Dissecting Flowers Experiment

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

 

Blooming benefits

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

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

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

SANA GCA Awards 2023 Winners

GCA Awards, SANA, Greenery, Gardening, Horticulture awards, colour, beauty

SANA GCA Awards 2023

The South African Nursery Association (SANA) held the annual Garden Centre awards conference on the 8th of June at the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg. The prestigious black-tie event is fondly referred to as the Oscars for gardening and is a very exciting time for the horticultural industry.  Several outstanding Garden Centres received awards to honour their significant contribution to the green trade.

Here are your winners for 2023:

 

Independent Garden Centre

2nd Runner Up

Eckards Garden Pavilion

Water Wise Winner

Concrete & Garden Creations

Home Stores

2nd Runner up

Builders Express Northmead

All of these award-wining Garden Centres and Home Stores can be found on Life is a Garden’s website via the nation-wide store locator directory.

GCA Awards, SANA, Greenery, Gardening, Horticulture awards, colour, beauty

Lavish lavender DIY

Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor

In the spirit of this month’s sleek minimalism topic, Life is a Garden brings you a lavish lavender DIY that’ll fit right in with a more is less approach to gardening.  These stunning Lavandula varieties are perfect for adding colour to big beds and containers on the patio, plus – they are low-maintenance, water-wise, and attract a host of beneficial pollinators.

Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor
Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor

Top plant picks

1. Lavandula angustifolia: compact and bushy with small, grey-green leaves and long flower spikes in deep purple.

Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor
Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor

2. Lavandula dentata (toothed lavender): spreading habit, bushy shrubs with scalloped foliage, which are either dark green or grey depending on the variety. Fragrant, purple-blue flowers.

Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor
Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor

3. Lavandula x intermedia (English lavender): a vigorous hybrid with a spreading growth habit and aromatic grey-green leaves. Tall flower spikes covered in small mauve flowers.

Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor
Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor

4. Lavandula stoechas (French lavender): numerous hybrids available of this compact bushy shrub with slender green leaves. Short spikes of purple or pink flowers topped with two colourful bracts looking like rabbit ears.

Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor
Garden DIY, Minimalist Garden, Lavender Ideas, DIY Garden, Projects, Lavender Inspiration, Lavender, Design, Garden, Decor, Lavender Crafts, Simple Gardening, Lavender Planting, Minimalist Landscape, DIY Garden, Ideas Lavender, DIY Garden, Inspiration, Lavender, Tips, Minimalist, Living, Lavender, Garden, Outdoor, Projects, Lavender, Beauty, Lavender, Decor

How to keep it simple

  • Entrances and walkways: Replace many small stepping stones with large square slabs. Fill the remaining area with either black gravel for a dramatic feel or white pebbles for a clean look. Choose one lavender variety to be repeatedly planted alongside the walkway. Remember to space them evenly and keep plants neatly groomed. 
  • Containers on the patio: Carefully consider your colour scheme and think about how to bring in subtle purple accents through your garden furniture, window frames, and table accessories. Having three colours at most, complimented by other neutral colours, will create a minimalistic look. Container colours and texture are essential, so go for fewer and larger containers rather than multiple coloured ones.
  • Beds: Repetition of the same one or two plants is key when designing a minimalist bed, as well as the bed shape.

Scale down and glam up gran’s garden

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

Reduce effort and increase beauty 

If your grandparents have been living in their home for many years, their garden is likely high-maintenance and possibly a tad out of date. Ease the burden by removing water- and time-demanding plants and replacing them with our suggestions below. 

 

Waterwise, evergreen, indigenous plant picks for big beds

1. Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata): quick-spreading shrub, pest-resistant but attracts pollinators, pretty blooms year-round, fertilise in spring, full sun to semi-shade. 

2. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.): large growth, dramatic tropical-looking flowers, attracts birds, hard frost sensitive, fertilise in spring, ideal for morning sun to semi-shade.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum): aromatic leaves with masses of starry pink blooms in winter and spring, attracts pollinators, coastal thriver, good cut-flower/foliage, full sun.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

Easy and everlasting plant picks

1. Spekboom as a green succulent that cleans the air, looks pretty and needs little maintenance is high on our list for greening spaces for the elderly.

2. Geraniums are nostalgic and easy colour to bring back loads of gardening memories, which is particularly important for older gardeners as they age. The new varieties are even less prone to disease when they are overwatered.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Salvias are always festive and vibrant. Easy, almost no maintenance and certainly showy. From bedding plants to perennials, one can’t go wrong adding them into the garden.

4. In winter, the Namaqualand daisies as indigenous, waterwise and tough annuals for colour are a winner for older gardeners. Especially if on a limited budget, sowing seeds is an easy way to get colour over as bigger patch.

