Bio-diversify Your Backyard

Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips

Welcome South Africa’s handy helpers to the garden and reap the rich rewards. Fall in love with your eco-friendly backyard that’s flying, swarming, and crawling with life! 

Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!

Bring in biodiversity by

Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.

Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch. 

Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).

Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.

Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.

Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit. 

House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too! 

Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure. 

Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity. 

The tree’s knees: Our local Wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) tree is a massive wildlife attractor and butterfly breeding gem that is also spring-blooming and suitable for container planting and small gardens.

Local Luxuries

Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips

Celebrate the return of spring with some spectacular indigenous plants and trees that are in bloom now. 

Colour popping plants 

  • Plectranthus ‘Mona lavender’  is an evergreen shrub with dramatic purple flowers and aromatic dark green leaves. They are shade-lovers and well-suited for containers. 
  • Botterblom (Gazania krebsiana) will flourish in full sun and require little water. This tufted, evergreen groundcover boasts blooms in a vibrant array of colours and petal details. 
Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips
Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips
  • Wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) is an excellent pest repellent with brilliant pink to lavender flowers. Grow them in sun to semi-shade and enjoy their flavoursome leaves in salads.
  • Blue Daisy Bush (Felicia amelloides) will reward the garden with sweet blue flowers contrasted by a bright yellow centre. This fast-growing bush likes full sun in beds or pots.
Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips
Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips

Try these too: The Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) has tubular red flowers that attract nectar-feeding birds while the Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) has blue-purple blooms and is host to the common blue butterfly (Cyclyris pirithous). Does not show up in the directory at all, not by its common name and not its official name either 

Top tip: Remember to prune back all bushes and shrubs after flowering to increase their blooms during the next regrowth period. 

Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips
Gardening for Biodiversity, South African Gardening, Biodiversity Conservation, Native Plants, Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscapes, Biodiverse Garden, Planting for Nature, Garden Ecosystem, Local Flora and Fauna, Green Gardening, Natural Habitat, Conserving Biodiversity, Garden Biodiversity, Nature in Your Backyard, Wildlife-Friendly Garden, Plant Diversity, Sustainable Gardening, Garden for Wildlife, South African Flora, Creating Habitats, Garden Biodiversity Awareness, Biodiversity Awareness, Garden Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna Balance, Biodiversity in Gardens, Garden Eco-Systems, Planting with Purpose, Supporting Biodiversity, Garden Conservation, Garden Biodiversity Initiative, Local Ecology, Planting Natives, Garden Habitat, Biodiversity Education, Garden Biodiversity Tips

Local trees for wildlife 

  • Tree wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) may well be the epitome of local luxuries. With its graceful weeping habit and gorgeously fragrant, violet-blue blooms, this small tree is the perfect addition to all sunny beds and containers. They attract a host of butterflies and wild animals like monkeys, gemsbok, and grey duikers. 
  • Tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida) is medium-sized and hardy with brick red to orange tubular flowers that grow in clusters directly off the branches. Regarded as one of the most valuable, they attract sunbirds, white-eyes, thrushes, robins, pigeons, flycatchers, loeries, mousebirds, barbets, as well as bees and butterflies.

Fancy Frilly Echeveria We love succulents

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Echeveria cultivar is a bold, texture-rich succulent favourite. Plants boast large, evergreen rosettes of densely frilled, grey-green leaves in the centre, which blend perfectly into a warm pink or red on the ends. In late summer, expect to be delighted further by tall, sophisticated stalks bearing sweet red-orange blooms.

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Getting to know your Frilly Echeveria

Grow guide: They enjoy sandy, well-drained soil in partial sun or semi-shade. Ensure Frilly’s have good light to help leaves retain their gorgeous colour but take care not to let them burn in full sun. The amount of light and sun your plant receives will determine the colour and brightness of its leaves. 

Claim to fame: Frilly’s love the heat and once established, will tolerate drought very well. You only need to water these lovelies occasionally, making them a super water-wise addition to the garden. Their highly decorative overlapping leaves resemble roses and water lilies.  

