When life gives us manure, gardeners make compost! As such, Life is a Garden would like to invite all green fingers to welcome 2021 as The Great Reset – a time to reconnect with our home space, a chance to grow food and deepen our connection with nature, an opportunity to shape remote working environments, and the ideal excuse to expand outdoor entertainment areas. Here are the top trends for the year to inspire you and help support adjusted lifestyles at home. Let Mother Nature work her magic to lift those spirits and make every space a place for life to shine!
The Pantone colour of the year is grey and yellow: grey representing fortitude and yellow symbolising happiness. Together, these colours send a message of positivity, supported by a solid foundation (grey) upon which to build joy (yellow). Cultivate resilience and hope by planting these beauties below:
Sun in your pocket
Grey for greatness
*Pantone planting tip: We’ve given gardeners some of the top yellow and grey plant picks for the year. Take our suggestions with you the next time you visit your GCA Garden Centre and inquire about seasonal planting and sowing. Your GCA expert will be able to recommend which beauties can be planted now and help you plan ahead for your Pantone paradise.
Balcony, patio, and container gardening allows everyone to become part of the eco-tribe, regardless of space limitations. You can always go vertical or experiment with hanging baskets too. Include these lovelies to your small-space haven for a gorgeous breath of fresh air and tranquil vibes:
Easy indoor elegance
Ideal outdoor delights
The collector’s dream
Welcoming nature’s handy helpers is simple and magnificently rewarding! Get your veggies pumping, your flowers flourishing, seeds spreading, and most importantly, help sustain the precious eco-system in your garden. Attract bees, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting these:
· Antirrhinum (Snapdragons)
*Pollinator tip: Remember to provide a fresh water source for your all your visitors with a way in and out to avoid any casualties. Consult your handy GCA Garden Centre advisor to see which plants can be sown and planted according to season.
Homegrown goodness is all the rage and with deliciously good reason too! South Africans are rediscovering the pleasure of growing food and harvesting the fruits (and veg, and herbs) of their labour. Any open space is an opportunity to unleash your inner permaculturist and start a #victorygarden, which benefits not only your own family but also the community around you. Sharing your harvest with a hungry tummy is awesome!
Cool-season crispy crops
Spinach and leafy greens, thyme, spring onions, garlic, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, and microgreens.
Scrumptious summer harvest
Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, watermelon, cucumber, peppers, berries, squash, basil, and sage.
*Grower’s reminder: Make sure to plant and sow according to your province and season. Your GCA Garden Centre is loaded with seed packets, seedling trays, fruit trees, herbs, compost, and more!
There you have it – your top trends for the year and a ton of inspiration to keep you going during The Great Reset! Keep your hearts green, teeming with life, and your green fingers ever on a mission to let Mother Nature shine. Our Life is a Garden, always, so pick a trend, plant away, and harvest that happiness for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
The garden in November is usually filled with a rich colour palette of late spring blooms. The bold and beautiful Hydrangeas are part of this glorious mix and never fail to wow us, year after year. Their local name is Krismisroos and they remind many people of the coming holiday season. Conveniently, Friday 27 November is Black Friday - a day where many shoppers look forward to buying bargains as Christmas gifts. Look out for specials at your local GCA Garden Centre and enjoy getting ready for the festive season. Life is a Garden, so go ahead and decorate yours!
Here are some planting tips for your beetroot seedlings:
Tip: Fertilise lightly with a 2:3:2 or equivalent organic fertilizer i.e. that is not high in nitrogen as too much nitrogen will encourage mostly leafy growth. Water sparingly since overwatering encourages leafy growth and bolting (flowering and not producing a vegetable). Beetroot also grows well in combination with blood sorrel Rubus sanguineus.
Neat to know: A century-old companion planting method used by the Iroquois, an American tribe, was called the Three Sister’s planting. The Three Sisters planting technique utilises corn, climbing beans, and squash or pumpkin. Each plant serves a purpose in this design. The corn or mielies provide the climbing (pole) for the beans and the beans add nitrogen to the soil. The squash or pumpkin protects all the sisters by using its large leaves to shade the soil, to reduce weeds and keep the soil moist. Try it for yourself!
Mole crickets are very destructive pests that tunnel below the surface of the lawn and cause widespread root damage.