5. Roses, especially Iceberg, bring plenty of joy to older gardeners. Cutting stems to bring them indoors or to give a friend makes them even more special.

grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG
grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

Everlasting and easy plants INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A

grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

April’s topic: Glam-up gran’s garden
Theme: Everlasting and easy plants 
Industry expert: Wayne Stewart
Garden Centre: Eckards based in Bedfordview, Gauteng: https://eckards.co.za/ 

If you’re in Gauteng, a visit to this multiple award-winning Garden Centre may well be the Saturday outing you’re looking for. We sat down with Wayne from Eckards to get the best advice on how you can glam up gran’s garden this winter. Come gain some elderly-aimed maintenance tips and easy plant picks to help ouma get more wow for less work.

1. We loved exploring your website, especially the awards section. Eckards certainly has an excellent record of achievements. Could you tell us about some of your favourite accomplishments and how you maintain your multiple award-winning standard? 

 

Our Eckards recipe for success is simple: great customer experience + quality plants + a passionate team = an award-winning standard. Eckards has maintained our top ten rating in the GCA competition for over 18 years, which is something we are very proud of. Winning awards is not everything but it is a great way for the team to see the fruits of their effort benchmarked against the best in the industry.

grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG
garndams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

2. Having spent decades in the industry, we’re sure you’ve seen many hybrids come and go as well as which plants seem to have withstood the test of time as SA’s favourites. Please tell us which plants and trees are your all-time best sellers. 

 

Gaura in all colours has been popular since it was re-launched when the pink varieties were added to the range. As a plant for pollinators, it has withstood the test of time as a must-have filler in any garden.

After the impatiens disease hit in 2007 we saw a big change in colour for shade. Consumers mixed it up, instead of just falling back on common impatiens.

Glam up gran’s garden Botanical Boss

Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, Botanical boss

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your grandparents around, what a blessing! Now it’s our turn to bless them back by livening up their gardens, patios, and indoor spaces with some low-maintenance lovelies. Life is a Garden has made a list of top plants that will forgive a little forgetting, and promise to add freshness and beauty to your beloved ouma and oupa’s home. 

 

Make outdoors EASIER

If your grandparents have been living in their home for many years, their garden is likely high-maintenance and possibly a tad out of date. Get the family involved to help ease the burden by removing water- and time-demanding plants and replacing them with our suggestions below. Remember to bring extra pots on green-ovation day so that the family can re-home all the removed plants, adding a sweet touch of sentimentality to their own gardens.  

 

Waterwise, evergreen, indigenous plant picks for big beds

1. Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata): quick-spreading shrub, pest-resistant but attracts pollinators, pretty blooms year-round, fertilise in spring, full sun to semi-shade.

2. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.): large growth, dramatic tropical-looking flowers, attracts birds, hard frost sensitive, fertilise in spring, ideal for morning sun to semi-shade.

Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, Botanical boss
Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, Botanical boss

Confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum): aromatic leaves with masses of starry pink blooms in winter and spring, attracts pollinators, coastal thriver, good cut-flower/foliage, full sun.

Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, Botanical boss
Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, Botanical boss

Top simplifying tip: Ask the staff at your GCA Garden Centre for more easy plant recommendations that are specifically suited to your region. If you are unsure about the maintenance demands of existing plants in gran’s garden, take a photo of it and share them with our experts for advice: Seasonal Gardening.

Make the patio EFFORTLESS

We are lucky to still enjoy some balmy afternoons on the stoep or balcony. Make tending to containers kinder to backs and knees by raising all pots (with bricks or pallets, for example) and re-potting to higher elevations where possible.

Gardening art for gran DIY

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

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

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

You will need

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

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

- Cotton earbuds 

- Paint brushes

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

Lavender and celosia portraits 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bodacious Bulbs April Bulbs

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

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

 

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

Get the best from your bulbs

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

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

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

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

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.

All-the-feels landscaping Industry Expert

life is a garden, greenery, expert, tenacious texture, march gardening, malanseauns, gca, garden centre, garden, flowers, plants, plat, colours, nature, march in the garden

March Topic: Tenacious texture
Theme: All-the-feels landscaping    
Industry Expert: Jimie Malan
Garden Centre supplier: Malanseuns https://www.malanseuns.co.za/

Their stellar reputation and quality plants over the past 110 years in the industry, have put Malanseuns on top of the list as one of South Africa's best Garden Centre suppliers. Life is a Garden met with Jimie Malan to get the best advice on how to bring in bold texture into your garden this March. Come find out how to add movement, contrast, and sound to your backyard and reap all the feels before winter arrives!

life is a garden, greenery, expert, tenacious texture, march gardening, malanseauns, gca, garden centre, garden, flowers, plants, plat, colours, nature, march in the garden

1. We loved reading the origin story on your website and how Danie Malan founded your family business all the way back in 1913! Can you tell us a bit about your personal gardening journey and how you have come to fit into the Malanseuns Pleasure Plants story?

