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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Summer-time is Echeveria time

I’ve been absent from the world, lost in the beauty of my sunny front yard garden. Too much work, a whole lot of plants, and life goes on. And the Echeverias (E. elegans) are flowering! A sure sign of mid-summer and lots of rain.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cycad up-date (Cycas revoluta)

It has been just 6 weeks since I posted pics of my cycad flushing after I had been terribly worried that he might be dying, and look at him now! He seems to have almost doubled in size and is looking very lush and tropical!

My Cycas revoluta 6 weeks ago

Enjoying some mid-day shade

Don't the leaves just look beautiful and healthy?!

We've had tons of rain, 10-20mm just about every day and the garden is really loving it. The Hydrangea bushes are covered in flower heads, some as large as a dinner plate! Hydrangeas are not something I'll plant in my garden again any time soon - in the summer heat the water just disappears into our deep top soil, leaving me having to water them just about every day in summer, thank heavens for the past bounty of rain!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hooray! My Cycad is flushing!

In April this year (2016), I was worried about my Cycad (Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm), afraid that it was dying because all the leaves started lying down flat. I got a lovely comment from "A" at that post, saying,

"Hi Maree, I'm quite confident that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your cycas. It is quite common for them to skip a season without flushing, sometimes stress related, but I doubt this is the cause. With cycas you can almost always tell if something is wrong by looking at the colour of the leaves - like if there was a mineral shortage they would turn yellowish or show signs of burns at the tips of the leaves the most common problem and cause of death with them is root-rot, this can also be picked up by looking at the leaves - the base of the leaves becomes a darkish rot-like brown, which progresses towards the tip of the leaves as the root rot becomes worse and goes untreated. Just as a side note - you won't be able to see changes in the current set of leave if you try and correct the condition by adding compost or whatever, it will only show in the new set.

But with yours, I suspect the answer might relate to the age of your plant - as the plant gets older the flush gets larger and preparing for the larger flush takes more time and nutrients. So I think it would be safe to say that you can expect a nice large one before December this year. You can also try feeding it with Seagrow or just a healthy dose of compost from your heap and watch it prosper."

And now, here's the wonderful proof of this!

I am absolutely thrilled that he is OK! I've been spending the winter worrying about him and talking to him, and at the end of winter I did give him a good dose of compost.

So, a big thank you "A", for setting my mind at ease and also for the wonderful information you imparted, very grateful for that!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The succulent grows in symmetry

The succulent grows in symmetry,
Budding as a flower,
Reaching for moisture,
And sunlight every hour,

She waits in peace for loving,
Someone to grow beside,
Hopeful in the waiting,
With no shade to hide behind,

But then, a plant is placed by her,
A quiet friend to greet,
So, now they'll grow in harmony,
Until their purpose is complete.


Friday, 30 September 2016

Reasons Succulents Are The Best Plants Ever!

They are low maintenance
they come in all kinds of colours
They're fat and happy

They like hanging out!
They can live in teacups or anywhere else
they regularly have babies
You can use their cuttings to make more succulents


Monday, 26 September 2016

One for Monday

koi swim in the pond
riot of colour swirling
a day in the garden

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Where is the best place to plant a succulent garden?

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.


Thursday, 15 September 2016

A week of gardening ideas

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!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

In a garden one is making memories

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.


Saturday, 3 September 2016

Spring is in the air! ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪♪ in every sight and every sound!

Finally the garden is waking up! The first signs that winter was at an end, were the Clivias, followed by just about all the succulents, each one revelling in the fact that it is spring!

Pleiospilos nelli - flowering for the first time since I got it in February 2015


Friday, 29 July 2016

What a winter!

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!
25th July 2016
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!
An unusual sight - Aloes blooming in the snow! 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Winter - Fire and Ice

Aloe ferox in my garden

Mid-winter (July) in South Africa and the Aloes flower fiery-red against the white of frost. I've been dreading the frost, as some years it has killed all the flowers in the bud. I do have one aloe (the largest of the three, pictured below, which started flowering last) which doesn't seem to be doing so well, the flowers don't seem to have much colour, but hopefully the flowers will still reach maturity, as long as we don't have any more stints of heavy frost.

My chooks have left large, bare patches all over the garden, scrounging for any available greenery as the lawn is all but non-existent.

Lots of mist this morning, a sign that, albeit cold, the day is going to be bright and sunny!

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~ One of Robert Frost’s most popular poems, published in December 1920 in Harper’s Magazine

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Staying inspired

I don't know about you, but it can be hard to stay inspired this time of the year. It's cold outside. It gets dark really early. And gets light really late. I'm an early riser and, as much as I love winter, the cold and long darkness can put a damper on creativity. Especially out in the garden.

 Image from Pinterest

So each day I spend a couple of hours searching for inspiration on the internet or scratching around in my store room, trying to find something that I can use in the garden. Isn't the image above absolutely adorable?! I've even gravitated towards my husband's workshop, looking for an old car body that I can utilise like this.

But one needs quite a bit of space to utilise an old car body like that, not very practical or so easy to execute, I mean, who is going to carry it to the garden for me? So in the meantime, all I've come up with is an old wooden wheelbarrow, which I can visualise filled with pansies,  and an old vintage seed planter, which is badly in need of some wood protection for the handles and a coat of paint on the metal parts.

 A wooden wheelbarrow I found now stands in a corner of my garden

I placed them in the garden and now contemplate the next move. Pansies first and then out with the paint. I can't wait to tackle these two (small) projects and maybe follow up on some other ideas I came across, like this old door and frame somewhere in a corner of the garden.

Or a whole lot of terracotta pots (I'm just MAD about terracotta pots!) placed on top of the wall surrounding my garden (like the example below). But who will be getting up the ladder to be watering them...?

But first, I'm going inside to warm up with a nice cup of hot coffee! Enjoy your day!

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