The beauty of bee keeping

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F is for Fearless February! Dare to do something different and come buzz on the wild side with Life is a Garden as we explore the beauty of beekeeping. Whether you live on a plot or farm, townhouse or flat – the enchanting world of beehives, honey extraction, bee courses and baked goods are all available to you. Here’s the basics to get you going. 

 

Beekeeping has a few rules 

Before we fly on, there are specific by-laws for beekeeping stipulated by the Metropolitan Municipality Public Health. You can’t own a hive on your balcony in the suburbs, for example, but you can go on an epic beekeeping course and tend to a hive away from home. For our plot and farm dwellers to have sufficient space, here is a brief overview of the current laws:

  • No person may keep bees on any premises unless that person is the holder of a permit authorizing that activity and every beehive is situated –
  • A minimum of five metres from any boundary of the premises.
  • A minimum of twenty metres from any public place or building used for human habitation or from any place used for the keeping of animals.
  • The bees are kept in an approved beehive and the beehive is kept in an area inaccessible to children and animals, kept in the shade at all times, and supplied with a source of drinking water within five metres of the hive.

 

It is important for beekeepers to register with The South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) so that your set-up is in accordance with the regulation standards. This is to ensure all bees live a happy life and to prevent accidents or injuries to your neighbours. Now that we’re all clued up, let’s look into the benefits of starting a beehive and what treasures could be yours! 

Green beginnings

September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community

The garden is your canvas this time of year, and you are invited to become a landscaping artist! No matter what size your garden, patio, or balcony is, there’s a blushing flush of colour and texture to play with. Let the plants be your paint and create a space that inspires you this spring. 

 

What’s potting?

Warm-season bulbs like tuberous begonias, dahlias, and amaryllis can be planted now for a vibrant summer spectacle, lasting until the start of next winter.

For sizzling summer bedding colour, plant masses of petunias, dianthus, gazanias, and Zantedeschia hybrids now. All of these plants are sun-loving and will quickly thrive with a dose of plant food. Visit your Garden Centre for advice on which products to use.

September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community
September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community

Trending now: Ornamental grass

Take your garden artistry to the next level with pebbles and semi-precious stones as yard art. Get creative with stone arrangements and ornamental grasses that are water-wise and low-maintenance. 

Pair pure white pebbles with contrasting black tiles or black-painted pavement slabs to give walkways and entrances a sleek look. Plant summer-flowering, white button sedge (Kylinga alba) to set off the contrast. This indigenous ornamental grass is sun-loving and evergreen, producing a clustered white flower head that is carried on an elegant, long slender stem.

September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community
September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community

You can also purchase bags of pink rose quartz to use as centrepiece stone mandalas or walkable labyrinths. Plant some local steekblaarblinkgras (Melinis nerviglumis) to compliment the pink notes from the rose quartz. This very hardy ornamental grass will thrive in full sun, producing the sweetest plumes of fluffy pink to red seeds that appear all year round and attract seed-eating birds.

Top tip: The key to long-term pebble arrangement success and almost no maintenance is good quality weed guard sheeting beneath your stone feature. 

September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community
September gardening tips, Green beginnings, Landscaping artist, Warm-season bulbs, Summer bedding plants, Ornamental grasses, Stone art in the garden, Pebble arrangements, Low-maintenance landscaping, Edible gardening, Summer salad ingredients, Lettuce varieties, Spring onion cultivation, Tomato growing tips, El Niño preparedness, Pruning advice, Weeding tips, Wildlife-attracting trees, Pest alert: Mole crickets, Gardening community

Edibles are everything

September is the time to sow all your tasty summer salad ingredients.

