Posts Tagged ‘ garden centres ’

January in the Garden – Back to Basics in the New Year. Back to Basics in the New Year

Posted on: December 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
January in the garden

Garden Nutrition

Like us, plants require food to keep them healthy and strong. Get your plants off to a good start with decedent, nutrient-rich soil. For plants to grow well and produce lots of leafy growth, flowers, and fruit, they need to be well-fed. We are spoilt to live in a country with a generally mild climate and mostly good soil, which allows us to grow a wide range of beautiful plants. However, this tends to make us forget that they do require a little feeding. The key to a flourishing garden is hugely affected by your soil health and fertility.

Tip: Good soil = good roots = a good, healthy plant

Food for thought: According to the Gallup Gardening Survey, less than half of the world’s home gardeners use any kind of fertiliser or plant food on their lawns or gardens. What's unfortunate about this statistic is that it means gardeners aren't getting as many flowers or as much produce as they should. And they're probably struggling with disease and insect problems that could be avoided. Well-fed plants are healthier, more productive and more beautiful.

Soil, often called the living skin of the Earth,  is arguably the most important and valuable resource we have. Soil is made from three main components, besides air and water – minerals from weathered rocks, organic matter, which is mainly decomposed plants, and living organisms like earthworms in the soil. There are many different types of soils depending on the composition of the above components. Here is s fun way to test the basic type of soil you have:

  • Take a heaped tablespoon of soil from your garden.
  • Wet the soil.
  • Now roll it into a “sausage” about a pencil-thin.
  • If it crumbles and won’t form a sausage – you have sandy soil.
  • If it holds a sausage shape but breaks when held at one end – you most likely have loam soil.
  • If it easily forms a sausage and does not break when held at one end – you have clay soil.

Loam soils are the most preferable since sandy soils dry out very quickly and clay soils can stay wet for too long. Luckily, both sandy and clay soils can become loam when you add compost to them.

Need to know: It generally takes about 200 to 400 years to form 1cm of soil and several thousand years to naturally make it fertile!

 

January in the Garden. Life is a Garden
Life is a garden January in the Garden soil

Fertilisers contain nutrients that plants need. They can mostly be split up into macro-nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur, as well as micronutrients such as zinc, iron, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum and chlorine. Macro-nutrients are needed in larger amounts than micro-nutrients, which are equally important if they are lacking in the soil. Most of the organic fertilisers contain a good mix of both and they also add organic matter to the soil, which makes it more workable and fertile.

Fertilisers are available as granules, pellets, liquid drenches and liquid foliar feeds. For information on what fertiliser to use, visit your local GCA Garden Centre.

Adding both fertiliser and compost is the best combination as fertiliser adds nutrients while the compost holds the fertiliser in the soil for longer.

Compost is made from decomposing plants and is the most important addition to your trolley when you buy plants. It can also be added to garden beds in bulk at least once a year. A famous horticulturist once said that the three most important elements in gardening are 1. compost, 2. compost and you can probably guess that number 3 was - also compost. This makes one realise how important compost is in successful gardening as a soil amendment.

To recap: Compost will loosen and add air into clay soils while also improving water andnutrient retention in sandy soil. Compost also attracts micro-organisms, beneficial fungi, earthworms and other beneficial soil-borne organisms that improve the health of your plants.

Bonemeal & superphosphate are organic and chemical (or inorganic) fertilisers respectively, which are essentially phosphates. Phosphorus is a macro-nutrient and responsible for many plant-growth functions, but it specifically initiates root growth. Because phosphates do not “travel” well in the soil, meaning they don’t move down in soil quickly, they are usually placed in the soil or planting hole.

Need to know: Be aware that some dogs may want to dig up the bonemeal fertiliser.

