Garden Centre Association Competition Winners

Want the best? Here they are!

As you know, Life is a Garden is the marketing branch of The South African Nursery Association, known as SANA for short. To become a SANA member, garden centres and home stores must meet a series of criteria and evaluations set out by experienced committee members. SANA’s goal is to set an industry benchmark and maintain the standard of their world-class retailers.

GCA stands for the Garden Centre Association, striving to present a professional image of the horticultural industry and encourage professional business practices through a code of conduct.

Here are your top GCA Garden Centres in South Africa:

  1. Plant Paradise Garden Centre
  2. Eckards Garden Pavilion
  3. Stodels Nurseries Bellville
  4. Heckers Garden Centre
  5. Stodels Nurseries Menlo Park
  6. Concrete & Garden Creations
  7. Builders Warehouse PE
  8. Builders Express Robindale
  9. Builders Express Hillcrest
  10. Builders Express Northmead

To find your nearest award-winning GCA, visit our website at www.lifeisgarden.co.za and follow the Garden Centres tab on the top menu.

What is a GCA and why should you visit one?

What is a GCA and why should you visit one?

Come and learn about the fabulous benefits of our quality-approved garden centres and what makes them stand out.

  • As you know, Life is a Garden is the marketing branch of The South African Nursery Association, known as SANA for short. To become a SANA member, garden centres and home stores must meet a series of criteria and evaluations set out by experienced committee members. SANA’s goal is to set an industry benchmark and maintain the standard of their world-class retailers.
  • GCA stands for the Garden Centre Association, striving to present a professional image of the horticultural industry and encourage professional business practices through a code of conduct. You can identify a GCA by the green sign in the front of the store, or even better, you can access our nationwide directory via the website.
  • Each year, there is also an exciting GCA competition that awards the Garden Centre of Excellence title to the best SA has to offer. Garden centres, home stores, and growers are judged according to their plants, products, service, and overall customer experience.

To find your nearest GCA, visit our website at www.lifeisgarden.co.za and follow the Garden Centres tab on the top menu.

Get the look – Kid-friendly gardens Must Love Gardening

Dear gardener-parents. It’s time to unleash the big fun guns and get the kids away from those screens. We know it’s a challenging task BUT, Life is a Garden is here with some in-your-face, bold, bright ideas to create the ultimate kid-friendly, outdoor play place. Here’s your chance to create a garden that invites, inspires, and involves your kids.

 

The funky monkey jungle gym

Instead of a standard wooden jungle gym, get creative with something totally unique. There are several companies that can provide custom requests, so think about what your child would really enjoy. Perhaps they like to climb high, or swing on bars, maybe they like hiding spots, a cooking/experiment station, or perhaps they need a structure to just explore their gross-motor skills.

 

Cowboys and tepee’s

This idea is great for the bigger family and for when friends come over. It’s super easy to build a couple of tepees in the backyard from pole and plastic tarp/canvas.  Grab ready-made tepees and supplies to build your own from one of our GCA Garden Centres. Kids can decorate their own special tee-pee and add fun accessories. This structure can be used as an outdoor reading nook too.

 

Friends of the fairies

Engage fine-motor skills and imagination with a little fairy garden filled with lovely magical goodies. Take the kids on an outing to your GCA Garden Centre and let them choose a couple of fairy friends. Try use the fairy garden as more of an organic outdoor dollhouse that’s functional to play with/in, rather than purely ornamental. Secretly hide a few friends and let them hunt for the missing bounty!

Everyday beach day

Reinvent the standard sandpit! Get the kids excited about outside by introducing something like a pretend beach day for all the inland children. Dig a decent sized hole, layer with plastic sheeting, and then fill with soft beach sand.

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

January in the garden life is a garden
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.

December in the Garden December Check List

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.

Get the look – Food for Thought Must Love Gardening

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Life_is_a_Garden_OCT-GetTheLook-Hero

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?

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

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

Overall Garden Centre winner awarded the Jimie Malan Trophy

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.

Get the look – A Mexican Fiesta Must Love Gardening

Life is a Garden
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.

Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range Must Love Gardening

Life is a Garden – Tecomaria SunLovers®, Compact Range
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.

Level up your little green thumbs Must Love Gardening

Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
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. 

May the bush be with you African Gardens

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.

Gardening promotes mental and physical health

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.