El Niño ready 1: the new climate cycle

gardening, South Africa, El Nino, water-savvy, gardening practices, sustainable gardening, drought-resistant plants, water conservation, gardening tips, gardening techniques, eco-friendly gardening, gardening in dry climates, native plants, water-wise gardening, gardening in times of drought, climate change, environmental awareness, gardening solutions, water-efficient landscaping, gardening advice, garden maintenance, gardening ideas, water-saving strategies, gardening for beginners, gardening experts, sustainable landscaping, gardening trends, gardening resources, gardening community, water-wise plants, gardening workshops, organic gardening, eco-conscious gardening, garden design, gardening education, gardening benefits, gardening and the environment, gardening techniques for water conservation, gardening innovations, gardening inspiration, gardening for a greener future

Scientists are predicting the full impact of El Niño to play out in 2024, with temperatures expected to soar across the globe. Changing climate cycles are as old as the Earth itself and a natural part of what humanity will experience while living on our gorgeous blue planet. As gardeners, these changes are particularly influential as we already have a close relationship to rainfall and the weather in general, as well as the needs of our plants and garden wildlife. A period of noticeable changes is heading our way, imploring us more than ever to practice sustainable watering.

The coming change in weather pattern from La Nina (cool phase) to El Niño (warm phase), will affect the entire continent across multiple sectors – from food production, fuel and food prices, agriculture, plant life, and as we’ve seen – the possibility of day 0 in our own homes.

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. What is El Niño and why the change from La Nina?
  2. What has Africa learned from El Niño in the past?
  3. What can South Africa Expect? 
  4. How will El Niño impact the home gardener?

 

Before we dive in, this article is number 1 of 3 in Life is a Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series. We recommend that you read them in chronological order for a comprehensive understanding. Together, these 3 articles will leave you well-informed and equipped for gardening in a drought. 

Article 1: El Niño - the new climate cycle (you are here)

Article 2: Gardener or Earth Custodian? 

  • What is the Good Gardener Ethos?
  • What is my conscious gardening advantage? 
  • How can I be a wildlife guardian and habitat creator?
  • How can I look after my family?

 

Article 3: The Water Warrior Way 

  • How can I affordably collect and store rainwater now? 

El Niño ready 2: Gardener or Earth custodian?

As we approach the new El Niño climate cycle, we also enter a deeper understanding of how influential and important the gardener is. Predicted dry times and heat waves ahead will have a significant impact on gardening and likely to our usually cheerful dispositions as hardships from around the country make the news. It can be challenging to remain positive and solution-driven during these times. However, The South African Nursery Association (SANA) and Life is a Garden are working hard to ensure you thrive, not only survive this period.

The first step in preparing for this weather cycle begins with the correct education. Be sure to have read Article 1 to school yourself on the fundamentals of El Niño. In this article, we arrive at the second phase of our El Niño preparedness, which is a change in mindset or ethos upgrade that recognises the evolution of the gardener from an everyday plant grower to a mighty Earth Custodian (if you aren’t one already).

We hope that you are just as inspired as we are to take on this shining title and join Life is a Garden on our mission to play for team plants, people, and planet!

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. What is the Good Gardener ethos?
  2. What is my conscious gardening advantage?
  3. How can I be a wildlife guardian and habitat creator?
  4. How can I look after my family?

*Before we dive in, this article is number 2 of 3 in Life is a Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series. We recommend that you read them in chronological order for a comprehensive understanding. Together, these 3 articles will leave you well-informed and equipped for resilient gardening.

Article 1: El Niño - the new climate cycle 

  • What is El Niño and why the change from La Nina?

El Niño ready 3: The Water Warrior Way

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We’ve got some time from now (August) until summer when El Niño’s heat and dryness is predicted to reach us in full swing. Estimated to last for 9 to 12 months, it is to prepare a resilient garden and make the necessary changes to our habits and water collection infrastructure.

Having read article 1 and article 2, the topics of Earth Custodian and Water Warrior should be familiar tools to have for gardening in a heatwave. In this 3rd article of Life is Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series, we will be digging our spades into some practical ways that you can save and efficiently manage your water consumption to keep your garden thriving.

To recap, a Water Warrior is part of the Earth Custodian’s everyday gardening habits - from water-wise practices to wildlife protection and rainwater harvesting. The Earth Custodian is both a mindset and ethos upgrade that recognises the gardener as more than just a plant grower, but an essential service individual who is conscious of the big-picture footprint their water habits have.

To be a Water Warrior means that we have ‘woken up’ to the accountability of our household’s water consumption and how our daily habits impact the country as a whole, as well as surrounding wildlife and the precious balance of Mother Nature. By extension, becoming a Water Warrior also means that we do not transfer all resource and infrastructure responsibility to municipalities and government.