Mulch: Mulching material can be bark, compost, dump rock, wood chips, and a few others. Mulching is essentially spreading a layer on top of the soil to retain moisture underneath. Mulching  keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It aso prevents weeds from growing and if organic, will decompose and improve the soil. Mulching will benefit the whole garden and especially cooler season plants like lilies and more thirsty plants like hydrangeas and roses.

Need to know: Mulching is great as you don’t need to water your garden as regularly.

Think of your soil as a bank account - the more you invest in it, the better the soil and the more gorgeous your plants and garden will be. Season after season the plants will be making “withdrawals” of nutrients from the soil and you will need to keep the soil bank topped up on a regular basis. Don’t forget to mulch much!

 

Life is a garden , January in the garden fertiliser
Life is a garden , Janauary in the garden
Life is a garden january in the garden
Like is a Garden , January in the garden

December in the Garden December Check List

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

Happy holidays is the theme and sentiment this month across much of the world. December, for some, is a time for relaxing and taking in the beauty of their summer gardens, while for others it means time to have fun giving TLC to their indoor, patio and garden plants. It is exciting to spruce up the home, patio and garden during this season of family time. Ask your family for gardening gifts that you may have eyed at your local garden centre. Plants are living gifts that will last for years in the garden – the type of gift that keeps on giving! Life is a Garden, so get the family in on it too!

Edibles

Add some zing to your cuisine these holidays with the following herbs:

Mint: A sprig of mint foliage is currently an all-the-rage addition to mojito cocktails, gin, other home-made cordials, as well as other trendy sundowners. Mint has very fragrant leaves with a fruity, aromatic taste.

This easy-to-grow groundcover prefers well-drained soils and good, regular watering. They are prized in the kitchen and as a landscaping plant in the garden.

There are many mints to choose from, here are some popular ones:

  • Spearmint for savoury dishes
  • Peppermint for desserts
  • Apple mint for drinks
  • Chocolate mint with liquors
  • Garden mint in salads, with lamb, peas, zucchini, fresh beans, marinades, fruit salads, cold soups, cheese and more.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to see these and other mints available.

Tip: For those of you that like spicy dishes there is even a “Hot mint”, which is also called Vietnamese coriander.

Neat to know: Young leaves are tastier than old leaves. The key to keeping the plant healthy will be to harvest sprigs regularly to stimulate new young shoots.

Did you know?: Although best eaten fresh, sprigs can be left for a few days in water, mint leaves can be frozen or air-dried.

Rosemary: A favourite herb! Many of us would use much more rosemary in our food if we had a plant or two growing in the garden. Rosemary can be used in a multitude of dishes including roast vegetables, poultry, lamb, stews and soups. In addition, this herb also adds a lovely savoury flavour to vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Tip: Use sprigs of rosemary fresh or hang up bunches and allow them to air-dry and then store them in an airtight container in the cupboard.

Neat to know: Rosemary is a beautiful evergreen shrub with blue flowers. There is the unusual prostate Rosmarinus officinalis ‘McConnell’s Blue’ and the upright Rosmarinus Tuscan Blue or braai rosemary.

Dill: Dill Anethum graveolens is a landscaping winner due to its fine feathery texture. It is a favourite in European and Asian cuisines and a must when paired with fish on the braai. Dill is commonly used to enhance the flavour of salmon, potatoes, stews, soups, with green beans and yoghurt-based sauces, and for pickling. Try adding some dill to your next summer salad and enjoy a little exotic taste!

Tip: Sow seeds every few weeks into early summer. In this way, if you are planting dill to use for pickling, you will have an on-going supply for when you harvest the veg you wish to pickle!

Something amazing! Dill is a host plant for the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail butterfly and also attracts beneficial insects like wasps and other predatory insects to your garden. Dill for the win!

Elf on the shelf

Let’s go gardening with Elfie:

Poinsettia hammocks: Take two poinsettias and sling a DIY hammock between their pots. Elfie can use this to relax and enjoy watching you and the family during the holidays (while also keeping an eye out for naughty behaviour).

