Pretty Petunias.

Pretty Petunias.

Those of us that were affected by the Knysna Fires of 2017 were astounded by the array of plan life that emerged in early Spring.  A bounty of alien invasive weeds appeared,  amongst these aliens were Petunias in a wonderful palette of blues, mauves and pinks, with the odd white one. These plants originate from  hybrids grown in domestic gardens. They  reverted back to the original stock and no longer resemble the F1 hybrids of the cascading or  carpet series, but they are all showstoppers. Somehow they are flourishing without any compost,  water,  deadheading or any TLC.  There are no Mites,  Caterpillars, Thrips,  Root, Stem and Crown Rots,  Botrytis Blight, Powdery Mildew,  Verticillium Wilt,  or Viruses. Personally I have never been a fan of Petunias, but they have eared my respect for being survivors, and I must admit they can look stunning in the right location.   (Extract from Gardenista) Gardening 101: Petunias Jeanne Rostaing July 11, 2018   European plant hunters in the mid-1700s discovered petunias in South America and, after an introduction into Europe in the early 1800s, quickly became a popular choice for the sumptuous flower gardens of the Victorian era. However, those early petunias were not the lush, brilliantly colored blooms we know today. The flowers were small, limited to either white or purple, and the plants themselves tended to be rather lanky and unimpressive. Fortunately, by the late 1800s breeders in several countries including Germany, England, Japan, and the United States were hard at work to produce plants with larger blooms and an ever-widening array of colors and flower forms. Today the staggering number and variety of petunia hybrids continues to explode. Most petunias sold today in nurseries are varieties of Petunia x atkinsiana. The mainly funnelform (tube-shaped) blossoms can now range from one to five inches wide. Colors include the basic and ever-popular white as well as pink, red, lavender, magenta, yellow, purple, violet, and even black. Flowers are frequently striped, speckled, edged in a contrasting color (such as white or even chartreuse) or have centers that are round or star-shaped in hues either lighter or darker than the rest of the flower. To further boggle the mind, there are double blooms that look like miniature peonies and fancy varieties with dainty ruffled edges. Above: Mix-and-match petunias mingle with other flowering annuals in a hanging basket. Today’s gardeners and designers seem to be taking full advantage of the bounteous assortment of petunias available. It seems that everywhere I walk here in New York City this summer, window boxes and containers of all shapes and sizes are overflowing with this fragrant flower. It is ubiquitous but, with so many pleasing forms and its ability to...

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Everything You Need to Know About Lilies.

Everything You Need to Know About Lilies.

This article is published by https://www.gardenista.com/.  It is a lovely site to visit with lots of interesting and informative articles. Gardeners in South Africa should note that Lilium formosanum var. formosanum (Formosa lily) is an invasive alien species Cat. 1b and should not be planted.  It grows in abundance on Long Tom Pass, Mount Anderson (Between Sabie and Lydenburg) ** Planting Liliums in Knysna should be done in early Spring. ~Esther ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Michelle Slatalla June 17, 2018 “Lilies as a group are very difficult,” wrote the late, great gardening writer Henry Mitchell. “What is especially difficult and infuriating about lilies is that they will grow like virtual weeds and bring on a great flush of triumph and, alas, hubris. Then they totally disappear or steadily decline, despite much activity and bustle with the leaf mold, aphid sprays, and urgent prayers.” Consider yourself warned. But note that lily’s fickle nature did not prevent Mitchell from loving lilies—or from cosseting them in his own garden in Washington, D.C. “Have them flower a year or two, and when they dwindle away (as they certainly will with anything less than first-rate drainage) you can pretend you got inferior bulbs.” And oh, what a summer show lilies will put on in the garden during their short, sweet lifespans. From delicate, dangling earring flowers of martagon lilies (as shown above) to the heady perfume of Oriental lilies (not to mention the showy colorful flowers of Asiatic lilies), why not plant a few varieties and hope for success? With nearly 100 species of Lilium, how to choose? Read on for growing and plant care tips: With stalks that can reach heights of five feet and be heavy with dozens of dangling flowers, martagon lilies faded in popularity during the Victorian era when adventurous explorers discovered dramatic Asian lilies with enormous flowers and brought them home to Europe. The delicacy of the flowers on martagon lilies make them excellent companions in a flower bed, where they won’t try to overwhelm their neighbors with showiness. How to Plant Lilies: Well-drained soil is a must. Add compost or amendments to clay to make it fluffier. Plant lilies in groups or three or five, or seven bulbs for greater impact. Neutralize acidic soil by digging in some lime before you plant lily bulbs. Ignore the advice to plant lilies in autumn. Order them to plant in March (USA)  (or whenever the soil thaws in your growing zone) to avoid having the bulbs sit in wet ground over the winter. ** Oriental lilies can reach stately heights (up to 6 feet) and can be excellent anchors in the back of a flower border. Colors can range from pure white to splotched (with...

