Posts Tagged ‘ flowers ’

June in the Garden Checklist for the outdoor artist Gardening Checklist

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

Consider the June garden as an inviting blank canvas, welcoming you to paint with a rainbow of winter blooms. For your cool-season muse, Life is a Garden has gathered a few vibrant beauts to plant-paint with, as well as some artsy edibles to inspire your soups. Learn how to defend your plant babies against black frost and enjoy our handy maintenance tips. Embrace the cold and plant on!

 

Chilled thrills in the Western Cape
  • Have faith in your fynbos and head over to your GCA Garden Centre to checkout new protea hybrids and visit some old faves too. Leucospermums (pincushions) and leucadendrons are stunning choices you can go bos with in the garden. Remember, proteas grow in pots too!
  • Aunt Gale’s wind is always around the corner so make sure all ties and stakes supporting young trees and roses are super secure. You may also want to check your garden furniture and make sure that nothing will end up in your neighbour’s yard.
  • Avoiding flooding at home by clearing drains and gutters of old plant material.
  • Begin winter pruning on vines, peach, plum, and apricot trees. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for products to spray on dormant trees after pruning.
Sow flowers from Wonderland
  • Pansies and Violas: These annuals are perfect to plant as borders and edgings, in window boxes and containers. Position them where they receive full sun in winter but partial shade in spring and early summer, to give them a longer lifespan. They like fertile, composted soil with good drainage and regular watering.
  • Snapdragons: These short-lived, yet super-cute perennials are ideal in mixed border gardens, flower boxes, and as potted patio décor. Bright snapdragon flowers will bloom profusely all winter long in full sun to partial shade. Begin germinating seeds indoors and when they’re ready, pop them into nutrient-rich soil that drains well.

Blooming muses to plant: Primula, primrose, calendula, stocks, gazania, poppy, bellis, alyssum, conifers, hellebores, narcissi, Camellia, Erica, pincushion, and ornamental grasses.

Triumphant cold troupers to plant: Abelias, Elaeagnus pungens ‘Variegata’, Pittosporum tobira, P. tenuifolium, rosemary, confetti bushes, Melaleuca bracteata ‘Johannesburg Gold’, and holly.

Artsy-potsy plant pick: Lewisia is one tough babe and will handle pretty much everything winter has to throw at her. She likes sun or partial shade, good drainage, but not the richest of soil. Water her moderately and deadhead spent blooms. She’ll reward you with gorgeous rosettes, slender stalks, and pastel-pink flowers for patio pots and just about everywhere else really!

 

Pruning particulars
  • If you live in a frost-free area you can begin pruning roses in June.
  • Very chilly and frost-prone areas should wait until the 2nd week of July.
  • Everyone can prune and cut back deciduous trees, conifers, vines, peach, plum, and apricot trees now.

Black Frost se voet

  • What is it: Black frost happens when humidity is too low for frost to form, but the temperature drops so low that plant tissues freeze and die, becoming blackened.
  • Where it affects: The leaves of plants are the most affected. Avoid pruning the burnt leaves as they will continue to protect the plant in case of another freeze invasion.
  • How to protect: You can protect plants even more by using raised beds, mulching up (a lot), covering growing trees at night, and changing to mid-morning watering to allow all water to evaporate before evening temperatures drop.
  • What to do: Once a plant has succumbed to the black frost horseman, do not prune or feed it, simply send it love – this too shall pass. Once the temperature increases, some plants will shed dead leaves on their own, while others that have died back will begin to regrow.

Inspirational edibles to plant: Rocket, cabbage (red and baby), horseradish, asparagus, global artichokes and rhubarb, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, beetroot, turnips, Brussel sprouts, oriental vegetables, celery, parsley, peas, and leeks. Pop into your fave GCA Garden Centre and see which seedlings are available.

Homegrown’s to harvest: Citrus and avocados (finally), leeks, Brussel sprouts (from the bottom upwards), carrots, parsnips, and cabbages.

Mulch-up your canvas: Mulch the entire garden with lovely autumn leaves to protect plants from the cold and assist in water retention in dry areas. Cape gardeners, get on top of those rain-loving winter weeds with max mulch power.

Back to Basics with Creepers and Crawlers

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

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

 

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

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

May in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

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

Be a winter-winner, get your May maintenance in check, sow cool-season seeds, and grow with the flow as we enter our last month of autumn. We’re celebrating our adaptable green fingers by also highlighting Africa Month and all our glorious indigenous glory. The party doesn’t stop there – say hello to Phlebodium, the perfect indoor plant baby to gift to the woman you adore this Mother’s day!

 

Crispy blooms to plant

Bulb up: Honour our African heritage with a jive of colour from Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower), ixia, and Tritonia. Try also these perennial bulbous plants: Sweet garlic (Tulbaghia fragrans), Weeping anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae), Red-hot poker (Kniphofia praecox).

Bush out: Pork bush (Portulacaria afra) is a lekker local hero hedge. Good as a barrier plant, tolerates frequent pruning, extremely drought-resistant, and fast-growing.

Succ in: Aloes are in full swing, oh yeah Try Peri-Peri, Sea Urchin, and Porcupine.

The 4 P’s: Get down to your local GCA Garden Centre and start planting with the 4 P’s - poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas.

Rose bed revival: Long-stemmed roses can be picked now. If the plants are in full leaf, continue with your spraying programme but reduce watering. Plant winter-flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, around rose bed edges to give them a revived burst of colour (and hide bare branches).

Split & divide: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, they’re ready for the operating table: Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) and Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).

Be wise, fertilise: Annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen to promote good growth and flowering throughout winter. Consult your GCA Garden Centre expert for advice on liquid fertilisers and other plant food.

 

Eat like a winter-winner 

Eye candy: Add rows of ornamental (and inedible) kale between other winter vegetables. Companion plants include beetroot, violas and pansies (both have edible flowers), onions, nasturtiums, and spinach. Ornamental kale makes an unusual but stunning winter option for colour.

Mixed masala: Interplant leafy winter veggies and root crops with herbs like lavender, thyme, oregano, parsley, yarrow, and comfrey.

