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.

Gardening art for gran DIY

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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?

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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

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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! 

Fern Fountain DIY

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This month would not be complete without a hands-on gardening project that screams ‘touch me’! Enjoy Life is a Garden’s quick and easy fern fountain DIY that is guaranteed to give you all the good feels and of course, add a banging boost of texture to your space.

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You will need

  • Multiple hanging baskets and goodies to hang them (drill, cord/chain, nails, etc). The number of baskets depends on how many tiers you have space for.
  • A high beam/pillar/railing in mind from which to suspend the fountain. 
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden
  • Potting soil and compost 
  • Your chosen fabulous ferns
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

Assembling the fountain

  1. First, conceptualise how many tiers your space allows. The idea is that each basket hangs below the previous one. As your ferns grow, this will create a stunning fountain display as they spill over the edges and almost blend in with each layer of the fountain. We recommend having at least two tiers, about 30 cm apart. 
  2. Once you have your spacing sorted, secure your chosen hanging material goodies to your beam/pillar/railing. We recommend a set up with hooks or easy links that can be removed if needed (for watering or relocating). In other words, avoid permanently securing the baskets to their chain/cord. 
  3. Transplant your tenacious textures and be sure to add a good helping of potting soil and compost. You may also want to add a little liquid fertiliser to help reboot plants after transplant shock. Water well and admire for years! 
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DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

Plant picks

Visit your GCA Garden Centre to see which ferns attract you most. Remember to check their sun requirements and expected growth size. This will also help you plan better. Our favourites include our indigenous leather leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis), tropical maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.), and the variegated ribbon fern (Pteris spp.).

Delicious Produce Trees & vines for homegrown abundance

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January’s topic: Eat your heart out healthily
Theme: Delicious produce-producing trees and vines 
Industry expert: Charles Oosthuizen
Grower: Tuberflora Nursery based in Muldersdrift, Gauteng: https://www.tuberflora.co.za/  

Life is a Garden met with expert grower, Tuberflora, to find out about the latest edible hybrids and delicious fruit tree varieties available this summer at your GCA Garden Centre. With serious water restrictions experienced across the country recently, are you equally mulch-serious yet? Come get some professional growing advice and choose the perfect produce-producing tree for gardens and patios of all sizes. 

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1. Your website lists such a juicy, crunchy, and zesty variety of produce-producing trees. Please give us your top 5 summer must-have fruit trees that our gardeners can look out for at their GCA Garden Centre this season. 

  • Pomegranates (King of fruits)
  • Figs (Queen of fruits)
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Citrus
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fruits, summer, wow, waermelon, blueberries, Kids, fun, tasty, tasty summer, heat, chop, blend, lollies, colour, cool, cold spring, greenery, life is a garden,

2. We love your selection of the more uncommon nut, berry, and fruit tree/plant varieties. For our gardeners looking to grow something special, which trees/plants would you recommend and are there any growing tips to be aware of? 

We are introducing wine grape varieties this year, and although they are small and seeded, they are edible. Grapes are water-wise and thrive in hot, dry weather conditions.

We also sell special heirloom varieties of figs and pomegranates. In fact, Giving Trees grow the biggest selection of figs and pomegranates in the country and their aim is to preserve the huge gene pool of varieties for future generations. Figs and pomegranates are special spiritual plants as they bring good energy to your garden. Figs and pomegranates are tolerant of hot, dry weather conditions as well once they are established. Persimmons are tough, easy to grow and very rewarding.

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

3. We recently experienced water restrictions across the country. Are there any water-wise growing/watering methods and practices you could recommend that allow consumers to sustainably grow food?

WOW your watermelon DIY

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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. 

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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. 

Make your spekkie sparkle DIY

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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

Instead of a faux tree, why not go for an indigenous living lovely this year? Life is a Garden’s sweet and simple DIY will give you some inspiration to bedazzle your spekboom (Portulacaria afra) for that holiday spirit. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always decorate your tree with other fun goodies and use your creations as cheerful table décor. 

Did you know? Spekboom leaves are edible and non-toxic to animals and humans. Add a few leaves to your salad for a juicy citrus flavour (and bragging rights). 