Since I can remember, I enjoyed being in the garden. You can basically say I was brought up by plants. Some of my fondest memories are walking with my late grandma through her garden. She taught me all about plants and shared so many lovely stories about her favourite flowers. The love for plants runs through the Malan family’s veins and I too realised that my absolute passion is plants! You can almost say we have green blood and not red.

It is truly a big honour for me, as the leader, to work with this amazing Malanseuns team. Every day is a new adventure with plants. To me, it is very fulfilling to see new growth and also to follow the process of a plant growing into something beautiful!

I always say that you can be an artist with plants, simply by using their many different colours, shapes and textures.

life is a garden, greenery, expert, tenacious texture, march gardening, malanseauns, gca, garden centre, garden, flowers, plants, plat, colours, nature, march in the garden
life is a garden, greenery, expert, tenacious texture, march gardening, malanseauns, gca, garden centre, garden, flowers, plants, plat, colours, nature, march in the garden

2. The Malanseuns brand is certainly a renowned one.

The Autumn Harvest

fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

It’s Autumn, and probably the last opportunity to soak up a lovely warm-ish day in South Africa before the winter chill sets in. Why not arrange some outdoor time on your patio with friends and family and surprise them by preparing some dishes, almost exclusively from your garden? Get your preserve recipes ready and let’s fill some bags with produce to share with those in need. 

fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Pick me

A tasty host of herbs to be picked now include thyme, parsley, marjoram, and mint. Veggies like squash, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, chillies and, beetroot are also ready for the lunch buffet. Juicy fruit such as melon and tomato will be coming to an end now as well. 

fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Harvesting tips

  • Prolong your lettuce harvest by only picking the larger, outer leaves each time, allowing the inner leaves to keep growing.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Tomatoes are ready to be picked when they’re uniformly red – just before they soften. Spray preventatively against various fungal diseases.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Lemons, depending on variety and care should be available to harvest pretty much all year round. Keep your tree well-watered, prune when necessary and protect it from pests to keep your bounty flowing.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Peppers are a Catch-22 harvest. If you want volume you should pick them frequently and before they mature since they’ll keep trying to produce viable seed but if it is flavour you’re after you need to let them reach maturity before harvesting knowing you’ll have less but tastier fruit.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Preserve your bounty

Fresh produce has a limited shelf life but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your harvest for longer. Fill jars with homemade pasta sauces, relishes, and pickles that can be enjoyed for months after you’ve harvested your vegetables. There are some stunning preserve recopies out there, not to mention fire ciders and other health conics you can create.

Green-ovate your bathroom Bathroom Plants and Garden Checklist

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

Green-ovate your bathroom with these moisture-loving, humidity-seeking plants.

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

Indoor bathroom beauties

Landscaping indoors is a great way to both extend and create a theme. In addition, the bathroom doubles as a sweet little greenhouse for all your favourite indoor lovelies. Consider the style of the plant to inspire your container shape and colour choice. 

Tropical vibes:

Croton plants (Codiaeum variegatum) come in a large variety of foliage shapes and sizes as well as different colour variations. In general, the more variegated and colourful the croton plant, the more light it will need. They do not like the cold and will likely go through a shock period once brought home or moved. A tad fussy, but so worth it!

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february
Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

For good feng shui:

Sculptural and intriguing, the lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is a good choice for beginners. They enjoy filtered sunlight and a drop of liquid fertilizer once a month. You can even grow this plant in a vase of pebbles and water, just be sure to refresh the water every week. In addition, stalks can be trained to grow in special twists and turns. 

Striking and strange:

Guzmania flower bracts will captivate you all year round. As they tend to be top-heavy, place a stone at the bottom of containers. Plants prefer bright light, no direct sun, and an orchid mix soil base that is kept moist. Place them at eye level where you can enjoy their evergreen foliage and most unusual flowers.

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february
Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

Top tip: Remember to rotate your plants every two weeks for even, straight growth. 

Top tip: Avoid fungal disease and ensure fresh air circulation by always airing out the bathroom after showering/bathing. 

Try this:

Mount the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) against a stunning piece of driftwood on a windowsill with indirect sun. As part of the epiphyte family, these Tillandsia (air plants) thrive by absorbing moisture through their leaves. 