In the garden: Plant Frilly Echeverias in beds and borders or showcase them in pots on the patio or in rock gardens. Fertilise once every two months during spring and autumn. 

Pest patrol: An added bonus to these succulents is that they are not prone to disease but watch out for mealybugs, weevils, and aphids. Take care of these pests with products available at your nursery and remember to plant for beneficial predators as your natural, friendly bug police.

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Frilly fun fact: These babes are native to Mexico and bring in good luck, abundance, and positivity according to Feng Shui. 

Top Frilly tip: A handful of coarse sand does wonders in both pots and beds where succulents are planted. 

Try these: Echeveria Frills, Firelight, Giant Blue Curls, Dick’s Pink, Strawberry Hearts, Blue Curls, Shaviana Truffles and Crinoline.

Did you know? Succulents are particularly good at removing toxins from the air, making them ideal for city gardens.

Earthy aloe & cinnamon playdough DIY

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With only 3 simple ingredients, you and the kids can make your own aloe-inspired playdough. This easy mix is so fresh-smelling, soothing to the skin, non-toxic, grounding, high in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, AND of course, FUN. When you’re done playing, pop it in the compost for 0 waste. Here is Life is a Garden’s original aloe and cinnamon playdough recipe.

 

You will need

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of harvested aloe sap from the garden. Remember to use a clean, sharp knife when working with leaves and look out for aloe teeth! 
  • Half a teaspoon (or more if you like) of organic, finely ground cinnamon. 
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  • Corn starch. 
  • Mixing bowl and spoon.
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How to 

  • Add your 2 tablespoons of aloe sap into the mixing bowl. Having some pieces of the flesh is no problem either as this will add another interesting and fun textile experience during play. 
  • Add the cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of corn starch to the bowl and mix together with the sap until just combined. You’ll need to use your estimation skills to determine whether to add more sap or more starch. This process is part of the thrill – a little more, a little less – ah, perfect! 
  • Now for the super fun part. Get the kids the kneed and work the dough until you reach the desired stretchiness. Your dough should be soft and squishy, and a beautiful earthy colour that awakens all the senses. Can you smell it?
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Try this: Once the playdough is ready, parents can hide other fun toys inside the dough to extend playtime and stimulate both right and left brains. For older kids, try blindfold moulding and see what curious things they create. If the dough gets a bit hard, simply splash some water on.

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Top tip: Garden Centres are blooming with a variety of indigenous and hybrid aloes right now.

Top 5 aloes for a living firebreak

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Did you know? Owing to their moisture-retaining leaves that contain no flammable resins or oils, aloes can be utilised as gorgeous living firebreaks around property perimeter, along berms, and in island beds for added fire resistance. Create more habitat for our wildlife, add to your property security, AND increase the structural intrigue of your garden. 

Jargon check: A berm is a mound, path, or ledge typically found at the top or bottom of a slope or hill and can be naturally occurring or man-made. Berms are used to blend into landscape designs, slow down run-off, and create a focal point in the garden.

Life is a Garden’s top 5 firebreak aloes 

Aloe ‘Arborescens’

Fast-growing and will tolerate drought and neglect once established. It is grown mainly as an ornamental or as an accent plant but is also an excellent and impenetrable hedge plant. Known also as the Krantz Aloe, it develops into a multiheaded shrub 2 – 3 metres high.

Aloe ‘Commixta’

Has slender intertwined stems that sprawl beautifully over a stonewall or large boulder. Endemic to the Cape Peninsula, it grows well in winter rainfall areas. Flower colours vary from reddish at the top to yellow-orange at the base of the flower cluster.

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Aloe ‘Brevifoli’

This little aloe is efficient at propagating itself. It frequently sends out offsets, also called suckers. This propagation is what makes it a great groundcover. The leaves form tight rosettes that like to spread horizontally if given space. Use this smaller, dense aloe along berms or in island beds. 

