Posts Tagged ‘ Rose Care ’

Pink ROSES in support of Breast Cancer Awareness and Rose Month

Posted on: October 5th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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October is the month of flowering profusion with the queen of flowers, the rose, putting on a glorious first flush of blooms in the Highveld. In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness and Rose Month, here are some stunning pink Celebrity roses that you may want to have in your garden:

  • Princess Charlene de Monaco: A beautiful Hybrid Tea rose, which has very fragrant double flowers, light apricot to shell pink in colour. It has excellent disease resistance and a good choice for use as a cut flower.
  • Thuli Madonsela rose: This novel rose is vigorous, with strong roots, and disease-resistant leaves, able to thrive despite climatic stresses – just like her name suggests.  The striking two-tone pink and white blooms have a perfect hybrid tea shape but carried in abundant clusters. The colour is prominent, feminine pink and white for purity. Grows to about 1.4m high.
  • Anneli van Rooyen rose: An extremely free-flowering hybrid tea that loves when the sun brings out its exquisite colour - a blend of deep cream to coral. Grows to shoulder height.
  • Patricia Lewis rose: A family favourite that’s even thorn free rendering excellent cut flowers. The medium sized, pointed buds open slowly, spiralling to exhibit perfection. The glowing colour lingers between deep pink and red. A healthy & energetic grower.
  • Elize Cawood rose: It's love at first sight and you won’t have to act impressed with these babies. The shimmering pearl white carries ever-so subtle undertones of soft pink. Every bloom is of a flawless Hybrid Tea shape – perfect for picking as cut flowers.
  • Rina Hugo rose: A faithful rose donning classically shaped, pointed buds. It develops into full and elegantly shaped deep magenta-pink blooms. Grown to be vigorous, healthy and strong carrying its large blooms in rich abundance.
  • People’s Princess rose: Named after Diana, the Princess of Wales, who was widely loved by people. The pointed, green-hued buds develop into large, firm petalled blooms; deep silk pink, the colour of pigeons’ breasts flows from the tips of the petal edges towards the centre of the high pointed, exhibition shaped flowers.
  • Hannon rose: Named after Hannon - the Glam Guru. A new variety of Hybrid Tea rose with deep pink flowers! It blooms and flushes throughout the season and makes the perfect and most stunning cut flower. Grows to about 1m high.
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October in the Garden October Check List

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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October is the month of flowering profusion with the queen of flowers, the rose, putting on a glorious first flush of blooms in the Highveld. Roses have also become synonymous with Garden Day, happening on Sunday 11 October this year. Since Life is a Garden, let’s spend some quality time celebrating our green sanctuaries on Garden Day, regardless of their size – potted window sills and patio planters deserve a little celebration too.

Sow edibles

The “grow to eat” concept of shortening the food chain time from soil to plate is growing in popularity. Edible gardening is easy and fun, regardless of the size of your space. Life is a Garden, so if gardening means a few potted plants, so be it!

It’s always exciting to try out new varieties. Here are a few amazing new squashes to tempt you:

  • Lemon sun squash is a patty pan that produces sweet and tender fruits on vigorous plants. The male flowers are also perfect for frying.
  • Easy pick gold and easy pick green squash are smooth textured no-fuss zucchinis.
  • Butterbaby squash is a small, sweet butternut that can be grown up a trellis to save space.
  • Honeynut squash is another mini butternut that has exceptionally sweet fruit, is easy to germinate and produces high yields of fruit.
  • If you want to try something funky then sample the vegetable spaghetti squash. It has unique flesh that separates into long, clear strings, which resemble pasta. It has a slight crunch with a mild squash flavour and can be used just like spaghetti. It’s the ideal way to get small children into eating veggies and also the perfect vegan spaghetti.

Tip: Don’t forget to include a South African favourite, the gem squash or squash Rolet or Little Gem. Continue spraying for fruit flies and codling moth. If you have not started or are unsure of what to use, consult your local GCA Garden Centre.

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Sow edibles

The seed racks at your local GCA Garden Centre will be filled with a full summer range of flower, herb and veggie seeds to be sown now.

Tip: Remember to sow your watermelon seeds in early to mid-October if you want them ready to eat at Christmas. They are usually ready to harvest 70 to 85 days after sowing.

 

What to Plant

Plant amaryllis bulbs now if you want them to be in flower for December. They flower 8 to 10 weeks after planting.

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What to Spray

Powdery mildew, thrips and mites are active at this time of year. Contact your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance on how to combat them if you see signs of them in your garden.

 

What to Feed

If you want to get the most out of your Hydrangea’s flower colour, feed them with either pink or blue hydrangea food accordingly. Blue Hydrangeas require an acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower. Pink Hydrangeas require more neutral to alkaline soils with a pH of 6.5 and higher.

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Bedding plants

Look out for:

  • Shade: Beacon Impatiens or busy lizzies this spring since they are Downy Mildew resistant.
  • Semi-shade: Harmon New Guinea Impatiens. They produce vast numbers of beautiful flowers in exquisite shades, including some bi-colours. They are very floriferous with the plants being covered in bloom all season long. They will be very eye-catching in focal areas, containers and hanging baskets.
  • Semi-shade to full sun: Sunpatiens are strong and less prone to disease and are able to tolerate high heat and humidity, rain and adverse weather conditions.

Tip: Sunpatiens like other impatiens require regular watering.

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Rose Care

October is pink month or Breast Cancer Awareness month. In honour of pink, here are some stunning pink Celebrity roses that you may want to have in your garden:

  • Princess Charlene de Monaco: A beautiful Hybrid Tea rose, which has very fragrant double flowers, light apricot to shell pink in colour. It has excellent disease resistance and a good choice for use as a cut flower.
  • Thuli Madonsela rose: This novel rose is vigorous, with strong roots, and disease-resistant leaves, able to thrive despite climatic stresses – just like her name suggests.  The striking two-tone pink and white blooms have a perfect hybrid tea shape but carried in abundant clusters. The colour is prominent, feminine pink and white for purity. Grows to about 1.4m high.
  • Anneli van Rooyen rose: An extremely free-flowering hybrid tea that loves when the sun brings out its exquisite colour - a blend of deep cream to coral. Grows to shoulder height.
  • Patricia Lewis rose: A family favourite that’s even thorn free rendering excellent cut flowers. The medium sized, pointed buds open slowly, spiralling to exhibit perfection. The glowing colour lingers between deep pink and red. A healthy & energetic grower.
  • Elize Cawood rose: It's love at first sight and you won’t have to act impressed with these babies. The shimmering pearl white carries ever-so subtle undertones of soft pink. Every bloom is of a flawless Hybrid Tea shape – perfect for picking as cut flowers.
  • Rina Hugo rose: A faithful rose donning classically shaped, pointed buds. It develops into full and elegantly shaped deep magenta-pink blooms. Grown to be vigorous, healthy and strong carrying its large blooms in rich abundance.
  • People’s Princess rose: Named after Diana, the Princess of Wales, who was widely loved by people. The pointed, green-hued buds develop into large, firm petalled blooms; deep silk pink, the colour of pigeons’ breasts flows from the tips of the petal edges towards the centre of the high pointed, exhibition shaped flowers.
  • Hannon rose: Named after Hannon - the Glam Guru. A new variety of Hybrid Tea rose with deep pink flowers! It blooms and flushes throughout the season and makes the perfect and most stunning cut flower. Grows to about 1m high.
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Inland Gardening

It’s always a good time to assess where you can add to the atmosphere of your garden with the soothing sound of running water. There are loads of different water features that are both decorative and natural in style. Most attract birds and frogs to the garden with the bubbling pot features doubling up as a bird  bath. To create movement and add life to your garden, visit your local GCA Garden Centre and see the inspiring range of aquatic peace-makers they have on offer.

 

Coastal Gardening

Get your garden December ready. Whether you are staying at home or having visitors, now is the time to plant up some extra colour or to add that long-awaited extension to the herb and veggie garden.

Tip: Don’t let your fresh plants be eaten by snails and slugs. Place snail and slug bait in the planted areas. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for more advice.

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October is a busy gardening month with highveld gardens full of spring colour and the Cape coastal areas bidding farewell to the rainy season and getting stuck into summer planting. Life is a garden no matter where you live!

September in the Garden September Check List

Posted on: August 27th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

September always kicks off with Arbor Week and this year it officially kicks off on Monday 31 August and runs until Friday 4 September.

  • Common tree of the year is the Cape ash or essenhout Ekebergia capensis, which is a stunning, lush evergreen tree that grows in many parts of the country, except the regions with heavy frost. It has fragrant flowers and its fruit attracts many birds and mammals.
  • The second tree of the year is the baobab or kremetart Adansonia digitata. Also known as the upside-down tree, it dominates the Limpopo landscape with its swollen trunk and limbs. It yields the coveted cream-of-tartar fruits and can be grown in frost-free areas.

Tip: The initiative of Arbor Week is to promote the greening of communities. Celebrate Arbor Week by planting either of the above two trees or any other trees or shrubs. If they are indigenous and water-wise that would be a bonus. It is said that Life is a Garden … so create yours and celebrate the plants you love most.

Life is a Garden - Cape ash or essenhout Ekebergia capensis
Life is a Garden - baobab or kremetart Adansonia digitata
Sow edibles

There is a multitude of both flowering and edible seeds that can be sown now. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to see the range and perhaps consider one or more of the many tomato varieties available to sow now:

  • Roma – Firm, fleshy with few seeds. Great for canning and cooking. Fairly long shelf life. High yields, it requires a trellis or stakes.
  • Heinz – Large fruit with rich tomato flavour. One of the first tomatoes to be used to make Heinz ketchup. Requires a trellis or stakes
  • Cherry tomatoes – Several on the market. Bite-size and has a delicious flavour, is small and round and can be eaten whole in salads.
  • Cherry yellow pear – An heirloom variety with small yellow pear-shaped fruit.
  • Oxheart – Another Heirloom tomato with enormous heart-shaped fruit. Mild, sweet flavour. Requires staking.

Tip: There are rainbow coloured cherry tomatoes such as Green Zebra, Clear Pink, Black striped and even Green Sausage seeds available for those of you that want to be a little different and create a talking point at the dinner table.

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Life is a Garden - Heinz
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Life is a Garden - Sow tomatoes
What to Plant

Our indigenous Clivias are favourites worldwide and it’s not difficult to see why when they bloom in September.

  • Beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers
  • Clivias do well in pots.
  • They readily multiply and spread to fill shady beds.

Tip: There are many different hybrid Clivias. If you are a Clivia fan or would like to see some of the more unusual Clivias, take some time off and visit a local Clivia show this spring.