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The rehabilitation of Steenbok Nature Reserve west of the tennis courts.

The rehabilitation of Steenbok Nature Reserve west of the tennis courts.

  You may have noticed some serious activity in the area west of the tennis courts, it is all due to the action taken by Roger Voysey, Curator of the Park. This area has been on his mind for many years, but owing to various constraints the project has been on hold for a while.  Now it is all action! Steenbok Nature Reserve secured the expertise of Credo Environmental Services  for guidance, also to prepare a Management Plan for the eradication of Invasive Alien Species . This plan conforms to pre-requisites set out by NEMBA legislation: it includes a list of alien invaders occurring in the area, control methods, and follow-up time-lines. This five year plan is the blue-print for managing this part of the park, and to rehabilitate it back to Dune Fynbos. The area was neglected for many years making it a dumping ground for garden waste and builders rubble. The overgrown Taaibos ,(Searsia lucida)  Bakbesembos (Nidorella ivyfolia), Morning glory vine, (Ipomoea purpurea), Sordfern (Nephrolepis cordifolia)  and various other invaders systematically smothered some of the Reserves most precious plants, making it very difficult for them to survive. Roger has divided the area into blocks as advised by  Rudi Minnie from Credo Environmental Services. The ‘cleared’ areas will be spot treated with a selective herbicide because some of the invaders can’t be hand-pulled or dug out. The area next to the treated block will be left untouched so that it can become a ‘corridor’ for wildlife. Once the treated areas are rehabilitated, the ‘untreated’ areas will be tackled.   This will be a time- consuming  process, but it will be done. Roger has set himself a goal to have all the alien invaders removed by the end of this year, thereafter it will be  follow-ups until the Reserve is clear. The biggest challenge at the moment is the removal of the sword fern that has invaded areas near Kingfisher Creek. This fern forms a 15cm thick coir-like mat of roots with the occasional tuber. Through its aggressive spread, sword fern is able to form dense stands and quickly displace native vegetation. Because it is a true fern, it reproduces via spores. Thousands of spores can be produced by one plant and these can be dispersed by wind and water. Spore production occurs year-round in southern Cape. Hand pulling can be used to remove some of the fern plants, but the plants will break off,  leaving plant parts in the ground from which regrowth will occur. Plants can be killed with herbicides containing glyphosate, not the ideal solution, but strict guidelines for the application of herbicides will be followed.   Follow-up applications are necessary to control plants regrowing from rhizomes and...

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Veltheimia bracteata

Veltheimia bracteata

Veltheimia bracteata Photo: Esther Veltheimia bracteata is just about to burst into full bloom in the forested area of my garden.  A few months ago the beautiful wide glossy leaves appeared  – signalling winter is here. This week the first spikes of  the dense raceme of pink tubular flowers,  carried on a long stalk, pushed through. What a delight this beautiful deciduous bulb is in winter! Green seeds of Veltheimia The forest lily is easy to cultivate and grows well in semi-shade or full shade. The bulbs should be planted at or just below ground level, and not be disturbed.  Propagation is done by offsets, leaf cuttings or seed.  Offsets should be removed in summer, when the foliage has died down, and replanted immediately  30 – 40mm deep.  Plants can also be propagated by using a leaf of a well-established plant;  plant it in a sandy soil mix, and bulblets will form at the base of the leaf. It also grows well from seeds;  sow seeds in autumn:  germination takes two to three weeks.  Keep the soil moist but not wet, and  the new plants will flower in the third season. Watch out for snails and slugs that seem to relish the leaves, and sometimes caterpillars will eat the flower buds. Veltheimia also makes an excellent pot plant for a shady patio, or as an indoor plant in bright light but not in full sun. Feed regularly with an organic liquid food;  once the leaves turn yellow withhold any more feeding until the next flowering season. Veltheimia bracteata grows wild in the forests and coastal scrub of the Eastern Cape.  There are only two species in this genus, the other being Veltheimia capensis, the sandlelie, which grows naturally in the dry, arid regions of the Cape, from the rocky slopes of Namaqualand through to parts of the little Karoo. Veltheimia is named in honor of a German patron of botany, August  Ferdinand Graf von Veltheim (1741 – 1801), bracteata means having bracts (modified leaves directly beneath flower) Pronunciation: velt-HIME-ee-uh  brak-tee-AY-tuh 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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Chelsea Flower Show 2018: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Designer Sarah Price’s Mediterranean Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2018: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Designer Sarah Price’s Mediterranean Garden