Cuppa’ your own Joe: The coffee plant (Coffea arabica), which is actually a TREE, will earn you kudos from coffee snobs if you can manage to grow it successfully in a high-light indoor area. Imagine grinding home-grown beans? Count us in!

Un-gogga your cabbage: Pull up old sweet basil plants, chop them up, and then use them as a natural insect repellent mulch around your cabbages – fancy, na?

If it’s yellow, it ain’t mellow: Prevent disease by removing all yellow leaves from brassicas such as Brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Fruitful advice: Feed avocado trees with 3:1:5 and mulch ‘em up. Plant litchis and citrus, while also keeping mango trees dry before their flowering starts. In coastal and lowveld areas, feed granadillas with a nitrogen and potassium combination fertiliser. Seek advice from your local GCA Garden Centre.

 

Tricks of the cool-season trade

Prevent pests: Prevention is better than cure! Remember that good soil + good drainage + mulch + fertilising/feeding = a healthy plant with more flowers, more fruits, and more veg!

Spray away: Keep spraying those conifers with insecticide.

Rake it, baby: Rake fallen leaves off the lawn to prevent them from blocking out sunlight, and then pop them on the compost heap. Coastal gardeners can still apply one more dose of fertiliser before winter sets in.

Freeze alert: Make sure that you don't water too early or too late – wet plants will freeze, haai shame!

 

 

Throwing shade at the sun Shade gardening

Posted on: March 10th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Wild iris (Dietes grandiflora).

Gone are the days when shady means barren! This month, Life is a Garden is shedding light on darker spaces with a little shade-spiration to bring all areas of the garden to life. There are many flower varieties, shrubs, creepers, and even veggies that will flourish in every type of shade. Let’s begin by understanding the different degrees of shade and how these conditions affect the surrounding soil and plants that can grow there.

 

Full shade

An area that receives no direct sunlight at all is called full shade, known also as deep shade. Underneath a canopy of large evergreen trees or next to tall buildings or high walls is where you’ll typically find full shade and often barren spaces. The soil in such areas can be classified into these two groups below:

 

  • Full shade with wet soil

In these deep shade areas, moisture drainage is poor and the soil appears constantly soggy, boggy, and swampy. Try adding coarse compost mixed with gritty river sand to improve the drainage and quality of the soil in these areas.

Plant picks: Hen and chickens (Chlorophytum comosum), holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), and forest bell bush(Mackaya bella).

 

  • Full shade with dry soil

Some areas with full shade have dry soil owing to the growth of the trees that once allowed some sunlight in, but have now grown to completely block out direct sunlight. Enrich these areas by loosening the soil, adding nutritious compost, and covering with mulch to assist in retaining moisture.

Plant picks: Bush lily (Clivia miniata), agapanthus, and wild iris (Dietes grandiflora).

Hen and chickens (Chlorophytum comosum)
Forest bell bush (Mackaya bella).
Bush lily (Clivia miniata)
Dappled shade

Also known as filtered shade, this happens as sunlight filters through openings in tree branches throughout the day, shifting the pattern of sunlight trickling in. In these areas, it’s best to plant in accordance with the trees natural growth and shedding phases. In other words, choose plants that flower during the leafless stages of surrounding trees.

Plant picks: Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils (Narcissus), Lachenalia bulbifera, and freesias.

 

*Seasonal tip: Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to discover gorgeous shady babies for cool-season planting and sowing. Checkout what seed trays are available to jumpstart your growing adventure. Keep some new arrivals in their pots to assess how they fair in your chosen area before transplanting.

 

Semi-shade

This refers to an area that receives some sun and some shade throughout the day, as shadows are cast on different parts of the garden. Semi-shade plants tend to do better with morning sun, rather than harsh midday or afternoon sun that may scorch leaves. Keep these areas healthy with good compost and generous mulching to retain soil moisture.

Plant picks: Fuchsia, evergreen azalea (Rhododendron indicum), rhubarb, chives, celery, and even carrots.

Daffodils (Narcissus)
Lachenalia bulbifera
evergreen azalea (Rhododendron indicum)
Rhubarb

There is a plant for every shady part of the garden and even some veggies and herbs that can tolerate semi-shade. Remember to visit your GCA Garden Centre to inquire about different shrubs, ferns, and flowers to best suit the area you would like to see flourish. Garden Centre experts are also able to advise which edibles will work well in your desired space. Life is a Garden, even in the shade, so let’s get every bed and pot shining in the absence of sunlight. A gardener maak ‘n plan, or something like that!

April in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: March 9th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Like the calm before the cool, winter preparations are smooth sailing this month with Life is a Garden’s crisp April checklist. Gardening during the cooler months definitely has its own challenges, but also so many exciting flowers and veggies to look forward to. Did someone say spring bulbs already? Head over to your GCA Garden Centre and let’s plant right in!

 

Chillax with flowers
  • Bulba-licious beauties: You can plant all spring-flowering bulbs now, hooray! Bulbs with fingers or claws, like ranunculi, should be planted with their fingers pointing downwards. Try plating small bulbs like anemone, leucojum, muscari, lachenalia, tritonia, and ranunculus, or larger bulbs such as hyacinth, freesia, and Dutch iris.
  • Pretty and pleasing: April is the perfect time to buy and plant out pretty primula, poppy, pansy, and gazania seedlings.
  • Indoor inspiration: Spathiphyllum, known also as Peace lily, is an easy-care, low-light houseplant with majestic, long-lasting white blooms.
Leucojum
Ranunculus
Dutch Iris
Primula
Spathiphyllum Peace lily
  • Colourful corners: Try planting a corner of ericas, restios, leucadendrons, and Proteas – they provide stunning autumn and winter colour.
  • Balmy blooms: Plant cool-season annuals at the base of bare-stemmed bushes. Choose sun lovers like alyssum, calendulas, dwarf snapdragons, lobelias, Namaqualand daisies, phlox, and pansies.
  • Bedding babe: Available in many bright hues, Cineraria enjoy moist soil in semi-shade beds.
  • Pot of purple: Lavender is waiting to perk up your patio pots with an easy-going purple flush.
leucadendrons
Lobelias
Cineraria
Lavender
Feeding and frost
  • Feed aloes and flowering succulents for a glorious winter show.
  • If you’re living in a frost-prone area, be sure to purchase some frost protection from your GCA Garden Centre before winter arrives in full force.
  • Continue feeding your evergreen cool-season lawn to ensure it remains lush during winter.