An important part of pest control is to correctly identify the pest. Mole cricket can be heard chirping at night when they are most active. The adults are golden brown and about 2,5 to 3,5 cm long with large mole-like front claws combined with oversized, lobster-like heads and bodies similar to common brown/black crickets. The nymphs, or babies are about 1cm long and are miniature look-alikes of the adults.
Tip: An easy soap water drench helps confirm mole cricket activity. Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with 5 litres of water and soak the damaged area with a watering can. Mole cricket adults and nymphs will come to the surface as the soapy water penetrates their tunnels.
Signs and damage: Although the damage starts in spring it is often only noticed in summer when dead and dying patches appear on the lawn as the grass turns brown.
Control: The hard work is over. Now that you have identified the pest you can visit your local GCA Garden Centre for more advice and organic control solutions.
NB: Once you have the treatment, always read the product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals in edible gardens.
Crotons have striking leaf colours, which makes them very popular as landscaping and hedging plants in frost-free coastal regions. Indoors, their bright colours are sought after and add a distinctly vibrant, young tropical flavour. They require bright light and do well on a sunny window sill.
Tip: Allow the soil to dry out between watering as they do not like to be over-watered and enquire at your local GCA Garden Centre for an appropriate plant food.
Celosia, or cockscomb, is one of the most vibrantly coloured summer annuals. If you like to be bold and playful in the garden, cockscomb is made for you. There are two types of celosia, one with an arrow-like feathery plume for a flower and the other resembling the almost heart-shaped hump of a cock’s comb. Both are lots of fun and create a lovely tropical green backdrop around a pool or entertainment area where they can enhance a vibey party atmosphere.
Tip: Celosia is generally a non-fuss plant that is easy to grow.
In most regions, roses are or should be sprouting for their second flush in November. In cooler regions of the country and in the Western Cape, they are at the height of their beauty. Regular dead-heading not only provides a neat look in the garden, but it encourages quality new sprouting. A monthly application of fertiliser brings even more blooms. .
Edging rose beds with dwarf marigolds is another option of keeping pests away from the roses as their roots have an anti-nematode action.
Watering should never be neglected at this time of rapid growth.
Lawn: If you want a green lawn for the holiday season, now’s the time to fertilise. This should be done every six to eight weeks in the growing season.
Garden: Remember to water in the early morning or late afternoon – we need to be sustainable water-wise gardeners. Start mulching the beds to keep the water at root level cool.
As the humidity increases, look out for an increase in fungal diseases such as the different mildews on susceptible plants. Spray accordingly or visit your local GCA Garden Centre for organic advice.
Why stop at gumboots and sun hats? This month we’re talking all about taking your passion for gardening to the bedroom, living room, office, and everywhere else! Life is a Garden is helping you bring the outdoors- indoors, with a few fabulous ideas, tips and trends, and a whole lot of greenspiration to help you create a gardening sanctuary where ever you go. We’ve also included some perfectly suited plant picks to get you going, which are all indigenous and waiting for you at your local GCA Garden Centre.
Bring the garden inside with you and create a living, green wall of wonder! Vertical gardening is super stylish and brings texture, sophistication, and a sense of thriving abundance into your space. Green walls can consist of multiple indoor plant varieties, which can be grown using panels and hydroponics on free-standing structures or against a wall. Alternatively, you can also use soil containers mounted against a wall, which will soon be covered by your beautiful creepers and climbers.
A living wall in your home is a striking, visual buffet of lushness! In addition, they are great air purifiers and assist in keeping your home cool during summer. Consider creating your green wall in an area with good light and ventilation, such as the living room or bathroom where plants can absorb moisture from the air. Watering your wall may be done using misters, a light spray bottle, or a watering can with a long spout.
Plant picks: String of Beads (Senecio rowleyanus) for hardy and handsome hanging, Large Forest Asparagus(Asparagus falcatus) for a textured climber, and Flowering Ivy (Senecio macroglossus) for a fabulous little creeper.
Getting away from the hustle and bustle is as easy as pot, plant, tree! Create your own indoor sanctuary by decorating with easily accessible, indigenous, and affordable natural elements. Group pot plants and hanging baskets together for a jungle-inspired corner, use succulents with bold features and textures as grand centrepieces, or drape shelves, racks, and even shower frames with a few curious climbers. Breathe life into a corner of a room by bringing your favourite tree inside with you, or showcasing a friendly variety of ferns.