Harvesting your watermelons: Yes, if you sowed your seed early, you should have watermelon ready to be picked, hooray! Hello, healthy dessert for Elfie and all!

Climbing up Amaryllis: Let Elfie see how far up the flowering stalk of your Amaryllis he can climb. Apparently, he’s quite an agile fella!

Dare to be different this Christmas

Everyone is welcome at Christmas, regardless of religious affiliations, and even if you simply enjoy the sentiment of gift-giving, there is a tree for you! Besides, what’s more awesome than enjoying the look on your child and loved one’s face when you finally nailed it! There are both large and small artificial and living Christmas trees to choose from. We don’t always need to choose a traditional Christmas tree, so let’s have a look at some of the options:

  • The indigenous bushveld gardenia (Gardenia volkensii) is a shrub with glossy green foliage and an interesting, arching branching pattern. Sweetly-scented white flowers open at night with attractive egg-shaped fruit. They are slow-growing and therefore wonderful focal plants for small gardens, patio pot plants or even as bonsai specimens.
  • Henkel’s yellowwood (Podocarpus henkelii) is an indigenous tree with dark green needle-like drooping leaves and a fairly pyramidal shape, making it a popular choice as a multi-purpose tree.
  • For those of you that prefer a smaller, table-top tree, the gold crest conifer or Cupressus ‘Gold Crest’,is a striking indoor or patio Christmas tree that can later be planted out into a sunny spot in the garden or left to grow in a pot for next year. They enjoy a sunny spot in the garden or patio.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to view the various Christmas trees available. You may even be surprised to find tree lights and décor at some of them.

Get creative these holidays

There are many plants that are very useful to make your own fresh décor with. Here are a few easy tips for those finishing holiday spirit touches that’ll certainly impress your guests. family and may make you the envy of your friends:

  • Use the pliable branch ends of our indigenous willow (Salix mucronate) to make a beautiful fresh wreath. Decorate it with pinecones or Christmas décor as a door wreath or eye-catching table centrepiece.
  • The foliage from leylandii conifers (Cupressus leylandii) or butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) and geraldton wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) are also great to use as floral décor of any kind. You can make floral arrangements as table runners, candle wreath décor, or add Christmas décor to them.

If you don’t have these plants in your garden, then take a trip to your local GCA Garden Centre. Remember that once you plant them you will have a constant source of fresh plant décor from the growing plant.

What’s cracking at your GCA Garden Centre?

Make good use of the holidays and day trip to your local GCA Garden Centre. Keep an eye out for new colours and varieties of pretty perennials like:

  • Achillea (yarrow) with its fine fern-like foliage and waves of flat multi-blooms.
  • Cape fuchsia (Phygelius capensis) is an indigenous “shady lady” that looks shy due to her gorgeous clusters of hanging trumpet-looking flowers.
  • Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) is regal and attention-grabbingly tall, ideal for that damp spot in the garden.
  • Penstemon is an easy-to-grow perennial that is so rewarding with stunning flowering spires.
  • Daisies (Argyranthemum) nowadays are so compact and remarkably peppered with hundreds of buds and flowers on one plant – that’s what we call them flower power!

Tip: As with most new things, new plant varieties are often superior to their predecessors in a range of different ways, such as being more disease resistant, flowering for longer, producing larger blooms, or even a new flower colour. Don’t be shy to ask your local GCA Garden Centre salesman to show you all the new plants they have in stock for the season, you won’t regret it!

Let’s assess, yes?

December is an ideal time to consider new directions in the home or garden. You can begin implementing changes and improvements while you are still on holiday, or you can carry them over as New year’s resolution.