 

You will need

  • A spekboom from your GCA garden centre (or multiple trees if you have many children who would like to each make their own spekkie sparkle)
  • A lovely new pot 
  • Potting soil and compost for transplanting 
  • Decoration goodies (we chose a Christmas theme, but different coloured ribbons and bells would also look fab) 
  • A cohort of kids, or just one
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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

How to 

  1. Transplant your spekboom into its new home. Remember to push from the base up and not grab your plant by the neck. Add your potting soil and compost mix, water well, and allow it to drain. 
  2. With all your décor charms on display, encourage the kids to play and have fun! 
  3. Once your spekkie has undergone the makeover, place it in a sunny spot outdoors, a bright light area on the patio, or indoors near a window. Water your plant well, about once a week (depending on its location) and check out our guide below to ensure your plant thrives till next year. 

Pest patrol: Although not prone to pests, high humidity can sometimes invite mealy bugs or scale. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for appropriate products that will take care of the nasties.

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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate
December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

Unhappy spekkie symptoms and diagnoses 

 

  • Scorched yellowing foliage

Problem: Too much direct light or sun.

Father’s Day Pot Platter Table Pot Platter - DIY

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Father’s Day DIY: Table Pot Platter 

 

Dad’s day is coming up and that means DIY gift time for us gardeners! Give that special father figure in your life something from you and the kids that’s both practical and brag-worthy. This DIY requires no power tools, making it an easy activity for children of all ages to enjoy. Life is a Garden is bringing the outdoors to dad’s desk, here’s how:  

A trio of awesomeness 

Your table pot platter essentially consists of three smaller pots (square or round) arranged inside a larger circular container (pot saucers work well). Pot one will home your hardy focal point plant and pots two and three will be filled with dad’s favourite snacks (like biltong, nuts or candy). All three smaller pots need to fit well inside the larger platter container, so be sure to keep sizes in mind when out shopping.

Top snack tip: Find a sealable container that fits inside your snack pot so that treats can easily be sealed when dad’s not around. If dad is home-based, get the kids to top up the snack pot with more surprises and yummies throughout the day.

 

You will need 

  1. Three smaller pots
  2. One large round saucer   
  3. A hardy indoor plant (suggestions below) 
  4. Pebbles, bark shards, or wood chips
  5. Dad’s favourite snacks and drink

 

 

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Pot platter assembly

Evergreen indoor plants, containers and raised pot stands of all shapes and sizes are widely available at your GCA Garden Centre. This DIY is ideal for the office or workshop table in need of some decorative greenery and homeliness. Simply transplant dad’s new plant into the focal point pot, water well and allow to drain fully. Then, arrange all three of the smaller pots inside the larger round saucer. Fill any gaps inside the main container (around the smaller pots) with pebbles or wood chips for a further ruggedly trendy look, or leave as is for a neat finish

Try this: If you’ve got a funky dad, get the kids to paint the outer container for a colourful, heartfelt touch that will make dad ever so proud to show off his handmade gift.

Plant Transpiration Experiment DIY

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Did you know? Just like we release water vapour through our mouths as we breathe, so do plants through their stomata - tiny, pore-like structures on the surfaces of leaves. Plants use their roots to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, drawing it upwards into their stems and leaves. Some of this water is then returned to the atmosphere by the process known as transpiration.

 Why do plants need to transpire?

The loss of water (or transpiration) plays a vital role in maintaining healthy plant growth, water balance, and overall longevity. More specifically, plants transpire for 3 main reasons:

  1. Nutrient uptake – the rate of transpiration actually determines your edibles’ yield. Turgor pressure keeps the plant cells full and turgid, owing to the transpiration stream of water from roots to shoots. In agriculture, transpiration is essential in producing healthy crops.
  2. Cooling – to manage heat and drought stress, transpiration rates are crucial as this process brings down the temperature of leaves, the largest plant organ. However, losing too much water can leave plants dehydrated.
  3. Photosynthesis – water flow efficiency is intricately connected with photosynthesis through the stomata. A lot of the water absorbed from the soil is used for photosynthesis, cell expansion, and growth. A single tree reaching 20 meters high can take up between 10 litres to 200 litres a day!

