Firescaping in the Fynbos.

Firescaping in the Fynbos.

Thank you David Lawson for forwarding this interesting pamphlet issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Firewise, & SANBI.  For those who are reconstructing their gardens you will find invaluable information. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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A little bit of history, but still relevant today.

A little bit of history, but still relevant today.

Hilary Haarhoff sent me this interesting document issued in 1986.  Note the fine for having Bugweed on your property was R100 … a lot of money in those days!  I can remember Denise reporting a prominent private school to the municipality, needless to say her son was terribly embarressed after all the boys had to clear the aliens!! The Bugweed is now listed under the NEMBA legislation as cat 1b, which means it has to be controlled and eradicated.   Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Hilary’s vision for her new garden post fire.

Hilary’s vision for her new garden post fire.

  Contributor: Hilary Haarhoff. We are one of the fortunate ones who have a home; also an opportunity to rehabilitate our garden, but the only thing is that time is not really on our side! The main objective is to recreate the privacy and informal feeling we had prior to the fire. The very high creepers in amongst the trees on the left of our property have all gone; now we can see houses and vacant spaces that we never knew were there which also means we have to close curtains, blinds in our bedroom, bathroom and dressing room!! There was also a large hedge of Tecomaria capensis, brambles along the back of the property completely blocking out our neighbours back yard so we have put up a vibrocrete wall which will be painted a dark green. We will plant azaleas, and hydranges, a creeper that will thrive in shade as it is South facing – any suggestions what else we should plant will be very welcome. As we did not have any fences on the left of our property only the natural growth we now need a certain amount of security so we are erecting a wire fence. Once that is completed we can go ahead with planting fast growing trees, shrubs and creepers. We also intend planting indigenous trees for the future. The lower part of our property was not landscaped – it consisted of lots of thick undergrowth of ferns and a mixture of trees even an odd oak tree. A lot of this was burnt so has it has been opened up making it easier for us to build pathways and plant clivia, and shade loving plants. Some time ago my husband had told one of the children he envisaged making himself a ‘man cave’ down there – it may yet happen now that it is more accessible. He is someone who needs a project — – earlier this year he built a rather large pond – something which he has thought about for quite a long time – it was completed at the end of March but because of hardly any rain it was quarter full so the lining had several burn holes which he patched, after the really good rains recently it filled to almost ¾ but on measuring the level there is a leak somewhere which has to be found, but that is not on top of list as he has really big project of redesigning our garage, and  flatlet which burnt down.   As we are down a panhandle we had 4 houses surrounding us, all of which have been burnt down. It is such a sadness losing our neighbours, we...

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Pests, pest control and indigenous plants

Pests, pest control and indigenous plants

Insect repelling and insect resistant plants. Plants that don’t get ‘buggy’ have plenty of advantages in landscaping: in the first place, they always look good, and in the second, they save on the time, money and risk involved in regular spray programs. Low maintenance, low risk and low water requirements make for a powerfully attractive combination. There’s plenty of scope for a clever and creative landscape using environmentally appropriate material. Plants that are able to thrive in a given environment are healthy, and healthy plants tend to have natural defenses against insects and diseases. Some plants have very strong defenses against insects and may have insect repellent or insecticidal properties. Many of them can be used to make herbal infusions that can be sprayed onto other, less fortunate plants. Some environmentally friendly, low-risk insecticides and insect repellents are easy to make. They can be very effective. Given that many plant diseases are transmitted by insects, there is a spin-off in the form of reduced disease transmission. Insecticidal herbal infusions are old folk remedies, but they are becoming increasingly accepted in mainstream agriculture and horticulture, so that more and more commercial preparations based on this ‘folk knowledge’ are becoming available. As pest resistance to chemicals and possible health risks eliminate more and more chemical preparations from the market, the use of plants that don’t require spraying and the use of organic preparations for those that do become more and more important in both agriculture and ornamental horticulture. Insect resistant indigenous plants Most indigenous plants are reasonably tolerant and will deal with occasional insect outbreaks, but some have excellent defenses against insect attack. A few examples based on our experience with growing a wide range of indigenous plants are listed below. Acamdenias such as Acmadenia heterophylla are genuinely attractive plants with pretty pink flowers. Despite their delicate appearance, they are very resistant to insect attack. Coleonemas (the ever-popular confetti bushes) fall into a similar category – delicate-looking, but unpalatable for most insects. Buchus (Agathosma spp) are not nearly as difficult to grow as many people think. Their leaves are covered with aromatic oil glands, and insects are repelled by the strong aroma. This group of plants can provide a good component of insect repelling infusions that can be used to protect more delicate plants such as roses.  Fortunately, people are very attracted to the smell of Buchus and they have unusual flowers into the bargain. The Natal laburnum, Calpurnia aurea,  can easily be pruned into a standard or lollipop for formal gardens. It contains a natural insecticide in its sap. Beetles, caterpillars and other pests leave it religiously alone. Diospyros spp such as D.dichrophylla are extremely robust. These small trees not...

