants much the same way you would design a regular garden bed. Use different shapes and textures of plants to add contrast, and to set each plant apart. We suggest using at least three. First a tall spiky plant, then a broader leaved plant, and finally, a floating option such as water hyacinths, or even a single water lily.

We chose:

  • Iris (ensata)
  • Chinese Chestnut (Elecharis dulcis) (which is Indigenous to SA). These water Chestnuts add a new dimension of crunch to stir-fries and Asian cooking – your foodie friends will adore you
  • Mentha aquatica (Edible Mint), which has a strong distinctive peppermint-like fragrance and is used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods
  • Bacopa monierii, is a creeping herb with pretty white flowers which can be used as a medicinal tea to improve memory, reduce anxiety, and to treat epilepsy.

Arranging Your Water Garden

Arranging the plants in your water garden is easier than planting a garden bed. If you don’t like the arrangement, you just pick them up and move them, because you never remove the water plants from the nursery pot.

  • Fill your container half full with water, then start setting in plants. Use rocks or bricks to raise up the height of any plant that needs to be more of a focal point. Most water plants do just fine with the tops of their pots about 15 – 20cm under water, so don’t worry about having to have them all at the same water level.
  • Place your tallest plant in the back, or in the centre, if the garden will be viewed from all angles.
  • Then add your smaller plants until you like the composition. Fill the container the rest of the way with water, then add your floating plants last.

Displaying your container water gardens

Place your water garden where it gets at least 6 hours of sun every day. Make sure the water level is topped up regularly.  If the roots are exposed for any length of time, you will likely damage, if not lose the plant. We suggest you overflow the top of the container with water every couple of days, just to make sure no mosquitoes are using your new garden as a breeding ground.

Enjoy making your own container water garden! Water is a restful element to add to any garden, and can attract birds, frogs and butterflies as well. Not to mention, water plants themselves are beautiful, and can be fragrant in addition to being low maintenance.

Sadly, 50% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed. Without suitable wetland habitat, many species could soon be homeless. Here are 11 reasons why you should care about wetlands:

  1. Wetlands purify our water
  2. Wetlands store our water to ensure supply during dry periods
  3. Wetlands can prevent floods
  4. Wetlands recharge ground water
  5. Wetlands help to control erosion
  6. Wetlands provide shelter for juvenile fish
  7. Wetlands provide homes for animals and plants
  8. Wetlands provide food for livestock
  9. Wetlands protect biodiversity
  10. Wetlands provide locations for recreation
  11. Wetlands provide plants that can be used for houses and crafts

You can purchase some of your supplies needed for this project, as well as get helpful advice from your local GCA Garden Centre. Stay up to date with all your garden care and inspiration. Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Make your own reindeer staghorn this holiday season DIY Activity - Decorating a staghorn fern

Posted on: November 19th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

December holidays are great for getting creative with your kids. Here are 7 easy steps to make your own staghorn mount reindeer decoration.

Like orchids, the staghorn fern (Platycerium) is an epiphyte, which means they do not require soil to grow but attach to and gain nutrients from other plants, while not harming the host plant. They have two sets of leaves that grow, sterile and fertile. The sterile leaves usually form a flat shield that covers the roots and helps it attach to a support. While they might look like they are dead — they aren’t. Do not pick these leaves off! The fertile leaves emerge from the centre of the shield-like leaves and form the staghorn ‘antlers’ that gives this fern its name.

After just a short trip to your local GCA Garden Centre, you can make this gorgeous mounted reindeer staghorn fern to add some holiday cheer to your home this Christmas. Why not make more than one? They are stunning as gifts.

All you will need is the following:

  • Staghorn fern
  • Mounting board – We used a split log, but you could use any flat piece of wood
  • A bag of green moss
  • Some small nails
  • Wall mounting device of your choice – this may depend on the surface you decide to mount on
  • Twine, fishing line or wire
  • Hammer and possibly a screw driver
  • Red Christmas ball ornament
  • A reindeer face cut out and /or winking eyes
  • Coloured markers, crayons, pencils or paint to decorate your reindeer face
  • Glue, pins, double sided tape

Mounting A Staghorn Fern

Step one

First things first, you will want to set the hook that will attach to the wall. Whatever you decide to use is up to you and the mounting piece you decide on, but begin with placing that before anything else. We used two nails and a piece of twine, but you may prefer a picture frame hook.

