Dissecting Flowers Experiment

Besides adding beauty and colour to the garden, flowers play an essential role in our ecosystem; they feed our pollinators who in turn feed us. In fact, our bees help produce one-third of all the food on Earth! It’s safe to say that behind every successful crop is a good flower, so let’s get the kids up and close and personal with Mother Nature’s gems. Check out this DIY flower dissection experiment that teaches kids about plant anatomy, the importance of flowers, and gives them a blossoming good reason to enjoy the September sun. 

 

Blooming benefits

Flowers are so much more than just pretty faces. They help maintain your garden’s delicate biome balance and bring in all sorts of benefits that enrich other plants, while also sustaining the friendly creatures that live there. 

  • Critter food: The pollen and nectar produced by flowers feed birds, bees, butterflies, and other essential insects. With full tummies, these handy helpers pollinate our crops in return as well as help to spread seeds. 
  • Human food: Bees also use pollen to make honey, and what would the world be without this sweet delicacy! Also, flowers from edible plants indicate that the fruit or veg is on its way and can also be cooked in a stew or added to salads. 
  • Pest control: Having a variety of flowers is the easiest way to combat pests in the garden. They attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, wasps, prey mantises and many more, who feast on all the aphids and lice that damage the garden. 
  • Reproduction: The flower is the reproductive organ of a plant. Seeds are produced in flowers, which mean that more of that plant will grow. In the case of edibles, flowers are essential as this is where our food comes from. 

Did you know? The Archaefructus Sinensis, known also as the Mother of All Flowers, is believed to be the world’s oldest flower.

Earthy aloe & cinnamon playdough DIY

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With only 3 simple ingredients, you and the kids can make your own aloe-inspired playdough. This easy mix is so fresh-smelling, soothing to the skin, non-toxic, grounding, high in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, AND of course, FUN. When you’re done playing, pop it in the compost for 0 waste. Here is Life is a Garden’s original aloe and cinnamon playdough recipe.

 

You will need

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of harvested aloe sap from the garden. Remember to use a clean, sharp knife when working with leaves and look out for aloe teeth! 
  • Half a teaspoon (or more if you like) of organic, finely ground cinnamon. 
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  • Corn starch. 
  • Mixing bowl and spoon.
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How to 

  • Add your 2 tablespoons of aloe sap into the mixing bowl. Having some pieces of the flesh is no problem either as this will add another interesting and fun textile experience during play. 
  • Add the cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of corn starch to the bowl and mix together with the sap until just combined. You’ll need to use your estimation skills to determine whether to add more sap or more starch. This process is part of the thrill – a little more, a little less – ah, perfect! 
  • Now for the super fun part. Get the kids the kneed and work the dough until you reach the desired stretchiness. Your dough should be soft and squishy, and a beautiful earthy colour that awakens all the senses. Can you smell it?
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DIY, Playdough, aloe, aloes in the garden, firebreaks, rooftop gardening, different aloe species, gardening, succulent plants, drought-tolerant, landscaping, ornamental plants, medicinal properties, aloe vera, aloe arborescens, aloe ferox, aloe striata, aloe marlothii, aloe aristata, aloe saponaria, aloe variegata, aloe succotrina, aloe cooperi, planting, propagation, care tips, soil, sunlight, watering, pruning, pests, diseases, indigenous plants, South African flora, Cape flora, Fynbos, Karoo, Highveld, Lowveld, Waterwise gardening, Xeriscaping, veld gardening, biodiversity, conservation, ecosystem, natural habitat, endemic species, plant conservation, garden design, eco-friendly, sustainable gardening

Try this: Once the playdough is ready, parents can hide other fun toys inside the dough to extend playtime and stimulate both right and left brains. For older kids, try blindfold moulding and see what curious things they create. If the dough gets a bit hard, simply splash some water on.

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Top tip: Garden Centres are blooming with a variety of indigenous and hybrid aloes right now.

Gardening art for gran DIY

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Receiving art from grandchildren brings pure joy to the hearts of our beloved oumas and oupas, babas and gogos, nannas and gramps. Life is a Garden’s flower-inspired DIY would also make the perfect class project to gift to a senior home. The garden is far from dull in April, which is why we’ve based our little art project on the flowers in bloom now, available at your GCA Garden Centre. How many can your kids recreate?