 

In the grow-zone
  • Grow garlic bulbs, which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre. Pick a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant the cloves about 15cm apart in drills of about 7cm deep.
  • Plant a lemon tree now to enjoy summer lemonade on the rocks!
  • Veggies to be sown now include: peas, parsnips, carrots, onion ‘Texas Grano’ (short-day varieties), beetroot ‘Bulls Blood’ (the leaves provide extra vitamins for winter), broad beans, winter cauliflower, and good old broccoli.

 

Green steam ahead
  • Start sowing herb seeds in windowsill containers. Avoid leaving your babies near glass overnight as the cold chill may affect their growth.
  • Revitalise your veggie beds to boost winter crops and give roots added nutrients. Mix in a hearty dose of compost to your soil with a handful of organic bone meal.
  • Prune back old canes of raspberries and blackberries that have finished fruiting.
  • Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts.
Garlic bulbs
Lemon tree
Sow herb seeds
Prune rasberries

Enjoy your time chilling out and ticking off your April checklist. Ride the wave of cool-season thrills and all that’s up for grabs in the garden. Whether you’re maintaining, sowing, planting, or pruning, there’s always something to do in the backyard. Life is a Garden – welcome the refreshing autumn breeze into yours.

March in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: February 16th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
March Gardening Checklist

As the last month of summer comes to an end, it’s time to start preparing the garden for autumn and winter growing. March presents ideal conditions for sowing seeds as the day temperatures are still warm enough, while night temperatures begin dropping gradually. This is also a great time for cool-season seed germination varieties, and let’s not forget that much-loved gardening maintenance.

 

Flowers and foliage

The autumn climate is well-suited for planting as new roots get a chance to establish themselves before spring. Try sowing these lovelies now for a brilliant flush of colour and fragrance:

  • African daisy (Dimorphoteca) to beautify beds, borders, and containers.
  • Livingstone daisy, known also as Bokbaai vygie (Mesembryanthemum) are colourful customers.
  • Virginian stocks (Malcolmia maritima) as an enthusiastic and cheerful bloom.
  • Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) to keep pests at bay in the veggie patch.
  • Blue Felicia bush (Felicia amelloides) for fast-growing, striking sky-blue flowers.
African daisy (Dimorphoteca)
Livingstone daisy
Virginian stocks
Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) to keep pests at bay in the veggie patch.
Blue Felicia bush
Sweet peas

Before sowing sweet peas, prepare their new home by digging deep trenches and working in some nutritious compost from your local GCA Garden Centre. Bonemeal (if you don’t have dogs) and super-phosphate are excellent choices to assist in creating your sweet pea sanctuary. Remember to soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water before sowing directly into the ground.

Roses

Roses are a simply spectacular sight in autumn! To ensure quality blooms into winter, continue with regular preventative treatments/spraying for black spot, beetles and bollworm. As the days get shorter, the roses start to go dormant and withdraw food from their leaves. To compensate for this and to provide enough food for new growth and flowers, fertilise with rose food – your GCA Garden Centre guy can advise you on the best option. Regular watering is very important if there is insufficient rainfall.

Sweet pea
Rose care

Tree tip: Plant new fruit trees from mid-March onwards in temperate regions to ensure a good spring and summer harvest. Your GCA Garden Centre has a tasty selection of fruits to grow, go check it out.

Veggies and herbs

Winter veggies are ready to be planted for delicious soups and stews to enjoy during the chilly nights. Remember that your GCA Garden Centre supplies both vegetable seeds and seedlings to get you started. Sow/plant these cool-season sensations now for an autumn/winter harvest:

  • Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Broad beans, Brussel sprouts, and onions
  • Spinach, leeks, celery, and peas
  • Gooseberries, beetroot, and garlic
  • Oriental veggie varieties available at your GCA garden centre

Bedding bestie tip: Do companion planting with wild garlic, yarrow, comfrey, and Marigolds to assist with soil nutrition and natural pest control.

Cabbage
Brussel sprouts
Leeks
Gooseberries
Herb preservation

For an on-demand homegrown supply of fresh herbs during winter, start harvesting and preserving your greens now. Chop mint, parsley, basil and lemon balm, place them in an ice tray, fill with water, and pop them in the freezer. Aromatic herbs such as oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, bay leaf, and rosemary, are better air-dried. Continue to feed herbs monthly with a half-strength liquid fertiliser and water regularly.

Must love maintenance

March is a month of maintenance, for which you’ll be gloriously rewarded as we move into winter. Give the garden a little extra TLC in preparation of the changing season. A little goes a long way in terms of the overall appearance and fertility of your beds, plants, and harvest.  Start these maintenance jobs now:

  • Work in about 30cm of compost into beds with a handful of bonemeal or super-phosphate to ensure plants have all the nutrition they need for winter.
  • Trim ground covers like sutera (bacopa) that may have taken strain during the hot summer months. They’ll produce fresh new growth and will thicken up nicely.
  • Give fynbos plants like confetti bush, a light trim to shape them up before their winter flowering.
  • Protect grapes this time of year and prune back excessive leaves to allow more sunlight into the crop.
  • Once nectarines, peaches and plums have finished fruiting, prune to shape and remove any dead or diseased branches.
  • Remember to reduce the amount of water given to houseplants.
Sutera bocopa
Confetti bush
Grapes
Nectarines

Although summer has loved and left us, autumn has come with its own wonderful variety of sowing opportunities. There’s always a flower, fruit, and veggie in need of a home, roses looking for a pruning, and a little maintenance to make all the difference. Enjoy March in the garden and tick off your to-do checklist with the help of tools, accessories, and seeds available at your GCA Garden Centre.

February in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: January 14th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
February in the garden check list

Nurture your darling garden this month of love by sowing delicious edibles and magnificent flowers. Remember to give your roses some TLC and maintain your existing crops for an abundant harvest. Life is a Garden – here’s what to do with yours this February.