Are you getting the best from your garden? Consider who uses the garden the most and what you use the space for. Are you utilising your lawn and planting beds? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Do you have enough lawn for the kids to play cricket on or for your fur-babies to frolic? Lawns give the garden that wholesome “green” feeling and allow for lots of fun and games in the garden, especially when the family comes together. No kids, no pets? Well, then perhaps you should consider a low maintenance gravel garden instead of a time-consuming lawn.
  • Could you fit a treehouse for the kids, an outdoor dolls house, or a fort? You could decorate the area with fun garden ornaments, a little bridge perhaps, or even get the kids to plant bright flowers and easy-to-grow veggies.
  • Is it time to think about healthy living and extend your edible garden into the main garden? Absolutely! Adding veg like cabbage and spinach into your garden beds makes quite an impact! Olive trees and dwarf citrus lollipop trees are also very trendy in place of ornamentals. Having more veg also means more to cook with AND more to give away to other hungry tummies in need.
  • Is there a spot in the garden that waiting for a cosey bench or hammock? A spot in the shade for reading or facing the sunset for lekker sundowners chats? Ready-made garden arches and cute gazebos are also available to create an intimate garden room feel in both small and large gardens.
  • How about a place for a fire pit? Marshmallow braais, a little drumming and singing under the African sky, and some storytelling and laughs between friends – now that’s what we’re talking about!
  • There’s nothing to match the tranquil and soothing sound of a water feature. Is there a space you’ve always wanted to transform? A little aquatic touch will defiantly do the garden justice. Your local GCA Garden Centre has plenty of models for you to choose from.

Tip: A simple coat of paint on your inner garden walls can have a huge influence on the atmosphere in your garden. A dark olive or dark green paint can make the walls seem to disappear.

Have fun with family and friends in your garden this December! Treasure every moment as though your Life is a Garden, and plant flowers and food wherever you go.

Get the look – Food for Thought Must Love Gardening

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2020 GCA Garden Centre of the Year Here are the best garden centres in SA!

Posted on: August 25th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Here are the best garden centres in SA! Did your favourite make it? Visit the best Garden Centres and Home Store departments our country has to offer.

South Africa’s Nursery Association (SANA) hosts an annual GCA Garden Centre competition to present to you, dear gardeners, the cream of the crop! Garden centres and home store garden departments are measured against a set of criteria aimed at assessing and improving product standards and professional service in the industry. This competition is undertaken from October to December, with moderation in early March of the following year.

We are proud to announce this year’s platinum competition winners:

Home Store Winner

Builders Warehouse Port Elizabeth

Address: Access Park, Cnr Buffelsfontein Rd and 17th Ave, Walmer

Builders is a leader in home improvement and building materials with complete project solutions. Builders has four store formats that cater to different markets with their own personalised feel and service offerings. Builders promises exceptional value and offers a comprehensive range of competitively priced products, with the latter having experts on hand to give advice on home, DIY and gardening needs.

Builders Warehouse, follows the big box or warehouse retail format. Builders Warehouse offers an extensive range of competitively priced products with a large garden centre display and Builders’ supply yard.

Garden Centre Winners

Concrete & Garden Creations

Address: Plot 31 Maggiesdal, Barberton Rd, Nelspruit, 8386

Concrete & Garden Creations offer a wide range of concrete products, ie:  Pots, vases, fountains & bowls, stepping stones, bird baths, Pedestals, ornaments, balls, wall panels and pillars and building products.
The Tea Garden host functions from Kiddies parties to Adult functions.  They have a set menu, but the menu can be adjusted for different  tastes.

Garden Pavilion Eckards

Address: 101 Boeing Rd East, Bedfordview, Germiston

Eckards is a well established Garden Centre in Bedfordview. Our journey started with Eckards in 1993 and then Garden Pavilion in 1995, Eckards prides itself on its high level of service and quality plants. The nursery has maintained its traditional feel with modern influences and is constantly striving to improve.

Locally owned and owner run Eckards, has won the coveted Garden Centre of the Year for Southern Gauteng for a decade. Having maintained a Gold Grading status for a number of years, Eckards consistently features on the GCA top ten garden centres in RSA list, with the GCA awards that take place at the annual winter convention of the SA Nursery Association.