 

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  • How can I affordably collect and store rainwater now?
  • How can I grow a resilient garden?
  • Is hydrozoning right for me?
  • How should I be watering my containers, beds, and lawn?

 

Before we dive in, this article is number 1 of 3 in Life is a Garden’s El Niño Preparedness Series.

Grow To Eat Festival

Join us at Heckers Garden Centre for our highly anticipated annual Grow to Eat Festival!

This exciting event will take place from September 30th, 2023, to October 8th, 2023.

The festival offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the incredible world of edible gardening from various countries around the world.

We are located at 1 Kirschner road, Westwood, Boksburg.

Admission is absolutely FREE, so bring your friends, family and even pets on leashes along to discover the wonders of gardening and culinary delights.

Get ready to embark on a journey through vibrant displays and interactive workshops that will inspire and educate attendees on the versatility and deliciousness of herbs, vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers.

Throughout the festival, you can expect an array of special offers on herbs and veggies, ensuring that you have the opportunity to take home the very best produce. Learn from expert exhibitors, suppliers, and enthusiasts who will share their knowledge and provide valuable tips on growing, harvesting, and incorporating these international flavours into your cooking.

Immerse yourself in the captivating cultures and cuisines of each country with our captivating displays dedicated to Mexico, Italy, India, South Africa, France, Portugal, and Asia. Explore the unique herbs and veggies that define each culinary tradition and gain inspiration for your own garden and kitchen.

This year’s festival will also be in the same time as the Rugby World Cup so you will definitely see a rugby twist in our South Africa exhibit.

Mark your calendars for the Grow to Eat Festival at Heckers Garden Centre from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily. We look forward to seeing you there! Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more announcements on exhibitors and workshops.

-Secure Parking
-FREE Entrance – No booking required
-Various exhibitors and displays
-Interactive workshops – Will be announced and booking is essential
-Restaurant onsite
-Loads of edible plants on special
-Sample beverages to quench your thirst
-Wheelchair accessible
-Pet friendly
-Kids planting corner (all year round

Rooftop gardens and living firebreaks Sunset-scaping with aloes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scale down and glam up gran’s garden

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

Reduce effort and increase beauty 

If your grandparents have been living in their home for many years, their garden is likely high-maintenance and possibly a tad out of date. Ease the burden by removing water- and time-demanding plants and replacing them with our suggestions below. 

 

Waterwise, evergreen, indigenous plant picks for big beds

1. Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata): quick-spreading shrub, pest-resistant but attracts pollinators, pretty blooms year-round, fertilise in spring, full sun to semi-shade. 

2. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.): large growth, dramatic tropical-looking flowers, attracts birds, hard frost sensitive, fertilise in spring, ideal for morning sun to semi-shade.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum): aromatic leaves with masses of starry pink blooms in winter and spring, attracts pollinators, coastal thriver, good cut-flower/foliage, full sun.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

Easy and everlasting plant picks

1. Spekboom as a green succulent that cleans the air, looks pretty and needs little maintenance is high on our list for greening spaces for the elderly.

2. Geraniums are nostalgic and easy colour to bring back loads of gardening memories, which is particularly important for older gardeners as they age. The new varieties are even less prone to disease when they are overwatered.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Salvias are always festive and vibrant. Easy, almost no maintenance and certainly showy. From bedding plants to perennials, one can’t go wrong adding them into the garden.

4. In winter, the Namaqualand daisies as indigenous, waterwise and tough annuals for colour are a winner for older gardeners. Especially if on a limited budget, sowing seeds is an easy way to get colour over as bigger patch.

5. Roses, especially Iceberg, bring plenty of joy to older gardeners. Cutting stems to bring them indoors or to give a friend makes them even more special.

grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG
grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

Everlasting and easy plants INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A

grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

April’s topic: Glam-up gran’s garden
Theme: Everlasting and easy plants 
Industry expert: Wayne Stewart
Garden Centre: Eckards based in Bedfordview, Gauteng: https://eckards.co.za/ 

If you’re in Gauteng, a visit to this multiple award-winning Garden Centre may well be the Saturday outing you’re looking for. We sat down with Wayne from Eckards to get the best advice on how you can glam up gran’s garden this winter. Come gain some elderly-aimed maintenance tips and easy plant picks to help ouma get more wow for less work.