Read more: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/clivias-for-shade

What to Spray
  • Spray your fruit trees preventatively every 2 weeks for Codling Moths and Fruit Flies.
  • Only start spraying after about 80% of the flower petals have dropped so that you give the bees enough time to pollinate the flowers.
  • Make sure you alternate the insecticides you use so that the fruit fly cannot build up a resistance to anyone insecticide. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance.

Tip: It would be wise to use spraying in conjunction with a fruit fly trap.

What to Spray
  • Spray your fruit trees preventatively every 2 weeks for Codling Moths and Fruit Flies.
  • Only start spraying after about 80% of the flower petals have dropped so that you give the bees enough time to pollinate the flowers.
  • Make sure you alternate the insecticides you use so that the fruit fly cannot build up a resistance to anyone insecticide. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance.

Tip: It would be wise to use spraying in conjunction with a fruit fly trap.

What to Feed
  • Spring is the correct time to feed the plant roots to activate good root growth at the beginning of the season. Good roots make good, strong plants. This is most applicable to lawns and leafy plants.
  • Flowering plants, shrubs and fruit trees will benefit from early season fertilising too. Your local GCA Garden Centre can advise you on the best fertilisers to use.

Tip: When you ask your local GCA Garden Centre for advice be sure to mention your preference for either chemical or organic fertiliser.

Bedding plants

Focus on annual Phlox

  • The flowers are mostly flat and star-shaped in a variety of colours including violet, pink, blue, red, white and cream. Flowers are fragrant and should be deadheaded regularly to encourage more flowers.
  • Phlox prefers full sun to light shade, require good drainage and well-composted soils.

Tip: Phlox are easy to care for as long as you understand that they prefer moist soil and that drying out too much hinders growth and flowering.

Balcony or pot plants

Cape daisies or Osteospermums:

  • Indigenous eye-catching flowers in a range of colours.
  • Easy to grow.
  • They flower freely and love to cascade over the sides of pots or troughs.

Read more: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/osteospermum

Focus on annual Phlox
Water-wise

Its heritage month so why not brag about our own indigenous plants a little?

  • Cape honeysuckles Tecoma capensis:
    • Flower mostly in autumn but sometimes flower sporadically throughout the year.
    • Can be used as a formal or informal hedge.
    • Flower colour ranges from red, yellow,orange and salmon.
    • Attract birds and butterflies.
  • Both the kingfisher daisy (Felicia bergeriana) and the blue marguerite (Felicia ammelloides) have:
    • Striking small blue daisy-like blue flowers with button-like yellow centres.
    • Both have variegated forms and are all gems in the front of garden borders or in mixed containers.
Inland gardening

Spring fever is in the air, here are a few things you may forget to look at in the garden:

  • New beds on a slope and newly terraced areas should be planted up with groundcovers so that they can bind the soil before the summer rains.
  • Consider beautiful arches, arbour benches, obelisks and other decorative items that will add a new dimension or feature to your garden.

Tip: Spring is the time that garden centres feature new and exciting products as well as loads of explosively colourful plants – do yourself a favour and go into your favourite GCA Garden Centre…. you will not be disappointed!

Coastal gardening

The bulk of spring planting is almost behind us and that gives you a little breathing space to look at:

  • Removing any rust on metal features in the garden before the summer rains start, (excludes the Cape winter rainfall region).

Tip: Baking soda and steel wool are a home remedy you may want to try.

August in the Garden Spring into action

Posted on: July 20th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
August in the Garden

Although spring only officially starts on the 1st of September, we don’t need a calendar to see that spring has sprung! For most of the country there is a delightful springiness in the air. For the Free State and Western Cape, your time is soon to come. Although August is warm to even hot in various parts of the country, always apply the following rules when planting or sowing plants that are sensitive to frost damage:

  • In frost-free areas, start planting at the beginning of August.
  • In areas of light to moderate frost that lasts until about the end of August, plant in early September.
  • In areas with late frosts or winter rainfall, wait until late September.

With pruning behind us, there is so much to do in the garden, so push aside the winter chills and spring into action. Your spring bulbs and annuals should be a riot of colour by now, inviting you out onto the patio with family and friends during our balmy, warm August days. The beauty of spring may only be rivalled by the stunning women that surround us. The 9th of August is National Women’s Day and the perfect opportunity to celebrate both Mother Nature and all of womankind!

 

An African appetite

Have you considered growing an edible local fruit? The following shrubs, trees and ground covers can form an aesthetic part of your garden and become a valuable, unusual food source:

  • The kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra) is an evergreen large shrub, or small tree, that creates an impenetrable hedge with its spiny thorns. The yellowish-orange fruits are delicious and mostly used for jam, jelly, and syrup-making. The flowers feed honey-bees and attract butterflies whilst the fruit is a delicacy for several birds.
  • The shrub num-num (Carissa macrocarpa) and the ground cover num-num (Carissa macrocarpa ‘Green Carpet’) both have beautiful glossy leaves with compact, thorny growth. They have star-like white flowers which have an orange-blossom fragrance with elongated mini plum-like num-num fruit, which is red when ripe. They can be eaten raw or made into jams or jellies. The num-num shrub is also rather impenetrable as a hedge. Carissa’s love the coastal weather but grow in most areas with light to mild frost e.g. they grow in most Johannesburg gardens but are harmed by the heavier frost in the Vaal and Free State regions.
Life is a Garden

Tip: They attract birds and butterflies and their flowers feed honey bees.

  • Have you ever had a bush milkshake? Well, now you can in the comfort of your own home. The cross-berry (Grewia occidentalis) is a fine, hardy landscaping shrub that produces little purple berries, which are relished by birds and man alike. The dried fruits can be boiled in milk to make your bushveld milkshake. If you’re feeling adventurous, they also make great tasting African beer.
  • Arguably the best liqueur is made from the fruit of our own marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea). The sweet/sour fruit can be eaten fresh or made into jellies, beer and commercial liqueur. If your area is not prone to heavy frost in winter and has space for a fruit tree, dare to be different and plant a few marula beauties. You may need to plant more than one since trees are either male or female and only the female tree bears fruit.
  • Need to know: The nut inside the marula fruit can also be eaten as is or added to vegetable dishes.
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Play & plan with the COLOUR palette

Your spring and summer palette of plants can be a crazy cacophony of colours with a wonderful variety of colour combinations for your consideration. Have fun playing with these flowering plant colours now available in pots:

  • Reds: Pelargonium or geraniums, Verbena, Petunia, Argyranthemum and Dianthus. Impatiens or Sunpatiens in frost-free areas.
  • Pinks: Calibrachoa (or million bells), Verbena, Petunia, Dianthus, and Argyranthemum. Impatiens in frost-free areas.
  • Yellow: Argyranthemum and Gazania.
  • Purple: Lavender, Verbena, and Petunia.
  • Blue: Salvia farinacea, Petunia and Lobelia.
  • Orange: Gazania. Impatiens in frost-free areas.

No wonder, they say Life is a Garden – let’s enjoy it!

Top tip: Improving your SOIL is the priority at this time of year. Before or at the time of planting, add and mix into it plenty of organic matter to the soil such as compost, manure, autumn leaves or other suitable products offered by your local GCA Garden Centre. This will boost soil fertility and ensure healthy plant growth.

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Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

It’s a pet’s life

Dogs will often eat grass blades when they have a stomach ailment. Did you know that there is a plant aptly named dog grass (Elymus caninus) that your dog will simply love to chew on rather than your lawn? You have the ideal excuse to indulge your dog this month since 10 August is Spoil your Dog Day! Why stop there, cats are smitten over catnip (Nepeta cataria) and love to chew and roll all over the plant.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

What to sow

Got that green finger tingle? Let’s sow some seeds!  Marigolds germinate within a week.

Even the lightest and laziest green finger will have success sowing the following seeds:

  • Marigolds: A no-fuss annual that germinates quickly and blooms in no time. Sow marigolds after the threat of frost has passed. Marigolds are your first choice for an easy-go-lucky beauty in a sunny spot. There are many varieties to choose from, dwarf to tall and single to double flowers. Their colours range from sunshine yellow to cream, orange, gold, copper, brass and some with red highlights.

Claim to fame: Planted among veggies, marigolds are great companion plants since their scent repels many different pests including Nematodes.

  • Cosmos: Like marigolds wait for frosts to pass before sowing. Cosmos is easy to grow and attracts birds, bees and butterflies. These pretty daisy flowers held up on delicate stems are mostly sold as a cheerful mix of colours and are fabulous to pick for the vase.
  • Cornflower: It is always so beautiful to find true blue flowers in the garden. Cornflower is a great cut-flower and attracts birds to the garden. Enjoy their edible paintbrush looking flowers in your salads.

Tip: The cornflower has nectar-rich flowers, which attract many beneficial insects to the garden. These are nature’s helpers and keep unwanted insects away.

  • Beans: Beans such as string beans are exceptionally easy to grow. They take up little space and are very productive. You can choose between growing bush beans or climbing beans. Bush beans grow to knee height and will benefit from something to hold on to or lean against, whereas a trellis or tall stake framework will be required for the climbing beans. Tip: beans can be blanched and frozen for later use, used in fresh salads, hearty stews and soups, or pickled as a tasty treat

Need to know: Bean flowers and leaves are also edible.

Tip: In areas that experience late frosts, hold off sowing beans for a few weeks until frosts are past.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to see what else you can sow now!

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Plant: Love these locals

Many of the most popular plants in the world are our very own. Here are two local lovelies which you can buy as flowering plants in pots, ready to add colour to the patio or the garden:

Pelargoniums: Bush geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) and ivy, or cascading geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum), are some of the most sought after of our indigenous plants. Geraniums are incredibly rewarding as garden plants and do exceptionally well in containers too. They love a sunny to semi-shade position and well-drained soil that should be moist but not wet. Give them a weekly mild liquid feeding for excellent results.

Osteospermums: These are also known as the African daisy. Their masses of gorgeous daisy-like flowers with dark centres come in shades of white, yellow, pink, purple and blue. Their eye-catching, bold coloured flowers make them a fabulous choice for a sunny spot in the garden, tumbling over rocks or spilling down the sides of containers. Osteo’s are water-wise, flower for long periods, and are perennial in areas where frost is not heavy.

Coloured arum lilies: Although hybridised, they stem from our indigenous arums or Zantedeschia’s. Often referred to as Zant’s, they have the most beautiful, elegant vase-like flowers in gorgeous colours. You can buy them already in flower, in a pot, or as bulbs.

Tip: Zant’s are best planted in the sun.