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Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran

You will need

- Thick craft paper (slightly thicker than normal to prevent the paint from bleeding through) 

- Thick craft paint in a variety of colours (thick enough to make nice blobs) 

- Cotton earbuds 

- Paint brushes

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Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran

Lavender and celosia portraits 

1. On a white piece of craft paper, paint on the green stalks of the lavender/celosia plant, leaving enough space above the stalks for the flowers. You may even want to add grass, a rainbow, a froggie, or other cute nature elements. 

2. Group about 5 earbuds together and dip them in your chosen coloured paint to represent each flower species. Stamp the earbuds simultaneously above the painted stalks to create beautiful lavender and celosia blooms. The earbuds work well to mimic the look of these plants’ particular flowering style. 

3. Repeat your earbud blobs as many times as you like to create longer and lusher lavender and celosia flowers. 

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Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran

Try this: To recreate bunching flower bushes or trees, you can even use the tops of broccoli dipped in paint. 

Both lavender and celosia enjoy full sun and nutrient-rich soil for best flowering results. There is a stunning variety of hybrids available at Garden Centres, so be sure to choose the one that steals your heart! Life is a Garden – let’s paint it! 

Bodacious Bulbs April Bulbs

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Show off your gardening skills with bodacious spring-flowering bulbs. They might not look like much now, but you can certainly bank on their beauty come September. Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs as the cooler months allow roots to settle in and new growth to develop. 

 

Top tip: Garden centres supply packaged bulbs with instructions for time of planting, depth, height of growth and light requirements. Be sure to choose the right bulb for your space. 

Get the best from your bulbs

Location: Choose a place where you can enjoy their glorious display to the fullest. Plant shorter blooms in the front of a border and medium to tall ones behind them. Also try large groups, drifts, and interspersing bulbs with spring annuals such as pansies and primulas.

Containers: Enjoy your bulbs on the patio in pots. A depth of 10-15cm will suit most bulbs, but ranunculi, ixias, daffodils and tulips need a deeper container. Ensure your pots have adequate drainage but never allow the bulb roots to dry out. Remember to water daily.

Soil preparation: Prepare beds or containers at least a week before planting to allow fertilisers time to dissolve, otherwise they may burn bulbs. Before planting, dig in a generous amount of compost followed by a handful of planting fertiliser or bonemeal and water well. For pots, add water-retaining granules to help the soil retain moisture during the dry months. Feed throughout the growing season and after flowering with 3:1:5 Vita Flower or 2:1:1 Bulb Food.

Depth success: Always read planting instructions carefully. Usually, bulbs should be planted at a depth of three times the actual height of the bulb. Space large bulbs 10-15cm apart and small bulbs 3-5cm apart. Never press the base of the bulb hard into the soil as it will compact.

Fern Fountain DIY

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This month would not be complete without a hands-on gardening project that screams ‘touch me’! Enjoy Life is a Garden’s quick and easy fern fountain DIY that is guaranteed to give you all the good feels and of course, add a banging boost of texture to your space.

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You will need

  • Multiple hanging baskets and goodies to hang them (drill, cord/chain, nails, etc). The number of baskets depends on how many tiers you have space for.
  • A high beam/pillar/railing in mind from which to suspend the fountain. 
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden
  • Potting soil and compost 
  • Your chosen fabulous ferns
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

Assembling the fountain

  1. First, conceptualise how many tiers your space allows. The idea is that each basket hangs below the previous one. As your ferns grow, this will create a stunning fountain display as they spill over the edges and almost blend in with each layer of the fountain. We recommend having at least two tiers, about 30 cm apart. 
  2. Once you have your spacing sorted, secure your chosen hanging material goodies to your beam/pillar/railing. We recommend a set up with hooks or easy links that can be removed if needed (for watering or relocating). In other words, avoid permanently securing the baskets to their chain/cord. 
  3. Transplant your tenacious textures and be sure to add a good helping of potting soil and compost. You may also want to add a little liquid fertiliser to help reboot plants after transplant shock. Water well and admire for years! 
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

Plant picks

Visit your GCA Garden Centre to see which ferns attract you most. Remember to check their sun requirements and expected growth size. This will also help you plan better. Our favourites include our indigenous leather leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis), tropical maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.), and the variegated ribbon fern (Pteris spp.).

Make your spekkie sparkle DIY

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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

Instead of a faux tree, why not go for an indigenous living lovely this year? Life is a Garden’s sweet and simple DIY will give you some inspiration to bedazzle your spekboom (Portulacaria afra) for that holiday spirit. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always decorate your tree with other fun goodies and use your creations as cheerful table décor. 