Incredible carnivores with roots Predator plant month

Predator plant, Life is a garden, plant predator month, carnivorous plants, exotic, indigenous plants, greenery, colours, pitcher plants, Venus flytrap, flytrap, gardening, February, Gardening

February’s topic: Predator plant month
Theme: Incredible carnivores with roots!  
Industry expert: Renee Mendelow
Garden centre: Jozi Carnivores based in Midrand, Gauteng: www.jozicarnivores.co.za  

If you have yet to explore the extraordinary world of predator plants, Jozi Carnivores has your next epic gardening adventure sorted! Located on a beautiful farm with horses and trees, this specialised Garden Centre is well worth the outing and offers fascination for the whole family to engage in. With thousands of exotic carnivorous beauties to choose from, our industry expert, Renee, has provided some invaluable information and advice on how to become the ultimate predator plant parent. Come dig in, if you dare!

Predator plant, Life is a garden, plant predator month, carnivorous plants, exotic, indigenous plants, greenery, colours, pitcher plants, Venus flytrap, flytrap, gardening, February, Gardening

1. Please tell us how your carnivore plant journey began and what made you fall in love with this most unusual species?  

I discovered carnivorous plants at a time when I had three children in primary school. We were going to so many children’s birthday parties and spending so much money on gifts that were mostly about packaging and plastic. It made me feel sad. Around that time, I spotted a little Venus flytrap in a nursery and bought it for my daughter who shared my love of nature. She adored her Venus flytrap but a day or two later she emerged looking sad and worried. “It’s my Venus flytrap” she declared, “It’s bored and lonely and just sits around all day waiting for something to happen”. We clearly had a problem on our hands, so we decided to find a friend for the lonely plant. 

We trawled the nurseries but found none. We then searched the internet and found a carnivorous grower in Cape Town. I was then exposed to the incredible world of carnivorous plants and discovered the fascinating variety available. I realised quickly that predator plants serve as an excellent educational, organic gift for children that also taught positive values such as caring for a living thing.

5 Top crops that keep giving Plant them once but harvest many times

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

We’re not ready to let go of the festive vibes and generous spirit of the holidays just yet! Life is a Garden would like to extend these good feels with the below list of summer crops that keep on, keep on giving. Plant them once but harvest many times – that’s the way to eat your heart out healthily this new year.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Your 5 top crops that keep giving and how to harvest them correctly 

  1. Spinach: Harvest only 1/3 of the plant at a time by cutting your chosen leaves at their base, above the crown (where all stems meet). You don’t have to work your way from outside in, so long as you harvest a mix of new and mature leaves. 
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

2. Fancy lettuce: Apply the same technique as with spinach and remember to mulch around the plants very well. Adequate water and moisture will discourage bolting, which is when the plants go to seed – so perhaps you’d even like to experiment.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Top tip: When harvesting leaves, pick them early morning (for crispness) or late afternoon. Avoid the hottest parts of the day to not stress plants unnecessarily. 

3. Tomatoes: If it looks ripe and smells good, pick that bad boy! For a repeated lush harvest, prune back low-lying branches that touch the ground and pinch out smaller suckers that appear below the first cluster of flowers. Also remove any yellow leaves.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

4. Green peppers: Here’s a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, the more you pick, the more produce you’ll get. However, the longer you leave the peppers on the plant, the sweeter they will be and the higher the Vitamin C content – choice is yours!

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

5. Strawberries: No catch of picking in plenty here! The secret lies in an organic fertiliser that will increase flowering, resulting in more fruit, faster.

WOW your watermelon DIY

Wow your watermelon, recipe, fruits, summer, wow, waermelon, blueberries, Kids, fun, tasty, tasty summer, heat, chop, blend, lollies, colour, cool, cold spring, greenery, life is a garden,

The exciting thrill of a successful watermelon harvest doesn’t end at picking your prized fruit at just the right time. Have you ever wondered how to hero this bootylicious edible even further? These creative carving ideas and mouth-watering recipes from Life is a Garden are sure to help you get all the WOW’s from your watermelon this summer (with no added sugar and vegan friendliness)! 

Frozen coco-melon lollies 

Ingredients: Fresh watermelon and any other soft ripe fruit of your choice (try berries, kiwi or banana) and a can of coconut milk.

Equipment: A blender and ice lolly moulds for the freezer.

Method: First, blend your second fruit choice, such as blackberries, and fill a quarter of the lolly mould. Pop in the freezer to set. Then, blend your watermelon (remove as many seeds as possible) together with the coconut milk and pour the mix into the mould (on top of your frozen berries) and freeze immediately. Enjoy your double-coloured, homemade lollies! 