Need to know: There is a whole range of summer bulbs at your local GCA Garden Centre. These include Amaryllis, Eucomis or pineapple lily, flame lilies and more. The flame lily is the most delicate, precious climbing plant with exquisite flowers that is best planted where it can easily be seen and shown off, whether on an arch or frame in a pot. Tip: Wait until next month to plant in very cold areas where late frosts are still expected and areas with winter rainfall.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

WOW and water-wise! There are a few different perennial vygies and each is as stunning as the next, especially when in full spring bloom. Their rich, luminous jewel-like colours cover the plant and stand out as a jaw-dropping colour bomb. These sun-worshippers make stunning border plants, are great for rock and succulent gardens, spilling over low walls and pots or hanging baskets too. Your local GCA Garden Centre will be proud to show you their vygies. If you prefer to use vygies as seasonal colour then ask for the annual vygie or Livingstone daisies that are available in seedling trays.

 

Plant: Fruity fragrance

Lemon-scented verbena: Also known as Aloysia, this is a must-have if you enjoy drinking deliciously refreshing lemony tea. A delightful drink is easily made from the scented leaves or you could use them to add fragrance to the garden. If you locate the plant close to a path, the lemony scent will be released whenever a person brushes past the leaves. This rather wispy looking shrub can reach up to 2m in ideal conditions, but normally about 1m tall in areas of light to moderate frost as it can survive a little icy chill. Prune back every spring if you prefer a dense, bushy plant. It is easy to grow and the sprays of white flowers it bears are a bonus.

Claim to fame: The lemon-scented verbena leaves contain essential oils, which have many culinary and aromatherapy uses.

Bedding plants:

Choosing Verbena for your warm-season colour would be a wise choice. Their dazzling range of colours will add va-va-voom to the garden. They will cascade over hanging baskets, window boxes or containers. Treat yourself - go and have a look at the Verbenas on offer at your local GCA Garden Centre.

Tip: Verbenas like well-drained soil and prefer not to be watered in the evenings.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Feed and pick

Feed fruit trees and vegetables and reap the rewards of the last of the winter veggie harvest.

Prune

Did you know that blueberries should be pruned about every four years? When pruning them, try to prune them into a wine glass shape to encourage good air movement and light penetration.

If you want good quality fruit from your peach, nectarine, apricot and plum tree, it is best to prune them every year (this is also true for most berries). However, if you want your fruit trees to grow tall and provide shade, then only prune to shape it when necessary.

Tip: Pruning is easy if you know how. Call your local GCA Garden Centre or visit them for pruning advice.

If you forgot to prune your roses in July, August is a better time than never! Especially tend to the espaliering of climbing roses. With the rapid increase of new shoots, water at least once a week with a deep drenching.

 

Water plants

Repot water lilies and add bone-meal into the soil - it is organic and safe for fish. Make holes in the soil, insert the bone-meal, and then cover it with soil on top so that the fish do not eat it. While you are busy with the pond, maintain and clean the pond and service the UV light if you have one. Clean out the algae and start with algal control.

Inland gardening

Lawn: proud or pitiful – what makes the difference?

It’s time to give your Kikuyu lawn a boost with some spring treatment:

  • Scarify: Use a steel rake to remove thatch- the dry matted grass at the base of the leaves. The vigorous use of a plastic rake or hard-bristled yard broom can also work.
  • No 1 haircut: Mow the lawn with the mower blade set low.
  • Spike: Use a garden fork or aerator to punch holes all over the lawn.
  • Fertilise: Chose a fertiliser recommended by your local GCA Garden Centre.
  • Water: The lawn gets thirsty too!
  • Dress: Spread lawn dressing over the lawn and rake it evenly over the surface. A 30dm3 bag of lawn dressing covers 4 to 5 square metres.

Now just watch and wait for your stunning new grass to appear though the lawn dressing. Fertilise monthly for best results and water at least once a week until the rains start.

Shopping list:

  • A good, strong rake
  • Sharp new lawnmower blades
  • Garden fork or hollow tine aerator
  • Lawn fertiliser
  • Hosepipe and sprinkler
  • Lawn dressing

 

Coastal gardening

Lowveld and in warm frost-free coastal regions:

Sow the following vegetables now: asparagus, Capsicum (peppers), carrots, cucumber, bush beans, aubergines (brinjals), all melons, all marrows, parsley, pumpkin, radish, runner beans, Swiss chard.

Western Cape – winter r­­­­­­ainfall areas:

Sow the following vegetables now: asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, Capsicum (peppers), carrots, cucumber (under protection), aubergines (brinjals), leeks, lettuce (Cos), all melons, all marrows, onions, parsnip peas, radish, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, tomato, turnip.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

July in the Garden All that glitters is gold, yellow, orange, and red!

Posted on: July 6th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life is a Garden

Let’s celebrate Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July in style by showcasing – the gorgeous, golden-yellowStrelitzia, appropriately named after Madiba as ‘Mandela’s Gold’. It flowers beautifully this time of year and is an amazing feature plant. Also, Aloes are out with striking spears of yellow, orange and red, adding some much-needed warmth to our gardens and patios during these cool July days.

The global lockdown was indeed a rather scary experience, but it also presented a golden lining with some much needed time for humanity to reflect on our impact on the natural world. How chilling it was to observe the rapid decrease in air pollution, the abundant return of many animals to urban areas, and the increase in sea-life activity around the world. Hopefully, this will help us all to deepen our appreciation of Mother Nature and whole-heartedly celebrate the International Day of the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems on 26 July, and World Nature Conservation Day on 28 July.

Trending – Life is a garden with water-wise Aloes

Gone are the days that Aloes were only seen on road trips as large shrubs growing on mountain slopes. We have a huge variety of spectacular Aloes bred for our patio pots and gardens. Breathe warmth into your winter garden and attract sunbirds and bees at the same time. Aloes range from dwarf forms like ‘Peri Peri’ and ‘Hedgehog’ to the multi-coloured ‘Charles’ and ‘Ballerina’, the rich colours of ‘Fireball’, ‘Andy’s Yellow’, ‘Gold Sparkle’ and many more. These sculptural plants have interesting leaf shapes and colours such as ‘Freckles’,which has grey tones and speckles, and Aloe striata, which has stunning pink-lined flat, grey leaves.  Treat yourself by visiting your local GCA Garden Centre and choosing one that blows your hair back.

 

Best veggies to grow in the winter

It may be a bit late to make a start on some of these veggies right now, but you can always plan for next winter too:

  • Baby spinach, which is all the rage in cooking and in salads, is available to sow from seed and plant from seedlings almost throughout the year. There are a few small-leafed varieties to choose from. Young leaves of larger varieties of Swiss chard, (spinach) are also used as tender baby spinach.

TIP: Add some vibrant colour to the veggie garden by using Swiss chard Bright Lights which has brightly coloured stems.

  • Be the envy of your friends by growing some trendy Microgreens to garnish any dish – it is easy-peasy and oh, so very quick! Microgreens are a variety of young vegetable and herb greens that are picked at the first true leaf stage. They often have an intense aromatic flavour that varies with the mixture of plant greens used. Sow the mixture of your favourite seeds in pots or troughs/trays on a sun-receiving windowsill, on the patio or in veggie garden beds. In most cases, within a week or two of germinating, the young leaves are ready to start harvesting.

TIP: Remember that by sowing a little extra seed when doing your regular veggie seed sowing you can also keep a little patch aside for Microgreens.

  • Spring onions are always welcome in the kitchen and their unique flavour is sometimes just what is needed. They require very little space and are fun to add into mixed containers on the patio or balcony. The seedlings are available for planting in between other plants and besides being easy to harvest, they create wonderful textural contrast.
  • Cauliflower loves the winter temperatures and if you are gardening on the cold highveld and have not yet planted any, you still have the chance if you do it now. Because July and August can heat up quickly, choose the seedlings of either the Romanesque, (a trending green cone-looking variety), or one of the small head varieties like Mini Me which will mature faster.

TIP: It’s time for thyme – yes, this herb likes the cool winter months and is a wonderful pairing with most of the winter veg. Again, grow in a pot or add to a mixed container if you are short of garden space.

Spray

If your Aloes have small grey ridges or bumps forming on the leaves it probably indicates an infestation of scale insects. Take a picture or a sample into your local GCA Garden Centre and allow them to recommend a spray that will not burn the tender, succulent Aloe leaves. For scale insects on other plants spray with a recommended organic spray dilution.

TIP: Avoid spraying the soft, new leaves of ferns and tree ferns with as some sprays can damage them.

 

Prune

Life is a garden – so let’s get on with life and prune our roses now in July before their buds start swelling. Buds swell in early to mid-July in the Lowveld and at the coast, and during August in the Highveld. Pruning is a labour of love from you to your roses and will give them the vooma they need for strong, healthy new growth and reduce the number of flowering stems, resulting in an increase in flower size for the coming season.

Shopping list: For best results, here is the equipment required:

  • Pruning shear: With sharp, clean blades – a great new sharpening device is available at most GCA Garden Centres.
  • Long-handles loppers: Or a small saw – folding bow saws are space-savers and inexpensive.
  • Gloves
  • When you visit your local GCA Garden Centre also ask their advice on the necessity of sealing and spraying the plants after pruning – the advice on products may vary especially from frosty to frost-free regions.

Recommendations:

  • Improve the soil fertility after pruning so that the roses can perform at their best – feed with bonemeal and compost. Other specialist rose fertilizers can be recommended by your local GCA Garden Centre for use thereafter.
  • Pruning has some basic steps that can easily be learned by either attending a pruning demonstration in your area or by simply watching videos on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yLT23aLiRs
Bedding plants

Ode to the edible pansy: Pansy flowers can freeze completely at this time of year due to the frost and then as the sun thaws them out in the morning, they defrost and smile up at you, hence the Afrikaans name “gesiggies”.

Both pansies and the smaller Viola, from which the pansies originate, produce adorable flowers that are hard to resist. They produce masses of charming flowers over a long period, making them the most popular choice for sunny spots in the winter garden, in pots, or even hanging baskets on the patio. If planted late in winter it is advisable to plant them in semi-shade to protect them from the harsher spring sun. Both pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), Violas (Viola cornuta) and Viola tricolour “heartsease” make for the prettiest edible flowers for decorating pastries, garnishing cocktails, soups, and even lemonade. Violas are a more delicate garnish while the pansy flowers crystallise very well and can also be eaten as sweets or used to decorate ice-cream.

Pansy’s claim to fame:  Their name in French, “Pensee”, means loving thought, and if a lover was near (and a bouquet of pansies was as well) the lovers could communicate without talking.

Edible Calendulas: Calendulas flowers can be eaten whole, however, the petals are the tastiest part of the flower, with the white section that joins to the flower base removed. Their colourful petals lift the colour and mood of a salad, while their spicy flavour is used to garnish and season curries and soups.

Edible flowers are great fun to use as garnish and you may already have plants in the garden that you did not know have edible flowers.