As Members of Garden Pavilion, SA’s largest group of independent garden centres, Eckards also won Garden Pavilion of the Year 2019. This has been an added high for the team as it their seventh win of this very special award.

A dedicated team that are truly passionate about gardening have made our garden centre much more than where we work and gardeners shop. Eckards is everything you need for a beautiful garden and more:

Browse the forecourt for inspirational colour - Wow! Stroll through the centre court for great ideas. The food court has the best local selection of herbs, veggies and more! Get creative in the perennial court with loads of new introductions.

Garden with passion – Garden with love – Garden with family – Garden with us.

Greenside Kwekery

Address: 18 Tafelberg Ave, Langenhovenpark, Bloemfontein

Greenside Kwekery is Surprisingly Different. Once you have been to visit us,you will know the reason why. From our Platinum award-winning (Best outdoor plants in South Africa in 2012 & 2013 ) to our tree-filled Tea Garden and many features, there will be plenty of reasons for you to become a regular visitor. For the little ones there is a spacious play-area and access to small animals. Do make sure that you pay us a visit.

Hecker Nursery

Address: 1 Kirschner Rd, Westwood AH, Boksburg

The Nursery first opened its doors in 1981 as an extension of Ronnie and Rika’s passion and love for nature in all its shapes and sizes. We strive to inspire local gardeners to transform their homes into a wonderful, healing and environmentally friendly retreat, by using our excellent garden products through honest, friendly service and practical solutions.

We have also started growing our own plants through the Hecker Homegrown brand, with which we are able to provide you with excellent quality plants and great prices with virtually no carbon footprint.

Join us for a relaxing stroll through the Nursery accompanied by soothing bird calls, or stop in at Café Ambrosia which will satisfy any craving, sweet or savoury. We pride ourselves on providing solutions to your problems in a friendly and helpful manner.

Plantland Akasia

Address: Cnr Brits Rd and Longmore Rd, Akasia

Pay a visit to our award-winning Garden Centres. where You’ll be thrilled at the vast selection of top quality plants, from seedlings to trees, herbs to vegetables. We’ve got it all.

For pots of all colours, sizes and statues stretching from the classic roman collection or Contemporary to all your wildlife creatures. Garden tools for all your needs and even food for you garden or something for the petty pests. We have a great range of gardening and garden related products. At Plantland we will help you make your dream garden a reality.

Plantland Menlyn

Address: 120 Atterbury Rd, Menlyn, Pretoria

Pay a visit to our award-winning Garden Centres. where You’ll be thrilled at the vast selection of top quality plants, from seedlings to trees, herbs to vegetables. We’ve got it all.

For pots of all colours, sizes and statues stretching from the classic roman collection or Contemporary to all your wildlife creatures. Garden tools for all your needs and even food for you garden or something for the petty pests. We have a great range of gardening and garden related products. At Plantland we will help you make your dream garden a reality.

 

Stodels Nurseries Bellville

Address: Eversdale Rd, Bellville

From humble beginnings, Stodels Garden Centres have developed into a household name in gardening in the Western Cape. From the outset, Stodels Garden Centres focused on providing their customers with excellent service, top quality products and affordable prices. Fifty years later, the trio of service, quality and affordability has built a respected and much loved brand.

Originating from a mail order catalogue and door to door sales, the Stodels brand has grown to its current complement of five award-winning garden centres today. The company was started by Mr Robert Stodel, in August 1962, when he started selling flower bulbs door to door and from the Parade in Cape Town. A mail order bulb catalogue soon followed and within a few years, Stodels Flower Bulbs became the biggest flower bulb retailer in South Africa, posting nearly 600 000 bulb catalogues to Cape households and importing up to 20 million bulbs from Holland every year.