1. We loved exploring your website, especially the awards section. Eckards certainly has an excellent record of achievements. Could you tell us about some of your favourite accomplishments and how you maintain your multiple award-winning standard? 

 

Our Eckards recipe for success is simple: great customer experience + quality plants + a passionate team = an award-winning standard. Eckards has maintained our top ten rating in the GCA competition for over 18 years, which is something we are very proud of. Winning awards is not everything but it is a great way for the team to see the fruits of their effort benchmarked against the best in the industry.

grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG
garndams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

2. Having spent decades in the industry, we’re sure you’ve seen many hybrids come and go as well as which plants seem to have withstood the test of time as SA’s favourites. Please tell us which plants and trees are your all-time best sellers. 

 

Gaura in all colours has been popular since it was re-launched when the pink varieties were added to the range. As a plant for pollinators, it has withstood the test of time as a must-have filler in any garden.

After the impatiens disease hit in 2007 we saw a big change in colour for shade. Consumers mixed it up, instead of just falling back on common impatiens.

Gardening art for gran DIY

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Receiving art from grandchildren brings pure joy to the hearts of our beloved oumas and oupas, babas and gogos, nannas and gramps. Life is a Garden’s flower-inspired DIY would also make the perfect class project to gift to a senior home. The garden is far from dull in April, which is why we’ve based our little art project on the flowers in bloom now, available at your GCA Garden Centre. How many can your kids recreate?

Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran
Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran

You will need

- Thick craft paper (slightly thicker than normal to prevent the paint from bleeding through) 

- Thick craft paint in a variety of colours (thick enough to make nice blobs) 

- Cotton earbuds 

- Paint brushes

Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran
Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran

Lavender and celosia portraits 

1. On a white piece of craft paper, paint on the green stalks of the lavender/celosia plant, leaving enough space above the stalks for the flowers. You may even want to add grass, a rainbow, a froggie, or other cute nature elements. 

2. Group about 5 earbuds together and dip them in your chosen coloured paint to represent each flower species. Stamp the earbuds simultaneously above the painted stalks to create beautiful lavender and celosia blooms. The earbuds work well to mimic the look of these plants’ particular flowering style. 

3. Repeat your earbud blobs as many times as you like to create longer and lusher lavender and celosia flowers. 

Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran
Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran, DIY, Do it yourself, diy with gran, DIY for gran

Try this: To recreate bunching flower bushes or trees, you can even use the tops of broccoli dipped in paint. 

Both lavender and celosia enjoy full sun and nutrient-rich soil for best flowering results. There is a stunning variety of hybrids available at Garden Centres, so be sure to choose the one that steals your heart! Life is a Garden – let’s paint it! 

Garden Centre Association Competition Winners

Want the best? Here they are!

As you know, Life is a Garden is the marketing branch of The South African Nursery Association, known as SANA for short. To become a SANA member, garden centres and home stores must meet a series of criteria and evaluations set out by experienced committee members. SANA’s goal is to set an industry benchmark and maintain the standard of their world-class retailers.

GCA stands for the Garden Centre Association, striving to present a professional image of the horticultural industry and encourage professional business practices through a code of conduct.

Here are your top GCA Garden Centres in South Africa:

  1. Plant Paradise Garden Centre
  2. Eckards Garden Pavilion
  3. Stodels Nurseries Bellville
  4. Heckers Garden Centre
  5. Stodels Nurseries Menlo Park
  6. Concrete & Garden Creations
  7. Builders Warehouse PE
  8. Builders Express Robindale
  9. Builders Express Hillcrest
  10. Builders Express Northmead

To find your nearest award-winning GCA, visit our website at www.lifeisgarden.co.za and follow the Garden Centres tab on the top menu.

Fern Fountain DIY

DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

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

DIY, March DIY, greenry, ferns, hanging baskets, Handy, Creative, Do it yourself, life is a garden

You will need

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

Assembling the fountain

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

Plant picks

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

Green-ovate your bathroom Bathroom Plants and Garden Checklist

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Green-ovate your bathroom with these moisture-loving, humidity-seeking plants.