Did you know? Spekboom leaves are edible and non-toxic to animals and humans. Add a few leaves to your salad for a juicy citrus flavour (and bragging rights). 

 

You will need

  • A spekboom from your GCA garden centre (or multiple trees if you have many children who would like to each make their own spekkie sparkle)
  • A lovely new pot 
  • Potting soil and compost for transplanting 
  • Decoration goodies (we chose a Christmas theme, but different coloured ribbons and bells would also look fab) 
  • A cohort of kids, or just one
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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

How to 

  1. Transplant your spekboom into its new home. Remember to push from the base up and not grab your plant by the neck. Add your potting soil and compost mix, water well, and allow it to drain. 
  2. With all your décor charms on display, encourage the kids to play and have fun! 
  3. Once your spekkie has undergone the makeover, place it in a sunny spot outdoors, a bright light area on the patio, or indoors near a window. Water your plant well, about once a week (depending on its location) and check out our guide below to ensure your plant thrives till next year. 

Pest patrol: Although not prone to pests, high humidity can sometimes invite mealy bugs or scale. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for appropriate products that will take care of the nasties.

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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

Unhappy spekkie symptoms and diagnoses 

 

  • Scorched yellowing foliage

Problem: Too much direct light or sun.

Self-parenting plants Botanical Boss

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We know that the struggle is real when planning a trip – who will look after your plant children and will they get enough water? As such, Life is a Garden would like to help all the plant moms and dads with some DIY upcycling watering hacks and drought-hardy plant picks that will help your garden self-parent while you enjoy a much-deserved holiday. 

 

Short trip bottle watering (outdoors - 3 to 4 days)

  • Suitable for: Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Equipment needed: Empty wine bottles or any sturdy bottle with a small mouth. 
  • Preparation: Ensure there is space to place the bottle that won’t damage foliage or roots
  • Method: Fill the bottle with water and then, while covering the opening with your thumb, flip it upside-down and quickly shove the bottle near the base of the plant (removing your thumb just before). Push the neck down to make sure the bottle is secure and reinforce with stones if needed. 

Troubleshooting: If you see that the water is not moving or perhaps your soil is very clay-like, glue a mesh screen over the mouth to prevent soil from clogging the bottle opening.

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botanical boss, aloe, plant parenting, sel watering, greenery, life is a garden, gardening, colours, plants, DIY, watering,upcycling, water, growing, hack

Longer trip bottle dripper (outdoors - 4 to 7 days)

  • Suitable for: Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Equipment needed: Plastic water/juice bottles (size dependent on your area/container) and a drill with a thin drill bit. 
  • Preparation: Dig a hole near the plant that will be large enough to bury the bottle up to its neck, take care to avoid damaging roots. 
  • Method: Drill three holes at the bottle of the plastic bottle and 3 holes on each side then pop it into the prepared hole (add more holes for large bottles). Gently level the soil around the bottle and fill it with water.

Air plant spiral DIY

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Air plants are part of the fascinating Tillandsia genus that grow without soil. There are over 500 enchanting species that really showcase the weird and wonderful creations of Mother Nature. Add a sassy spark to the patio with Life is a Garden’s air plant spiral. 

Fun fact: The closest cousin of the air plant is the pineapple bush! Also, this genus is non-toxic to pets and children.  

Did you know? Air plants are Epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants and natural objects (non-parasitically). They are found all over the world and often in the oddest, most unlikely places. 

  

To make an air plant spiral you will need: 

  • A stunning air plant (available at a GCA Garden Centre) 
  • A beautiful river stone  
  • Pliers  
  • Galvanised soft wire (not copper as it is toxic to air plants)  
  • A flat surface to work on  
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omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil

 How to: 

  • Spray your air plant with purified water and set aside to drip dry  
  • Depending on the size of the plant, estimate how much wire you would need. For our small air plant, we used just over a metre of wire.  
  • Cut the wire using the pliers (big brothers or sisters may need to help out). 
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omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
  • Wrap the wire around the stone and secure with a looped knot.  
  • Next comes the fun part! Spiral the end of your wire so that it will cradle your air plant gently. This may take some re-bending and sizing to get a good fit. Take care not to damage the air plant foliage during the process and this may stress the plant.  
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omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
  • Depending on the age of the green fingers at play, you could get really creative and big with your spirals. We chose a rather simple design to allow our little lady to really do it all herself.   
  • Your DIY living décor is now ready to be enjoyed as inspiring table, wall, or centrepiece décor. 

