Mafikeng return

The Ham and trimmings are ready to be done or maybe it will be Duck this year? We’ll see!!

On Monday my husband and I took a trip to Mafikeng, the place I was born in many years ago. I had not been there for about 15 years and it was truly a shock to see this town of my birth. It has grown out of all proportions and there are still many landmarks that brought back memories but the most disturbing thing was that it is honestly the filthiest town I have ever been into.

We went to the cemetery where both my Mother and Father’s parents are buried together with my brother Graham. This was as depressing as no one looks after it and many of the tombstones have been vandalised. The surrounding walls have all been broken down and there are mounds of plastic bags, weeds and general debris all over the place. The plan was to put my Mother and my Brother’s ashes on my Dad’s grave. I am now thinking of putting their ashes in the ‘Garden of Remembrance’ in St. John’s Anglican church where we were married and our sons christened. My parents, especially my father played a very big part in this church and my grandmother was in the choir for many years. The architect Sir Herbert Baker designed this church in the mid 19th century.

We saw the Mafikeng town hall which is now a museum. Our wedding was the last reception or celebration in this hall before it became a museum and it still looks as gracious as it always was. There is now a beautiful steam train in front of the Hall but much of the brass work has been stolen by vandals so the trimmings have been removed to be protected. My Father started life on the railways before he started his own business. He was an electrician by trade and put the first lights in Francistown Botswana.

My Mother was the chief town councillor secretary and was an interpreter in the courts for the Tswana people. She grew up on a farm in the Setlagoli area and spoke fluent Tswana until she died in August this year.

I found the house that I was born in (Shippard Street) but it looked so tiny and hidden behind high walls. I saw the beautiful convent where I spent my first 2 years of schooling. This is an amazing Victorian building which has been maintained and still looks imposing and impressive. Saw the school that I went to until Std 5 when I went to boarding school in Potchefstroom (convent). Went down the street where the houses of our friends were still the same – where the Finchams, Bundy’s, Prince’s and Dick’s lived.

Then we went to the house that I spent the rest of my childhood Tillard Street and although the house is still the same, there is now another high wall. No one had walls in our days, there were just fences as everyone was so proud of their gardens and especially my parents. There were only two private swimming pools in town and one of them was ours.

I accept chance but find it hard to accept that the town is so mismanaged and dirty. If only they could see that this town has so much history (Baden Powell and the Siege) that would attract tourists. Who knows … maybe the next time I visit, things will have changed. Who knows, maybe the DA will still have a chance to turn things around.

702 Gardening Chat (16th December 2011)

Just a few days from mid summer…………….. another year gone and how quick it has been.

Well we have done the garden related Christmas presents and by now most people have bought their presents.

If you are going away, don’t forget to make sure that the garden is being watered. Don’t panic about the lawn not being mowed because you can do this when you get back even if it is a bit long, the lawn will soon recover on your return. Don’t fertilise the lawn now otherwise it will be really very long and you will need to mow a few times to get it even again.

Watering is so important and because we have had quite a bit of rain lately, does not guarantee that this will be the case for the rest of the holiday.
Group your pots together under irrigation so that they will be watered easily.

To look after indoor plants, place some newspaper into the kitchen sink or the bath, put the plug in and wet the newspaper thoroughly and leave just a small amount of water in the bottom to keep the paper wet. Put all the pots in and water them well. This should stay damp until your return and the plants will stay moist. Don’t leave them standing in deep water otherwise they will just rot.

For those that are staying home………………… settle back and enjoy all the hard work and care that you have done to bring your garden this far. Gardens are so pretty at the moment because there is nothing like rain to clean and perk everything up.

Now, I am already planning and designing gardens for next year. I love to make each garden different but right now I am going through many of the international designers and I love so many of their ideas.

The contemporary look which can be so simple and elegant if you think about level changes and balance between flat lawn areas and organic shapes that will create a visually pleasing result. Explore the potential of your spaces and explore alternatives as even though this might seem to be a challenge, can be so rewarding. Obviously, do a bit of homework in advance to make sure you are on the right track. Homework would be to look at the spaces from all sides, look up and around. Let you imagination get carried away and then refine it as you let the ideas come true.

