Flamboyant Vygies We love succulents

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Vygies (Mesembryanthemums) are a South African favourite and one of our boldest, brightest, and most versatile species of flowers. With more than 1800 varieties to suit your colour and style preference, there is a vygie for every garden and container in need of some sparkling colour.

Grow guide: Plant them in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Vygies are super forgiving and not high maintenance at all. They will flourish in almost all soil conditions, but if you want to boost their growth, add a handful of compost and fertiliser when transplanting them from seedling trays. 

Claim to fame: Vygies are water-wise and well-adapted so our SA climate. Beginner gardeners should have no problem growing a successful carpet of colour or vibrant hanging basket. In addition, vygies can also be planted during any time of the year.

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In the garden: Wish so many stunning forms of this plant, go for Drosanthemum, Delosperma and Lampranthus species that are small, shrub-like and ground covering plants. You could also try mat-forming varieties that grow well in Cape gardens such as the white and pink coastal vygie (Delosperma litorale), the yellow carpet vygie (Jordaaniella dubia), and the magenta coastal ruschia (Ruschia macowanii).

Pest patrol: Vygies are not prone to disease but be on the lookout for your usual succulent-munching insects and scale in particular. Both biological and chemical pest control solutions are available at your garden centre.

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Fun fact: The word vygie is Afrikaans for small fig.  

Winter winners: The Bokbaai vygie (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis) and yellow-bloomed vetkousie (Carpanthea pomeridiana ‘Golda’) will be in full bloom from August. 

Try these: Lampranthus spp. and ice plants (Drosanthemum spp.) are densely flowered, highly colourful vygies. Delosperma spp. live much longer but don’t flower as profusely.

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Modern Xeriscaping in South Africa Industry Expert Q&A

October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping

Are you ready to take your environmentalism, landscaping, and garden art skills to the next level? Industry expert, Marionette from Plant Paradise describes xeriscaping as “the practice of designing landscapes to reduce the need for water, to have minimal maintenance, and to create a clean, stunning look that is sustainable all year round”. If this perks your green fingers, we’ve got loads more insight and inspiration for you below.  

Plant Paradise has won the award for best garden centre in SA 7 times, giving you even more of an incentive to visit them and experience quality-approved customer service, excellent plants, and top-notch products. 

October’s Topic: Rock-on Decorating
Theme: Modern Xeriscaping in South Africa 
Industry Expert: Marionette Hoffman
Garden Centre Supplier: Plant Paradise based in Moreleta Park, Pretoria: www.plantparadise.co.za  

1. How did you first begin your landscaping journey and what have been some of your favourite projects to work on (and where could our readers receive some inspiration from your stunning work)? 

After finishing my studies, I moved to England and worked there as a landscaper and horticulturist for two years. After that, I moved back to SA and started my career at Plant Paradise Garden Centre as a horticulturist and eventually became the landscaper - never looked back since! Landscaping and creating different displays on the garden centre floor is my passion. My favourite projects will always be xeriscaping.  My most favourite project of them all was House Thompson in Silverlakes, Pretoria, and House Leahy in Boardwalk Meander, also in Pretoria. The best place to view my work is at Plant Paradise. Our website is also a fantastic platform to view some of my gardens I’ve done for clients. 

October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping

2. Based on your years of experience, could you please tell our gardeners what exactly xeriscaping in South Africa is and why they should consider implementing these practices in their own garden?

Rock-on Gardening  October Botanical Boss

October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss

Gone are the days when rock gardens mean a cactus and stone desert. Have you heard about xeriscaping? Ever thought about pebbles and semi-precious stones as yard art? Life is a Garden sat down with industry experts to get the best advice, inspiration, and plant picks to help you save time and water while maximising your garden’s aesthetic beauty.  

