Are you ready to take your environmentalism, landscaping, and garden art skills to the next level? Industry expert, Marionette from Plant Paradise describes xeriscaping as “the practice of designing landscapes to reduce the need for water, to have minimal maintenance, and to create a clean, stunning look that is sustainable all year round”. If this perks your green fingers, we’ve got loads more insight and inspiration for you below.
Plant Paradise has won the award for best garden centre in SA 7 times, giving you even more of an incentive to visit them and experience quality-approved customer service, excellent plants, and top-notch products.
October’s Topic: Rock-on Decorating
Theme: Modern Xeriscaping in South Africa
Industry Expert: Marionette Hoffman
Garden Centre Supplier: Plant Paradise based in Moreleta Park, Pretoria: www.plantparadise.co.za
1. How did you first begin your landscaping journey and what have been some of your favourite projects to work on (and where could our readers receive some inspiration from your stunning work)?
After finishing my studies, I moved to England and worked there as a landscaper and horticulturist for two years. After that, I moved back to SA and started my career at Plant Paradise Garden Centre as a horticulturist and eventually became the landscaper - never looked back since! Landscaping and creating different displays on the garden centre floor is my passion. My favourite projects will always be xeriscaping. My most favourite project of them all was House Thompson in Silverlakes, Pretoria, and House Leahy in Boardwalk Meander, also in Pretoria. The best place to view my work is at Plant Paradise. Our website is also a fantastic platform to view some of my gardens I’ve done for clients.
2. Based on your years of experience, could you please tell our gardeners what exactly xeriscaping in South Africa is and why they should consider implementing these practices in their own garden?
Gone are the days when rock gardens mean a cactus and stone desert. Have you heard about xeriscaping? Ever thought about pebbles and semi-precious stones as yard art? Life is a Garden sat down with industry experts to get the best advice, inspiration, and plant picks to help you save time and water while maximising your garden’s aesthetic beauty.
Stones and pebbles can become works of art in their own right. With so many different colours and textures, arrangements and complimenting accessories, rock gardens are for anyone looking to make a statement. The key to long-term success and almost no maintenance is good quality weed guard sheeting beneath your stone feature. Here are some rocking yard art ideas:
- The striking minimalist: Pair pure white pebbles with contrasting black tiles or black painted pavement slabs to give walkways and entrances a sleek look. Alternatively, go for equally bold black pebbles with a few summer-flowering, white button sedge (Kylinga alba) ornamental grasses to set off the contrast. This indigenous sun-loving evergreen produces a clustered white flower head that is carried on an elegant, long slender stem.
- Earth child: You can purchase bags of pink rose quartz (pebbles and rough stones) to use as centrepiece stone mandalas or walkable labyrinths. Pair your crystal arrangements with other softer stone shades (river rocks are lovely) and bring in some local steekblaarblinkgras (Melinis nerviglumis) to compliment the pink notes from the rose quartz. This very hardy ornamental grass will thrive in full sun and produces the sweetest plumes of fluffy pink to red seeds that appear all year round and attract seed-eating birds.
- Dare to be different: Ever heard of rock balancing? This is a recreational activity where different-sized stones/pebbles are precisely stacked on top of each other to create a beautiful work of art.
The sun’s out – let’s decorate the yard! This outdoor paint project will add a homely touch to your rock garden and bring out the child-friendliness of your space. Edge your beds in bright works of art, add some critters to the fairy garden, or make some sweet signs for your veggies with this painting pebbles DIY from Life is a Garden.
What you need
- A variety of different sized, lighter shaded pebbles
- Weather-resistant paints and brushes
- Super glue and googly eyes (optional)
- Seasonal veggie and herb seedling trays and
- A bag of compost/potting soil from your GCA Garden Centre
Painting ideas and inspiration
Ladybugs and bees (2 colour designs for smaller kids)
For these critters, the trick lies in the bright contrast of your paint and sufficient drying time between layers (to not mix colours).
