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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Royal Wedding Bridal Bouquet: It’s Myrtle’s Moment

Royal Wedding Bridal Bouquet: It’s Myrtle’s Moment

Clare Coulson May 18, 2018 Meghan Markle’s bridal bouquet likely will include an unassuming white myrtle flower clipped from a shrub which has been a member of the royal family since Queen Victoria’s reign. At British royal weddings this steely little plant has its moment, as it’s been carried in bridal bouquets ever since Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter included a sprig of myrtle in her own bouquet in 1858. Photograph by Cyril Nelson via Flickr. In the cultivated plant world, Myrtus communis is what one might call a good backdrop plant. The Mediterranean evergreen with its glossy, aromatic leaves, and fluffy white flowers in midsummer, is the sort of shrub that lingers quietly in the background of a big border, always the bridesmaid and never the bride. This royal tradition began when Queen Victoria was given a myrtle plant by Prince Albert’s grandmother on a visit to Germany. The couple planted it on the lower terrace of their much-loved country residence, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, and it has thrived there ever since. Flowers from this bush were included in the bouquets of all Victoria’s daughters: Victoria, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice (as well as Queen Elizabeth II; Diana, Princess of Wales; and the Duchess of Cambridge). Photograph by Cyril Nelson via Flickr. Myrtle’s lofty connections go back much further. In Greek mythology the plant was associated with Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, and adorned her attendants, the Three Graces. It was closely associated with the Roman goddess of love, Myrtle’s evergreen nature meant that it often has symbolized immortality as well as everlasting love. The Greeks crowned successful playwrights and philosophers with myrtle wreaths to symbolize the eternal legacy of their work—stories that probably were not lost on Queen Victoria, who took a keen interest in the language of flowers. Chances are, this unassuming plant will once again be basking in a royal glow on Saturday when Meghan meets myrtle with royal florist Philippa Craddock’s bridal bouquet. One thing is certain: Unless Meghan breaks with royal tradition, her bouquet will not be thrown to her expectant female friends. At royal weddings the bride’s bouquet is always placed on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, a royal tradition that dates to 1923. 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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String of Pearls: Senecio rowleyanus

String of Pearls: Senecio rowleyanus

GARDENISTA: Gardening 101 by Annie Quigley The succulent string of pearls, with its small green bubbles along a slender stem, recalls the plastic pop-apart beads of childhood dress-up bins. It can’t help its quirkiness. Read on for everything you need to know about this slightly offbeat succulent. Above: Delicate string of pearls plants start small, but tendrils can grow up to two or three feet long. Photograph via Etsy. Also known as “string of beads” or “rosary,” this succulent is a perennial vine of the Asteraceae family and is native to southwest Africa. Like most succulents, it requires very little hands-on care. Above: A strand (shown at lower right) complements other succulents in a pot or planter. After you have one string of pearls plant, you can easily propagate new ones (or make your original look fuller) by placing cuttings into soil and allowing them to take root. Above: Photograph by Mike Steinhoff. In addition to its unique foliage, string of pearls can produce tiny white flowers with bright-colored stamens. (Some say the blooms smell like cinnamon.) To encourage spring flowers, cut back on water and move the succulent to a slightly cooler area (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the winter months. Photograph via Bonanza. Above: Photograph via Bonanza. Cheat Sheet String of pearls does well in bright light. Consider placing it on a sunny windowsill or, if bright sunlight is limited, leave it under a fluorescent light during daylight hours. Make sure there’s plenty of room for your plant to sprawl. Consider displaying it in a hanging basket so tendrils can cascade downwards. Be sure the plant (and any fallen beads) are out of reach of children and pets: This succulent can be toxic when consumed. Keep It Alive Keep string of pearls in average indoor temperatures, around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoid drafty areas. Like most succulents, string of pearls is drought tolerant. Make sure to plant it in a pot with a drainage hole and use potting mix suitable for cacti. Soak the soil thoroughly in when watering, then make sure to let the topsoil dry out completely before watering again. To prune, simply trim off any bygone stems or beads. String of pearls adds dimension and detail to bouquets and arrangements. Photograph by Rosekraft via Etsy. 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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