Rocking around 

Stones and pebbles can become works of art in their own right. With so many different colours and textures, arrangements and complimenting accessories, rock gardens are for anyone looking to make a statement. The key to long-term success and almost no maintenance is good quality weed guard sheeting beneath your stone feature. Here are some rocking yard art ideas:

  • The striking minimalist: Pair pure white pebbles with contrasting black tiles or black painted pavement slabs to give walkways and entrances a sleek look. Alternatively, go for equally bold black pebbles with a few summer-flowering, white button sedge (Kylinga alba) ornamental grasses to set off the contrast. This indigenous sun-loving evergreen produces a clustered white flower head that is carried on an elegant, long slender stem.
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss

 

  • Earth child: You can purchase bags of pink rose quartz (pebbles and rough stones) to use as centrepiece stone mandalas or walkable labyrinths. Pair your crystal arrangements with other softer stone shades (river rocks are lovely) and bring in some local steekblaarblinkgras (Melinis nerviglumis) to compliment the pink notes from the rose quartz. This very hardy ornamental grass will thrive in full sun and produces the sweetest plumes of fluffy pink to red seeds that appear all year round and attract seed-eating birds.
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss
  • Dare to be different: Ever heard of rock balancing? This is a recreational activity where different-sized stones/pebbles are precisely stacked on top of each other to create a beautiful work of art.

Garden pebble painting DIY

October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
Pebbles with a painted flower on the background of a cooperative and community ecological garden

The sun’s out – let’s decorate the yard! This outdoor paint project will add a homely touch to your rock garden and bring out the child-friendliness of your space. Edge your beds in bright works of art, add some critters to the fairy garden, or make some sweet signs for your veggies with this painting pebbles DIY from Life is a Garden.   

riscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
riscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities

What you need 

  • A variety of different sized, lighter shaded pebbles  
  • Weather-resistant paints and brushes 
  • Super glue and googly eyes (optional) 
  • Seasonal veggie and herb seedling trays and 
  • A bag of compost/potting soil from your GCA Garden Centre 

 

October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
October, Life is a garden, xeriscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities

Painting ideas and inspiration  

Ladybugs and bees (2 colour designs for smaller kids) 

For these critters, the trick lies in the bright contrast of your paint and sufficient drying time between layers (to not mix colours).  

  • To create a ladybug pebble, simply paint two red wings on either side of the stone, leaving a margin in between. Then, paint the rest of the stone black and add smaller black dots to the wings.  
  • For a bee design, paint yellow and black stripes across the stone – voila.  

 Try this: Using superglue, sick googly eyes onto your pebble critters for extra character!  

riscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities
riscaping, cacti, water wise, rocks, stones, pebbles, plants, greenery, garden, gardening, succulents, backyard, spring, summer, decorative gardening, landscaping, botanical boss,pebbles, paint, DIY, kids activities

Rock frogs and rainbows (noughts and crosses game for bigger kids 

For this game, you’ll need to draw the traditional game grid somewhere. Try painting a stepping slab, wood block, or use chalk to draw the lines. 

  • Paint 4 of your stones in a nice bright green. Add black lines to define the frog’s features and friendly face. 
  • Paint 4 more pebbles in a rainbow design (remember to let the layers dry) and enjoy playing the game on the prepared noughts and crosses grid.  

Try this: With all the colourful spring flowers in bloom, make it even brighter by edging your beds with a row of rainbow-painted pebbles. 

October Outdoor Eco-Celebration October Checklist

Garden Day
Flowers

Rev up and rejoice – it’s time to motor in October! Garden Day is on Sunday the 15th, giving you the perfect reason to host a little outdoor eco-celebration - #gardenyay. Welcome spring in full swing and give your garden, potted windowsills, and patio planters some much-deserved admiration from loved ones. Also, it’s rose month! GCA’s are stocked with some serious stunners, waiting just for you. There’s much to plant, grow, and sow too, as well some easy-peasy maintenance to take care of. With compost and spades in hand, let’s get to work!