FLOWER POWER

Blooms to sow
  • Plant tough annuals such as Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) and Gazania Rigens to fill gaps in beds and provide gorgeous colour for the months ahead.
  • Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is your best bet for pots with full sun. They boast striking pink, red, cream, or orange blooms that’ll bring any patio to life.
  • Begin sowing these winter and spring-flowering gems that need a bit of time to mature in seedling trays: cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, and aquilegias.
Sow Sweet William
Gazania rigens
Iceland poppies
Planning ahead

Many summer-flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed. As such, collect ripe seeds from flowers you wish to grow for next season and begin preparing seed and flower beds for autumn planting.

Best for indoors

Adorn the indoors with your very own Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They are small, slow-growing palm trees, reaching a full height of approximately 1 meter. Celebrated for their attractive foliage, compact shape and decorative cluster form, Love Palms are ideal indoor beauties that thrive in low to moderate light.

Caring for flowers

 

  • Keep azaleas and camellias well-watered to ensure a good show of flowers during winter and spring.
  • Keep deadheading your spent blooms to promote faster regrowth with more flowers.
Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Deadhead
 Rose TLC
  • Deadhead and dis-bud your babies.
  • Water well 3 times a week.
  • Fertilise BUT remember that a heap on the surface is not optimal. Fertiliser is only of use when it is dissolved by water and carried to the roots.
  • Spray fortnightly against black spot, beetles and bollworm with organic pest control solutions available at your GCA Garden Centre.

 

 ALL ABOUT EDIBLES
Greens to sow and plant
  • Sow spinach, globe artichokes, chillies, parsley, carrots, radish and rocket.
  • Sow your first round of potato seeds for an early winter harvest.
  • Plant Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) if you enjoy Asian-style cooking. This aquatic vegetable forms tufts of bright green with straw-like leaves that spread rapidly.
Spinach, February checklist
Globe Artichoke, February checklist
Chillies, February check list
Rocket, February checklist
Chinese Water chestnut
Tending to the harvest
  • Pinch out tomatoes and surplus squashes to get fewer but bigger vegetables.
  • Remember to keep mulching your beds to suppress weed growth, keep roots cool, and conserve water.
 Garden centre treasures
  • Buy ready-to-plant strawberries, which you can hang in baskets or transplant into containers. Feed and water regularly to enjoy their beauty, even after fruiting.
  • Your local GCA Garden Centre has the latest, fully grown, dwarf veggies that are ready to harvest, even while still in the car’s boot. These varieties include: chillies, cherry tomatoes, and fresh loose-leaf lettuce varieties. Take advantage of these time-saving greens that’ll give you some goodness to eat while waiting for other crops to mature.
Pesky critters

 

Look out for red spider mites which are problematic in periods of drought and very hot weather. Use the correct insecticides to control these pests on plants such as fruit trees, roses, and shrubs. Red spider mites can also destroy annuals like tomatoes if too heavily infested. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for the best defence against these pesky critters.

 

There’s always something to do in the garden and always a plant child in need of a little TLC. Caring for your crop offers delicious rewards while tending to blooms provides an ongoing stream of colourful delights. Enjoy your February missions, dear gardeners!

Squash
Mulch
Strawberries
Cherry tomatoes
Loose lettuce leaf
Red spider Mite

May in the Garden Let’s revel in our African sunshine and plant some of our spectacular indigenous seeds and bulbs this season!

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life-is-a-garden-may

Hang in there gardeners! Your beloved, outdoor sanctuaries will soon be open.  While you wait for your post-pandemic indulgence at favourite GCA Garden Centre, let’s take this time to rejoice in this beautiful and envied continent of ours. May is Africa month with  African Day on the 25th of May. We will also celebrate World Bee Day on 20th May, and then the International Day for Biodiversity on May 22nd. Moms are also in the spotlight this month for Mother’s day on Sunday 10th May, and Life is a Garden highly recommends you spoil her with a little green treat.

With so many festivities, let’s revel in our African sunshine and plant some of our spectacular indigenous seeds and bulbs this season!

Ideas for Mother’s Day gifts from the garden

For kids of all ages: Moms love flowers, especially the hand-picked kind. If you have any of the following good cut-flowers blooming in your garden, they would be perfect as your Mother’s Day gift bouquet:

Tall flowering Dianthus, Carnations, Snapdragons, Larkspur, Alstroemeria or Sunflowers. If you don’t have these in the garden, you could always buy a few plants from your local GCA Garden Centre. The plants and their flowers will last for a long time - even till next year and then they’ll be ready for picking again.

Hot Tip: Pittosporum branches, leather leaf ferns, Aspidistra leaves and a variety of other plants, like those in Autumn berry, such as. the Pyracantha, can be added to your bunch of flowers too.

For the big kids and dads: Our indigenous wild banana plants (Strelitzia nicolai) are trendy additions to the new leafy-look, ideal in high light areas indoors, or as pretty patio plants. This plant is a stunner and even more so when planted in a lovely pot. Make sure mom stays modern and get her some wild bananas.

Hot tip: There are many beautiful orchids, cyclamen and other stunning plants available at your local GCA Garden Centre, just waiting to delight Mom this Mother’s Day.

Life-is-agarden-mothers-day
Life-is-agarden-mothers-day
Edibles

What would sausage and mash be without peas? Peas are also one of the few veggies that kids enjoy eating, especially when combined with corn. If you love peas, you will love fresh, home-grown peas even more. They are just so easy to grow from seed or seedling. Offer the climbing peas a variety of support to climb up, plant with a little compost, feed regularly, and hey presto, there you have your own home-grown peas.

Hot Tip: Peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, including vitamin C and vitamin E, and more.

 

What to Sow

Some of the best seeds that can still be sown are indigenous beauties, which honour our African heritage with a parade of colourful flowers. These are:

Gazanias, Livingstone daisies (Mesembryanthemum), Scabious africana (the indigenous cape scabious or pincushion), and Namaqualand daisies (also called African daisies).

May is also a good time to sow Calendulas. Their perky orange and yellow flowers are great in plant borders and their edible flowers also make them a winner in the herb and veggie garden.