Garden Day

Garden Day is a chance for people across the country to down tools and celebrate their gardens. Everyone can take part, regardless of the size of their gardens – rolling lawns, potted window sills, urban rooftops and patio planters – all are welcome.

What you do on Sunday, 9 October 2022 is completely up to you – the most important thing is to head outdoors, wear a flower crown, and welcome Spring with a garden celebration.

Garden pebble painting DIY

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Pebbles with a painted flower on the background of a cooperative and community ecological garden

The sun’s out – let’s decorate the yard! This outdoor paint project will add a homely touch to your rock garden and bring out the child-friendliness of your space. Edge your beds in bright works of art, add some critters to the fairy garden, or make some sweet signs for your veggies with this painting pebbles DIY from Life is a Garden.   

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What you need 

  • A variety of different sized, lighter shaded pebbles  
  • Weather-resistant paints and brushes 
  • Super glue and googly eyes (optional) 
  • Seasonal veggie and herb seedling trays and 
  • A bag of compost/potting soil from your GCA Garden Centre 

 

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October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
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October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities

Painting ideas and inspiration  

Ladybugs and bees (2 colour designs for smaller kids) 

For these critters, the trick lies in the bright contrast of your paint and sufficient drying time between layers (to not mix colours).  

  • To create a ladybug pebble, simply paint two red wings on either side of the stone, leaving a margin in between. Then, paint the rest of the stone black and add smaller black dots to the wings.  
  • For a bee design, paint yellow and black stripes across the stone – voila.  

 Try this: Using superglue, sick googly eyes onto your pebble critters for extra character!  

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riscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities

Rock frogs and rainbows (noughts and crosses game for bigger kids 

For this game, you’ll need to draw the traditional game grid somewhere. Try painting a stepping slab, wood block, or use chalk to draw the lines. 

  • Paint 4 of your stones in a nice bright green. Add black lines to define the frog’s features and friendly face. 
  • Paint 4 more pebbles in a rainbow design (remember to let the layers dry) and enjoy playing the game on the prepared noughts and crosses grid.  

Try this: With all the colourful spring flowers in bloom, make it even brighter by edging your beds with a row of rainbow-painted pebbles. 

Bokashi Bucket DIY

Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden

The bokashi bucket is an easy and effective composting system that allows for ALL types of kitchen waste to be transformed into nutrient-rich compost. With a few simple adaptations to the standard compost bucket system, you will now be able to add food like meat, dairy, and fish to your compost. Grab the fam and let’s get started!

How it works

The bokashi bucket is different to a standard composting bucket method in the way that the decomposition process is stimulated. Food waste, along with an inoculant, is layered inside the bucket and then left tightly sealed for three weeks to ferment. Traditional composting requires oxygen for decomposition, while the bokashi system utilises fermentation, which is an anaerobic process that allows sugars and starches to be converted to alcohol and acids. Through this clever process, previously labelled un-compostable foods can now be wonderfully transformed into food for the whole garden.

You will need
  1. 2x medium to large buckets with matching, tight-fitting lids (buckets need to fit inside each other)
  2. Your chosen inoculant such as organic grain, bran, rice, dried leaves, sawdust, or wheat mill run. This layer is what prevents the food from smelling as it ferments and assists the breakdown process
  3. A drill or utility knife for making drainage holes
  4. A brick
  5. Kitchen waste
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Assembly

1. On the bottom of bucket 1, drill about 10 holes or use the utility knife to cut out pieces of the plastic.

2. Place the brick inside bucket 2, and then place bucket 1 with the holes on top of the brick inside the bucket.

Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden

3. Remove the brim of one of the lids to use as a tool to push down your kitchen waste when needed.

4. Add a layer of inoculant to bucket 2 and then a layer of your food waste.

Pressed Proteas Fynbos DIY

august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity
august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

With so much flamboyant fynbos in the air, Life is a Garden has found a way for you to preserve this beauty forever. Pressed botanical collages are a timeless, elegant way to showcase your homegrown glory. Frame your stylish creations and hang them up in your home or office as organic art masterpieces for all to admire 

august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity
august, fynbos, protea, ericas, king proteas, life is a garden, greenery, colour, plants, diversity

You will need:  