 

Raging for roses

Your top 5 babes available at GCA’s now are:

  • Double Delight: Pointed, cream colour buds unfolding delicately into shades of scarlet.
  • Just Joey: A hybrid apricot/orange blend tea rose with a seductively sweet scent.
  • My Granny: A spreading shrub with full rosette blooms in shades of soft pink and white.
  • South Africa: SA’s top performer with huge clusters of large, golden-yellow double blooms.
  • Zulu Royal: Large, symmetrical blooms in deep mauve with a silver-lilac dust.

Rosey tips: Avoid wetting rose leaves in the late afternoon as this may encourage black spot and powdery mildew. Plant living mulch between your roses such as erigeron, verbena or lobularia. Remember to feed with special rose fertiliser every 4 weeks for max bloom power.

Double Delight
Just Joey
My Granny
South Africa
Royal Zulu
Erigeron
Rushing flower power

Plant and sow now

  • For instant colour, go for calibrachoas with masses of miniature petunia-like flowers.
  • Sun-loving annuals in seedling trays include: petunias, lobularias (allysum), gazanias, penstemons, Chrysanthemum paludosum and C. multicaule, Sunpatiens and celosias.
  • Shade-seeking seedling trays include: New Guinea impatiens, begonias, impatiens (Busy Lizzie) hypoestes and coleus.
  • Go-getter perennials for all regions are: agapanthus, gauras, nemesias, osteospermums and geraniums of all kinds. Also go for gypsophila and masses of pretty but tough angelonias.

The world in her hands – DIY Women’s Month Planter

She’s got the whole world in her hands (while doing dishes, tending the garden, feeding the kids, juggling work, and trying to maintain a social life). Thank you to all the ferociously fabulous females and happy Women’s Month to you! Life is a Garden is celebrating the ladies with this classy DIY hands planter that’ll make the perfect gift for the green-fingered goddess in your life. Let’s get started!

 

“I raise up my voice, not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard” - Malala Yousafzai, activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

You will need
  • A dust mask
  • 1 bag of casting/sculpting concrete mix (the smooth one that doesn’t have any stones)
  • A mixing bucket and a mixing rod
  • A small gardening spade
  • A pair of plastic gloves
  • Stones or bricks to help hold your hands in place as they dry
  • Outdoor paint suitable for concrete (optional)
  • A pair of scissors
  • Potting soil, compost, and stunning succulents from your GCA Garden Centre

Resources at your fingertips: Your local hardware store will have a variety of concrete to choose from. Make sure you get one that is for casting or sculpting. Your GCA Garden Centre has all the rest of the gardening goodies you need, go check it out.

 

“If you're always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou, Pulitzer-prize nominated poet.

 

 

Get a grip on your hands
  1. With your dust mask on, it’s time to mix the concrete. Follow the instructions on the bag for a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Using a gardening spade, carefully fill each glove with the casting concrete. You’ll have to work quickly here and make sure that the mixture reaches the tip of each finger. Squeeze the concrete all the way down to ensure your hands and fingers will be evenly set once dried.

July Checklist Gardening Checklist

July is all about colourful comforts in the garden and enjoying the hearty harvest winter has to offer. Keep your beds looking lush with a sensational selection of flowers available from your GCA Garden Centre. Don’t forget your July maintenance to help your garden stay in top shape and ready for the last cold stretch. Enjoy the journey with your landscape and take some time to appreciate the remarkable changes of Mother Nature.

 

Beat the winter blues
  • Surround yourself with colourful comforts available at nurseries now: primose, alyssum/lobularia, violas, pansies, verbena, Primula malacoides, Primula obconica, Primula acaulis, and ornamental kale.
  • Robust succulents: Aloe Hedgehog, aloe Ferrox, and aloe Speciosa.
  • Gems: Krantz aloe, Basuto kraal aloe, nandina, viburnum, camellia, holly and Elaeagnus.
  • Indoor babies: Move indoor plants to warmer parts of the house if needed. Also check that your plants are getting enough light.

A flying reminder: Help the birds out and ensure your birdbath and bird feeder is well-stocked. Food is scarce for the flyers during the winter months.