The month of May is an ideal time to sow shade grass and cool season seeds. They can provide the following solutions and more:

  • Shade grass can be sown into your existing lawn during winter. This is called over-seeding, which helps your lawn look green and healthy in the winter. Sowing shade grass can also be used to fill patches in an existing lawn.
  • Several different shade lawns can be sown. These are often available as both coarse and fine leaf lawns, and some can even withstand tough wear, such as areas where dogs like to run. .
  • Evergreen lawn seed is available for planting as a new lawn too.
Plant African bulbs in Africa month

There are beautiful indigenous bulbs that rival the Ranunculus, Daffodils and Hyacinths, [M1] especially once you take the time to get to know them:

Sparaxis or harlequin flowers prefer well-drained, composted soil in the sun or partial shade. Striking flowers that are often marked with a contrasting colour in their centre are good cut-flowers. These plants do well in the garden but are also excellent container plants.

Tritonia, also called blazing stars, offer a lovely range of spring-flowering colours - from bright orange to salmon, cream and white, and are also great cut-flowers. Make sure that you plant them in very well-drained soil, positioned in the sun or in semi-shade.

Lachenalias have cheeky and brightly colourful hyacinth-like flowers. Most hybrids have sweetly scented flowers that start flowering in winter. Good drainage is essential, so add some sand to poorly drained soil to increase the drainage. Their flowers are also great in vases.

Hot Tip: Don’t complete your bulb shopping before you’ve purchased bulb food. Before you go, take peek at the following other indigenous bulbs that are really something special and worth looking at:

  • Babiana, or baboon flowers, are the cutest little plants with attractive hairy leaves and fragrant flowers.
  • Freesias, which are fragrant and colourful, are great in containers and are very pretty cut-flowers.
  • Ornithogalum, or chincherinchees, have attractive white or green-white fragrant flowers, which are exceedingly long-lasting cut-flowers.

Ixia’s star-shaped flowers produce a riot of colour in spring, flourishing in a sunny or semi-shaded bed or container, especially when mass planted

It’s time to plant in the cool season with the 4 P’s. P is for princess and poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas - the royalty of our winter and spring annuals, which are now available as seedlings at your local GCA Garden Centre:

  • Iceland poppies are just gorgeous and available in mostly mixed packs of pastel or brighter colours. They are easy to grow, good cut-flowers, and overall just WOW!
  • Pansies and their smaller cousins, violas (which have edible flowers), are world-wide favourites and available in striking colours and vivid combinations.
  • Petunias are available in an array of colours too. These mound-forming annuals can appear cascading, while others are bushy. We recommend watering according to the natural winter rainfall in that area. Be careful not to overwater petunias.
  • Primula malacoides, or fairy primulas, put on a superb show and are shade-loving favourites for the cool season.

 

Bedding besties

Hot Tip: Regularly remove spent blooms from winter annuals, especially Iceland poppies, pansies and violas, to encourage more flowers.

Hot Tip: Tie sweet peas to their supports and remove tendrils or side shoots to encourage the nutrients in the plant to be used on necessary growth, and later, flowering.

Pick/Prune

Clean up perennials by removing any brown or dead leaves. Remove flower stalks from the summer and autumn flowering ones. Mulch them up with a little compost and water regularly.

The following Summer flowering bulbs require a little TLC at this time of year:

  • Once withered, cut back the foliage of Canna hybrids to the ground. Cover them with coarse mulch or compost and water regularly.
  • Once the leaves on your Liliums have died back, cut them off and cover them with mulch or compost and water regularly.
  • If you are not lifting Dahlias, cut the withered leaves down to about 15cm above the ground.
What to Feed

Do you eat in winter? We sure hope so! And we hope that you remember your winter and spring-flowering bulbs and annuals need food too! After all, they’re growing furiously at this time of year and need a little extra nourishment. Use a fertilizer that is rich in potassium since this will not only promote flowering or fruiting, but also make the plants healthier and stronger against the cold, pests, and diseases. A selection of liquid and granular/pelleted fertilizers are available to choose from at your local GCA Garden Centre.

TIP: The annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen for growing and flowering through winter. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for advice on a liquid fertilizer that will do the trick over the next month or two.

Blooming African star

Have you planted water-loving starlet (Spiloxene aquatica) in your water-feature? If you have, you would notice that from May, this indigenous “star” is peppered with little white, twinkly star-like flowers with bright yellow centres. Its spiky dark green, needle-shaped leaves grow up to 30cm long, making it a dazzling plant for a sunny spot in the pond, or water-feature.

Tip: If you have limited outdoor space, any waterproof pot can be turned into an exciting water feature for the patio, balcony or garden.

Rose care

Rose blooms may be picked with long stems. If the plants are in full leaf, continue to adhere to a spraying programme where watering may be reduced. It is a good time to plant winter flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, on the edges of rose beds.

Lift and divide

Hot Tip: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, now is a good time to split or divide them.

  • The obedience plant (Physostegia virginiana). It has eye-catching bright-lilac flowers, is easy to grow and has a resilient nature and ability to spread freely. These flowers are truly beautiful, long-lasting cut-flowers.
  • Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) have large, interesting leaves and gorgeous blooms.

Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii formerly known as Aster novi-belgii, have fine foliage and tiny daisy flowers borne on long stems. They are great cut-flowers and available in a range of purples, pinks, and white.

Inland gardening

In frosty areas, it is best to water between 10 am and before 2 pm. If you keep the roots of roses and many other plants moist, they are able to withstand light frost much better than dry plants.

Jack Frost will soon surprise you in frosty regions, especially the very cold Free State areas, closely followed by the Highveld, so start protecting your susceptible plants with frost cover. Frost cover allows the light in, while protecting the plants at the same time. Ask for it at your local GCA Garden Centre.

Hot Tip: To add gorgeous Autumn colours to a medium or large garden, consider planting a Liquidamber (Liquidamber styraciflua), or some of the smaller Maples in modest gardens.

Coastal gardening

If you’re in the Cape, make the most of your abundant winter rainfall by harvesting water from the roof. Check and clean your gutters, which may be clogged up with leaves.