Find your local GCA Garden Centre.
Stay up to date with all your garden care and inspiration. Join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.

 

Get the look – A Mexican Fiesta Must Love Gardening

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

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

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

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

 

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

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

 

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

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

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

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

Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range Must Love Gardening

Posted on: May 27th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life is a Garden – Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range

Tecomaria is a popular flowering shrub because they are tough, versatile and extremely useful in sunny gardens. The new SunLovers® range of compact Tecomaria are particularly exciting because they are extremely floriferous, and their flower colours are brighter and more distinct. The individual flowers of these varieties show off much better as they are more upright and thus face you better. This makes the overall appearance more colourful as the flower spikes protrude above the foliage of the shrub. The compact nature of this set is a tremendous achievement in Tecomaria breeding, as gardens are becoming smaller and require compact, more showy plants. Tecomaria has to date been less suitable in commercial landscapes as they overrun every other plant in the same setting and require a lot of cutting back and the removing of runners.

The new SunLovers® Compact Tecomaria were bred to be more suitable for commercial gardens as their contained growth habits retain shape longer, enabling the retention of the original garden design. A massive secondary benefit of using these novelties, is the reduction in labour required in their maintenance, making them much more cost-effective in the long run.

Life is a Garden – Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range
Life is a Garden – Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range
These beautiful SunLovers® Tecomaria are available in 5 colours.
  1. Compact gold, the smallest of the set and a little slower than the others, the standout feature of this cultivar is its unique bright golden flower heads above its attractive dark green foliage.
  2. Compact orange, it’s vigorous, extremely floriferous and has a very bright orange colour and sets a new benchmark for Tecomaria.
  3. Compact pink. Compact, floriferous. Just simply beautiful.
  4. Compact red. Great new plant, as all the old red varieties have been too tall and wild for normal gardens.
  5. Compact yellow, compact, floriferous plant with bright yellow upright flower heads.

Care was taken during the breeding to ensure that the new varieties still contribute to the environment and did not lose their ability to attract birds and insects.

Tecomaria should always be planted in full sun or light shade, they like rich well-drained soil and require moderate watering. In very cold climates they can be frosted down to the ground, mulching will protect the base enough for the plants to regrow and flower in summer.

SunLovers® Compact Tecomaria are perfect for sunny South African gardens as they are free-flowering, fast and easy. They respond very well to feeding and cutting back; and are resistant to most pests and diseases.

Life is a Garden – Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to purchase these beautiful SunLovers® Tecomaria or visit the Life is a Garden website for more gardening trends and inspiration www.lifeisagarden.co.za

Images and Article supplied by CND Nursery - Andy De Vet

Level up your little green thumbs Must Love Gardening

Posted on: May 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Level up your little green thumbs

In celebration of Youth Day on June 16, Life is a Garden is on a mission to get kids dabbing for dirt! This month is all about enticing little green thumbs to get their nature on by integrating familiar gaming concepts into the world of gardening. We’re talking all about inspiring kids to see gardening as a real-life gaming opportunity, where they select the players, choose their weapons, and use that thirst for adventure to their advantage by creating themed worlds.

Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Selecting possible players

By this, we mean choosing the best-suited crop for your kid. A visit to your local GCA Garden Centre easily becomes an exciting morning outing when the kids get to select the players for their gardening game-play. Here’s a list of a few worthy contenders, which are relatively easy to grow and fun to harvest:

  • Namaqualand daisies (Dimorphotheca sinuata): Colourful and quirky sun lover, attracts butterflies and bees, flowers during autumn, winter, and early spring.
  • Iceland poppies (Papaver naudicaule): A wow factor flora available in many shades and bicoloured varieties, easy to grow in full sun, flowers in winter and spring, makes for a great cut flower.
  • Wild mint (Mentha longifolia): Smells amazing and has many uses, a fast grower in semi-shade or full sun, the more you harvest, the more they grow!
  • Sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon): Easy, great tasting veggie for winter growing in full sun, frost hardy, likes to climb and loves to be picked.
Level up your little green thumbs
Level up your little green thumbs
Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Choosing your weapon, wisely:

Plastic spades and buckets are great for the beach, but gardening is a “big kid” job, which requires suitable weaponry to tackle the tenacious nature with! Let your children know that what they are doing is important by allowing them to use real, grown-up gardening tools.  Get physical, strengthen muscles, improve coordination, and show kids what these tools can do.

