Newsletter Jun 2018

This Month's Newsletter

Land expropriation is a very hot topic these days, with some of the arguments for and against focusing on the point of how redistributed land will be utilised. This got me to thinking about how people are already working with the idea at – well, grassroots level. The internet is full of examples of groups who are finding ways to use sometimes unused land to create community vegetable gardens that are a real win-win.

In our own country, the Khulisa StreetScapes project in Cape Town is providing work and income for homeless people by planting up previously unused municipal land with organic vegetables which are then sold to upmarket restaurants and other buyers. Veggie patches have also long been going at schools as a way of providing additional food for learners from poor families.

In Khayelitsha the food garden at Isikhokelo Primary School has not only helped to feed the children but contributed to educating the community about healthy eating, and there are now 150 households in the township growing vegetables in their backyards. I’m sure there are many other examples. And closer to my home, some innovative folk in Brooklyn have created raised beds of herbs, veggies and roses on a traffic circle!

I just love stories of people who aren’t sitting around waiting for better days or for the government to improve their lot in life or the lot of others – especially if they involve putting people back in touch with nature, something that is always close to my heart.

I am feeling positively inspired and am starting to eye the rather rundown park next door to us and dreaming about allotments brimming with juicy veggies…


There are still a few spots of colour in the garden as we do our mid-winter pine needle mulching and make sure we water regularly through the dry Highveld winter season.

My passion for collecting autumn leaves for the compost heap is well known, but Agrippa is turning out to be a veritable man on a mission! He won’t let Robert or I drive past even one bag of leaves that has been put out for removal by a less savvy gardener. Bags and bags were collected at the university campus the other day and Robert was informed that a return visit would be necessary because the security guard had told Agrippa that more would be coming.


Click here to view all the plants featured in this newsletter.

·         Indigenous plants

  • Albuca nelsonii is a clump-forming hardy grassland bulb with fleshy lance-shaped leaves and sprays of unusual green and white striped flowers from spring to summer. It likes semi shade and grows to about 1 m in height. 
  • The 2 m high sparse suckering shrub Anisodontae julii makes a good hedge plant. It is evergreen and very hardy, and has velvety maple type leaves and cup shaped deep pink flowers mainly in summer. It wants full sun.
  • If you want to add something special to your collection of Spring flowering bulbs, consider Chasmanthe bicolor. This fast growing, summer deciduous perennial is indigenous to the Western Cape and has beautiful spikes of curved flame coloured flowers. It can take sun or semi shade and grows about 90 cm high. A hardy plant which does extremely well in our Gauteng gardens.
  • Duvernoia adhatodoides is a shrub well worth having in the semi shady areas of the garden for its long lasting fragrant white flowers with purple throat markings. Evergreen and hardy, it grows about 2 m high and flowers from summer to autumn (although our garden specimen is still in full bloom). Make sure you water it well otherwise the leaves go yellow.

·         Exotic plants

  • Every salvia is a blessing in the garden, but the blue green leaves, lime green flower bracts and vibrant purple–blue purple flowers of Salvia mexicana Limelight are in a league of their own. Evergreen and hardy, this is a multi-stemmed clump forming perennial that grows about 1.4 m high and can take sun or semi shade. The flowers attract birds, butterflies and bees from summer to autumn.  Water wise.
  • The very rare 50 cm high perennial Farfugium japonicum Argenteum is very difficult to propagate so we are thrilled to have some plants in the nursery. It has yellow daisy like flowers in autumn but its real attraction are the huge kidney shaped dark green leaves with splashes of white. Evergreen and hardy, it wants a shady position. 
  • Geranium dalmaticum is an evergreen hardy mat forming perennial with rosettes of basal leaves and lovely long stalked mauve flowers in summer. It grows to about 20 cm in height and likes sun or semi shade.  Still looking fabulous in the garden and nursery, hence it is on this month’s list!
  • The very hardy upright 75 cm high perennial Trifolium rubens has dark green clover like leaves and fuzzy silvery red flowerheads in summer that attract birds, bees and butterflies. It can take sun or semi shade and is supposed to be deciduous but ours is still green and full of flowers. Maybe it is evergreen in South Africa.


As an antidote to the cold and the inactivity in the garden, we are looking ahead to our Spring open weekend which is planned for 8 and 9 September. We will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 09h00 to 15h00 and tea and scones will be served on the verandah.

Happy gardening!


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