- To create a ladybug pebble, simply paint two red wings on either side of the stone, leaving a margin in between. Then, paint the rest of the stone black and add smaller black dots to the wings.
- For a bee design, paint yellow and black stripes across the stone – voila.
Try this: Using superglue, sick googly eyes onto your pebble critters for extra character!
Rock frogs and rainbows (noughts and crosses game for bigger kids)
For this game, you’ll need to draw the traditional game grid somewhere. Try painting a stepping slab, wood block, or use chalk to draw the lines.
- Paint 4 of your stones in a nice bright green. Add black lines to define the frog’s features and friendly face.
- Paint 4 more pebbles in a rainbow design (remember to let the layers dry) and enjoy playing the game on the prepared noughts and crosses grid.
Try this: With all the colourful spring flowers in bloom, make it even brighter by edging your beds with a row of rainbow-painted pebbles.
This November, Life is a Garden is helping the whole family get into the spring of things by celebrating our South African sunshine. Here’s an educational, hands-on project all about time, the Earth’s rotation, and our life-supporting sun. Get ready scientists and explorers, time is upon us!
A bit about the sundial
Did you know? The sundial is the oldest known instrument for telling time! This ancient, mysterious doohickey tracks the position of the sun using a gnomon, which is the centrepiece of the sundial that indicates time by the position of its shadow. Up until the early 19th century, sundials were the main instrument people used to tell time. When correctly positioned, sundials can even tell time down to the minute!
You will need:
- A flat piece of wood: This is going to serve as the body of the clock. You can upcycle an old slab of wood from the garage or the scrapyard, use a tree stump, or even repurpose a tile slab. Your local GCA Garden Centre has as lovely variety of wooden décor slabs to choose from.
- Pebbles or stones: These are going to be the hour placeholders. They can be collected during a walk, scavenged from the garden, or purchased from your favourite GCA Garden Centre. We recommend using pebbles with a flatter surface and ones lighter in colour.
Sunny Suggestion: Instead of using pebbles as hour placeholders, you could also use little succulent or cactus pots! Your garden centre has THE cutest variety of mini cactus pots and this DIY is the perfect opportunity to home a couple. If you’re going for the potted look, you could use the underside of a pot as your clock base too!
3. Paint: To paint numbers of the clock onto each stone and decorate as desired.
With the 9th of October being ‘Garden Day’ and October being ‘Rose month’ – what an opportune month to celebrate gardening!
Your roses should be producing their first flush of perfect blooms and the sun is still not too scorching – allowing the blooms to last longer. Spring is also the ideal time to select and plant new rose bushes in your garden. These are some of our favourites:
- Ingrid Bergman POULman unfading red
- Memoire KORfuri unspoilt white, fragrant
- Zulu Royal DORient mauve, fragrant
- King David TANmarsal bronze
- South Africa KORberbeni golden
Pop in to your nearest GCA Garden Centre for more inspiration and supplies.
What to Sow
As soon as the soil warms up in mid spring, you can start to sow all your summer veggies, including beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes. Two of your main “must haves” for your summer salads are cucumber and celery.
- Cucumber seeds should be sown in composed enriched soil in a sunny site. When flowers start forming, feed with potassium-rich organic fertiliser. Support plants well so they can climb upwards, even when the cucumbers get large. This also protects the cucumbers from slugs. Harvest /cut the cucumbers off the plant when they are still quite young, avoiding the skin becoming hard. Regular harvesting encourages a more continuous production of
- Celery needs rich, moisture-retentive soil which is achieved by digging in plenty of compost. Sow in shade or semi-shade. Feed weekly liquid feed in mid to late summer. Plants should be spaced 20cm apart and kept moist. You can cut stems frequently as required.
What to Plant
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) - one of the easiest and most rewarding bulbs to grow, amaryllis produce showy, trumpet-shaped blooms that add a flamboyant touch to your garden or home. Often referred to as the Christmas flower because they typically bloom around five weeks after being planted (during the warmer months).