Blooming right now

Winter/Spring flower power

The power of colourful flowers is undeniable. Primulas, poppies, Calendulas, pansies, Violas, Dianthus, Alyssum and Petunias love the warm, dry Highveld winter weather. They should be in full flower in your garden right now, that is, if you planted them in Autumn. If not, they are all still available in seedling trays and possibly colour bags/pots to be planted in a sunny part of the garden, patio pots or hanging baskets. You’ve got the flower power waiting at your local GCA Garden Centre.

TIP: Keep up the watering and regular fertilizing of your flowering and veggie annuals.

Winter/Spring flowering shrubs

Camellias and azaleas, sometimes labelled with their botanical name Rhododendrons, are both spring flowering, acid-loving plants. They will benefit from mulching with acid-compost and most importantly, be sure to water them consistently, as opposed to constantly, until and through flowering. If you do, you will prevent bud drop in the Camellias and the buds browning off and not opening in Azaleas.

Tip: Special acid-loving food is available for both the Camellias and azaleas but should not be used during flowering.

How is your garden’s bone structure?

Prune, projects, plan and take the plunge (the 4P’s).

July is a great time in the garden to be doing projects that you don’t get time to do during the rest of the year. It is also a good time to assess the garden’s “bone” structure. The natural architecture is pronounced in the colder regions where frost-sensitive plants are covered, roses pruned and deciduous trees and shrubs lay bare in the garden. The revealed cone structure of your garden allows you to assess the projects necessary to fix shortcomings and make exciting new changes to the garden. This can include pruning back tree branches to open the view or because they are shading over other plants. It also could include a variety of hard landscaping projects, for example, creating a new stepping-stone pathway to a secluded seating area.

Put on those gumboots, take the plunge and spend some precious time with your cute goldfish doing pond maintenance. Clean the pond, the filter, re-pot water plants and make sure to skim any potential leaves from blocking the filter and pump manually or with a surface skimmer.

TIP: July is an ideal time to plan your spring planting and summer garden.

 

Inland gardening

Water-wise

Be water-wise and use the fallen autumn leaves to mulch your beds. This not only saves on dustbin space but is great for conserving moisture and warmth in the soil.

What’s in a name anyway?

The Cypress Aphid, Conifer Aphid or the Italian Aphid all describe the same aphid that has done considerable damage to conifers in South Africa over the last 30 years. They infest and actively attack certain conifer varieties in the autumn and winter months.

Identify: To check your conifers, open the foliage with both hands and look closely at the young stems. The aphid is larger than others but camouflaged since it looks just like the bark and will not move unless disturbed.

Treat: If your plants are infested, ask your local GCA Garden Centre for the recommended spray or drench and continue applying until the end of August.

Coastal gardening

Lowveld and in warm frost-free coastal regions

Short back and sides: Prune back and tidy up many of the garden shrubs and climbers before they put on new spring growth.

Sow: Asparagus, peppers, beetroot, carrots, cucumber, brinjal, globe artichoke, melons, Swiss chard, tomato, marrows.

Indoor living decor: Make sure that the indoor plant leaves are dust-free and open the windows and doors in the warmth of the day – stale air encourages pests and diseases.

Bird buddies: Clean birdbaths and fill with fresh water. Clean and fill bird feeders. Put nesting logs up for the new breeding season.

Western Cape, winter rainfall regions

Sow: Asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, leek, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, radish, spinach and turnip.

With Life is a Garden, winter is never dull or boring. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre and dress-up your space for a spectacular spring.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

June in the Garden Midday gardening with monsters, berries and birds

Posted on: May 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
June in the garden – Midday gardening with monsters, berries and birds.

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.

June in the Garden feed the birds
June in the Garden - Fathers Day Bonsai
What to Sow

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.

June in the Garden - What to Sow

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.

  • Spinach is a superfood. It is loaded with plenty of nutrients and is low-calorie to boot! It won’t be long for you to start using the baby leaves for salads. Spinach dips and other recipes are easily obtained online – and don’t forget that spinach makes a divine quiche.
  • Lettuce will be ripe and ready for spring and summer salads if planted now. Lettuce leaves are being used more and more as a carb-free wrap alternative.
  • Beetroot is gaining popularity as a superfood with the juice being used in an increasing number of drinks. The leaves are hot and trendy as salad greens.

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.

June in the garden
June in the Garden
Life is a Garden
Pick edibles

Reap your rewards by picking the veggies that you sowed or planted a few months back:

  • Cabbage is so versatile in its culinary uses; they are an amazing addition to any home-made soup and are the hero in coleslaw and stir fry.
  • Cauliflower is considered one of the healthiest foods on Earth. It is fabulous as a banting substitute for rice or pastries, and besides when paired with cheese… who can resist an easy to make, cauliflower au gratin?
  • Brussels sprouts are high in nutrients and rich in antioxidants. They are trending in recipes from hot dips, to creamy gratin and crunch salads.
  • Broccoli is just so diet-friendly and healthy. The growing trend is to harvest it with a 10 to 15cm long stem.
Life is a Garden - June in the Garden
Life is a Garden - June in the Garden
June in the Garden - What to Pick
June in the garden - what to pick
Posh blooms

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.

 Bedding besties

Primulas are the queens of the winter and spring shaded garden. Lucky for us, there are three stunning types of Primula to choose from:

  • Fairy Primulas(Primula malacoides) are still available in seedling trays, ready to create a splendid display of colour in your shade and semi-shade areas.
  • Primula acaulis, or primroses, are available in seedling trays and pots. These striking large flowers may be either pastel or brightly coloured with a dark central eye. If you want to add some excitement to your garden, then mix them up in a bed. They will be to your garden what balloons are to a party – colourful, fun and uplifting!
  • Primula obconica is a long-flowering plant with attractive, large rounded leaves and clusters of flowers that stand clear of the leaves with flower heads that resemble mini hydrangeas. These Primulas are mostly sold in pots for patio use or garden planting.
June in the garden - bulbs
June in the Garden - bedding besties
Trees

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.

Trending indoors

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:

  • Philodendron selloum, often just called selloums, have large, shiny, deeply lobed leaves. Selloums and their close relative, the delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa) are hot, hot, hot! Place them in high light areas in the home or patio.
  • Sanseviera spp. Known also as Mother-in-law’s tongue, is back in fashion. New varieties are more colourful and eye-catching. They are very contemporary in style, waterwise, and generally as tough as nails.
  • Stromanthe ‘Tristar’ has large green and white variegated upper leaf surface colours with pink and maroon undersides. The strong contrasting colours make a visibly interesting and attractive plant. Tip: Stromanthe love the coastal humidity and are best misted during the day inland. They do well placed on top of, or near a tray of pebbles with water between the pebbles.
  • Draceana marginata, or dragon tree, is a popular feature plant. It can grow in moderate light conditions and is rather easy to care for. A spot with good airflow will be beneficial.

Tip: Indoor plants will all benefit from regular feeding – consult your local GCA Garden Centre.

 

June in the garden - trending indoors
June in the garden -trending indoors
June in the garden
June in the garden
What to feed

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.

Rose care

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.

Let’s be Waterwise

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.

June in the garden - Waterwise
Inland gardening

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.

June garden. start paving
Gabion landscaping
Prune hydrangeas

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.

  • Step 1: Identify stems that have not flowered yet. These can be cut back slightly to about 2 or 3 buds from the top of the stem to just above strong, healthy buds.
  • Step 2: Now go through the shrub and cut back about a third of the stems to about two-thirds of their length, and the rest by about a third to half their length to ensure healthy buds.
  • Step 3: If there are any old, woody stems, these can be cut back as low down as possible.
Prep beds for berries

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.

June in the garden
Coastal gardening
  • Clean up your palms by removing the dry leaves and seed pods. This is especially helpful if your palms are next to the pool and the seeds are clogging up your pool cleaner.
  • Clean up your climbers:
    • Bougainvilleas are best pruned and kept in check annually rather than letting them get out of hand.
    • Banksia roses can also grow incredibly fast in just one season. Neaten them up by removing the old, dead or diseased canes/branches first, and then cutting them back to a manageable size.

With Life is a Garden, winter is never dull or boring. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre and dress-up your space for a spectacular spring.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

May in the Garden Let’s revel in our African sunshine and plant some of our spectacular indigenous seeds and bulbs this season!

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Life-is-a-garden-may

Hang in there gardeners! Your beloved, outdoor sanctuaries will soon be open.  While you wait for your post-pandemic indulgence at favourite GCA Garden Centre, let’s take this time to rejoice in this beautiful and envied continent of ours. May is Africa month with  African Day on the 25th of May. We will also celebrate World Bee Day on 20th May, and then the International Day for Biodiversity on May 22nd. Moms are also in the spotlight this month for Mother’s day on Sunday 10th May, and Life is a Garden highly recommends you spoil her with a little green treat.

With so many festivities, let’s revel in our African sunshine and plant some of our spectacular indigenous seeds and bulbs this season!

Ideas for Mother’s Day gifts from the garden

For kids of all ages: Moms love flowers, especially the hand-picked kind. If you have any of the following good cut-flowers blooming in your garden, they would be perfect as your Mother’s Day gift bouquet:

Tall flowering Dianthus, Carnations, Snapdragons, Larkspur, Alstroemeria or Sunflowers. If you don’t have these in the garden, you could always buy a few plants from your local GCA Garden Centre. The plants and their flowers will last for a long time - even till next year and then they’ll be ready for picking again.

Hot Tip: Pittosporum branches, leather leaf ferns, Aspidistra leaves and a variety of other plants, like those in Autumn berry, such as. the Pyracantha, can be added to your bunch of flowers too.

For the big kids and dads: Our indigenous wild banana plants (Strelitzia nicolai) are trendy additions to the new leafy-look, ideal in high light areas indoors, or as pretty patio plants. This plant is a stunner and even more so when planted in a lovely pot. Make sure mom stays modern and get her some wild bananas.

Hot tip: There are many beautiful orchids, cyclamen and other stunning plants available at your local GCA Garden Centre, just waiting to delight Mom this Mother’s Day.

Life-is-agarden-mothers-day
Life-is-agarden-mothers-day
Edibles

What would sausage and mash be without peas? Peas are also one of the few veggies that kids enjoy eating, especially when combined with corn. If you love peas, you will love fresh, home-grown peas even more. They are just so easy to grow from seed or seedling. Offer the climbing peas a variety of support to climb up, plant with a little compost, feed regularly, and hey presto, there you have your own home-grown peas.

Hot Tip: Peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, including vitamin C and vitamin E, and more.

 

What to Sow

Some of the best seeds that can still be sown are indigenous beauties, which honour our African heritage with a parade of colourful flowers. These are:

Gazanias, Livingstone daisies (Mesembryanthemum), Scabious africana (the indigenous cape scabious or pincushion), and Namaqualand daisies (also called African daisies).

May is also a good time to sow Calendulas. Their perky orange and yellow flowers are great in plant borders and their edible flowers also make them a winner in the herb and veggie garden.