 

Try this: Add a handful of fresh garden herbs when blending your bottom fruit mix for a pop of surprise flavour at the end. 

Wow your watermelon, recipe, fruits, summer, wow, waermelon, blueberries, Kids, fun, tasty, tasty summer, heat, chop, blend, lollies, colour, cool, cold spring, greenery, life is a garden,
Wow your watermelon, recipe, fruits, summer, wow, waermelon, blueberries, Kids, fun, tasty, tasty summer, heat, chop, blend, lollies, colour, cool, cold spring, greenery, life is a garden,

Fancy-pants punch bowl 

Ingredients: A whole fresh watermelon, a bottle of soda water, lemon/lime slices, crushed ice, and mint leaves.

Equipment: A sharp knife, large spoon, blender, and ladle for serving

Method: Cut your watermelon in half so that you have two halves that can stand on their own. Hollow out the inside flesh and pop all the goodness into the blender, give it a whizz. Then, pour your watermelon blend back into its shell, slowly add the soda water followed by the lemon/lime slices, and then the crushed ice. Give it a gentle stir and add mint leaves to garnish – voila! 

Try this: Add a splash of gin or rum to the punch and a tot of passionfruit cordial as an adult’s only option. 

Hybrid gift giving December perfect plant picks

december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,

Give a living gift this holiday and show off your eco-tribe vibes with a fancy new addition to your loved one’s plant fam. Here is Life is a Garden’s top 5 latest seasonal hybrid plant picks.

1. For bae: The Hannon rose

This new hybrid tea rose has gorgeous deep pink flowers that bloom throughout the season. An added bonus is that they are exceptional cut-flowers, perfect for adding ambience on date night dine-ins. They have a mild perfume as well. 

Planting and perks: Full sun beds or containers, cold and frost hardy + petals used for DIY pot pourri (add essential oils for extra heavenly fragrance). 

december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,

2. For bestie: Hibiscus graff 

Here is the latest hibiscus species that boasts even longer-lasting flowers. Speaking of blooms, hibiscus bushes bear large flowers in bright colours, creating an exotic feel to any space they occupy. Wherever planted – they’ll steal the show. 

Planting and perks: Full sun, plenty of fertiliser, water daily + petals can be brewed to create a simply delish floral tea (good for hair and digestion).

december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,

3. For moms: Hydrangea ‘endless summer’ aka the Christmas rose (but on steroids

Living up to its name, this new hybrid blooms in massive pink or blue mophead flowers on both old and new wood, you guessed it - all summer long.

Planting and perks: Partial shade beds or containers, frost hardy + customisation option by adjusting the soil’s pH to yield different colour blooms (ask Google).

december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,
december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,

4. For rad dads: Pelargonium interspecific ‘rose splash’ 

A real breakthrough in floral genetics, the ‘rose splash’ features large, semi-double flowers with a dark pink centre and lighter pink borders. They reward gardens with outstanding colour throughout summer and are quick growing. 

Planting and perks: Full to partial sun beds or baskets, drought hardy + resilient to a little neglect once established (just avoid frost).

Easy aloes for beds and containers Self-parenting plants

aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening

If you’re looking for no-fuss plants that will survive without you for a while, aloes are the perfect choice. Life is a Garden sat down with The Aloe Farm to find out which aloes perform the best and what maintenance practices you need to know. Remember to visit your local GCA Garden Centre for all your succulent needs and great advice to help you, help your plants self-parent this holiday.

December’s topic: Self-parenting plants
Theme: Easy aloes for beds and containers  
Industry expert: Andy De Wet 
Garden centre: Aloe Farm based in Hartbeespoort, Gauteng: www.thealoefarm.co.za

1. We would love to hear about your personal plant journey. How did it all start and what about aloes inspired you to make them your main focus at the Aloe Farm?  

I always loved nature and especially animals as a child, but my horticultural inspiration certainly came from my dad who was an avid gardener his whole life. He bought some aloes when I was a botany student in 1972, and I fell in love with them. I began reading aloe books and collecting species. I soon realised that natural hybrids occur in the wild and was curious about what I could create if I hybridised selected parents from different locations. 

I then began making my first (not too exciting) initial combinations in 1973 and over time I saw the commercial possibilities, which is when the real fun started with clear breeding objectives. These goals developed as I gained experience in retail, wholesale and landscaping. 

I believe that if you want a successful business you have to be unique and The Aloe Farm was an obvious opportunity to me as it could become an interesting indigenous destination nursery, built on a unique strength.

aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening
aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening

2. Your website is truly an aloe grower’s dream! With so many to choose from, what advice could you offer our beginner gardeners?