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Indoor bathroom beauties

Landscaping indoors is a great way to both extend and create a theme. In addition, the bathroom doubles as a sweet little greenhouse for all your favourite indoor lovelies. Consider the style of the plant to inspire your container shape and colour choice. 

Tropical vibes:

Croton plants (Codiaeum variegatum) come in a large variety of foliage shapes and sizes as well as different colour variations. In general, the more variegated and colourful the croton plant, the more light it will need. They do not like the cold and will likely go through a shock period once brought home or moved. A tad fussy, but so worth it!

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Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

For good feng shui:

Sculptural and intriguing, the lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is a good choice for beginners. They enjoy filtered sunlight and a drop of liquid fertilizer once a month. You can even grow this plant in a vase of pebbles and water, just be sure to refresh the water every week. In addition, stalks can be trained to grow in special twists and turns. 

Striking and strange:

Guzmania flower bracts will captivate you all year round. As they tend to be top-heavy, place a stone at the bottom of containers. Plants prefer bright light, no direct sun, and an orchid mix soil base that is kept moist. Place them at eye level where you can enjoy their evergreen foliage and most unusual flowers.

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february
Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

Top tip: Remember to rotate your plants every two weeks for even, straight growth. 

Top tip: Avoid fungal disease and ensure fresh air circulation by always airing out the bathroom after showering/bathing. 

Try this:

Mount the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) against a stunning piece of driftwood on a windowsill with indirect sun. As part of the epiphyte family, these Tillandsia (air plants) thrive by absorbing moisture through their leaves. 

Zebra plant We love succulents

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Haworthiopsis attenuata ‘Zebra plant’ is a local hero, indigenous to the Eastern Cape. They are from the same subfamily as aloe and are equally eye-catching in appearance with pointy leaves and zebra-like white stripes. Grown both indoors and out, this succulent is next on your summer adoption list!

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Getting to know your Zebra plant

Grow guide: With a high tolerance for different light conditions, you can grow them pretty much anywhere. Outdoors, they prefer morning sun and need to be acclimatised to full sun areas. Indoors, they can handle low light but need to be moved to bright light locations every few weeks to keep them healthy. 

Claim to fame: Zebra plants are hassle-free, non-toxic, and can tolerate mild frost for short periods. Locals also use this plant to ward off evil and protect homes. Zebras produce aloe, which can be applied to minor cuts and skin irritations. Plants are highly decorative with a lovely ridged texture on the white stripes.

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zebra plant,succulent, zebra, aloe, pot plant, life is a garden, pot, stripes, january gardening, green, greenery

In the garden: This succulent will liven up any container and rock garden, reaching a sweet height of 15 cm. Pair them with other low-growing plants in well-draining soil (they do not like wet feet). Water once the soil has dried out completely and fertilise once a month during spring and summer. 

Pest patrol: Plants are generally pest and disease hardy but be aware of the usual suspects such as mealybugs and spider mites. Keep plants healthy and you will be rewarded with a friend for a decade! 

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zebra plant,succulent, zebra, aloe, pot plant, life is a garden, pot, stripes, january gardening, green, greenery

Did you know? This plant is used in a variety of cosmetics – from shampoo to lotions, and homoeopathy medicine and beauty products. 

 Top tip: Your Zebra plant will produce pups and offsets. Separate new arrivals by removing them from mom and transplanting into moist, prepared soil. Wait until new growth appears before watering again.

Eat your heart out healthily Become a Botanical Boss this January

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figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus

New Year’s resolutions and gardening go hand in hand, especially considering the amount of healthy food we are able to grow in virtually any space. Whether you’re going for low-calorie, low-carb meals, or high fat intake and intermittent fasting, raw and purely organic or vegan – the harvest is on your side! Fuel your body for less with this mostly summer edible selection and grow guide from Life is a Garden. 

