🍄 It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. - W.C. Sellar
The bliss of gardening on my little piece of African soil. A year-by-year record of the progress in my new garden. My "new" garden, started in 2004, is now just "my garden" where my chooks free-range and supply me with breakfast every day. .
Go out by yourself, face the wind, hold up your head and thank the Universe for this gardening year.
Summer is here and there's lots of work to be done in the garden. If, like me, you're thinking of starting a succulent garden, read what "Random Harvest Nursery" has to say about this...
Where the light changes, is the best place for your succulent and rock garden. It does not matter if it is a dry and problematic area.
The creation of that special place is a labour of love, because creating mood and feeling in a garden is the same as weaving a tapestry of colours. It takes a lot of patience and planning, but don’t let that put you off.
If your space is against a wall, you could paint a desert scene that flows into your bed, especially if your rockery is too small to plant a large Aloe.
Then, taking your time, gradually release your creative genius by adding soil and doing some earth shaping to help fashion different shadows and light, that will add drama to architectural plants. Create miniature landscape features like rocky canyons, outcrops and a dry river bed. Have fun by copying a typical dry river bed in nature.
Include debris such as water smoothed pebbles, seeds that may have been carried along an irregular flash flood, driftwood, grass lodged behind an occasional rock, and dried grasses and reeds etc.
The driftwood will help to encourage soil organisms and enhance your plants. You could even use different coloured sands to complete the picture.
A little water is essential for the insects, birds and lizards that
will be drawn to the living, evolving eco-system. Make sure to allow for
a little seepage, alternatively a small grindstone shaped rock with a
dripper is sufficient. Space permitting, you could even create a small
pool backed up against a shaded rocky area in your dry riverbed.
Rocks and gravel come next, cultivating this habitat for plants, wildlife and organisms. When choosing rocks and gravel they should have similar harmonious colours that will blend naturally together.
Creating a natural cobblestone, or rock pathway through your
succulent bed, will enable you to stroll through and get a closer look at your creation. A stone seat, built to look like a stone wall, or a dry stone wall or gabion with plants growing out of the spaces between the rocks completes the picture.
Succulents need healthy, well-drained soil to which compost and organic fertilizer have been added.
When you have done the planting, mulch the area with gravel, woodchips, bark, leaves, or other organic material; thereafter mulch the bed with a thin layer at least once a year, but twice is better to keep the soil healthy.
When deciding what to plant where, take the colours, shapes and textures of the leaves and stems, as well as the overall character of the plants, into account.
When planting, think of their natural habitat, Lithops spp. (Stone Plants) that grow so cryptically take on the appearance of the gravel in which they grow. Only when they burst forth in colourful, glistening
bloom are they highly visible to both us and their pollinators.
When placing your plants stand back and keep checking if they have been placed correctly. Start with feature plants or “star performers” such as large Aloes. Rocks should look completely natural.
Place bulbs such as Haemanthus humilis (Rabbit’s ears), strategically under rocks and growing from crevasses. If at the end you have made a mistake, remember that succulents transplant very successfully and you can easily move them.
Include other non-succulent species of plant to complete the picture.
Try to stick to those that would be found growing naturally near to the
succulents that you have used, or at least have similar water and sun
Use grasses sparingly as they can overshadow other plants. Include a few Tulbaghia violacea (Wild Garlic) to help with pest control.
The bold lines and often stocky shapes of succulents contrast very well or are shown off with striking effect when planted with softer plants such as some annuals or plants with small leaves and dainty flowers.
Last but not least, sow a scatter pack of Namaqualand Daisies for spring-time splendour in and around your succulents.
It's Spring! and time for cleaning out, re-organising, re-vamping and generally just getting inspired! Many of my succulents are now starting to outgrow their pots and the time has come for me to start a new succulent garden (if I can find a sunny enough spot!), so I scoured the internet for some ideas.
My Echeveria harmsii have been growing beautifully in their respective pots and getting a bit pot-bound, so this seems like a lovely idea to put them in the garden - I can already see them thriving and spreading!
Or perhaps some of them can go into bigger, more exciting pots.
A re-vamp of my garden path or a new path, surrounded by succulents, is also in order!