Clearly, transpiration is a big deal. Get the kids involved and let’s bring this invisible miracle to light.

water vapour photosynthesis transpiration plastic garden kids fun
transpiration fun kids vapour water experiment garden plastic photosynthesis

 

Experiment time

You will need

  • A ziplock bag
  • String
  • A leafy branch of a tree

Try this: Compare transpiration rates and see how the environment affects plants by conducting separate experiments on both sunny and cloudy days.

 

Step 1: Find a plant in the garden with a nice leafy branch where your bag will fit over.

Step 2: Cover the section of the branch with the ziplock bag and then seal it tightly with some string around the stem.

DIY Living chessboard DIY

Take your gardening skills to new heights with this creative DIY living chessboard! With plants as chess pieces and striking black and white colours, your garden is guaranteed to grab attention, invite engagement, and spark plenty of conversation. In addition, you’ll get to add a couple of really special beauties to your collection that you otherwise may not have considered. 

 

Let’s talk tiles

Get your hands on some large black and white tiles, available at your GCA Garden Centre and local home depo stores. When choosing tile slabs, go for ones that are nice and big as they will need to stand out when your pot plants are placed on top of them. You may also want to consider tiles with a protective layer to prevent scratches, or go for concrete slabs and simply paint them yourself using good quality water and weather-resistant paint. 

Top tip: While you’re out, grab an easy clean mop or broom to keep near your chess set to ensure it’s always play-ready and looking neat. 

Try this: If you’re strapped on space, you could always create a mini version of this game with tiny pots and succulents. Play on a table or transform the courtyard.  

 

Pots and pawns 

Your traditional chess pieces will be pot plants, of course! Go for containers with good drainage made from lightweight materials that won’t be too heavy to move. A lovely selection of pots is available at your GCA Garden Centre with treated compost and potting soil to go with them. If you’re on a budget, you could always go for inexpensive plastic containers and paint them instead. Don’t forget your saucers to avoid messy spillages during watering.  

 

Top tip: To keep track of which plant represents which chess piece, don’t move the pot saucers from their original placement when playing.

Making Paint from Flowers DIY

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain? Can you paint with all the colours of the wind? The stage is set for your first DIY of the new year, and gardeners – it’s blooming! We’re sure both you and the kids are eager to get back to school, so let’s make sure we send them off with some positive flower power. Here is Life is a Garden’s top activity to end off the holidays.

 

Pocahontas’s secrets

Did you know? The lotus flower was first used to represent the sun in Ancient Egyptian art and has since become a popular symbol of peace in yogic/health practices. During the Medieval and Renaissance period, painters and sculptures used flowers as an important motif to convey a certain meaning to audiences. The oldest archaeological evidence of paint making was found in the Blombos Cave in South Africa and was dated at 100,000 years old! Paint made from plant oils was also an essential part of Native American storytelling, on cave walls and on the body. Our girl Pocahontas is well known for illustrating the deep connection these ancient tribes had with Mother Nature.

Collecting your colours

The first ingredient you need is some flowers, of course! Gather a colourful collection from the garden or pop down to your GCA Garden Centre to choose from the huge selection of summer bloomers. Try to get a variety of different flowers as some are more pigment-rich than others, resulting in a brighter or more pastel colour. Try these colour-popping picks: Daisies, Fuchsia, Hibiscus , Roses and  Salvias.


Terrific gift tip: We know that January can be a tough month, on the budget and also for all those with birthday’s this month. Purchase plain white craft paper, fold it as a card, and get the kids to use their amazing flower paint to decorate it with.

A trellis for your thoughts DIY Rope Trellis

DIY Trellis

Let your climbers come up and play with this rustic DIY rope trellis for all your indoor and outdoor explorer plants. You can create this trellis using upcycled materials lying around at home, or go totally eco-friendly with organic materials scavenged from the garden. Enjoy all the benefits of trellis growing and get the most from your curious creepers this summer.