The month of May is an ideal time to sow shade grass and cool season seeds. They can provide the following solutions and more:

  • Shade grass can be sown into your existing lawn during winter. This is called over-seeding, which helps your lawn look green and healthy in the winter. Sowing shade grass can also be used to fill patches in an existing lawn.
  • Several different shade lawns can be sown. These are often available as both coarse and fine leaf lawns, and some can even withstand tough wear, such as areas where dogs like to run. .
  • Evergreen lawn seed is available for planting as a new lawn too.
Plant African bulbs in Africa month

There are beautiful indigenous bulbs that rival the Ranunculus, Daffodils and Hyacinths, [M1] especially once you take the time to get to know them:

Sparaxis or harlequin flowers prefer well-drained, composted soil in the sun or partial shade. Striking flowers that are often marked with a contrasting colour in their centre are good cut-flowers. These plants do well in the garden but are also excellent container plants.

Tritonia, also called blazing stars, offer a lovely range of spring-flowering colours - from bright orange to salmon, cream and white, and are also great cut-flowers. Make sure that you plant them in very well-drained soil, positioned in the sun or in semi-shade.

Lachenalias have cheeky and brightly colourful hyacinth-like flowers. Most hybrids have sweetly scented flowers that start flowering in winter. Good drainage is essential, so add some sand to poorly drained soil to increase the drainage. Their flowers are also great in vases.

Hot Tip: Don’t complete your bulb shopping before you’ve purchased bulb food. Before you go, take peek at the following other indigenous bulbs that are really something special and worth looking at:

  • Babiana, or baboon flowers, are the cutest little plants with attractive hairy leaves and fragrant flowers.
  • Freesias, which are fragrant and colourful, are great in containers and are very pretty cut-flowers.
  • Ornithogalum, or chincherinchees, have attractive white or green-white fragrant flowers, which are exceedingly long-lasting cut-flowers.

Ixia’s star-shaped flowers produce a riot of colour in spring, flourishing in a sunny or semi-shaded bed or container, especially when mass planted

It’s time to plant in the cool season with the 4 P’s. P is for princess and poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas - the royalty of our winter and spring annuals, which are now available as seedlings at your local GCA Garden Centre:

  • Iceland poppies are just gorgeous and available in mostly mixed packs of pastel or brighter colours. They are easy to grow, good cut-flowers, and overall just WOW!
  • Pansies and their smaller cousins, violas (which have edible flowers), are world-wide favourites and available in striking colours and vivid combinations.
  • Petunias are available in an array of colours too. These mound-forming annuals can appear cascading, while others are bushy. We recommend watering according to the natural winter rainfall in that area. Be careful not to overwater petunias.
  • Primula malacoides, or fairy primulas, put on a superb show and are shade-loving favourites for the cool season.

 

Bedding besties

Hot Tip: Regularly remove spent blooms from winter annuals, especially Iceland poppies, pansies and violas, to encourage more flowers.

Hot Tip: Tie sweet peas to their supports and remove tendrils or side shoots to encourage the nutrients in the plant to be used on necessary growth, and later, flowering.

Pick/Prune

Clean up perennials by removing any brown or dead leaves. Remove flower stalks from the summer and autumn flowering ones. Mulch them up with a little compost and water regularly.

The following Summer flowering bulbs require a little TLC at this time of year:

  • Once withered, cut back the foliage of Canna hybrids to the ground. Cover them with coarse mulch or compost and water regularly.
  • Once the leaves on your Liliums have died back, cut them off and cover them with mulch or compost and water regularly.
  • If you are not lifting Dahlias, cut the withered leaves down to about 15cm above the ground.
What to Feed

Do you eat in winter? We sure hope so! And we hope that you remember your winter and spring-flowering bulbs and annuals need food too! After all, they’re growing furiously at this time of year and need a little extra nourishment. Use a fertilizer that is rich in potassium since this will not only promote flowering or fruiting, but also make the plants healthier and stronger against the cold, pests, and diseases. A selection of liquid and granular/pelleted fertilizers are available to choose from at your local GCA Garden Centre.

TIP: The annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen for growing and flowering through winter. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for advice on a liquid fertilizer that will do the trick over the next month or two.

Blooming African star

Have you planted water-loving starlet (Spiloxene aquatica) in your water-feature? If you have, you would notice that from May, this indigenous “star” is peppered with little white, twinkly star-like flowers with bright yellow centres. Its spiky dark green, needle-shaped leaves grow up to 30cm long, making it a dazzling plant for a sunny spot in the pond, or water-feature.

Tip: If you have limited outdoor space, any waterproof pot can be turned into an exciting water feature for the patio, balcony or garden.

Rose care

Rose blooms may be picked with long stems. If the plants are in full leaf, continue to adhere to a spraying programme where watering may be reduced. It is a good time to plant winter flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, on the edges of rose beds.

Lift and divide

Hot Tip: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, now is a good time to split or divide them.

  • The obedience plant (Physostegia virginiana). It has eye-catching bright-lilac flowers, is easy to grow and has a resilient nature and ability to spread freely. These flowers are truly beautiful, long-lasting cut-flowers.
  • Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) have large, interesting leaves and gorgeous blooms.

Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii formerly known as Aster novi-belgii, have fine foliage and tiny daisy flowers borne on long stems. They are great cut-flowers and available in a range of purples, pinks, and white.

Inland gardening

In frosty areas, it is best to water between 10 am and before 2 pm. If you keep the roots of roses and many other plants moist, they are able to withstand light frost much better than dry plants.

Jack Frost will soon surprise you in frosty regions, especially the very cold Free State areas, closely followed by the Highveld, so start protecting your susceptible plants with frost cover. Frost cover allows the light in, while protecting the plants at the same time. Ask for it at your local GCA Garden Centre.

Hot Tip: To add gorgeous Autumn colours to a medium or large garden, consider planting a Liquidamber (Liquidamber styraciflua), or some of the smaller Maples in modest gardens.

Coastal gardening

If you’re in the Cape, make the most of your abundant winter rainfall by harvesting water from the roof. Check and clean your gutters, which may be clogged up with leaves.

Hot Tip: In coastal and lowveld areas, feed granadillas with a nitrogen and potassium combination fertilizer. You can ask for advice at your local GCA Garden Centre.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

April in the Garden There is no planet B!

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Let us nurture our planet Earth by using sustainable practices and nourishing our soils so that they can continue to produce healthy food for us all. Besides the fact that there is no planet B, we have good reason this month to pamper our planet because Tuesday 7 April is World Health Day and on Wednesday 22nd it is Earth Day, as well as International Mother Earth Day. How about celebrating these days by eating healthily and planting any plant that will make you happy, and the Earth a better place to live in.

Time to sow

Namaqualand daisies or African daisies, (Dimorphotheca sinuata), are just so easy to sow, easy to grow and WOW, what a show they make in late winter and through spring. This indigenous plant needs full sun for the flowers to open. The seed is mostly available in shades of orange, yellow, and salmon mixed or white. They are conveniently available in larger packets which will cover more of your garden. Don’t forget to buy and plant the seed now because this is one of those plants that has gardeners rushing to their nearest garden centre when they see them in full, glorious bloom, only to be told that they should have been planted in April. Sow in-situ i.e. directly into the beds.

Another indigenous plant the Livingstone daisy or Bokbaaivygie, (Mesembryanthemum criniflorum orDorotheanthus belliidiformis), is also a winner and a firm favourite of many gardeners. (Some seed suppliers label these seeds as Vygie mixed). Their satin-textured daisy-like blooms, require a sunny position for them to open’ They are available as mixed colours of white, yellow, orange. cream, pink and crimson. The iridescent colours are jolly and uplifting. Plant as an edging, tumbling over walls or the edges of containers. Seeds can be sown in-situ. Like Namaqualand daisies, Livingstone daisies are often available in larger packets and are also easily scattered, or directly sown.

Tip: Water lightly, preferably every day, until the seeds germinate. The light watering will ensure that you do not wash the scattered seeds away.

It is also time to sow the ever-popular fairy primulas, (Primula malacoides), and wildly popular pansies, (Viola wittrockiana). Primulas planted en masse in shady areas produce a stunning meadow-like feel, they attract butterflies and are available in colours mostly ranging from white through pink, lavender and even dark pink or “red”. As with pansies, they have multiple uses in the garden, in potted containers or hanging baskets. Primulas, and especially pansies are best sown in trays and transplanted into the garden later. Pansies are cheerful and irresistible when it comes to filling sunny areas for Winter and Spring colour.

Time to plant

It is good time to plant roses since they will establish themselves before Winter and be ready to “take off” in Spring.

A whole range of amazing Winter and Spring flowering bulbs are available to snap up right now at your GCA Garden Centre, with tulips, daffodils and hyacinths normally only arriving in May. Indigenous Freesias are scented and are therefore best placed near a door, window or entertainment area where their fragrance can be appreciated. Choose Ranunculus for a stunning show of bright colours. Soak Ranunculus “claws” in room temperature water overnight for best results and plant them with their “claws” facing downwards.

Tip: On the highveld, it is best to wait until the night temperatures have started to fall, i.e. later in the month or into May before planting most of the bulbs.

What to Spray

Protect your conifers from cypress aphid by visiting your local GCA Garden Centre to purchase the best solution for preventative treatment. The aphids are active on the conifers between April and August. The Autumn and winter damage they do to the plants only shows on the plant from September onwards when the aphids have already moved away.

What to Feed

Continue feeding your cool season lawns since they are evergreen and will need the nutrients to ensure a healthy green lawn for Winter. This is also the best time to sow cool season grasses for an evergreen lawn or as an over-seeding of lawns like Kikuyu that brown off in the cold regions during winter.

Container plant

If you do not have Bacopa, (Sutera cordata), in your garden, perhaps now is the time to try a really rewarding plant that is one that will quickly creep into your heart. Unless planted in a hanging basket, the plants are normally quite small in the nursery and together with their tiny white, pink lavender or blue flowers they may not look like much, but once established they are a visual treat with their long stems dripping in a dainty profusion of blooms for months on end. They are a great groundcover often recommended for sun but seem best in semi-shade in our climate and look superb when cascading over the rim of a container or over a wall. Bacopa need regular, consistent watering to maintain their health especially when flowering. Adding a water-holding agent to the soil will benefit the plant since the soil will hold water for much longer and hold fertilizer in the soil too. Ask for advice at your local GCA Garden Centre. Several different water-holding agents are available to be used when planting trees or containers and especially hanging baskets that tend to dry out quickly.

Edibles – Look out for Easter Bunny in your veggie patch!