Everything edible
  • Garden centre treasures: Fig, olive, grape, cherry, peach, plum, and apple trees are available at GCA Garden Centres from July.
  • Harvest now: Horseradish, asparagus, celeriac, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and waterblommetjies.
  • Split & divide: Divide your asparagus and rhubarb now for a larger yield and remember to mulch well after transplanting.
  • Support: Stake broad beans and Brussels sprouts to give them more support and increase growth.
  • Feed: Remember to feed your winter veg seedlings with nutritious fertilisers and compost. Also, feed your spring bulbs and clivias now.
  • Mulch up: Much beds well to retain warmth and moisture.
  • Water down: Be careful of overwatering during winter every 3rd day should be sufficient.

Top tip: Use bird netting or frost cover sheets to deter birds while also allowing light and air into the veggie garden.

DIY Succulent & Rose Flower Crowns for Kids A little something special for the girls this October

Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-Cover

Life is a Garden is calling on all the fairies, princesses, queens and creatures of the garden to come out and DIY with us. We’ve got a little something special for the girls this October - drum roll, please… enter the flower crown! In celebration of October rose month as well as Garden Day on the 9th October, we are blushing shades of pink and green to bring you these lovely flower crown ideas using succulents and roses.

Here’s a step by step to creating your up-cycle can masterpiece.

You will need:

  • An Alice-band and/or pliable craft wire
  • A few glorious succulents, roses, and some viney plant strands (Ivy may work nicely)
  • Green insulation tape, twine or ribbon
  • Superglue
  • Scissors and maybe some pliers
  • Bits and bobs of pretty arts and crafts goodies like shells and beads if you like
Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-Hero

Getting started

The first thing our DIY fairies need to decide on is whether they would like to decorate an existing Alice-band or if they would like to create a crown from scratch. Secondly, have a look in the garden at what kind of succulents, roses, and other vine-type plants are available. Head off to your local GCA Garden Centre for those special flowers and vinery you may want to add. Gather your arts and crafts goodies and prep your creation station.

 

Preparing your headband

If you are using an existing Alice-band, we recommend you choose one that is a little wider to give you more of a surface on which to stick and wrap your goodies. Alternately, if you’re creating a headband from craft wire, we recommend using at least two strands of wire together for more stability and also for more surface area to work with.

Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-1
Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-2
Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-3
Life_is_a_Garden_OCTDIYFlowerCrown-4

Breathing life into your creation

  • Step 1: Single out your centrepiece succulents and roses.

Get the look – A Mexican Fiesta Must Love Gardening

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Olá me amigos! This month, our inspiration stems from Mexico and their vibrant, easy-go-lucky flavour. Come salsa with us and spice up your garden by planting a colourful burst of summer fun. This water-wise garden is low maintenance and bold in its simplicity. Get your friends together for sundowners and welcome the sizzling summer vibes and braais to your backyard.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Weave a tapestry of delight with a vivid variety of plant combinations. It’s easy to highlight a medley of succulents accompanied by a diverse range of one-drop plants. These are low water requirement plants that will save your wallet and add rich textures to your space. We love the silvery shards of Blue Chalksticks (Senecio ficoides) - a spreading succulent shrub. It’s proudly South African and will thrive quickly in well-drained soil in a sunny area. Contrast these bluish grey-green patches with the robust burgundy of the Bushveld Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sexangularis) and you have a striking mix of red and blue. These guys are not thirsty so let the soil dry completely before watering. They are hardy and will forgive even the most absent-minded gardener. Their name derives from the Chinese Kalan Chauhuy meaning ‘that which falls and grows’, so yes, they will survive! These water-wise companions take low maintenance to the next level.

 

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

The show-grabber is undoubtedly the Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata) all the way from Mexico. Invite these amigos into your space to create spectacular visual focal points. They grow up to 1,2 m tall and will add height to the layout. Unlike other agaves, they won’t bite. With no thorns or spikes, they are referred to as unarmed. This makes them a friendly addition to any family. You can accentuate their sleek and stylish appearance even more by planting them in decorative pots.