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What’s Looking good

What’s Looking good

  Euryops chrysanthemoides ‘Sunshine Classic’: Sunny bright yellow daisy flowers on vigorous, medium height plants can be used in so many ways ; low hedges, borders or in groups for solid colour. Stachys aethiopica *Light Pink: A fast growing pot plant or ground cover with heart shaped leaves and pretty light pink flowers almost year round. Good in sandy soils on South facing slopes, but also does well in sun if it gets sufficient water. For best results trim and feed regularly. Arctotis ‘On Fire’ [PBR ZA 20124938]: This gorgeous hybrid from New Plant’s breeding program is taking the world by storm. It is clump forming rather than creeping, with silvery foliage and large, double flowers carried in profusion. Crassula ovata ‘Pink Joy’: Succulent forming a large rounded shrub with a mass of star shaped flowers in winter. Very attractive plant for the rockery or as an accent plant for dry areas. Thrives on the occasional top dressing of organic compost.  Also excellent container subject. Erica mammosa *Pink:  A pink form of this outstandingly beautiful tall Erica. Compact growth, frost hardy with puffed, dense heads of tubular pink flowers produced intemittantly all year. Prune to keep neat and promote flowering Tecoma capensis *Yellow: Lemon yellow flowers on tall, glossy leafed shrub.  Feed with slow release 3:1:5 or organic fertiliser in autumn and spring and water regularly for best results. Tecoma capensis *Pink Blush: Beautiful soft pink flowers on tall, glossy leafed shrub.  Excellent as a hedge or interplanted with plumbago.  Can be pruned into any shape, best after flowering, Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Bees, Birds and Blooms

Bees, Birds and Blooms

August 2016 by Karen   (“Earth Probiotic Recycling Solutions”.) Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots; not to mention hundreds of other vegetables, oil seeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. These industrious insects have been around for over 125 million years and, although bee numbers are sadly declining, the remaining survivors continue to be invaluable to our planet in numerous ways. Bees and plants need one another. Insect pollinators such as bees and flower-bearing plants are the perfect example of a symbiotic relationship in nature. Bees need pollen and nectar for food and honey making; flowers need their pollen transported to other flowers, and then another flower’s pollen brought back in order to reproduce and make seeds. Without bees we’d starve to death. One out of every three bites of food we eat has been pollinated by a bee; they are responsible for about 35% of all food production globally. Honeybees pollinate about 50 crops in South Africa such as apples, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, celery, cherries, citrus crops, cranberries, cucumber and melons, just to name a few. Their value to the economy is approximately R10,3 billion per annum. Bee pollination boosts yields. The more bees there are, the more fruit you get. In China, wild bee populations have declined to levels where farmers are now hand pollinating their orchards. Imagine the cost of labour to complete this task as well as the inefficiency. The decline of bee populations shows that somethings wrong in our environment One of the prime suspects of bee die-offs is a dangerous new group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. These pervasive killers are found in crops from corn to almonds, and in products around the average home like pet flea treatments and lawn care products. They are believed to damage the immune systems of bees, rendering them unusually susceptible to disease. Bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by man. Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water. It’s the only food that contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. How to encouraging bees and other pollinators to our gardens An insectary garden designed to attract bees and other pollinators will increase your harvest of fruit and vegetables. Insectary gardens play an important role in preserving the diversity of ecosystems in modern times. Native plants, which provide food and nectar for many more insects than non-native plants do, are the foundation of a pollinator-friendly garden. Pollinators depend on combinations of plants that bloom from spring through summer and autumn. It is a good idea to include...

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