Kendra Wilson May 23, 2018.  GARDENISTA Designer Sarah Price makes gardens that garden editors adore. She is an artist who sculpts with aggregate and tough plants and she never looks ruffled. Her gardens hum with energy and authenticity yet, like her, they are—serene. Show garden judges like her gardens too; having won a gold medal at her last Chelsea Flower Show appearance in 2012, Sarah Price decided to “use color in a different way” with this year’s entry at Chelsea, winning another gold medal. Plants aside, there is no getting away from earth red: It’s on the walls, the ground, the seats, and under the water. Let’s take a closer look. Photography by Jim Powell, for Gardenista. Above: Sarah Price in her gold-medal-winning Mediterranean garden for M&G, Chelsea 2018. For this designer, saturated color has a useful effect on other strong colors: “They sing and clash, creating harmonies or discord,” she says. Being an artist, Sarah’s palette has an overall unity. Look at the colors in Monet’s paintings of his Giverny garden and there is this lively color effect. In fact, a rare showing of Monet’s Agapanthus Triptych at the Royal Academy a couple of years ago gave Sarah the germ of an idea for a show garden. Above: British Impressionism, featuring succulents and poppies. The garden art made by Sarah resonates with sensitive souls as well as cynical journalists. Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum, describes the effect that particularly memorable Chelsea gardens can have over the years: “These unique intensities blur and seep into your consciousness of what gardens can be.” Sarah is able to do this. Even the tree trunk (Lagerstroemia indica) is red-brown. Like an Impressionist painting, the soft blur is woken up with shots of glowing color. Above: A Corten steel rill leads to the edge of one of several pools that reflect trees along with the sky. Sarah is (probably) pestered to do more show gardens than she is keen to do; her offering, to use corporate language, is attractive to risk-averse sponsors. Winning gold again this year, she is a safe bet without being safe in her choices. In a textural mix of herbs and at least seven different euphorbias, there is green in all its variations and acid yellow with amethyst and pink. Trend alert—glaucous Euphorbia rigida with its coral flowers, is a standout shrub in this garden. Above: Dark poppy (Papaver rhoeas) with pink and green Euphorbia rigida and young giant fennel. A red clay base note could seem rather heavy in the British climate, especially if the weather happened to be the usual festival wind and rain. A couple of minutes spent watching the sponsor’s video from earlier...

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12 Interesting Ways To Use Coffee In The Garden.

12 Interesting Ways To Use Coffee In The Garden.

www.themindandi.com/May 13, 2018 Some coffee-loving gardeners may not realize that the spent coffee grounds left behind in the pot could be used in the garden with incredible benefits. These grounds hold some remarkable properties for use in the garden to help grow, and protect from many potential dangers and even spruce up the décor a little. Read on to learn more about coffee uses in the garden. Adding To Compost Pile Coffee makes for a wonderful addition to the compost bin or as a soil amendment. Sunset sent a sample of coffee grounds from Starbucks to a soil lab for analysis. The results showed coffee grinds provide generous amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Roses Love Coffee Coffee grounds have been a “secret weapon” contributing to many beautiful roses bushes and blooms for the avid rosarian. It serves as a good source of nitrogen, pH is neutral to acidic, lighten the soil around, attract worms that aerate and loosen the soil, and help deter some common garden pests and bacteria. Coffee As Fertilizer First and foremost, the most important property of coffee when it comes to helping the garden is the plentiful supply of nitrogen retained from coffee beans. However, it probably is not the best lawn food. This is a must-have plant nutrient for leafy greens and vegetables. Coffee grounds can contain as much as 2% nitrogen by volume and sometimes have a carbon:nitrogen ratio of 11:1, which is ideal for any home-made fertilizer. Acid Loving Plants The high acid content of leftover coffee grounds makes them the ideal supplement for tomato plants as well as other acid-loving flowers like rhododendrons and azaleas. No complex, secret formula here; leave the grounds to soak in a decent amount of water overnight, pour the solution into the soil or pot and that’s it! From there the nutrients and goodness of the coffee is free to do its work. Some gardeners also do this with tea but the acid content of coffee is much higher. Change Color Of Hydrangea This next tip may sound a bit odd compared to some of the other ideas listed (although we haven’t got on to the worms yet) but it seems that this high acidity could also be a helpful aid in changing the color of hydrangeas. An alkaline soil tends to lead to pink blooms, which are not always as desirable as blues, so changing the soil content with some of this acidic fertilizer could potentially transform the color. Mulch Coffee grounds can be used a fine organic mulch, as long as you don’t pile it on too thick, because this can encourage the wrong kind of mold. As a mulch, it can help control...

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