Hot Tip: In coastal and lowveld areas, feed granadillas with a nitrogen and potassium combination fertilizer. You can ask for advice at your local GCA Garden Centre.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Colour your garden bluetifully Classic Blue - Colour of the year

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

In a world of constant hustle and bustle, the trend forecasters at Pantone thought everyone could do with a little time out. So they have announced that the Pantone colour of the year 2020 is Classic Blue. In a press release from Pantone they give the following rationale for their decision:

As technology continues to race ahead of the human ability to process it all, it is easy to understand why we gravitate to colours that are honest and offer the promise of protection. Non-aggressive and easily relatable, the trusted PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue lends itself to relaxed interaction. Associated with the return of another day, this universal favourite is comfortably embraced.”

Life is a Garden echo this sentiment and what better way to bring in the colour blue in your world, than in your garden. It so happens that blue flowers attract butterflies and bees, and this means your garden will become a sanctuary of nature and an escape for your psyche. Surround yourself with calm and confidence and add these plants to create a splash of blue to your outdoor palette.

Finding solace in the classics

Cool down on hot summer days with a sea of Agapanthus in shades of blue. Agapanthus is also known as the Lily of the Nile and comes from the Greek words “agape” meaning love and “Anthos”, meaning flower. You’ll fall in love with the Dwarf Agapanthus 'Tinkerbell'. It has variegated leaves and clusters of pale blue flowers. Agapanthus 'Blue Velvet' has deep cornflower blue flowers with a velvet sheen. Grow agapanthus in broad sweeps in the landscape, in indigenous gardens, grouped in borders, as edgings along paths, and in large pots. Their robust root system is suitable for holding soil on banks.

Serene landscapes

The colour blue is associated with the sea and sky and evokes peace and tranquillity. That’s why this colour is so effective in calming your mind.  The Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii) is available in a few smaller varieties such as Buddleja ‘Buzz’ and Buddleja ‘Lo and Behold’, which are hybrids of our indigenous varieties and have more colours available in blue, purple and cream. They are tasty nectar-producing plants which attract butterflies. These nectar-feeding insects will add charm and beauty to your garden and will, in turn, contribute to some restoration of the natural ecology of life in urban gardens. Butterflies have long proboscises to reach down into flowers to obtain the nectar on which they survive.

Torenia, or Wishbone Flowers (Torenia fournieri) are flowers for semi-shaded spots and summer’s answer to the pansy. Torenias are compact (30cm) bushes with dainty flowers of blue, purple or pink with yellow throats, suitable for edgings, beds, hanging baskets and window boxes. Plant in rich, well-drained soil, and water regularly. Torenias make good companions with other shade lovers, such as impatiens and bedding begonias. Begonias with white, red, light or dark pink flowers with bronze or green leaves make pretty ribbons of colour along paths, in massed plantings, window boxes and containers.

Peaceful escapes

Salvia Black and Bloom (Salvia nemorosa) creates waves of tranquil blue bushes. These popular perennials have unusual black stems and are happy in partial to full sun areas. They parade large well-branched bushes with strong-coloured flowers. Because the blue colour aids in concentration and helps your mind in a meditative state, adding more blue flowers to your garden will help you re-centre your thoughts and focus for 2020. Create a reflective space with blooming, Salvia Mystic 'Spire Blue' with their long spires of dark blue flowers. They bloom throughout summer and attract happy butterflies to lighten up your mood. Be sure to add the proud Salvia 'Victoria' with its upright flower spikes parading indigo-blue flowers above the foliage.

Be cool and confident

Like the cat that’s got the cream, Clerodendrum myricoides ‘Ugandense’ (commonly known as the blue cat's whiskers) are born to stand out. In summer, these dainty, two-tone blue flowers are striking features of this medium-sized evergreen shrub. They are ideal for planting in the background of a shrubby border. It bears masses of pleasant blue flowers in summer, and bees love them. You will soon be surrounded by the happy, buzzing noise of their visits. Their fruits are frugivorous birds’ favourite and your garden will become the coolest hangout for nature’s little busybodies, while adding a little whimsy in the concrete jungle.

Timeless simplicity

Our indigenous cobalt blue blossoms of the Cape-forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis) are charming easy-going plants. They require minimal care and grow in most soils. They are hardy and survive on very little water, which makes them our water-wise choice for dry summer regions. They are happy with the basics: well-drained soil and full sun areas, and will pop up again and again, perfect for any South African garden.

Lobelia is part of the Campanulaceae family and has over 300 species. The most common species in our gardens is Lobelia erinus. L. erinus, native to southern Africa and thrives in varying climates and topographies. This easy-to-grow plant enjoys the full morning sun, and they will appreciate a little afternoon shade. They prefer soil that is rich in organic matter, so you must add compost to the soil before planting. Keep the soil moist but not sodden and pay particular attention to watering if in pots or baskets. Lobelia do not like to get thirsty! The Lobelia (Curacao Compact Blue) are stunning planted in striking hanging baskets.

Although blue flowers are hard to find in the natural world, you can always find inspiration and advice from the friendly staff at your local GCA Garden Centre. Return some classic blues to your garden this summer and design a space of quietude. With touches of blue, you can create a serene escape from daily stress where you can recharge your mind, body and soul. For more gardening inspiration visit www.lifeisagarden.co.za

Celebrating Summer with Edible Floral Popsicles Edible popsicles

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

These floral popsicles fresh from the freezer treats are almost too pretty to eat. Keep your sweet tooth cool this summer with this easy to make popsicle recipe.

Edible flowers

Edible flowers will turn your popsicles into a tropical conversation with their beautiful reflection in the ice. It is important to note that not all flowers are edible so please be careful when selecting the flowers.

A few popular options to consider are:

Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – these bright coloured flowers have a tangy, slightly bitter flavour. Wash thoroughly and best only to use the petals.

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) - these brilliant coloured flowers will add pops of colour to your icy pop. These flowers will also look delightful when garnishing platters and sandwiches.

Fuchsia (Fuchsia X hybrida) – the vivid colours and unusual shape of this flower make it an eye-catching garnish.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – the therapeutic benefits of lavender are no secret, but did you know you can use the soft, coloured lavender flowers to brighten up your popsicle.