People often ask me “are you not afraid that your ideas will be copied?” and my reply is always “no” because no two gardens will ever be the same even though you copy the design or planting. Every space is different in that the soil, climate, contours all play a part in making it different. Also each one of us sees our spaces differently. This is the beauty of being an individual.
You do not need to be creative to let your imagination go. It is also a compliment to have someone think your idea good enough to copy. To share plants and knowledge is such a pleasure.

Don’t be in a rush to cut your Agapanthus, Clivia, Amaryllus seed heads off. Wait a while and let them ripen because they grow so easily from seed and you can start growing your own and then next Christmas you can plant them up in pretty pots and give to your gardening friends.

Take cuttings of Hydrangeas, Lavander, Roses and some shrubs and grow these because you will be amazed how successful you can be. Don’t expect 100% result but be happy with what you get and then try again at another time of the year. Get some ‘germination’ mix or make your own (half river sand, half soil) or even some vermiculite and then cut the stem just above a ‘bud’ with a good stem beneath. Use rooting hormone and dip the stem in. Place the cuttings at an angle and wait for about 6 weeks then check for roots and wait for about 5 leaves to form, then plant in small individual pots.

Check your veggies and get some more in now so that you prolong your crop into late summer.

If you have some spaces in the garden, get some seeds to throw in situ.
These could be Zinnias, Cosmos, Nasturtiums, Cleome, Marigolds, Candytuft and Allysum.

Happy Gardening!!

702 Gardening Chat (2nd December 2011)

The end of another year and how quickly it has gone.

After all the rains we have had we are now enjoying the benefits but so are all the creatures out there enjoying our delicious foliage and flowers.

The humidity has been fairly high so with this will come Red Spider Mite.

Rose Beetles will be creating lacy patterns in juicy leaves.
They do not eat flowers but the leaves. The only natural way to handle this is to place a bright light over the plants that they are busy with and place a bucket half filled with water beneath the light. They will fly up to the light and then fall into the bucket of water and drown. I know there are toxic chemicals to make the leaves of the roses (or plants) unpalatable.
At least drowning will not affect the environment.

Mildew also comes with the rain and humidity.
To treat Mildew naturally you can use a mixture of Oleum and Bicarbonate of Soda or Skimmed milk and spray onto the plant.

To treat Red Spider mite you can spray the underside of leaves with plain water as they hate water or add a sugar solution to the water and this will get rid of the red spider. Remember to spray under the leaves as this is where they live.

An interesting book to buy (lovely Christmas gift) which is a guide to an environmentally responsible gardening and great ways to combat the ‘go-go’s’ in your garden is :
by Johan Gerber ISBN : 0-9584785-5-4

There are some wonderful Christmas presents that can be given to Garden lovers.

• Gift voucher from a nursery will allow the recipient to choose their own gift.

• Book voucher from a good book shop

• Buy some pretty pots, put some potting soil in and plant up something from your own garden. I received a tomato plant from a client/friend that she had grown herself with a pretty Christmas card.

• I always suggest packets of mixed seeds, veggies and flowers, wrapped in pretty paper with ribbon. A fairly inexpensive gift which will encourage the recipient to plant directly.

• A pretty garden hat, gloves or apron.

• Garden lanterns (with perfumed candles)

• Wrought iron brackets to hang pots, filled with Geraniums.

• Old fashioned watering can with a fine rose spray.

• Rain gauge.

• Good pair of secateurs

• Garden bench painted a soft green or blue

• For a special friend – 3 lovely roses that you know would make your friend happy and remember you for years to come. I find this has always been a lovely gift which people enjoy.

• Of course, there are some wonderful Orchids.

• Take your friend for tea and cake and then give them a lovely hand made Christmas card with pressed flowers from your own garden.

Enjoy the season!