Tip: Saw the handles of wooden tools shorter and look out for smaller versions of spades, rakes, and forks, commonly found at garden centres.

 

Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Creating a world of wonder

Now that we’ve got the players and weapons sorted, it’s time to create the world! Make the most of your child’s gaming experience and encourage them to think about a theme for their little gardening adventure. Give them a large pot or a designated area in the garden. Invite their imaginations to run wonderfully rampageous at the possibility of a zombie, troll, mermaid, or fairy garden! Here’s how:

  • Transform that old plastic shell tub into a mermaid flower bed by drilling holes underneath for drainage, decorate with seashells.
  • Plant ferns and succulents as hair inside gnome shaped pots, complete the look with some pebbles, moss, and a few troll figurines.
  • Use bricks to build a garden bed in the shape of Micky Mouse or a butterfly
  • Add theme-appropriate ornaments and toys to the garden, such as army dudes, fairy statues, painted mushrooms, treasure chests, racing cars, and whatever else goes
Creating a world of wonder
Level up green fingers
Reaching the first checkpoint

The kids have made it to their first milestone – actually getting their greens in the ground! And now, it’s all about patience, young grasshoppers. While you wait, start a growing chart with your child to document the growth of their game players. Kids will also enjoy decorating the project according to their garden theme. The growing chart encourages responsibility, dedication, and attention to detail.

Tip: Reward good gardening efforts by adding an extra column to your growth chart for stickers or points.

Defeating the boss

Well done, garden gamers! The wicked, winter boss has been conquered! Seeing their plants surface inspires a sense of accomplishment in your child. Similarly, if nothing has come up, an equally important lesson of perseverance and commitment can be taught here. Why not start sharing those gardening family secrets and handy hacks with your kids to ensure the love for gardening is passed on to the next generation.

 

Reaching the first checkpoint
Gardening

Whether they are into fantasy or fighting, racing or resurrection, bringing the virtual world of gaming into real-life gardening can be an exciting and engaging project for every child. Not only will it get them outdoors and promote a healthy lifestyle, but it also offers opportunities for quality time, sharing of knowledge, and a whole new appreciation for the many wonders of Mother Nature!

May the bush be with you African Gardens

Posted on: May 11th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Nothing says proudly South African quite like a braai in the bushveld, a couple of cold ones between friends, and a silhouetted Acacia tree at twilight. This May, bring the bush to your own backyard and make every weekend a reason to get out and enjoy the aromatic, African air. Fall in love with a wonderful variety of indigenous plants, which are low maintenance, naturally water saving, and easily accessible for your next gardening project.

Letting the landscape speak

Before cutting down that old tree or removing those rocks, why not use the existing landscape and architecture to your advantage? Leafy ferns and trees with bulging roots add a lovely variety of texture to your garden. Indigenous thorn trees may not be the best picnic spot, but a simple pallet pathway leading to a cosy hammock or bench, may just bring out your garden’s natural beauty. Building a fire pit from collected rocks is cost efficient and effortlessly evokes that rustic, unrefined, bushveld feeling. Make the most of uneven areas by surrounding your boma with a sandpit and wood stumps for stools. Using different sands or pebbles bring even more texture into the space, making decorating easy by showcasing bold, dead tree features and a couple of ambient lanterns.