April and May are a good time to plant celery, (Apium graveolens), which is a cool-season plant and does not do as well in the very hot parts of the country, (don’t plant it out if the weather is still very hot). Celery is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins which have incredible health benefits. It’s a great snack for low calorie diets. Celery enjoys organically rich soils. It likes to be kept moist and is a heavy feeder, so prepare the soil well and water and feed regularly. Plant in the sun, (from seedling trays), in the hotter regions try to shade it during the hottest part of the day. Planting celery could be a good way to encourage Easter Bunny visiting your garden this year. Remember to look out for Easter Bunny on Easter Sunday 12 April.

Tip: The darker celery stems have the most intense, delicious flavour.

Did you know? Celery has been grown for hundreds of years and is favoured in cuisines around the world. A rudimentary variety of species of celery was even found in King Tut’s tomb.

Bedding besties

There are a whole range of Winter/Spring veggies and flower seedlings available to plant now in your local GCA Garden Centres. Schizanthus or poor man’s orchid, (Schizanthus  x wisetonensis), is a particularly pretty, cool season annual that is not used nearly enough in our gardens. It prefers semi-shade in our climate, has delicate, fern-like leaves with masses of multi-coloured blotched and speckled orchid-like flowers. They like well-drained soil and the tall blooming stems are ideal as cut-flowers. Look out for them in seedling tray or colour bags/pots in your local GCA Garden Centre.

Blooming right now
  • Roses: Are repeat bloomers that we can always rely on.
  • Salvias: Many new varieties have entered the market over the recent years and have already become firm garden favourites mostly due to their ability to survive dry conditions. They have also not disappointed gardeners in the length of time that they flower. Their often, unique coloured flowers range from white, pink, salmon and red to bi-colours with exquisite combinations of deep blue and black. Go into your local GCA and ask to see the different varieties on offer – you won’t be disappointed.
  • Pentas: Pentas, (Pentas lanceolata), has large clusters of dainty star-like flowers that bloom almost all summer long and attract bees, butterflies and Sun birds. The flowers range in colour from lavender to red, pink or white. This shrub prefers to be planted in full sun and in moist, well-drained soil.
  • Frangipani; Very few plants add as exotic and tropical feel to the garden as the frangipani. It is best suited to coastal and warmer regions but has found a place in many protected pockets and micro-climates on the highveld. The frangipani’s unique form and fragrant flowers is not easily substituted by any other plant.

 

Rose care

Cut often for the vase, if not remove the dead flowers regularly and look out for fungal infections such as Black Spot and Powdery Mildew. Adding a balanced fertilizer like 5:1:5, overcomes the natural start of dormancy and ensures flowering n Winter. Keep on spraying to avoid defoliation due to Black Spot infection.

Inland gardening

Tips for your garden in April:

  • Its Autumn planting season so if you have not prepared your soil with oodles of compost, (or similar additives and even fertilisers), then do so now. Remember, if you look after the health of your soil, it will reward you with healthy plants.
  • Feed both Azaleas and Camellias which have set buds for their late Winter or Spring flowering. Be sure to be giving them regular watering from now until flowering time.
  • Mulch to conserve water, reduce weed growth and keep the soil warmer.
  • If you are sowing Winter vegetable seeds you will need to do so before the end of May.
  • Many succulents will start to flower in late Autumn and Winter so it is a great time to choose your flowering favourites in the Garden Centres.

 

Coastal gardening

You can sow the following veggie seed this month; beetroot, broad bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, garlic (cloves), kohlrabi, leek lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip. Peas, radish, swiss chard and turnip. In coastal KZN and the lowveld you will exclude onions and can add the following to the above list; brussels sprouts, capsicum, cucumber, brinjal, bush beans, pumpkin, runner bean, tomato and marrows. Tip: Prepare the soil well with plenty of compost and be a champion of stainable gardening practices.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

March in the Garden Happy autumn and a merry March, maintenance month!

Posted on: February 18th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Happy autumn and a merry March, maintenance month! It’s time to prepare those beds for some annual autumn planting and sow them seeds for the new season. Get busy in the garden and give your seedlings a nutritious head start.

You should work in about 3 to 5cm of compost into the soil, as well as, a handful of bonemeal or superphosphate per square metre. This will ensure that plants have all the nutrition they require to get off to a great start. Give your soil nutrients so that the plants in your garden have the ability to become strong and healthy. Use a general fertilizer like a 2:3:2 or one that contains more potassium such as 8:1:5.

 

What to Sow

Autumn means it’s time to start sowing winter and spring flowering annual seeds. Some of our favourites to sow now are:

Sweet Peas: Their seductive fragrance in the garden or as cut-flowers in the home is like no other. The seed is generally available in mixed colours, which are a gorgeous mix of mostly pastel colours, for both dwarf and climbing varieties. The climbing Sweet Peas will need a sunny spot with supports to climb up – like a trellis, fence or an arch. Sweet peas will be happiest with their roots are in cool, moist soil, so it is a good idea to plant low-growing annuals in front of them to keep the roots shaded, mulching will also work well. The secret to fabulous Sweet peas starts with the soil preparation. Dig over a trench of soil, next to the supports, to the depth of a garden fork and add plenty of compost and preferably manure too. Add a handful of bonemeal or superphosphate per square metre, also sprinkle a handful of Dolomitic or Agricultural lime per running metre and dig it in. If possible, use a pencil to make holes and drop them in at the correct depth, then close them up to shut out the light. Keep the area well watered.

Tips: Soak the seeds in water overnight before planting to soften the seed covering. Sow at about 2 weekly intervals for a longer-lasting show of flowers. To encourage bushy growth, cut off the tips of plants only when they are about 15 to 20cm tall (and not sooner). Don’t forget to feed your plants regularly.

Pansies: Are a winter and spring flowering favourite for the sun. Their colourful blooms are available in a wide range of single and bi-colours. They can be used as massed flower borders, in pots and window boxes or as fillers between spring-flowering bulbs. Pansies typically have large and medium-sized blooms while their smaller flowering “cousins” Violas have dainty little flowers. The larger flowers are showy and suited close to entertainment areas or pathways. The medium-sized Pansies and Violas often have more flowers and are a hit when used as a massed display in the garden.

Primulas: Fairy Primroses, (Primula malacoides), are still a favourite for winter and spring flowering colour in the shade. They have dainty, tiered flowers and are available in white, lavender, rose, pink and a darker pink/purple. White primulas will brighten up shady patches the most and show up well in the evening.

Sow, sow & sow: Calendulas, (Calendula officinalis) have edible “petals” that look super sprinkled on winter soups. Iceland poppies are available in stunning mixed colours – choose cultivars with strong stems for windy gardens. A few others include; alyssum, Livingstone daisy, godetia, schizanthus, stocks and snapdragons for the sun and lobelia for semi-shade and foxglove ‘Foxy’ for semi-shade to shade. (Tip: Before sowing always check the sowing time on the back of the seed packets for your region’s best sowing months).

What to Plant

Garlic: There is nothing better than cooking with fresh produce from the garden and Garlic bulbs are available in garden centres at this time of year. Simply prepare a sunny bed with compost and a plant starter and plant the individual cloves about 10 to 15cm apart and about 3 to 5 cm deep, making sure that the pointy side faces upwards. If your soil has poor drainage then plant them in raised beds or even containers. Garlic wards off many pests with its pungent smell and is, therefore, a great addition to any veggie garden. (Garlic is not well suited to very humid, hot areas of the country).

Pelargoniums: Bush geraniums, (Pelargonium x hortorum), and ivy or cascading geraniums, (Pelargonium peltatum), are still some of the “jewels in the crown” of our indigenous plants even though they have been heavily hybridized. Geraniums are one of the most rewarding garden plants and are ideally planted in containers on your patio in a sunny to semi-shade position. Geraniums love to be moist but not wet. Give them a weak but regular, (preferably weekly), liquid feeding.

What to Spray – to protect your happy place

Amaryllis caterpillar/worm: Keep a lookout for wilting leaves or flowers on any of the lilies like arum lilies, amaryllis, agapanthus and clivias. Inspect the plants by pulling the leaves open to reveal the “middle” of the plant above the bulb - the Amaryllis worm is normally easily spotted in this area if they are the culprit. They may be between the epidermal layers of the leaves or openly chewing close to the base of the leaves and flower stalks. The base of the leaves will also become slimy, smelly and pulpy. Ask your local garden centre for a recommended spray.

White grubs: The adult chafer beetles lay their eggs in the lawn and the grubs that hatch feed on the lawn roots and underground stems. The lawn or leaf blades start to wither and die in patches. If you want to confirm your suspicions, you should be able to easily pull up pieces of lawn and see the large, fat white grubs curled up in a c-shape. Ask for advice at your garden centre and treat as recommended

What to Pick

Roses: Roses are prized cut flowers. Hybrid tea roses have the longest stems and are great for picking, especially when a long stalk is preferred. Fragrant roses add that extra sensory dimension too.

Inca lilies, (or Peruvian lily): Also known by their botanical name of Alstroemeria, Inca lily blooms are best harvested by firmly holding the flowering stem close to the base and twisting the stem as you pull it upwards. This will help the detach the flower from the underground stem and promote further growth and flowering.

Bedding besties

Snapdragons: Most snapdragons, (Antirrhinum majus), are either slightly or moderately scented which is great if you like to cut flowers from the garden or one can place them close to the home. Snapdragons love the sun and varieties range from tall, (over 60cm tall which may require staking), or as short as 15cm for the dwarf ones, and come in a range of beautiful colours and colour mixes. They are long-lasting in the garden and will grow through our mild winters and flower into spring.

Blooming babes

Calibrachoa: This is a trendy treasure that has yet to be discovered by many gardeners, calibrachoa, (Calibrachoa ‘Goodnight Kiss'). This is a trailing plant, that gets covered in hundreds of small bell-shaped flowers that are quite dazzling. They are the first choices for planting in containers and hanging baskets for gardeners that have had them before. Although sun-loving, in very hot areas they will do better in a semi-shade. They are available right now in shades of violet, blue, pink, red, magenta, yellow, bronze and white as instant colour plants in pots and hanging baskets. They can be pinched back for a time to time to encourage bushy growth and more flowers. 

Tip: Feed calibrachoa with a liquid fertiliser regularly to encourage healthy growth and flowering.

Rose care

Roses are simply spectacular in autumn! To ensure quality blooms into the winter, continue with regular preventative treatments/spraying for black spot, beetles and bollworm. As the days get shorter, the roses start to go dormant and withdraw food from their eaves. To compensate for this and to provide enough food for new growth and flowers, fertilize with rose food – your local GCA garden centre will advise you on the best option. Regular watering is very important if there is insufficient rainfall.