  • Frames with glass: You could use multiple smaller frames or go for one large artwork. Consider a sleek white or deep purple frame to compliment the more pastel colours of the preserved flowers.  
  • Backboard: This is what you will use to create your collage on. You can find thick cardboard in a variety of colours at your local stationery shop. Once again, a plain white or deep purple would work well for an overall sleek look, whereas bright greens or blue cardboard would give it more of a stylised feel.  
  • Clear-drying craft glue: Once all your plant pieces have dried, the glue will be used to stick them onto the cardboard sheet.  
  • Paper towels or fabric: These materials will be used on both sides of your flowers during pressing for protection and moisture abortion.  
  • Pressing materials: These could be big books or slabs of wood or bricks. Anything heavy will work well, provided you protect both sides of your flowers with a paper towel or fabric.  
  • Flowers: Fynbos works particularly well as their colour holds nicely and the added texture creates a more 3D look. Our top flower picks for pressing are:  
  • All fynbos and protea varieties 
  • Peony, roses, heliobore, Queen Anne’s lace, astilbe, seeded eucalyptus, dahlias, ranunculus, lavender, as well as peonies, roses, ranunculus, and hydrangea.  

Top flower tip: Avoid using anthurium, orchids, lilies, plumeria, and succulents as they hold a lot of excess moisture, which makes them very challenging to preserve properly.

Lemonade super-boost juice July DIY

botanical boss, citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking
botanical boss, citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking

With so much citrus in season now, you may be looking for some inspiration on what to do with your harvest. Life is a Garden invites you to get seriously super with your lemons this July and juice up a nutritious storm in your kitchen. Re-invent the lemonade with this zesty booster juice DIY. 

Lemonade super-boost juice recipe

Aren’t we lucky to have Mother Nature on our side as we enter the last stretch of winter! Your lemon harvest, herbs, and spices are talking – do you know what they say?

Ingredients

- 2x peeled lemons for a flush of Vitamin C and multiple essential minerals and plant proteins

- Half a finger of fresh, peeled ginger for respiratory system clearing and protection

- 1x celery stalk for detoxification and opening of the toxin release pathways of the body

- Half a teaspoon of raw, organic turmeric to reduce inflammation 

- A quarter cucumber for rehydration and cholesterol-lowering properties

- A handful of parsley as a systemic anti-fungal and gland health ally

- 2x tablespoons of raw honey for holistic antibacterial support (place your honey in lukewarm water before juicing to ensure it will dissolve well inside your juice)

botanical boss, citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking
botanical boss, citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking

Method

There is a difference between a smoothie and a juice: a smoothie contains all the pulp and fibres of the chosen ingredients whereas a juice contains only the liquid gold. You can use the recipe above as a smoothie if you’re looking for something more meal-like, or you can extract the liquid from the ingredients as a potent super shot or juice for the family. Juices are generally gentler on the digestive system as the absence of plant fibres allows for easier absorption of all the goodness. 

Option 1: Nut milk bag

A bit of effort will go a long way when using a hand-operated nut milk bag, which you can purchase at almost any health store. 

Father’s Day Pot Platter Table Pot Platter - DIY

Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family

Father’s Day DIY: Table Pot Platter 

 

Dad’s day is coming up and that means DIY gift time for us gardeners! Give that special father figure in your life something from you and the kids that’s both practical and brag-worthy. This DIY requires no power tools, making it an easy activity for children of all ages to enjoy. Life is a Garden is bringing the outdoors to dad’s desk, here’s how:  

A trio of awesomeness 

Your table pot platter essentially consists of three smaller pots (square or round) arranged inside a larger circular container (pot saucers work well). Pot one will home your hardy focal point plant and pots two and three will be filled with dad’s favourite snacks (like biltong, nuts or candy). All three smaller pots need to fit well inside the larger platter container, so be sure to keep sizes in mind when out shopping.

Top snack tip: Find a sealable container that fits inside your snack pot so that treats can easily be sealed when dad’s not around. If dad is home-based, get the kids to top up the snack pot with more surprises and yummies throughout the day.