Bulking up your bush

 The thing about indigenous plants is that they love space, depth, and lots of ferny friends! Planting “bulking” shrubs, ferns, and creepers together create excellent and easy space fillers, impressive barriers, and even pretty cloaking devices to disguise those dull walls and fences. Including some striking Crane Flowers (Strelitzia reginae), a fragrant Gardenia bush (Gardenia augusta), and a few evergreen Kei-apple shrubs (Dovyalis caffra), will not only fill gaps in your garden, but may well surprise you with their easy to maintain, effortless beauty. A variety of local grasses are also great for adding diversity to your proudly South African garden. Try planting some dreamy Snowflake Grass (Andropogon eucomis) along pathways, surrounding empty tree beds, and even to those areas where nothing else seems to grow.

 

Friendly Creatures and Critters

 Conserving and planting endemic flora is not only a win for the environment, but also a sure victory for our little garden visitors.  Bees play a vital role in human existence and crop pollination, so help the little guys out by adding some sweetly scented, Honey Daisy (Euryops virgineus) to your bushveld. And while you’re at it, inviting a kaleidoscope of butterflies is easy too, especially when planting brightly coloured butterfly bushes such as Geraniums (Geranium incanum).  Cork Bush (Mundulea sericea) is an excellent choice for Highveld naturescaping with purple flowers providing food to multiple insects and birds, who in turn are sure to bring that all too familiar, bushveld choir to your patio. Hollowed out tree stumps or large rocks with natural indents, make for great bird baths and a welcoming refreshment for all your little bushveld guests.

Beauty is in the eye of the recycler

With a little TLC, a scrap piece of wood can have many uses: a serving slab for bits of biltong, a tray to display your Acacia seeds, or a simple bush inspired centre piece. Take your creativity a step further and add some handmade carvings to your wood, or use red soil to naturally stain lighter, raw wood. Attention to detail can help add that extra veld flavour to your garden. Decorate your old tree stumps, tables, and low walls with Aloe plants in earthy pots. Aloes are avid sun lovers, water wise, hardy, and come in a vibrant variety of sunset hues.

With the beautiful African bushveld as your muse you can create your own bush paradise. Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for indigenous plants and the best advice on growing mzanzi magic. When it comes to capturing the essence of a bushveld garden, simple, earthy accents can make all the difference and ensure that your inspiration sings through every part of your garden – from the plants to the pots, and even to that old tree stump!

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Gardening promotes mental and physical health

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

Gardening has never been more important than now. Indulge and nourish your mental and physical well-being with the re-opening of your beloved GCA Garden Centres. In a post-pandemic world, discover the many health benefits of gardening, which reduces stress and depression, offers comfort and joy, connects us with Nature and helps to give us purpose, to name just a few. Let’s take what we can from this lockdown – a time to re-set – and let’s get positively green.

  • A regular dose of gardening can improve your health. Studies report a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community.
  • Gardening gives people a creative way to change their stress and frustration into something beautiful that offers comfort and joy.
  • Reduced depression and anxiety result from ‘active horticulture’ (gardening), and emotional well-being and physical health are enhanced.
  • Health benefits associated with exposure to and use of green spaces include long term reductions in heart disease, cancer, musculoskeletal conditions, and also reduced levels of obesity and higher self-rated mental health
  • Gardens are important to support recovery from illness.
  • Gardening provides relief from ‘problem solving’ mental attention, shifting the mind to restorative, effortless attention.
  • Plants are more than just beautiful. Gardening has many benefits. The natural rhythms of a garden and of plants work as a counterpart against stress. There is silence and peace in the garden. A garden stimulates creativity and there is the satisfaction and pride in growing things.
  • Gardens and gardening can represent an intimate connection with life itself, giving purpose and meaning to the elderly.

The mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of gardening are for everyone. Anyone is capable of reaping the nourishing rewards that abundant Mother Nature has to offer – we need just take some time to get a little dirty with Her. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre once they open and let’s be like sunflowers that turn towards the golden potential of each new beginning.

 

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