Aloe 'Ciliaris'

Is ideal for planting around the gate or arches. This aloe is a charming climber, reaching 10 meters and higher! It is one of the easiest to cultivate and will adorn spaces with its leafy, fleshy foliage and bright orange flowers. 

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Aloe ‘Tenuior’

Also known as ‘the fence aloe’, its rambling growth habit is ideal for covering large areas. 

Sunset-scaping with aloes Botanical Boss

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It’s chilly! Let’s crank up the heat with aloes and landscape an eternal sunset to enjoy this winter. Our experts from Ndundulu Aloes in KwaZulu-Natal gave Life is a Garden some sizzling seasonal plant picks to help cultivate warmth in the garden as well as which aloes to plant as living firebreaks! Come check out our aloe pest list and learn how to identify possible infestations.

 

On the aloe hot list this May

Indigenous gems

  • Suprafoliata 
  • Ferox 
  • Marlothi 
  • Aculeata 
  • Microstigma
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Sunbird hybrid aloes

  • Aloe ‘Candy floss’ 
  • Aloe ‘Baby blush’ 
  • Aloe ‘African sunset’ 
  • Aloe ‘Frosty days’ 
  • Aloe ‘Abundance’
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Living firebreaks

Extend your sunset-scaping passion to all around your property. Plating aloes as living firebreaks host a variety of benefits including:

  • Reducing water usage 
  • Assisting in soil erosion 
  • Increased food and habitat for our wildlife 
  • Preventing fires from spreading to your lawn
  • Adding to the beauty, colour, textural and structural elements of your garden
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Top 5 fire-resistant aloes (although all of them will do the job wonderfully) 

  • Aloe ‘Neon orange’ is a popular, small, tough plant for pots, the rockery, or a retaining wall.  During August and September, conspicuous glowing orange flowers will dazzle the landscape. If allowed to cluster and given enough space, plants will quickly grow a secondary rosette, creating a better and longer flower display. 
  • Aloe ‘Octopus’ is the first large winter flowering aloe hybrid with deep yellow flowers. The tentacle-like leaves of this plant have a funky spreading growth style. Its other outstanding feature is the length of the individual flower – it is the hybrid with the longest recorded individual flower of all the cultivars in the collection.
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  • Aloe ‘Saturn’ stands out as another amazing hybrid. Its flower buds are initially brick red but change to yellow as the flowers open, displaying a showy bi-colour combination in late winter and spring.

Rooftop gardens and living firebreaks Sunset-scaping with aloes

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May’s Topic: Sunset-scaping with aloes
Theme: Rooftop gardens and living firebreaks. 
Industry Expert: Ruthe Gray
Garden Centre: Ndundulu Aloes based in KwaZulu-Natal.

Have you tried growing aloes on your roof? What about around your property as a living firebreak? Ndundulu Aloes has shared some fantastic advice on this exciting topic that’s sure to inspire you and leave you well-informed. Take your aloe passion to new heights and learn about some gorgeous new varieties the Sunbird Aloe range has to offer.

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1. We loved browsing your website and looking at the lovely selection of Sunbird Aloes you have. What inspired you to begin growing aloes? Why this species specifically?

I started to grow indigenous aloes out of necessity after moving to an old farm where the garden was neglected, old and overgrown.  After clearing out a lot of dead trees and trees planted in the wrong places, I looked at the framework of the garden. 

In summer, the temperatures can get up to 56°C.  There was no irrigation in the garden and plants were scorched by the heat and the blazing sun. 

After 3 years and the farm taking priority, I started to plant Indigenous aloes.  They could cope with the climate here in Northern KZN.  I started with 20 hybrids from the Sunbird Aloes range in 2015.

With their four different flowering seasons, this meant that I could naturally provide food for the wildlife in the garden.  From there, the garden was redefined, with new Sunbird Aloes beds, berms and barriers. We only had 2 sunbird species in the garden before planting the aloes: olive and the scarlet chested.  Within 4 years, we had 11 different sunbirds, which were recorded on the same day by a visiting bird group.

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2. We all know aloes offer the benefit of being waterwise, a wildlife favourite, and popping with colour.