Put your creativity and decorating skills to the test by mixing things up a little! Try combining these natural elements with a few man-made, familiar favourites: Shards of bark inside glass candle holders, interesting river stones assembled around basins with a few succulents for fun, shells and dried coral arrangements, twisting fairy lights around pine cones and dried flowers such as Proteas. You may find that attention to detail really helps to cultivate the indoor garden experience and drive the overall natural theme of the space.
Plant picks: Wild Banana tree (Strelitzia nicolai) for a tropical feel, Baboon Grape (Rhoicissus digitate) for a colourful creeper, and Dagger-Leaf (Sansevieria pearsonii) for a striking, textured feature plant.
Bringing the outdoors in has many wonderful health benefits for the body, mind, and certainly the soul! Indoor plants improve air quality by acting as natural air purifiers. Better air means better breathing for our lungs. An increase of good, clean oxygen improves concentration, mental clarity, enhanced energy levels, boosts in happiness, and even helps us sleep better. Incorporating more plants into your workspace increases productivity and helps brighten up those blue Monday’s.
Caring for leafy lives is an effective way of channelling anxiety and stress into a nurturing outlet. Caring for a bonsai, for example, teaches great patience and inner calmness. Create a soothing and harmonic space that nurtures your soul, connects you with Mother Nature, and reminds you to stop and smell the roses – as they say. The heart always feels better with love, so why not invest in a life of love giving and receiving by inviting nature’s nurses into every space possible!
Plant picks: Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) for an excellent indoor air purifier, Bush Lily (Clivia miniata) for a flowering pot of happiness, and Veld fig (Ficus burtt-davyi) bonsai to help you get your Zen on.
With so many creative possibilities and health benefits of indoor gardening, it’s easy to appreciate the simplicity and practicality of bringing the outdoors to your inside spaces. Your local GCA Garden Centres have a variety of indoor plants to choose from that can help you to cultivate a space of green glory where ever you spend your time. Transform your sitting room into a real living room and create a place of grace, even in your office! For more gardening trends and inspiration visit us on Instagram.
Winter has arrived, but luckily our days are still blessed by lovely, lunchtime sunshine in most parts of the country. This is the perfect time for a little midday gardening and a braai with the family. For an enticing entertainment area plant seedlings like fairy Primulas for a dazzling flush of colour. Hanging baskets are back and add a wonderful variety of vibrant texture to your patio. When the party moves indoors, dragon trees and delicious monsters are a great choice.
Friday 5 June is World Environment Day. Celebrate your surroundings by thinking about our feathered garden friends. Birds often find it difficult to source food in the colder months, but we can lovingly assist them by putting out bird feeds. Beautiful seed feeders, suet, fruit feeders and even bird pudding can be found at your nearest GCA Garden Centre. Nesting logs will encourage Barbets to nest in your garden. In addition, any of these would make an ideal gift for Father’s Day on Sunday 21 June. You could also consider a bonsai plant and bonsai accessories as a Father’s Day gift.
It is a good time to sow Dianthus spp. also known as pinks, as their flowers are mostly pink, salmon, dark pink or white with bi-colours of lavender, purple and reds also available. Their flowers have a spicy fragrance and they belong to the same family of plants as carnations. One of the larger Dianthus is the specie we know as Sweet William, (Dianthus barbatus) which has bigger flowers and a spicy fragrance with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Sweet William is available in both single and double blooms and are biennial (flower in the second year) and self-seeding.
Pinks need at least 6 hours of sun per day and prefer to be watered on the soil, as water on the leaves may cause mildew spots. Use a slow-release fertilizer in your bed preparation or fertilise regularly for best results.
Claim to fame: The new-age Dianthus varieties flower for up to 6 months!
Tip: Removing the spent blooms (dead-heading) is very important if you want to encourage further flowering.
Continue sowing leafy greens like spinach, lettuce and beetroot which are all very easy to grow. They are also a great choice for kids to sow as an introduction to the fabulous and fun hobby of gardening.
Tip: 16 June is Youth Day – share your gardening wisdom and enthusiasm by inspiring new, little green fingers. This is your opportunity to show children how to plant these easy-to grow veggies.
Reap your rewards by picking the veggies that you sowed or planted a few months back:
Ranunculus, or Ranunc’sas they are fondly referred to, can be planted from pots if you forgot to buy the claws/bulbs when they were on the shelves with the rest of the Spring flowering bulbs.. Phew… we seldom get a fantastic second chance like this! The brilliantly coloured flowers of ranunculus are often compared with looking like a crepe-paper, origami masterpiece.