Top tip: If you missed last month’s article, click here for expert advice on how to set up a vertical hydroponic system for all-space produce growing: 

 

Calorie-conscious, nutrient-dense crops to grow

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Your farming responsibility 

As gardeners, we have a direct impact on our environment, which comes as a sweet blessing because this means we CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Sustainable water practices are an essential part of gardening and we cannot ignore how precious and finite this resource is. We saw the huge impact of day 0 in the Western Cape, and the rest of the country is not immune to this possibility either. Here are some simple and effective practices from our industry expert, Charles Oosthuizen from Tuberflora Nursery.

  • “MULCH, MULCH, MULCH - why are South Africans so hesitant about this practice? We see this in so many gardens - barren, hard-baked soil raked neatly clean on a weekly basis. This is not the way forward in terms of sustainable watering practices at all.
  • Drip irrigation is the future as it is cost-effective, low maintenance and saves a lot of water.
  • Water only in the late afternoon or early in the morning.
  • Water very well only once or twice a week instead of a little bit every day.
  • Add water-retaining gel to your pots and containers.
  • The more compost and other organic material in and on top of the soil the more water retention the soil will have.

5 Top crops that keep giving Plant them once but harvest many times

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We’re not ready to let go of the festive vibes and generous spirit of the holidays just yet! Life is a Garden would like to extend these good feels with the below list of summer crops that keep on, keep on giving. Plant them once but harvest many times – that’s the way to eat your heart out healthily this new year.

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Your 5 top crops that keep giving and how to harvest them correctly 

  1. Spinach: Harvest only 1/3 of the plant at a time by cutting your chosen leaves at their base, above the crown (where all stems meet). You don’t have to work your way from outside in, so long as you harvest a mix of new and mature leaves. 
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Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

2. Fancy lettuce: Apply the same technique as with spinach and remember to mulch around the plants very well. Adequate water and moisture will discourage bolting, which is when the plants go to seed – so perhaps you’d even like to experiment.

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Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Top tip: When harvesting leaves, pick them early morning (for crispness) or late afternoon. Avoid the hottest parts of the day to not stress plants unnecessarily. 

3. Tomatoes: If it looks ripe and smells good, pick that bad boy! For a repeated lush harvest, prune back low-lying branches that touch the ground and pinch out smaller suckers that appear below the first cluster of flowers. Also remove any yellow leaves.

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Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

4. Green peppers: Here’s a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, the more you pick, the more produce you’ll get. However, the longer you leave the peppers on the plant, the sweeter they will be and the higher the Vitamin C content – choice is yours!

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Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

5. Strawberries: No catch of picking in plenty here! The secret lies in an organic fertiliser that will increase flowering, resulting in more fruit, faster.

Delicious Produce Trees & vines for homegrown abundance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easy aloes for beds and containers Self-parenting plants

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If you’re looking for no-fuss plants that will survive without you for a while, aloes are the perfect choice. Life is a Garden sat down with The Aloe Farm to find out which aloes perform the best and what maintenance practices you need to know. Remember to visit your local GCA Garden Centre for all your succulent needs and great advice to help you, help your plants self-parent this holiday.

December’s topic: Self-parenting plants
Theme: Easy aloes for beds and containers  
Industry expert: Andy De Wet 
Garden centre: Aloe Farm based in Hartbeespoort, Gauteng: www.thealoefarm.co.za

1. We would love to hear about your personal plant journey. How did it all start and what about aloes inspired you to make them your main focus at the Aloe Farm?  

I always loved nature and especially animals as a child, but my horticultural inspiration certainly came from my dad who was an avid gardener his whole life. He bought some aloes when I was a botany student in 1972, and I fell in love with them. I began reading aloe books and collecting species. I soon realised that natural hybrids occur in the wild and was curious about what I could create if I hybridised selected parents from different locations. 

I then began making my first (not too exciting) initial combinations in 1973 and over time I saw the commercial possibilities, which is when the real fun started with clear breeding objectives. These goals developed as I gained experience in retail, wholesale and landscaping. 

I believe that if you want a successful business you have to be unique and The Aloe Farm was an obvious opportunity to me as it could become an interesting indigenous destination nursery, built on a unique strength.

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aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening

2. Your website is truly an aloe grower’s dream! With so many to choose from, what advice could you offer our beginner gardeners?