Newsletter Feb 2022

Family members who had the good fortune to be skiing in Italy over New Year (which already seems like a distant memory, doesn’t it!) brought back a story about a quirky Hungarian New Year’s Eve tradition. They were invited to join a group of Hungarians in a midnight meal of lentils and pork sausage, which was laid on specially by the lodge where they were staying.

Courtesy of their shape, lentils represent wealth in a number of cultures, and eating them as you welcome in the new year is believed to increase your chances of prosperity and success in the months to come. Since pigs symbolise progress, adding pork sausages to your plate of lentils is an added bonus – perhaps literally! What is to be avoided is chicken, which will scratch away your luck, or fish, which will swim away with it.

What does this have to do with plants or gardening, you may ask. Well, this friendly crowd also insisted that the lentils and sausage be shared from plate to plate because sharing your wealth means that you will attract more of it. That made me think about how much sharing is part and parcel of the gardening culture. I have hardly ever encountered a gardener who didn’t eagerly pressed cuttings, seeds and small plants on me, and I have been happy to return the favour.

Long may we continue to grow one another’s gardens!


The garden is into its end of season rest so there is not much colour to speak of - but still plenty of work!  Caterpillars, beetles, weeds, rust…  After all the rain and staff holidays, it’s catchup time.

An early cobeae bloom

The indigenous toad tree - Tabernaemontana elegans

Japanese anemones starting to bloom

Growing our own! Cannabis is proving to be a wonderful remedy for our dogs' ailments.


Click here to view all the plants in this newsletter on the website.

·        Indigenous plants

With its fleshy chalky silver leaves and tufted bright orange-red flowers from summer to autumn, the waterwise coral senecio, Kleinia galpinii, is a real little gem. A 45cm high succulent indigenous to the KZN, Mpumalanga and Limpopo region, it wants sun and dry sandy soil.

The low growing shrub Petalidium oblongifolium is another plant which likes dry sandy conditions, although this one can also tolerate semi-shade.  Evergreen and hardy, it has veined oblong grey-green leaves and pale blue flowers all year. It is indigenous to Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Nerine bowdenii is a rare robust bulb with broad dark green strap-like leaves and heads of flared pink flowers in autumn. Deciduous and very hardy, it is happy in sun to semi-shade, and measures about 70cm in height when in flower. I have been searching for this one for years!

Autumn is plectranthus flowering time, and you can’t go wrong with a mass planting of Plectranthus ambiguus. A rounded evergreen semi-hardy perennial that is happiest in semi-shade, it has pointed grooved slight wrinkled leaves and sprays of lilac-blue flowers at this time of year. The plants in my garden grow about 60cm high.

·        Exotic plants

The self-seeding Impatiens namachabarwensis is well worth having in the garden for its beautiful sapphire blue flowers from summer to autumn. Hailing from Tibet, it does better in cooler climates and should definitely be planted in shade to deep shade. It is semi-hardy and deciduous – possibly even an annual in South Africa.

The paper gardenia, Tabernaemontana divaricata, is a rounded bushy shrub with glossy dark green oblong leaves and waxy white flowers in summer. Evergreen and semi-hardy, it grows about 2m high and likes sun to semi-shade.

Thunbergia erecta is a woody deciduous West African scrambler with shiny dark green oblong leaves and huge royal blue flowers with a yellow centre. Hardy and reaching a height of about 1.5m, it is equally happy in sun or semi-shade, and flowers from summer to autumn.

We have many of the lovely Nymphaea hybrids in stock for those who have ponds or water features. An aquatic deciduous perennial, the water lily always delights with its round floating leaves and blooms from summer to autumn. For more information, see our dedicated water lily website page.



Happy gardening!


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