Step two

Next, grab your nails and hammer in 4 to 6 small nails in a square or circular shape where you will be mounting the staghorn onto your chosen piece of wood. This will secure the plant on the mount.

Step three

Before you place the plant, it is important to loosen and prune the roots some. This helps better absorb moisture in its new environment as well as adapt to the new surface it will call home. After pruning make sure to water the plant.

Step four

Once you have pruned the plant, place the fern in the middle of the circle of nails. We also took into account the direction of leaves. By considering these details it will make the final presentation feel right. There is no wrong way, but sometimes one side of the plant will look better than another.

Now, grab the moss and pull apart a chunk, soak it slightly and make sure to squeeze out any drippy moisture. Wrap the moss around the base of the plant to contain the dirt and roots of the fern.

Step five

Once fully wrapped, cut a long piece of twine and tie a knot on a nail. Criss-cross the twine over the base of the plant and wrap it around the tops of the nails with each cross. This will be the only security the plant and moss have so make sure to hit every nail and wrap around the heads well. You could also use fishing line or wire. Choose whatever fits you and your style.  You may need to secure some of the leaves together at the base and angle them in the correct position to look most like reindeer antlers

Step six

Once the plant is well secured it will almost be ready to hang…. but first you need to add the reindeers face. Colour, decorate and assemble your chosen reindeer face, and/or eyes and nose. Now secure the face in the best location on your staghorn mount board so that the leaves of the fern resemble the reindeer’s antlers.  We used pins and double-sided tape to secure our reindeer face and/or eyes and ball ornament nose.

Step seven

Hang your reindeer staghorn mount in a prime position in your home to add holiday cheer.

To keep your plant healthy, check the moss every so often to make sure the moss is moist. The dryer your home, the more often you will need to water it. Make sure to also place it in a brighter room to allow enough sunlight, however it should not have direct sunlight. When you do water, spray them to give them a rain-like experience (be careful not to spray your reindeer face).

You can purchase your kids experiment items as well as get helpful advice from your local GCA Garden Centre. Stay up to date with all your garden care and inspiration. Join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.

 

Make your own teacher appreciation gift DIY Kids Activity

Posted on: September 27th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

World Teachers day is on the 5th of October. Here is an awesome gift idea that you can make for your favourite teacher to show them your appreciation during October.

What you will need:
  • Plant of your choice (we chose a beautiful yellow Gerbera)
  • Plastic plant pot and saucer. Choose the correct size for your chosen plant to fit into. (Ours looked best in a white 20cm pot)
  • Self-adhesive chalk board labels
  • Chalk or chalkboard pen
  • Craft glue
  • Tape measure
  • Creative craft embellishments (We found some gorgeous butterflies)
  • Newspaper
  • Potting soil

Heres how to make it:
  1. Lay out newspapers over a table or surface where you’ll be working so you don’t get anything dirty.
  2. Put craft glue around the rim circumference of your plastic pot and stick the tape measure around the rim. Cut off excess tape.
  3. Next, stick a self-adhesive chalk board label in the middle of one side of the pot.
  4. Decorate the rest of the pot with your chosen craft embellishments.
  5. Write your message on your chalk board label, using chalk or chalkboard pen. We chose to write “Thank you for helping me grow”, as a special message for a teacher.
  6. Plant your flower in your pot. Fill a quarter to half way with potting soil and place your plant into the pot. Top up with some more potting soil. Water well.
  7. Your gift is now ready to give to your teacher.

You can purchase your pot, plant and potting soil, as well as get helpful advice from your local GCA Garden Centre. Stay up to date with all your garden care and inspiration. Join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.