Water-wise 

One of the best ways to save water in the garden is to hydro-zone the plants in your garden. Hydro-zoning means that you position plants in the garden, or in containers, according to their water requirements so that we do not use any more water in any hydro-zone than the plants positioned there require. We, therefore, group all plants that like the most water together and these are commonly known by your garden centre staff as 3 drop plants, those that require a medium amount of water 2 drop plants and the water-wise, low water requirement plants as 1 drop plants. Where possible keep the 3 drop zone to a minimum – perhaps around a swimming pool or entertainment area, and in the same way make the 1 drop zone the largest area of your planted garden, (since paved areas effectively constitute a 0 drop zone). There is no better time to start than today – have fun and save our precious water.

Inland gardening

Compost: Compost is the equivalent organic gold to the garden! With all the autumn leaves combined with the vegetable kitchen waste, it is a great time to start your compost heap now. Lightweight and easy to use compost bins are readily available at your local GCA garden centre, to fit even the smallest of gardens. Ask for compost accelerator at your garden centre and add this to the various layers of compost being added.

Tips: Avoid adding any plants that are diseased or pest-ridden, as well as weeds with seeds or seed heads on them. Lawn clippings should be thinly layered between other layers of waste otherwise they will rot and form a slimy mess in the bin.

Lift and divide

Its time to lift and divide summer flowering perennials. Here are some examples of the most common ones: agapanthus, wild iris, (Dietes bicolour and Dietes grandiflora), penstemon, campanulas and asters. Most perennials start to decline in vigour from being too close to one another after several seasons of pushing fresh outward growth and therefore require division, (normally only once in 3 to 5 years), to “refresh their vigour or growth. Simply cut the foliage back by about two thirds, lift them carefully form the soil and then divide them by hand or by using two garden forks, (back to back). Split up into fresh, healthy-looking clumps and plant them in well-prepared soil that has compost and a plant starter so that good root growth is initiated. Water well.

Coastal gardening

Cut back all summer flowering perennials that are looking tired. Pay attention to salvias, daisies, lavender and fuchsias.

Frangipani, (Plumeria rubra), grows well in full sun in the tropical and subtropical areas of the country. If you are looking for that tropical island feel in your garden, this small tree will certainly give “the look”. They withstand drought and bloom profusely from late spring through summer and into autumn. There is a wide range of beautifully coloured flowers that are richly fragrant. They are easy to grow and little attention, flourish in almost all soil types.

Hot tip: It may still be too hot to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Good advice would be to buy them while they are available and store them in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator and plant out when the weather cools down in a month or two.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

January in the Garden Get your garden into shape

Posted on: December 31st, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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

  • Lettuce will always be a firm favourite.
  • Rocket is a trendy addition to salads and many other hot meals too. Its peppery taste is delicious and mild in the young leaves.
  • The baby leaves of both Spinach and Swiss Chard are increasingly being used in salads.
  • Baby beetroot leaves are a chic new addition to contemporary salads and cooking. They are just as yummy as they look on the plate.
  • Kale is a prized ingredient in many healthy smoothie recipes.

Leafy greens are very easy to grow and will reward you best if you pick the leaves regularly and pinch out flower buds later in the season. Be on the lookout for cutworm, snail & slug damage to plants. Aphids love the hot summer months as much as we do. While you are shopping for "table greens" grab a few "tiny leafy greens" like Mint, Basil and Parsley plants to complement the other leafy greens.

Tip: Last chance: Whilst, not a "green" you can still sow tomato seeds in the first two weeks of January – so rush out and sow.

Did you know that Basil and Tomatoes are great companion plants? This means that when planted next to one another, they both improve each other's flavour. We also know that they are great companions in food too.

What To Plant

January is always a good time to plant up areas with colourful seedling annuals. The "heat is on" so what better way to brighten up the garden and get it into shape than by planting these sun-worshippers. Some great choices to beat the heat will be:

  • Salvias will flower throughout the summer and autumn months. Their upward-pointing sword-like flowers range from fire engine red for an eye-catching display, through to purple and deep blue to a powdery blue and more. They are waterwise and easy to grow in pots too.
  • Petunias are one of those plants that you may pass over in the nursery since they are sometimes sold with only a flower or two on the seeding plants. However, without special treatment and not too much water, they will flower more and more as they grow and put on a spectacular show of colour when mature. Tip: Petunias love the mild winter months too and will carry on growing in winter.

With their botox-looking pouty lips, from which the Snapdragons get their name, Snapdragons have become fashionable again. Striking colours and multiple blooms that seemingly stand to attention are simply charming. Dwarf varieties are great as pot or hanging basket fillers too. Keep moist while young. Snaps can reward you by continuing to flower into winter.

Bedding besties

More colour, colour, colour!

Vinca plants which are as tough as nails when mature are what some people term the Impatiens for sun due to their similar-looking flowers. Don't be fooled into thinking that these are the same as the Vinca's of old – these new hybrids, flower profusely and easily.

The new age Zinnias are also a sight for sore eyes when they flower. They create a tremendous meadow-like profusion of blooms. The dwarf variety is a charming cutie.

If you like strong, bright colours, then you need to plant Celosia which are commonly known as Cock's Comb. The flowers may have a flattish crested plume or an upright feathery plume. They deliver on rich, bright, almost neon colour.

Be on the lookout for yellow patches appearing suddenly in your lawn from early January. This is a sure sign of the night-time foraging Lawn Caterpillar, (also known as Army Worm). To be sure place a moist bag or cloth on the patch in the evening and check underneath in the morning. If it is caused by Army Worms, they would still be crawling under the cloth thinking it is still night.

Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for the correct treatment method.

Power up the plants

We may have slimming on our minds in January but our garden needs nutrients to boost our plants and get the garden into shape. A good option is an 8:1:5 fertiliser or if you prefer the organic alternative, they are both available. Your garden and pots will benefit, but remember to fertilise between the plants on moist soil and to water over the fertiliser afterwards.

Pruning & Rose Care

A light summer pruning is recommended for roses in January. We know that it feels difficult to prune a plant that may still be flowering but it will help to extend quality flowering into winter. Cut back stems by up to one-third of their length.

Continue using a cocktail rose spray i.e. a combination of a fungicide and insecticide every two weeks to avoid leaf drop. Fertilise monthly and add mulch or top up the existing mulch. Now all that is left to do is to continue good, deep watering … and you will be so happy with your "blooming success" over the coming months.

Shaping up

Give your Fuchsias a boost by cutting back the stem tips after flowering. By cutting the stems back only up to about 5 or 10cm from the tip, you will allow it to bush out and give the plant more vigour to see the season through.

Blooming Babes

The popular indigenous Cape Leadwort, better known by its scientific name Plumbago, (Plumbago auriculata), is a great filler plant to cover large open spaces. It is an extremely tough, fast growing rambling, shrub. It grows in any soil and is drought tolerant. It gets covered with trusses of pale blue or white flowers which are a favourite nectar source for butterflies, it also makes a great hedge. The flowers of the cultivar 'Royal Cape' are of a considerably deeper blue.

Another indigenous beauty is our very own Cape Forget-me-not, (Anchusa capensis). It's tall stems that rise above the lower growing foliage have clusters of petite blue flowers with a white centre. They also attract butterflies with their nectar-rich flowers as well as other beneficial pollinating insects like bees. The pretty blue flowers are edible and a fab addition to salads or desserts. A well-drained soil is favoured by these drought resistant plants.

'Bougs" or "Bougies" are our affectionate nicknames for the spectacular Bougainvillea plants that can put on an unrivalled explosion of colour for months in our gardens. They are fast-growing and drought tolerant. Bougs are happiest in full sun whether they are spread-eagled over a pergola, wall or in a large pot, (smaller varieties are preferred for pots). Guess what? They also attract butterflies!

Water-wise

Due to the popularity of succulent plants in recent years, we are spoiled for choice in our local garden centres. They are just so easy to grow and lots of fun to combine in the garden, or even in a potted patio garden since many of them have gorgeous tinges of yellow, orange and red on their green, grey or blue-grey leaves. You can't go wrong with Sedums or Crassulas which are mostly indigenous and all water-wise and sun-lovers. There are many different shapes and sizes of plants in these two groups of plants that both go by the common name of Stonecrops. A popular sedum with tall dusty pink flowers is the Autumn Joy Stonecrop, (Sedum 'Autumn Joy'), and among the Crassula's, the Jade Plant, (Crassula ovata), is a medium-sized shrub with tiny white or pink flowers.

Inland Gardening

  • Mulch, mulch, mulch to beat the heat, to save water and to give the plants a cooler root run. A good, thick layer around the plants will do wonders for them.
  • Keep a lookout for fungus diseases encouraged by several rainy days in a row. Take samples of leaves from any affected plants, (in a zip-lock bag), to your local GCA Garden Centre, and get a remedy to spray with.
  • The rainy season is upon us. Try to harvest as much rainwater as possible and even consider joining a pipe from a roof gutter outlet into the pool when it requires a top-up.

Coastal Gardening

  • Plant more Chives, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Coriander and remember to plant your first crop of seed potatoes for an early winter harvest.
  • Remove or prune back low branches of trees if more sunlight is required for lawn or bedding plants below the trees.

Days of interest

5 January – National Bird Day

Take a few moments to appreciate our beautiful bird-life or give your support to a birding cause.

10 January – House Plant Appreciation Day

Be reminded of the benefits of Indoor Plants – their beauty and positive impact on our health and well-being.

May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements and a lot of new plants to your garden.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

October in the Garden Celebrating Gardening

Posted on: October 1st, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

With the 20th of October being ‘Garden Day’ and October being ‘Rose month’ – what an opportune month to celebrate gardening!

Rose month

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). For this reason, amaryllis make a wonderful gift at Christmas time and can also make gorgeous centre-pieces for the Christmas dinner table.

Amaryllis do well in most soil types, provided they get sufficient drainage. Plant in a sunny or semi-shade position and for the best results, give your amaryllis some bulb food every two weeks. These beauties are perfect for pots, and can be planted in groups in your garden.

As they retreat into dormancy at the end of the warmer months, you can decrease watering and leave them in the soil throughout the various seasons. Do not stop water them until all of their foliage has receded.

Star Flower or Egyptian star cluster (Pentas lanceolata) - a fast-growing, small to medium-sized herbaceous shrub with light green foliage. Pentas comes in a variety of colours, including pink, red, mauve and white. The beautiful flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds and make great cut flowers. The shrub grows quickly in full sun or semi-shade and vary in height but the modern hybrids are lovely compact bushes, growing +-100cm tall and +-30cm wide.  Plant them into rich, well-drained soil. Cut off the dead flowers regularly to encourage re-flowering or continuous blooms.

What to Spray

There are many types of broadleaf weeds that can get their roots into your lawn. Clear out and control weeds in lawns, by using a selective broadleaf weed killer that is safe for use on established lawns.

  • Aphids are rife on new growth, they feed on the sap of most garden plants and are usually found in large colonies on the new growth tips, flower buds or on succulent foliage. They are particularly prevalent during early spring and into the summer season, sucking the sap from plants and causing malformed flowers and foliage. They can be controlled with one of the numerous different insecticides registered for use on these pests.