 

You will need 

  1. Three smaller pots
  2. One large round saucer   
  3. A hardy indoor plant (suggestions below) 
  4. Pebbles, bark shards, or wood chips
  5. Dad’s favourite snacks and drink

 

 

Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family

Pot platter assembly

Evergreen indoor plants, containers and raised pot stands of all shapes and sizes are widely available at your GCA Garden Centre. This DIY is ideal for the office or workshop table in need of some decorative greenery and homeliness. Simply transplant dad’s new plant into the focal point pot, water well and allow to drain fully. Then, arrange all three of the smaller pots inside the larger round saucer. Fill any gaps inside the main container (around the smaller pots) with pebbles or wood chips for a further ruggedly trendy look, or leave as is for a neat finish

Try this: If you’ve got a funky dad, get the kids to paint the outer container for a colourful, heartfelt touch that will make dad ever so proud to show off his handmade gift.

Walls Of Life Indoor Plants

living walls, greenery, andscape, garden, life is a garden, eco, deco, environment, plants, flowers, beauty, living walls

Topic: Living walls

Industry Expert: Ronnie van Voorst

Garden Centre: Impala Nursery

Find out what our industry expert, Ronnie from Impala Nursery, has to say about growing a flourishing living wall for your home, office, or school. Whether you are interested in unique art, employee wellness, environmentalism, or space-saving – vertical gardening has benefits for everyone to enjoy. 

living walls, greenery, andscape, garden, life is a garden, eco, deco, environment, plants, flowers, beauty, living walls
living walls, greenery, andscape, garden, life is a garden, eco, deco, environment, plants, flowers, beauty, living walls

1.Could you please describe what a living wall is and is not?

A vertical garden is a wonderfully creative way to showcase nature both in and outdoors. Living walls bring instant calm to the soul while uplifting one’s mood and cultivating overall psychological wellbeing. Also known as green walls, they contain real, living and breathing plants installed vertically against any structure that can support the plants (walls, fences or gates). Living walls are not dust collectors and are not filled with faux plants. 

 

2.What’s all the fuss about vertical growing? What makes a green wall so special?

Going vertical saves on floor space, and when you need more plants in your life, why not go up? It also saves you from weeding and breaking your back while bending over in the garden. Green walls are special as they become living works of art. The different plants grouped together create a stunning vertical tapestry with a personality of its own.

 

3.What would you say are the most important factors that ensure a healthy living wall?

Make sure you have these inputs in place - water, light, nutrients (food), and air. Firstly, using appropriate plants for the position of the wall. Secondly, watering cycles should match the plants' own requirements - one wouldn’t water a succulent in the full sun the same way one would a fern indoors. Finally, a little bit of love in the form of maintenance, like removing dead leaves to make way for new growth or a sprinkle of fertiliser. 

Plant Transpiration Experiment DIY

water vapour photosynthesis transpiration plastic garden kids fun
Garden, Transpiration, nutrients, water, pores, garden, experiment, kids, DIY, Fun.

Did you know? Just like we release water vapour through our mouths as we breathe, so do plants through their stomata - tiny, pore-like structures on the surfaces of leaves. Plants use their roots to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, drawing it upwards into their stems and leaves. Some of this water is then returned to the atmosphere by the process known as transpiration.

 Why do plants need to transpire?

The loss of water (or transpiration) plays a vital role in maintaining healthy plant growth, water balance, and overall longevity. More specifically, plants transpire for 3 main reasons:

  1. Nutrient uptake – the rate of transpiration actually determines your edibles’ yield. Turgor pressure keeps the plant cells full and turgid, owing to the transpiration stream of water from roots to shoots. In agriculture, transpiration is essential in producing healthy crops.
  2. Cooling – to manage heat and drought stress, transpiration rates are crucial as this process brings down the temperature of leaves, the largest plant organ. However, losing too much water can leave plants dehydrated.
  3. Photosynthesis – water flow efficiency is intricately connected with photosynthesis through the stomata. A lot of the water absorbed from the soil is used for photosynthesis, cell expansion, and growth. A single tree reaching 20 meters high can take up between 10 litres to 200 litres a day!

Clearly, transpiration is a big deal. Get the kids involved and let’s bring this invisible miracle to light.

water vapour photosynthesis transpiration plastic garden kids fun
transpiration fun kids vapour water experiment garden plastic photosynthesis

 

Experiment time

You will need

  • A ziplock bag
  • String
  • A leafy branch of a tree

Try this: Compare transpiration rates and see how the environment affects plants by conducting separate experiments on both sunny and cloudy days.

 

Step 1: Find a plant in the garden with a nice leafy branch where your bag will fit over.

Step 2: Cover the section of the branch with the ziplock bag and then seal it tightly with some string around the stem.