 

A trellis gives you the edge

When planting edibles and decorative plants against a supportive trellis, you:

  1. Save space by going vertical and neaten up your garden’s appearance.
  2. Are able to home more indoor plants and grow more food in less space with easy-peasy harvesting.
  3. Grow clean, ‘normal looking’ produce, instead of odd shapes splashed with dirt.
  4. Reduce disease and insect damage by improving air circulation around plants and also by keeping foliage off the ground where soil-borne diseases can quickly spread.
  5. Make it easier for pollinators to access flowers.
  6. Experiment and play with architecture, landscaping, and visually intriguing décor.
  7. Grow healthier plants with increased exposure to indoor lighting or outdoor sunlight.
  8. Are able to prune and apply fertiliser much easier than if plants were on the ground.
  9. Equip your plants with better support to withstand strong winds and rainfall.
  10. Cover up baren walls and fences, and create your own indoor living walls.
Roses on Trellis
Trellis
Inquisitive indoor climbers

Here’s a list of five fabulous indoor creepers and climbers for inspiration.

  1. Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  2. Pothos (Caution: toxic to cats, dogs, and children if ingested)
  3. Wax flowers (Hoya carnosa)
  4. Creeping fig (Ficus pumila)
  5. Maidenhair vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa)
Edible outdoor explorers

Plant and sow these scrumptious edibles on a trellis and maximise your harvest.

  1. Beans
  2. Peas
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Melons
  5. Summer squash

Available in pots, seedling trays and seed packets from your GCA Garden Centre.

Pothos
Maidenhair vine
Tomatoes on Trellis
Melons on Trellis
Begin your trellis assembly

You will need:

  • At least 5 sticks from the garden or 5 store-bought wooden rods
  • Some harvested fresh and pliable vines, or some bought twine
  • A nail and hammer

*Top tip: If you’re going organic, try collecting an interesting variety of sticks to give your trellis the ultimate rustic and raw look.

DIY Pot-posh Birdbath

We’re obsessed with birds – watching them frolic in the garden, discovering new species in the area, looking forward to returning friends, and enjoying the feeling of fulfilment from helping to care for our wildlife. This DIY is an easy, economical solution to a fancy birdbath, allowing you to go as sophisticated or simple as your budget allows. In addition, Life is a Garden’s pot-posh birdbath gives the DIY enthusiast a real time to shine as there are so many ways to play, design, and decorate. Before we begin, let’s talk about the fabulous featured elephant in the room – birds!

 

Birds with benefits
  • Conservation is everything: First and foremost, as gardeners, we have the power to take conservation into our own hands. Become a wildlife warrior and eco-ambassador by providing a much-needed safe oasis for our flyers threatened by loss of habitat.
  • Pest control: Certain bird species will enjoy a tasty snack after their drink. Aphids, scale, mozzies, spiders, flies and other insects are easily taken care of by local heroes such as white-eyes, chats, barbets, thrushes, robins, warblers, shrikes, woodpeckers and hoopoes.
  • Pollination deluxe: Some flyers are excellent pollinators, helping to produce even more flowers in your garden, which in turn attracts other essential pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Our indigenous sunbirds, sugarbirds, and Cape white-eyes are at your service.
  • Weeds away: South Africa’s waxbills, finches, fire finches, canaries and bronze manikins are seed-snacking winners.
  • Property plus: Add value to your property by boasting a colourful variety of wildlife. A bird-attracting garden makes your property more appealing and increases investment value.
  • Education: With so many friendly flyers around, take the opportunity to research your local bird species. Educate yourself, loved ones, and the kids!
  • Stress relief: Be it morning, midday, or at sunset – watching the birds is always a pleasing and calming activity that promotes well-being and decreases stress.

The world in her hands – DIY Women’s Month Planter

She’s got the whole world in her hands (while doing dishes, tending the garden, feeding the kids, juggling work, and trying to maintain a social life). Thank you to all the ferociously fabulous females and happy Women’s Month to you! Life is a Garden is celebrating the ladies with this classy DIY hands planter that’ll make the perfect gift for the green-fingered goddess in your life. Let’s get started!

 

“I raise up my voice, not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard” - Malala Yousafzai, activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

You will need
  • A dust mask
  • 1 bag of casting/sculpting concrete mix (the smooth one that doesn’t have any stones)
  • A mixing bucket and a mixing rod
  • A small gardening spade
  • A pair of plastic gloves
  • Stones or bricks to help hold your hands in place as they dry
  • Outdoor paint suitable for concrete (optional)
  • A pair of scissors
  • Potting soil, compost, and stunning succulents from your GCA Garden Centre

Resources at your fingertips: Your local hardware store will have a variety of concrete to choose from. Make sure you get one that is for casting or sculpting. Your GCA Garden Centre has all the rest of the gardening goodies you need, go check it out.

 

“If you're always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou, Pulitzer-prize nominated poet.

 

 

Get a grip on your hands
  1. With your dust mask on, it’s time to mix the concrete. Follow the instructions on the bag for a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Using a gardening spade, carefully fill each glove with the casting concrete. You’ll have to work quickly here and make sure that the mixture reaches the tip of each finger. Squeeze the concrete all the way down to ensure your hands and fingers will be evenly set once dried.

DIY Frozen Suncatcher Mobile A DIY for kids

With winter in full chilly swing, let’s catch some sun kids! Besides, the Grinch stole Christmas so we’re sure that borrowing the sun for a while will be in order. Life is a Garden is inviting kids of all ages to come and explore the curious science of water, temperature, and the sun. Time to turn liquids into solids and make a glistening frozen art piece for the garden.

 

Sciencey things

Before we get started, here are some chilled frozen facts for your kids to think about:

  • Water can occur in three states: solid (ice), liquid that you drink, or gas (like steam).
  • The freezing point for water is 0°C, while the boiling point is 100°C.
  • Water freezes when the liquid molecules get so cold that they slow down enough to “hold” onto each other, forming a solid crystal, which we call ice.
  • Dry ice isn't made of water, it is actually frozen carbon dioxide.

Try this: For the next really cold day, you can make instant snow form by throwing boiling water into the air.

You will need:
  • Treasures from the garden such as fruit slices, herbs, flowers and interesting leaves (citrus and rosemary are in-season sensations now).
  • Shallow, round containers in which your water will freeze, such as lids or flat plates. These discs will become the main features, so you may want to use different sizes to enhance the visual intricacy and appeal of your mobile.
  • A medium-sized stick or wooden rod to hang your frozen discs from. You can get fancy here and cross two sticks/rods for a traditional mobile look.
  • Any colour food colouring (optional).
  • Pieces of string or twine.
  • A pair of scissors, winter gloves, and water.

Top tip: Visit your GCA Garden Centre for gorgeous cool-season flowers and citrus trees. Take the little ones for an outing and let them choose their blooms to use in the ice discs of their suncatcher.

DIY Father’s Day Pallet Tool Hanger A gift for father's day

This month we’re celebrating all dads and father figures in our lives. Get the family involved with this practical, thoughtful, and fun DIY project. Give dad a hand and let’s get those tools sorted, in true gardener style. Who knows, this DIY may as well give poppa that little boost he needs to get his handy-man on and complete those outstanding projects! #Weloveyoudad

You will need:
  • A pallet
  • Paint or wood varnish and brush
  • A drill
  • Wood hooks (to hang pots)
  • Bucket-style pots with handles (make sure that your wood hooks are large enough to support the pots and fit the pot handle size)
  • Pot plants (choose non-creeping/climbing plants and go for an upright beauty instead)
  • Potting soil from your GCA Garden Centre
  • U-type double hook tool hangers and matching screws. Choose hooks that are coated with plastic/rubber to protect dad’s tools from scratches (available at hardware stores).

Top tip: Your GCA Garden Centre has a variety of bucket-style pots and baskets to choose from, and of course, a glorious selection of pot-perfect plants. Take the kids along for a fun family outing!

Plant picks: If you have a sunny spot in mind, choose Succulents and cacti as no-fuss greenery that will thrive off a little neglect (they look super rugged too!). Visit your GCA Garden Centre to discover what other semi-shade and full shade plants are available now.

 

Go-go MacGyver:
  1. Give your pallet a coat of paint or wood varnish in the colour of your choice. Encourage kids to paint some pictures for dad or little messages on the panels.
  2. Decide where you would like to hang your pots and look at what kind of tools dad uses the most. We recommend a line of 4 hanging pots along the second panel, leaving space for larger tools to hang below.

DIY African Mamma Planter A gift for mothers day

Here's the perfect gift for the eco-mom this Mother's Day! Give like a gardener with this stunning DIY planter made from an empty bottle, some South African flavour, a cute creeper, and a splash of creativity. Whether the mom in your life is an auntie, sister, cousin, or guardian – this home-made act of gratitude is sure to show them just how much you adore their presence in your life.

You will need:
  • A clean, empty 2l milk/juice carton (remove any labels and glue, keep the lid).
  • Waterproof paint.
  • A permanent marker.
  • Knife or scissors.
  • An African-inspired cloth for the kopdoek/headband (larger piece) and neck (small piece).
  • Rope for hanging.
  • Potting soil (available at your GCA Garden Centre).
  • A cute creeper (as hair) from your GCA Garden Centre. Go for a fun outing and check out which creepers are in season now.

Plant picks: Pilea glauca bowl, String of beads, Philodendron selloum and other Philodendron varieties, Guzmania varieties, Spider plant, and Pathos.

Making your Mamma
  • Turn your carton upside down and conceptualise: the opening serves as the neck of your character, the handle becomes the nose, and the bottom end becomes the top of her head where the plant will go.
  • Cut off the “head” quarter of the carton (not the lid end).
  • Cut a few drainage holes/slits in the lid cap of your carton (her neck). Cut holes for the rope from which to hang your planter and then thread it through.
  • Paint or draw on her lips above the neck, create her eyebrows just above the ending of the nose, and then her eyes, either opened or closed with luscious lashes, of course! You can play with the facial features of your mamma – perhaps add a nose ring or earnings, a little blush or eyeshadow. You could even make an African pappa or a few kids to accompany her.

How leaves change colour – an experiment for kids

How leaves change colour- an experiment for kids

Autumn is a colourful time for trees and a curious invitation to all young gardeners. Do your children also enjoy rummaging around in leaves, collecting them, and admiring their unique hues? Well then, here’s a DIY kids experiment that investigates the science of chlorophyll and answers the question of how and why leaves change colour. Are you ready for some fun in the garden? Let’s go!

 

What’s so cool about leaves anyway?

For starters, leaves are part of Mother Nature’s highly intelligent network of oxygen (O2) providers, making them an essential service to life on Earth. Through photosynthesis, leaves turn light energy into food for plants to grow. Using their pores, or stomata, leaves absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and then release clean, crisp O2 for us to breath – thanks guys!

 

Chloro- me, chloro- you, chloro- phyll?  

Owing to changes in daylight and temperature during Autumn, the process of photosynthesis and the amount of chlorophyll in leaves is altered. Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes leaves green, so with less sunlight for photosynthesis, it’s only natural that some changes in colour are expected. The absence of chlorophyll is what results in the gorgeous display of sunset-hued leaves this time of year.

 

An experiment awaits!

You will need:

  • A few glass jars
  • A few coffee filters
  • Various colours of autumn leaves
  • Surgical spirits (available at pharmacies)
  • A spoon for mixing
  • A notebook to observe changes

 

Leaves at the ready:

  1. Unleash your kids upon the garden or park in search of as many different autumn-coloured leaves they can find. Equip them with a container to carry their findings.
  2. Group their leaf treasures by colour. Once sorted, smash/crumple/tear each group of leaves into pieces and then place each pile into a separate jar.
  3. Pour the rubbing alcohol into each jar until the leaf pieces are completely covered.

Ravishing Radish DIY for Kids Growing radish in 25 days

Growing radish in 25 days
Radish

With Easter just around the corner, get the kids excited and outdoors with this DIY Ravishing Radish growing project. Did you know? Radishes are ready to harvest in only 25 days! Making them the perfect hiding spot for those secret treats and treasure quests. Radishes are also loaded with fabulous vits and mins. When transformed into candy radish apples, they become the perfectly disguised veggie sweetie.

 

Planting Radishes
  • Prepare a loose, nutrient-rich soil bed for the babies in a sunny spot. Veggie compost is available at your GCA Garden Centre, where you can also purchase radish seeds.
  • Sow the seeds directly into your beds by popping a seed on your finger, then gently pressing it down into the soil about half a cm deep. Cover the small holes by sprinkling soil over the top.
  • Water lightly once sowed and continue to water daily. Make sure your soil doesn’t dry out completely, but doesn’t stay muddy either.
  • After just 3 weeks, you can check the progress of your radishes by unearthing some of the top soil to see the gorgeous bulb.