Chat to a specialist at your nearest GCA Garden Centre for advice on the various products available and what would work best for your needs.

What to pick

Growing your own veggie garden is both fun and rewarding. Ready for harvest in October are: asparagus, broad beans, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, lettuces, rocket, spinach (Swiss chard) and spring onions. The perfect ingredients for some very tasty and creative summer salads and veggie dishes. If you don’t have your own edible garden established yet – it is never too late to start.

Rose Care

It’s not hard to see why October is “Rose month” as you enjoy your roses in all their glory.

Water deeply at least once a week - for roses to flourish it’s best to water them twice weekly giving them 15mm of water each time.  Roses that were fertilised in mid-September should be fertilised again in mid-October or early in October if September was skipped. This encourages root activity and new leaves and flowering stems to sprout. Only use the recommended amount of granular rose fertiliser.

To prevent aphids, bollworm, thrips, powdery mildew and black spot, spray fortnightly with the correct organic spray.

For quality blooms, disbud hybrid teas by removing side buds out of the leaf axles beneath the terminal bud. Remove spent blooms; not only will your rose bed look tidier; this also encourages the production of new quality stems. If you’d like long stemmed blooms for the house, don’t cut more than half of them on a bush.

Visit your local GCA for advice on the best products to use to meet your needs.

Garden Day

On Sunday, 20 October 2019 we will celebrate Garden Day. Instead of working in your gardens – this is a day to put down your garden tools, invite family and friends around, relax and celebrate your garden with them. Flower crowns are a beautiful way to celebrate your garden.  Making and wearing the fun and colourful accessory is a great way to show off your garden blooms. Pick a few flowers from the garden and make your own flower crown.

Inland Gardening

(Gauteng, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)

  • Before you know it, December will be here – start preparing your garden now for all your holiday and festive season needs.
  • Clean out water fountains and ponds and ensure you unclog the impeller on your water feature pumps.
  • Check that your irrigation system is working effectively. Unclog nozzles and filterers, and replace any pipes or heads that need replacing. You don’t want to be rushing around last minute before you go away in December to ensure your watering system is working!
  • Plant additional veggies (like beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes, celery and cucumber) so that you have a good selection and enough to feed your family and any visitors over December. Sow more parsley, chives, basil and coriander seeds in your herb garden.
  • Look out for insects such as aphids, mealy bugs and whitefly on soft new growth and control with the correct insecticide.
  • Tidy up garden containers by pruning shrubs and specimen plants to maintain a round shape. Plant some bright red bedding begonias around the stems and these will give you a great splash of festive colour in December
Coastal Gardening

(Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)

  • Snails and slugs are more than likely sneaking out of their hiding places at night and eating seedlings and young shoots in your gardens. There are a number of ways, including traps to keep these guys from destroying your plants. Chat to the experts at your local GCA Garden Centre to find a solution that best meets your needs.
  • Inspect all members of the lily family such as agapanthus, crinum, clivia, nerine, amaryllis and haemanthus for lily borer. They are most active at night and can be treated with insecticides.
  • Clean up container plants and top dress with mulch, crushed peach or apricot pips or pebbles to keep the soil moist between watering.
  • Plant tropical fruits such as lychees, mangos and bananas.

Celebrate your garden this summer. For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Spring brings new beginnings September in the Garden

Posted on: August 30th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

September is here – the sun is getting warmer, and our gardens are showing new signs of life. Spring is the perfect time to look at your garden with fresh eyes, make some changes and plan for the summer months ahead. 

Arbor week

The 1st to the 7th of September is national Arbor week in South Africa - a time when South Africans of all ages are encouraged to celebrate the beauty and importance of trees.

The trees of the year for 2019 are Common Tree of The Year: Sclerocarya birrea Marula Maroela. Rare (Uncommon) Tree of The Year: Philenoptera violacea Apple-leaf, Appelblaar. 

The month of September is the perfect time to plant an indigenous tree in your gardens - at home, office parks, and schools – especially as we are currently losing many of our trees to the invasive Shothole Borer.

What to Sow

During summer months, having fresh salad supplies ready to pick from your garden is a win! September is the time to sow lettuce, spring onion and tomato seeds, ready for your summer salads.  

  • Lettuce can be grown in a sunny garden bed. Most varieties are quick and easy to grow and produce a harvest within a month or two.  The loose-leafed varieties are the most practical because you can harvest the individual leaves for up to three months before replanting. Others, like the butterhead or iceberg, are picked when the heads form, so it’s best to sow seed at 3–4 weekly intervals to have a constant supply. Use a fertile, well-draining soil medium and space about 30cm apart to allow for good air circulation. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times — drought stress can cause a bitter taste. 
  • Spring Onion can be grown in sun or partial shade and prefer rich soil with compost dug in. Space seeds 10cm apart.

What to Plant
A perfect plant to fill your shaded gardens with bright, long-lasting colour in summer is Impatients.  The new Beacon Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) offers high resistance to downy mildew and won’t collapse due to this destructive disease. For lasting colour plant your Impatients in fertile, well-drained soil in shade or partial sun. Beacon Impatiens are also great for baskets, window boxes, and containers, but will need a steady supply of water. 

What to Spray
You know that spring has arrived when you smell the Jasmine and see the orange blaze as the indigenous Clivia’s start to emerge from their buds. Watch out for the lily borer in your Clivia’s. The caterpillar and their larvae damage the stems and leaves and if left untreated will cause a lot of damage. If you see any traces of larvae or damage to the plant, apply contact insecticide every two weeks to control. 

What to Feed

Rejuvenate your lawn in September by applying a lawn dressing - a mixture of well-balanced organic matter and weed-free soil. A thin layer should be spread on established lawns to level an uneven surface or help a lawn recover after an icy winter. It would help if you also replenished nutrients by adding a nitrogen-rich fertiliser.  Chat to the friendly experts at your nearest GCA Garden Centre for the best products to use.

What to Prune

Maintenance is the heart of gardening, and September is an excellent time to get in there with some pinching, deadheading, and pruning.  Your flower garden will be healthier and lusher and will stay in bloom throughout the season. Most flowers benefit from having their spent flowers removed. This is called deadheading. Flowers that repeat-bloom will often do so only if the old, dying flowers are removed. If the dead flowers remain on the plant, they will go to seed, and the plant will stop producing flowers. 

Some plants have very crisp, thin stems and can be deadheaded using your fingers. This type of deadheading is called pinching. Some plants that can be pinched include daylilies, salvia, and coleus. Coleus are grown for their foliage, not their flowers. Pinching off the flowers encourages the plants to become bushier and fuller.

Rose Care
From the middle of September, you should pinch prune your Hybrid Tea roses. This encourages new basal growth, green leaves and root development. It spreads out the flowering cycle so that there is an almost continual supply of roses instead of one or two main flushes. Pinch –prune about a third of the shoots. Increase watering to at least twice a week and fertilise fortnightly.  

Watch out for aphids, thrips, bollworm and powdery mildew. To be effective, the spraying of roses for the control of pests and diseases needs to be carried out properly and with the correct understanding of both the pest and the applicable pesticides. One does get a canola oil, based pesticide combined with a systemic action fungicide which is a certified organic option. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for advice on the best products to use to meet your needs.

Inland Gardening

(Gauteng, Free State, Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)

With the rainy season upon us, ensure that your rainwater harvesting systems are set up and connected correctly.  Clean out your gutters to ensure proper water run-off and to make sure your collected rainwater is as clean as possible. 

Get your summer herb garden planted with these easy to grow summer herbs:

Thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, basil, rocket, parsley and mint. Buy your seedlings from a Garden Centre GCA  renowned for quality plants and frequent deliveries of fresh stock. 

Get Weeding

Weed regularly before it gets out of hand. Treat weeds on paving, pathways and in gravelled areas with a non-selective herbicide. Visit a GCA Garden Centre for advice on the best products to use.

Plant your summer-flowering bulbs

 

Arum Lilies and Calla Lilies (Coloured Zantedeschia hybrids)- plant your Zantedeschia bulbs at the beginning of spring, around 4 - 5cm’s deep. Space bulbs 30 to 40 cm apart, because Zantedeschia has wide-reaching leaves and needs space. Choose a location that is in full sun but stays cool. Don’t plant in very dry soil.

Dahlias (Dahlia pinnata). 2019 is the Year of the Dahlia! These colourful, spiky, daisy-like flowers bloom from midsummer right through the first frost.  Select a planting site with full sun as they will blooms more with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. They love the morning sunlight best. Choose a location with a bit of protection from the wind. Dahlias thrive in rich, well-drained slightly acidic soil. 

Coastal Gardening

(Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)

September is a great time to refresh, top-up or replace pebbles and gravel around the garden - especially between paving stones where dust and mud have accumulated.

Check for algae and moss on paving. Scrub down with a solution of copper sulphate or use a moss killer.

Create a pretty spring border with the following indigenous flowering plants: Gazanias, Arctotis, Blue Felicias, Scabiosas and Cape daisies. 

Buy your seedlings from your local GCA Garden Centre. 

Get Pruning

Now is an excellent time to prune your Hibiscus, Poinsettia and other winter-flowering shrubs. Pruning your Hibiscus will help stimulate budding on new shoots. It also rejuvenates the plant after their long winter nap while encouraging them to maintain an attractive appearance and healthy, vigorous growth. The flowers of the Poinsettia have actually modified leaf structures called bracts. Once these have wilted and begun to die off, the Poinsettia requires a thorough pruning. Poinsettias may also require some trimming throughout the growing season to remain full and healthy.

 

Plant these Beauties to add some colour

Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) are commonly grown for their bright and cheerful daisy-like flowers. They are indigenous to South Africa and come in various sizes and colours including pink, yellow, salmon, orange and white. Gerberas are best planted as seedlings, rather than seeds. This is because the flower resulting from seed may not reflect the colour expected and take far longer to flower. They prefer full sun with relatively sandy soils that are well-drained. None of the stems should be planted under the soil as it will rot, and the plant will die. Do not water them too often, as the soil should not become saturated. They can be grown in pots or containers too. They do well in the heat but do not handle the cold well.

Gladioli bulbs (Gladiolus species) come in a fantastic range of sizes, forms and colours, even lilacs and blues. It is a classic perennial known for its tall flower spikes. A great cutting flower, gladioli look beautiful in midsummer bouquets.  Plant Gladioli bulbs in the spring once the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. Most Gladioli thrive in well-composted, well-drained loose, sandy to light loamy soils. A sunny position is best. The taller varieties, which should be staked, are often placed in the back of a garden to complement shorter plants nicely.

Plan new beginnings for your garden this summer. For more gardening tips and information, visit www.lifeisagarden.co.za  or join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa