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.

Get your garden into shape January Checklist

Get your garden into shape and looking snazzy for the new year. There’s a lot to look forward to and a huge selection of flowers and edibles to be planted now. A little maintenance goes a long way in neatening up your garden’s appearance, so be sure to check out our handy hacks.

 

Sow a salad

What better way to get your garden and health back on track then by sowing nutritious leafy greens for those summer salads. The following edibles can be sown now:

  • Lettuce
  • Rocket
  • Spinach and Swiss Chard
  • Beetroot (baby leaves are delish)
  • Kale

 

Top tip: Leafy greens are very easy to grow and will reward gardeners best if you pick the leaves regularly and pinch out flower buds later in the season. Be on the lookout for cutworm, snail and slug damage to plants.

Lettuce
Swiss chard
Beetroot
Kale
Plant a paradise

January is always a good time to plant up areas with colourful annual seedlings. The heat is on so brighten up beds by planting these sun-worshippers.

  • Salvias flower throughout summer and autumn. Their upward-pointing sword-like blooms range from fire engine red to purple, deep blue and other powdery colour variations. They are waterwise and easy to grow in pots too.
  • Snapdragons offer striking colours and multiple blooms that stand to attention and are simply charming. Dwarf varieties are great as pot or hanging basket fillers. Keep plants moist while young and they’ll reward you by continuing to flower into winter.
  • Petunias don’t need special treatment or a lot of water either. Flowering increases as they grow, putting on a spectacular show of colour when mature. Petunias love the mild winter months too and will carry on growing in this time.
Plant Salvias
Plant Snapdragons
Plant Petunias
Plant petunia night sky
Indoor peace parade
  • The peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallesii) can grow in low-light conditions, which effectively means that it can thrive almost anywhere in the home.

There’s a garden on my stoep!

Patio gardening
Patio Gardening

Be bold and go bedless! Perfect your potting skills and never leave your patio without plants again. Here’s how you can easily bring the garden to your stoep with creative containers, vertical planters, colour wheel play, and a few bloomingly beautiful flowers. Life is a Garden, even on your balcony!

Creative containers

Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to experiment with different styles. Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space. You could even upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor.

Top tip

Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.

Let it all hang out

Utilising hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Vines cascading down a pillar is a fresh break in between bricks and concrete. Your local GCA Garden Centre has a variety of hanging baskets waiting for you!

Patio Gardening
Upcycle can planter
Flower pots
Hanging Baskets
Bloomingly good

Add life to your patio paradise by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. A couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill makes all the difference. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.

Fancy TFS

One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.

Flower pots
Thriller, Filler & Spiller

Who’s lus for strawberries and cream?

Grow your own reminder of the sweeter things in life and play with the colour wheel in your pots.

February in the Garden The garden - your happy place

February is great for outdoor living and entertaining on our patios, around the pool or braaing and picnicking in our gardens. The end of the month will be a great time to sow Sweet William seed to provide splashes of colour in your happy place. Part of the carnation family, Sweet William, (Dianthus barbatus), bear masses of single flowers that are mostly striped and have pretty, serrated edges, available in pinks, whites, purples, violet and more. Scatter the seeds onto the soil in a sunny spot and water lightly every few days. These biennials have a sweet, peppery perfume and are prized as a cut flower. Their nectar attracts bees, butterflies and birds and they tend to self-seed.

Tip: Start preparing your soil in strips or ridges for the sowing of Sweet Peas in March and April. Don’t forget the trellis or other support framework for them to climb up.

What to Plant

It is a good time to start planning your plantings of winter flowering annuals. Across most of our country cold winter days warm up sufficiently by midday to enjoy a winter braai to compliment the rugby or simply enjoy with friends. Winter and spring flowering annuals provide the colourful WOW factor in your happy place. The nights will start to cool down soon and by March and April you will be able to buy your favourites.

Hold onto your heart, while you get introduced to royalty, the new Petunia “Queen of Hearts” and “King of Hearts”. These two regal gems are set to smitten you with their large flowers bordered by perfectly formed red hearts set in a yellow background, for the Queen, and white background for the King of Hearts. In favourable conditions the flowers often smother the plant…. with their hearts ….. or should we say kisses?

Bulging Baskets of Bright Blooms Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets and containers are ideal to brighten up small balconies and large patios. Whether you are looking for bursts of brilliant colour or more muted tones there are various options to delight your senses.

For the most glorious displays, follow the general rule of using thrillers, spillers and fillers in your containers and baskets. The thriller is the central feature plant, like a pelargonium, salvia or other eye-catching plants. The filler provides the bulk and is usually compact and full of flowers, like impatiens, osteospermum or lobelia. Spillers are planted around the edge and are trailing or cascading plants. Here are a few basket combinations to wet the appetite:

Shades of Pink - Shock Wave Petunias (Petunia x hybrid) are the earliest flowering of all petunias and their strong branches spread out quickly to fill up baskets and containers. The Pink Vein variety is a soft pink with darker veins that run through the petals. These pink beauties are combined with Blue Bacopa (Sutera cordata) to weave in pops of lavender or blue amongst the show of pink, creating an overflow of cotton candy coloured blooms in the basket or container.

Yellow & White – This basket of sunshine combines the bold, bright yellow blooms of Osteospermum Voltage Yellow with the crisp Petunia Easy Wave (Petunia x hybrida) in white. Expect an abundant gush of big, bright blooms from spring through to autumn. This combination is easy to grow, hardy and will make a lasting impact when placed in a sunny spot.

Bold - This basket is like a rainbow of colour bursting out of the pot. Plant Calibrachoas in deep yellow, rose and purple for a colour sensation that will bring happiness to any balcony, patio or garden. These brilliant blooms grow best in low-light and tolerate shade well.