Easy and Efficient Rain Gardens DIY

After so much wonderful rain, there couldn’t be a better time than now to invest in a rain garden. Creating one is simple and is all about location, soil, and plant selection. Follow Life is a Garden’s guide on how to grow a functioning rain garden to prevent flooding, curb water runoff, and play your part in reducing pollution.

 

A swamp or sanctuary?

Besides adding stunning décor features to the landscape, rain gardens are super useful and easy to maintain. However, a rain garden is not a swamp and there are some important elements to understand when creating one. Have a look at these key differences:

Rain garden do's and don'ts

Sip on this → By temporarily holding and filtering all incoming water, a rain garden diverts rainwater from directly entering a municipal stormwater system AND prevents polluted water from directly flowing into streams and rivers – amazing! Another win for the backyard eco-warrior! 

 

Location is key

The first factor to consider when planning your rain garden is where to dig your bed. When in an optimal location with appropriate plants, your rain garden will act like a sponge and natural filter that absorbs and collects all incoming water, cleans it, and then percolates it slowly into the surrounding soil. You can also grow multiple smaller rain collecting beds as there is no limit to the size or amount you can have in a space. Ideally, look for areas in the garden that:

  • Are naturally lower-lying spaces (downhill, at the bottom of slopes, ditches). If your garden is flat, however, dig a trench to direct rainwater or install gutter/irrigation pipes and slabs to navigate water flow straight to the rain garden.
  • Areas that receive full or partial sun.
  • Near a runoff source would be ideal (downspouts, driveways, rooves, gutters).
  • At least 3 metres away from a building (to avoid deteriorating foundations).

DIY Living chessboard DIY

Take your gardening skills to new heights with this creative DIY living chessboard! With plants as chess pieces and striking black and white colours, your garden is guaranteed to grab attention, invite engagement, and spark plenty of conversation. In addition, you’ll get to add a couple of really special beauties to your collection that you otherwise may not have considered. 

 

Let’s talk tiles

Get your hands on some large black and white tiles, available at your GCA Garden Centre and local home depo stores. When choosing tile slabs, go for ones that are nice and big as they will need to stand out when your pot plants are placed on top of them. You may also want to consider tiles with a protective layer to prevent scratches, or go for concrete slabs and simply paint them yourself using good quality water and weather-resistant paint. 

Top tip: While you’re out, grab an easy clean mop or broom to keep near your chess set to ensure it’s always play-ready and looking neat. 

Try this: If you’re strapped on space, you could always create a mini version of this game with tiny pots and succulents. Play on a table or transform the courtyard.  

 

Pots and pawns 

Your traditional chess pieces will be pot plants, of course! Go for containers with good drainage made from lightweight materials that won’t be too heavy to move. A lovely selection of pots is available at your GCA Garden Centre with treated compost and potting soil to go with them. If you’re on a budget, you could always go for inexpensive plastic containers and paint them instead. Don’t forget your saucers to avoid messy spillages during watering.  

 

Top tip: To keep track of which plant represents which chess piece, don’t move the pot saucers from their original placement when playing.

Making Paint from Flowers DIY

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain? Can you paint with all the colours of the wind? The stage is set for your first DIY of the new year, and gardeners – it’s blooming! We’re sure both you and the kids are eager to get back to school, so let’s make sure we send them off with some positive flower power. Here is Life is a Garden’s top activity to end off the holidays.

 

Pocahontas’s secrets

Did you know? The lotus flower was first used to represent the sun in Ancient Egyptian art and has since become a popular symbol of peace in yogic/health practices. During the Medieval and Renaissance period, painters and sculptures used flowers as an important motif to convey a certain meaning to audiences. The oldest archaeological evidence of paint making was found in the Blombos Cave in South Africa and was dated at 100,000 years old! Paint made from plant oils was also an essential part of Native American storytelling, on cave walls and on the body. Our girl Pocahontas is well known for illustrating the deep connection these ancient tribes had with Mother Nature.

Collecting your colours

The first ingredient you need is some flowers, of course! Gather a colourful collection from the garden or pop down to your GCA Garden Centre to choose from the huge selection of summer bloomers. Try to get a variety of different flowers as some are more pigment-rich than others, resulting in a brighter or more pastel colour. Try these colour-popping picks: Daisies, Fuchsia, Hibiscus , Roses and  Salvias.


Terrific gift tip: We know that January can be a tough month, on the budget and also for all those with birthday’s this month. Purchase plain white craft paper, fold it as a card, and get the kids to use their amazing flower paint to decorate it with.