Top tip: Pull younger radishes for crisp roots and a milder flavour. After 20 days, pull one out and test it for yourself. Radishes left in the ground too long will be very hot and pithy in taste.

Grow radish in 25 days
Growing radish in 25 days
Growing radish in 25 days
Growing radish in 25 days

Candy Radish Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 washed and dried radishes
  • 12 long skewer sticks
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • Half a cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 cup of water
  • Half a teaspoon of red food colouring
  • A sheet of baking paper

 

Method:

  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  • Bring it to a boil and cook the mixture until it reaches 150°C (the hard crack stage).
  • Remove the candy mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the red food colouring.

DIY Colour a Bouquet Experiment

DIY colour experiment

Transform white flowers into a rainbow bouquet

Who says back to school can’t begin with a little fun? This DIY experiment is science on rainbow steroids and will intrigue both boys and girls. Learn about plant anatomy, enjoy a little magic, and become the inventor of a whole new flower species. Transform white blooms into any colour you like, here’s how:

Plant picks

Any white flowers should work well for this experiment. Here are some top picks that are currently in bloom, either in the garden or at your local GCA Garden Centre.

  • White roses
  • Lisianthus
  • Carnations
  • Gerberas
  • Hydrangeas

You will need:

  • A few white flowers (store-bought or hand-picked).
  • 4 Different shades of food colouring (or as many as you like).
  • 4 Medium-sized drinking glasses or jars (avoid plastic cups).
  • A pair of sharp scissors
Life is a garden DIY colour bouquet

Get colouring:

  1. Fill half of each glass with water.
  2. Pour half the bottle of your chosen food colouring, one at a time, into each glass of water. You want to achieve a rather concentrated colour so that your flower will have a vibrant hue.
  3. Cut any leaves off your flowers and trim the stems to fit nicely inside your glass. You want some stem sticking out with your flower comfortably resting against the glass.
  4. Pop your clean-stemmed flowers inside the different glasses.
  5. After two hours or so, you will begin seeing slight colours appearing on the edges of the flower petals. When the kids wake up, the flowers should be completely coloured in and looking lovely!
  6. As a fun little extra, kids could also name their new flower species and make little tags for their inventions. Help kids think of names by combining the flower’s botanical name with perhaps their own, other family members, or their pet’s names.
  7. While the kids wait, here’s some neat to know science stuff about how your flowers have soaked up the colour.

DIY Succulent & Rose Flower Crowns for Kids A little something special for the girls this October

Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-Cover

Life is a Garden is calling on all the fairies, princesses, queens and creatures of the garden to come out and DIY with us. We’ve got a little something special for the girls this October - drum roll, please… enter the flower crown! In celebration of October rose month as well as Garden Day on the 9th October, we are blushing shades of pink and green to bring you these lovely flower crown ideas using succulents and roses.

Here’s a step by step to creating your up-cycle can masterpiece.

You will need:

  • An Alice-band and/or pliable craft wire
  • A few glorious succulents, roses, and some viney plant strands (Ivy may work nicely)
  • Green insulation tape, twine or ribbon
  • Superglue
  • Scissors and maybe some pliers
  • Bits and bobs of pretty arts and crafts goodies like shells and beads if you like
Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-Hero

Getting started

The first thing our DIY fairies need to decide on is whether they would like to decorate an existing Alice-band or if they would like to create a crown from scratch. Secondly, have a look in the garden at what kind of succulents, roses, and other vine-type plants are available. Head off to your local GCA Garden Centre for those special flowers and vinery you may want to add. Gather your arts and crafts goodies and prep your creation station.

 

Preparing your headband

If you are using an existing Alice-band, we recommend you choose one that is a little wider to give you more of a surface on which to stick and wrap your goodies. Alternately, if you’re creating a headband from craft wire, we recommend using at least two strands of wire together for more stability and also for more surface area to work with.

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Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-2
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Breathing life into your creation

  • Step 1: Single out your centrepiece succulents and roses.