A nice idea for transplanting my Aloe cooperi (Grass Aloe) amongst some rocks (the pic is Aloe verecunda)
I've got some Echinopsis cacti in the garden that are not looking too well after the winter (they don't like frost) so I'll get a nice pot for them where I can keep them on the patio and tend to them until they're in perfect condition again.
A sunny, north-facing wall will be ideal to display some of my bigger specimens.
Echeverias planted en masse always look good!
A lovely idea for displaying some Echeverias and I DO have a chair similar to this!
My little corner similar to this has succumbed to my girls' constant scratching, so time to transplant the Echeverias and add new pebbles
This seemed like a lovely idea for against a sunny wall, until I started worrying about all the work of maintaining and watering them!
A beautifully laid out succulent garden! Something to strive for! (Image Willem Van Greunen in 'MinWater' group on FaceBook)
I just love palettes! A beautiful idea for a lounge or dining room, except I haven't got any big windows like this...
The Aloe Farm's display on their side-walk (you'll find them on FaceBook)
I apologise that I don't have links for all the images, but I forgot to copy it and can't find any of them now! So if you find your picture here, please feel free to contact me! Smile!
So, armed with lots of inspiration, there's no excuse for my garden not looking beautiful this summer!
Probably most of us have been in a garden on a particular day and time and felt a rush of well-being – of joy, being recharged, uplifted, a sense of healing, being in tune with the infinite. Gardens can clear away the fog of the noisy, fast, techno world, and the mindless focus on the clutter of trivia. Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. .
Gardening is an instrument of grace. In a garden one is not growing rare plants and trees… one is making memories… Gardening is one thing, maybe even the only thing, that brings people from all over this world, together. Gardening teaches us compassion – just walk past the ‘nearly’ dead tree every day, pat it on the bark and whisper, “just hold on for one more year”. It really does still serve a purpose – little raptors like the Fiscal Shrike loves the vantage point the dead branches give her and many birds will bask in the early morning warmth of the sun on a cold winter’s morning in the very top branches.
Consider what you bring to the partnership and what the rest of nature brings. Gardening as a partner with the rest of nature means we have to let go of control to allow the garden to do its magic. When we allow ourselves to see the garden more in its own terms, to reach beyond ourselves to the garden, then we become more one with it, and no longer standing outside and above.
A soul garden is one where the forces of nature are more powerfully evident than our own power. This is honoured and expressed through plants that regenerate, and are thereby not as dependent on humans for their existence. These are often labelled as weeds. There is a dance between the power of the weed and us. Allowing weeds to grow in your garden is not just a new fashion, which calls for a wild patch alongside tame ones; wildness is necessary within a garden, it’s a connection between nature and ourselves.
Winter is winter, I know, and why anything surprises me is a good question! But this year the seasons have been extremely peculiar. Unlike South Africa's weather, sunny, warm, clear blue skies, even in winter. No. More like the rest of the world's weather! .
After the hectic heat waves we had this past summer, winter has brought in absolutely freezing temperatures and stuff like snow!, hail, floods and tornadoes! Tornadoes? In South Africa?! Well, there you have it. We actually had a few tornadoes. .
As the hail started, I thought of running out and moving some of my succulents under cover, but it was already too fierce. 25th July 2016
And rain, In the middle of winter. Not Gauteng weather at all, we are a summer rainfall area. And hail, LOTS of hail, big hail! When it started, my mind was racing. What can I save? My plants are going to be
annihilated! What about my garden birds?!
I watched helplessly as the storm got worse and worse, pounding the trees, the plants and wreaking havoc. Luckily my chooks were already in their coop as I had suspected some foul play earlier in the morning and had left them inside. .
The hailstorm lasted for about 20 minutes, followed by heavy rain the rest of the day and night. And it took my gardener a full day to clear all the leaves, broken branches and rubble. Mr. Brown, a stray rooster, was in the aviary at the back of the pic, hiding in the shelter provided and the sound of the hail on the tin roof must have been deafening, it certainly was in my house, we couldn't even hear one another talking.
My experience is that, if we have late-winter rain, then probably we are in for a good rainfall season, so that's one positive to look forward to! .