What you will need:

  • Popsicle mould
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Any juice or sweet tea. Coconut water is yummy too.
  • Rinsed edible flowers

Directions:

  1. Pour your chosen liquid into the mould
  2. Add flowers to each mould
  3. Add one stick to each mould
  4. Place in the freezer for 2 hours
  5. Remove from the freezer and place on the counter for 2 minutes
  6. Remove from the mould
  7. Enjoy

So as you celebrate the New Year, join the conversation on our Facebook page for some inspiration for improving your garden and your health in 2020.

A2 Garden for a healthy lifestyle (with marks – for printing at a print shop)

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

A2 Garden for a lifestyle poster for your Garden Centre – with  marks (for printing at a print shop)

Preview

A3 Garden for a healthy lifestyle (with marks – for printing at a print shop)

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

A3 Garden for a lifestyle poster for your Garden Centre – with marks (for printing at a print shop)

Preview

A2 Garden for a healthy lifestyle (with no marks – for printing at a print shop)

Posted on: December 12th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

A2 Garden for a lifestyle poster for your Garden Centre – with no marks (for printing at a print shop)

Preview

A3 Gifts from your garden (with marks – for printing at a print shop)

Posted on: December 3rd, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

A3 Gifts from your garden poster for your Garden Centre – with marks (for printing at a print shop)

Read more on which Gifts you may give from your garden here:

Learn to build a mini Terrarium: http://bit.ly/2qGlQ2K

Learn more on Gifts from your garden here

Preview

A2 Gifts from your garden (with marks – for printing at a print shop)

Posted on: December 3rd, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

A2 Gifts from your garden poster for your Garden Centre – with marks (for printing at a print shop)

Read more on which Gifts you may give from your garden here:

Learn to build a mini Terrarium: http://bit.ly/2qGlQ2K

Learn more on Gifts from your garden here

Preview

A2 Gifts from your garden (with no marks – for printing at a print shop)

Posted on: December 3rd, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

A2 Gifts from your garden poster for your Garden Centre – with no marks (for printing at a print shop)

Read more on which Gifts you may give from your garden here:

Learn to build a mini Terrarium: http://bit.ly/2qGlQ2K

Learn more on Gifts from your garden here

Preview

A3 Gifts from your garden (with no marks – for printing at a print shop)

Posted on: December 3rd, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

A3 Gifts from your garden poster for your Garden Centre – with no marks (for printing at a print shop)

Read more on which Gifts you may give from your garden here:

Learn to build a mini Terrarium: http://bit.ly/2qGlQ2K

Learn more on Gifts from your garden here

Preview

Festive escape in your garden An abundance of gifts from your garden

Posted on: November 18th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

It’s December and gift giving and celebrations are the highlight of the month. This often requires spending time searching for parking spots at busy shopping centres and wandering endlessly through crowded stores in search of the perfect gift to show appreciation to those you love.

This year, why not give a heartfelt and special gift that you’ve spent months growing in your own garden? And while you’re enjoying the outdoors, invite your friends and family over to soak up the sun and enjoy the season in your festive garden.

Gifts from your garden

Our gardens flourish in December, often producing more than we need. This is impeccable timing to give gifts from your garden. These gifts are not only kinder on your wallet, they are also more personal and are greatly appreciated for their thoughtfulness.

Herb jars with herbs grown from seed are an ideal gift for those who love to cook. Herbs are a great addition to any meal, particularly fresh herbs that are bursting with flavour.  If you have someone special in the family who loves to spend time creating delicious dishes, give the gift of fresh herbs.

Use fresh vegetables that you are growing in your vegetable garden to make some fresh pasta sauces, pickled vegetables or relishes. Place in glass bottles with personalised gift labels and include them in a gift hamper. These will be enjoyed for weeks after they’ve been received. Homemade pamper products are a real treat and often suitable for even the most sensitive skin. Make a body scrub from sea salt or raw sugar, mix it with an oil of your choice, add some lavender, mint or rose petals picked from your garden and place into a jar for hours of pampering and grateful, glowing skin.

Flowers are always a welcome gift for every occasion. Pick an array of flowers from your garden and arrange them in a beautiful bouquet before placing them into a vase as a gift for friends and family to brighten up their day and their home.

Festive gardens for great festivities

Summer is in full swing and the garden is a wonderful escape from the indoors. With flowers in full bloom, the combination of bright colours and delightful, delicate aromas is an invitation to spend more time outdoors.

Add some festive cheer to your garden with red and white flowers that can be grown in pots and flower beds around the garden. Decorate trees with festive coloured fairy lights which will not only look dreamy in the evenings it will also add some ambience while entertaining. Complete your festive garden look by placing red, white and green floating candles and flowers to water features and pools and dotted around the garden for a beautiful, tranquil setting.

Let the festivities begin

‘Tis the season to be festive and we are blessed with wonderful hot summer days and warm evenings. Invite your friends and family over, put a table under the trees and decorate it with red and white flowers from your garden to add some festive cheer. Be sure to use some of the flowers to create a Christmas wreath for the door and delight your guests when they arrive. As long lazy afternoons roll into the evening almost unnoticed, scatter some red and white cushions onto seats around the garden to keep your guests lingering for longer and enjoy hours of each other’s company.

For more inspiration and ideas on Christmas gifts and garden entertainment, pop into your nearest GCA Garden Centre. Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

December in the Garden Let the festivities begin

Posted on: November 16th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

After a year of “busyness” and hard work, there is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family over the holidays. Let your guests appreciate your garden with you as you soak up the sun and enjoy a braai or two.  Many of your seeds that you sowed in August will be ready to harvest, including watermelon which is fantastic to incorporate in your festive entertainment menu.  Get creative with the flowers that are blooming in your garden by making your own table arrangements – make an extra one to give your guest as a gift to take home.  Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for some great ideas and supplies.

What to Sow:

Carrots are a great option to sow during December.  They are fairly easy to grow and do best in deep sandy loam or loamy soils with a loose structure.

  • Sow the seeds directly in the beds
  • Make small furrows one fingernail (1cm) deep and about two or three hand widths (20cm to 30cm) apart
  • Sow the seeds about 2cm apart in the furrows
  • Water the beds well after sowing
  • In hot, dry weather, cover the rows with a thin layer of grass clippings until the seeds emerge after seven to 14 days
  • Remove the grass and spread thinly between the rows

What to Plant

Barberton Daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) originate in South Africa and are found in many different bright colours from hot pink to orange to white.

