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!

Kruger park

We have just returned from a peaceful and most enjoyable trip to Kruger Park. Unfortunately we were a little early for the birthing of the Impala as the rains had not come, but subsequently they have all been born and there are many of them. Our timing was not quite right but there was so much more to see.

The bush around Letaba was truly beautiful. The grass not too high so we could see the animals. The Letaba river still has a fair amount of water in it and there were several Elephants and Hippo’s have a glorious time. Unfortunately, crocodiles are very few due to the disease that apparently has
effected them all from pollution in the rivers inland. Shame on us!!

We went up to Punda Maria where the drought was quite evident but they have had some good rains this past week so the grass should all start coming through now. Pafuri is still a favourite picnic spot and even though the river is running well, the bird life seems to have diminished and believe after the floods in 2001 many animals and birds disappeared. Many Nyala and Baboons. The Fever Trees are not looking good and think that the floods must have destroyed them.

It was great to go to Crooks corner and look across the Limpopo river to see where the 3 countries meet. (Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa).

Of course, the beautiful Baobabs just entrance me.

Highveld Summer

Spring is behind us and we are heading into the wonderful summers we have on the Highveld. Afternoon showers have been somewhat dramatic but nevertheless beneficial to our gardens.

Be adventurous this summer and try some new ideas in the garden.

• Grow some fruit trees
• Try some different veggie varieties
• Look out for the unusual perennials and annuals that are available

Firstly some suggestion on fruit trees. We always think they are going to be a hassle and yet you can have such fun and rewards from growing your own. I use apples in many of my gardens and we espalier them down narrow passages alongside the house or in back courtyards where there is usually just hard paving. To be able to harvest your own apples and share them is extremely rewarding.

You can also espalier an unusual tree like a Persimmon or a lovely black Fig.

Maintaining these are also not difficult and you can treat them totally naturally and organically without having to use toxic pesticides like Lebaycid. The most important thing to remember when maintaining is to be consistent with your applications of ‘home made remedies’ and companion planting.

If you are looking for some interesting berry plants or even unusual fruit trees try Schafflers Nursery in Lyndhurst because if they don’t have the plant they will always find it for you and are extremely helpful in sourcing the rare and unusual. Anthony Schaffler – 011 786 0323

Grow some unusual veggies like Beefsteak Tomatoes, Strawberry Popcorn, Yard long beans, Inverted Radishes or white Bringals. We have seed suppliers in South Africa that you can buy these directly from.

These websites are informative and inspirational:


Then watch out for some of the new varieties of perennials that come in each year.

The princess range of Alstroemeria which is a such a nice plant for smaller gardens. You can also have a variegated leaf variety and they are so rewarding.

Pensteman is an old fashioned plant which is so pretty in the garden.

Many new Day Lilies and if you are clever you can ask for a few different varieties so that you have flowering for much longer.

Salvia’s are ever popular and are wonderful fillers. They come in deep glorious blues, whites and the indigenous ones are reds or orange.

For the rest of the month:

• Watch the watering as some days are so hot. Don’t water in the middle of the day, rather later in the afternoon and put your automatic irrigation on to about 8 p.m so that you get good soaking during the night.
• Walk around the garden and look up into the trees. Check that they are happy and not too much ‘woody’ bits inside. Open them up and enhance the beauty of the canopy and let more light in under the trees so that the plants are much happier.
• Fertilise roses
• Fertilise lawns
• Plant another crop of veggies