Newsletter Jan 2017

In my November newsletter I confessed that I had sold all the Thunbergia erecta shrubs in the nursery and failed to keep one for myself. What a response to my appeal to gardeners for a few cuttings so I could propagate again! Colleagues in the nursery trade brought me plants; folk brought me cuttings; clients offered to return the plants they had bought so I could do the necessary and return their plants once I had enough stock; and yet others phoned or emailed with information on where I could purchase a plant or two.

I was totally overwhelmed and spent days mulling over the meaning of this generosity and kindness.   The final verdict:  Gardeners are just the nicest people in the world. 

My wish for 2017 is that each of us will experience such goodwill and generosity in our lives on a daily basis. In spite of all the turmoil in the world, may it be a blessed and flower filled year in the company of wonderful gardening friends.


Yes I know that the dams are not yet full and we still subjected to water restrictions and the odd heat wave, but my garden is saying Wow, it’s summertime! There are new shoots and flowers daily and the recent heavy rains were a real boost.

The Rangoon creeper is still flowering, the begonias look the best they ever have and the amorphophallus are adding a welcome touch of drama. The bergamots are also coming into bloom – something else to look forward to. And along with their heavenly scent, the passifloras and moonflowers are keeping the bee population very busy.

We have a Belamcanda chinensis or leopard lily standing almost 1.8m tall. I am pondering whether this is par for the course if they are not moved around as often as most things are in my garden.


Indigenous plants

Trichocladus ellipticus is a hardy evergreen upright shrub with dark stems and glossy furry leaves with brown undersides.  It grows to an average height of 6m in sun or semi shade and has interesting spiky cream flowers from spring to summer. 

If you are looking for a good screen or something to cover a pergola, consider Pride of de Kaap or Bauhinia galpinii, a large robust climber or scrambling shrub with the distinctive bauhinia leaves and brick red flowers in summer. It likes full sun and grows to a height of 3m.

We have three forms of aristea ecklonii in the nursery, the common dark blue, a white and a pale blue. I am not entirely convinced that the white and pale blue forms are indigenous but have been unable to get clarity on the correct names.  These are fast growing hardy evergreen perennials. Plant them in a sunny or semi shade spot. The dark blue form self-seeds.

Silene bellidioides is a low growing grassland perennial with furry lance shaped leaves on a sticky stem.  It produces scented star shaped white flowers in spring (and now also in summer?) which attract moths. It grows in sun or semi shade and is evergreen and very hardy.

We have some stunning specimens of the rare clematopsis scabiosifolia for sale. This is a well shaped tough deciduous shrub that grows best in hot and dry areas. It has lovely fernlike greyish foliage and drooping pink clematis like flowers in summer, and the attractive seed heads are an added bonus. It likes full sun and reaches an average height of 1m.

Exotic plants

With their beautiful foliage and delicate flowers, begonias are a must for the shady garden.  We have updated the begonia page on our website.

Summer is canna time. These are our best sellers in the nursery and with their lovely large paddle shaped leaves and bold flowers they are a joy from now until mid-May. Jason Sampson has planted Canna Stuttgart in the shade in Pretoria University’s water garden and it is doing well. There are very few water plants that flourish in the shade, so this is quite a breakthrough.

If you like to attract butterflies to your garden, consider planting Stokesia laevis. This mound shaped clump forming perennial has dark leathery leaves and double daisy type blue flowers in summer. Evergreen and very hardy, it likes sun and grows to a height of about 30cm. 

The beautiful sapphire blue flowers of Impatiens namachabarwensis are a real showstopper in summer.  A semi hardy evergreen with bright green serrated leaves, it grows to a height of about 50cm. Listed as a perennial, it might be an annual in South Africa. However, it does self seed.


One of the not so beneficial results of the recent storms in Pretoria is that lightning struck my computer (amongst other things) and I lost all my emails. Please email me again if you have been waiting in vain for a response. I can’t remember who was looking for marshmallow arums and have also lost the names of the people who let me know that they had plants, so please contact me again if you either have plants or are the person in need.

Condry Sithole whom I have been training as a gardener is looking for work.  Condry has worked on a few building sites with Robert, so can also offer some non-gardening skills. Please contact me if you need a gardener or someone to help with odd jobs.

After much soul searching, I have decided not to continue with the Rare Plant Fairs which have been a feature of the Petal Faire calendar for many years. Attendance at the last few was just not enough to warrant the effort that goes into organising the event. For those of you who will miss the outing (and Robert’s scones), we will be replacing them with regular Petal Faire Nursery Open Days. Watch this space!


I do hope your garden is giving you as much joy as mine is as we start contemplating the end of summer.

Happy gardening,