  • They are best grown outside, favouring direct sunlight and sandy soil.
  • They grow well in both pots and garden beds and should be fertilised monthly from September until March.
  • They make excellent patio plants and also work well as an indoor plant to brighten up your living space.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known as aubergine or brinjal, come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours.

  • The most common of these edible fruit used in our homes is the Black Beauty.  Some other varieties are the White Star Eggplant – which produces shiny, white fruit that are ideal for use in Italian meals, and Mini Thai Moon Eggplant – which produces fruit similar in size to a tomato and are white in colour with a few green strips.
  • They are the ideal accompaniment to Thai and Asian recipes. Eggplants are best grown in full sun, in fertile and well-drained soil.

What to Feed:

Lawn fertilisation is essential in December due to it being a very hot month. Use a nitrogen-rich fertiliser which will encourage leaf development. Remember to water your lawn fairly after fertilising.

What to Spray:

  • Protect strawberries from snails and slugs. Harvest the fruit regularly.
  • Spray a non-selective weed killer on all weeds in your paving. Non-selective weed killers have no residual action in the ground and work through the chlorophyll of the leaves

What to Pick:

You can now enjoy the watermelons and sweet melons that you sowed in August. A large watermelon is ripe if it feels a little bumpy when you stroke it. When sweet melons are ripe, a small crack appears at the point where the fruit attaches to the vine.

Bedding Besties

Gazanias (Gazania species) are fantastic for low maintenance gardens. They produce cheerful blooms with bursts of colour which are complimented by their dark green glossy foliage. There are also gazanias with silvery foliage, which is always a nice contrast to have in the garden.

  • They grow easily and neatly and do their best in hot, dry weather.
  • They are low growers (they reach a height of between 20 cm to 25 cm and work well as edgings for beds, in rockeries, in containers and in hanging baskets that are in hot, sunny positions.
  • They need full sun and can tolerate most types of garden soil if there is good drainage.

Marigolds (Tagetes) are a favourite, no-fuss annual that can bring the colour of sunshine to your garden, as well as butterflies, bees, ladybugs, and other beneficial insects.

  • They love full sun and well-draining soil and will produce abundant blooms.
  • Marigold seeds germinate quickly, within just a few days, and bloom in about 8 weeks. This quick sense of satisfaction makes them a great first-time gardening project for kids and garden newbies.
  • Marigolds are a great companion in your vegetable garden and can help protect your veggies from predators and pests. If you don’t want to plant seeds and would rather have instant colour

Pop into your nearest Garden Centre GCA and pick up some marigold seedlings.

Rose Care

Watering: Continue to water 3 times a week, or more depending on rain fall.  During dry, hot spells daily watering may be required.

Fertilising: If you are going away – only fertilise on your return.

Pest and disease control:   Continue with fortnightly spraying for black spot, mildew, aphids, beetles and bollworm. Keep a look out for brown, night-active chafer beetles which chew away on leaves. Ask your local Garden Centre GCA for the correct insecticide to use.

Other tasks:  Remove spent flowers and disbud hybrid teas by removing the side buds so the main bloom develops into a good quality flower. When picking roses for your home, only remove 50 percent of the blooms; this ensures a good balance of leaves on the bush and does not put too much pressure on the roots.

Inland Gardening

(Gauteng, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)

  • Check and treat your pool for algae growth and clean up the paved surrounds. Check for any loose paving and repair.
  • To avoid blight on tomatoes and mildew on cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, water them early in the morning to allow the leaves time to dry off before nightfall.
  • Give citrus trees their mid-season feed of granular fertiliser.
  • Planting seed potatoes in December and January will produce a harvest in April and May for storing and eating during winter.

Coastal Gardening

(Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)

  • Weed the garden – after weeding, place a layer of organic mulch over every last inch of soil. Mulching not only saves water and time when you’re busy entertaining family over the festive season, but will also provide a professional and well-cared-for look and will display existing plants to their best advantage.
  • Refresh your garden furniture by giving them a fresh coat of paint. While your paint brush is out, give your garden shed, picket fences and pots a fresh coat too. Make new slipcovers for scatter cushions or treat yourself to some new soft furnishings for your garden.
  • Summer pests are prevalent now, so keep a watch out and treat quickly with the correct formula suggested by your local Garden Centre GCA

Life is a Garden wish you a very happy holiday. Enjoy your garden and share it with family and friends this holiday season.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Dress up your dinner with edible flowers Edible flowers

Posted on: November 8th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Edible flowers can be used to dress up your dinners and add extra flavour to meals. The practice of eating flowers dates as far back as 3000BC, and we are so glad to see it growing in popularity again in households around the globe.

You can also enjoy this trend. Head into your garden and grab some gorgeous, edible flowers to garnish your plates and add flavour to meals. It is important to note that not all flowers are edible so please be careful when selecting the flowers you’ll be using for your meals.

A few popular options to consider are:

  • Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – these bright coloured flowers will add a tangy, slightly bitter flavour to meals. Wash well and scatter a few petals over salads. The flower base is very bitter so best to only use the petals.
  • Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) - these brilliant coloured flowers will add pops of colour to any salad and add a peppery flavour to the dish. These flowers will also look delightful when garnishing platters and sandwiches.
  • Fuchsia (Fuchsia X hybrida) – the vivid colours and unusual shape of this flower make it an eye-catching garnish while the mild acidic flavour is the ideal partner for a variety of salads.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – the therapeutic benefits of lavender are no secret, but did you know you can use the soft, coloured lavender flowers as a garnish for an array of baked goods or even dress up your champagne?

When growing edible flowers, here are a few precautions to take note off:

  • It is key that you pay close attention to the usage instructions on the pesticides to avoid possible toxicity.
  • All pesticides have a waiting period between spraying and consuming so be sure to take note of how long you’ll need to wait to enjoy your edible flowers.
  • Remember to rinse them well once picked and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • For maximum moisture and flavour, pick your edible flowers early in the morning.

Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre to view the range of edible flower options and how best to grow them to delight your senses at every meal. Dont forget to join the conversation on our Facebook page.