Tip: How marvellous for us that they are long-lasting cut flowers too.
Primulas are the queens of the winter and spring shaded garden. Lucky for us, there are three stunning types of Primula to choose from:
If you have trees and shrubs that need moving, this is the best time to do so. You may want to open your view or separate plants that were planted too close together. Plants need adequate light and air circulation for good growth. Palms, Cycas, cycads and small to medium-sized conifers, deciduous shrubs and trees will have the best chance of success. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to get the correct advice, tools and products that are necessary to maximise your transplanting success.
Indoor plants are high fashion and are being used to decorate all rooms in the house, especially the living areas and kitchens. Score some points on the trend barometer by going leafy indoors. Large leaf plants are trending in large and medium-sized pots. Here are some hot favourites:
Tip: Indoor plants will all benefit from regular feeding – consult your local GCA Garden Centre.
Feed your winter and spring flowering annuals and bulbs while they are actively growing. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for a recommended fertilizer that will promote both growth and flowering.
As large shrubs and trees mature, they might start shading your roses too much. Their roots can also start robbing nutrients and water from your roses. June is the best month to move threatened roses to a new, prepared bed in a more sunny spot.
Set your garden alight with a Fire Sticks plant (Euphorbia tirucalli). It resembles sea coral with pencil-like upright leaves. They are very noticeable in winter when they change from lime green and yellow colour to having flaming red and orange tips.
Tip: If you need to cut or prune this plant, take care to not let the milky latex-like plant sap touch your skin, and especially do not get it into your eyes as it can be very harmful. All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.
Paving the way - Winter is a great time to get creative with pathways and paved or gravelled areas. Now is the time for you to put in practice what you have seen and longed to have – like a beautiful pathway or extend an entertainment area. Your local GCA garden centre has a range of pavers, pebbles, gravels and plants that can allow your dream garden to become a reality. Remember to use a weed-suppressing fabric under paved areas and to set the pavers on a cushion of river sand so that it is stable.
Tip: It is also the best time to do maintenance in the garden. If its cold outside, put your jumper on and jump to it!
Hot trend alert: Gabion landscaping is all the rage. This makes use of wire and steel gabions, mostly filled with river pebbles or dump rock as the structural, hip element. They allow for exciting height changes in the landscape, as well as being a fashionable bold feature to contrast soft plantings.
Hot tip: To celebrate and tie in with World Day of Desertification and Drought on Wednesday 17 June, plan to plant waterwise succulents around your fire pit. Fire pits are fast becoming a regular feature in suburban gardens.
Pruning your Hydrangea macrophylla, the regular mophead hydrangea, will increase its vigour and increase the size of the blooms, especially if you have not pruned for many years.
Traditionally, most deciduous fruit trees and berries were planted in early spring as open-ground plants (i.e. with their bare roots wrapped in newspaper). Because we now buy them in pots or bags, it is not necessary to plant them as early. However, old habits die hard and these plants are ready for sale in spring. It is always a good idea to get in first and buy your berries as soon as you can.
Most berries like well-drained, well-composted soil in a sunny area of the garden. This means that if you have clay soil, you will need to amend it with lots of compost turned into the soil, or simply make raised beds for your berries. You can choose to add a general fertilizer into the soil now, or after planting. Don’t forget to add superphosphate or bone-meal into the planting holes, water regularly and remove weeds between the plants as they grow.
Tip: Add plenty of acid-compost or peat moss to your soil in the area you want to plant blueberries as they are acid-loving plants.
Join Leonie Coulson from Plantimex on the 7th March, for an engaging talk on Indoor plant colours and styles, the benefits of plants in your home, and a discussion on Green Trends for 2020.
The event is free to all visitors, but please book your spot by emailing Pam@lifestyle.co.za or calling 011 792 5616. Tea and coffee with be served – please arrive at 10am for a 10.30am start.
Peace, especially in our homes can be a good New Year's resolution – so it may be time to try a Peace Lily or a Peace in the home plant.
The Peace Lily, (Spathiphyllum wallesii), can grow in low-light conditions – which effectively means that it can thrive almost anywhere in the home. It has large, glossy green leaves, is very forgiving when not pampered and has large, flag-like white blooms that brighten any room with an air of sophistication.
Peace in the home plant, (Soleirolia), requires bright light and regular watering and can be combined with other plants in a mixed bowl, happy in a terrarium or simply in a pot on its own. It is said to bring peace into the home, so why not give it a try?