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Gardening in South Africa

The intense beauty of a coral tree in full bloom is hard to ignore!

Erythrina caffra Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaErythrina caffra Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaCoral trees are extremely handsome all year round, but impossible to ignore when adorned with their intensely scarlet flowers. The flowers appear either before, or with the first spring leaves, and are filled with delicious nectar for our feathered friends. All our indigenous species are spectacular and have been loved and cultivated by locals since the earliest days of our history. Their popularity and cultivation is not only limited to South Africa but also extends to tropical, subtropical and temperate gardens abroad. If you love these blooms but don’t have space for a tree in your garden, the dwarf coral tree is ideal for small gardens, producing an impressive show of scarlet blooms.

Boldly Clowning Around

Salvia farinaceaSalvia farinaceaSun Loving Salvias

Salvia splendens, commonly known as scarlet sage or rooi-salie, also comes in shades of red, purple, pink, cream, white and blue. Not only are they easy to grow, with their showy flowers and deep green leaves, this eye-catching bedding plant offers glorious, long-flowering heads 30cm tall. They flourish in full-sun positions and once established, they withstand high summer temperatures.

Gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas.


WatercressWatercressWatercress (Nasturtium officinale), a close cousin of mustard greens, cabbage and arugula, is considered to be one of the oldest leaf vegetables consumed by humans, with its health giving properties being known since ancient times. Today we know that watercress is brimming with more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals, and if you are a salad lover, you are more than likely familiar with its peppery flavour. "Nasturtium" comes from the Latin words “nasus tortus” which means "twisted nose." If you've ever eaten a particularly spicy bunch of watercress, you know exactly why it acquired this name! Watercress can also be used in salads, soups, sandwiches and many more dishes, to add a bit of zing!

A grouping of Felicia will always catch the eye in the garden.

alt Felicia amelloides. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaFelicia amelloides. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaBlue is a sought after colour amongst gardeners because it is quite rare, especially a true blue shade. Kingfisher Daisies, with their masses of striking sky-blue and sunny yellow flower heads fit the bill, catching the eye wherever they are planted. There are approximately 84 species of Felicia, and South Africa is blessed with about 79. This little plant did not go un-noticed and was one of the earliest species used in horticulture, first being introduced to Europe in the middle of the eighteenth century; it also features on one of our stamps. Sky-blue, pale blue, violet-blue, pink and white flowered forms are available, as well as a variegated variety and a beautiful annual which is entirely blue.

If you love celery you will be delighted to discover that it is one of the world’s healthiest foods.

Celery "Utah Tall" Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaCelery "Utah Tall" Picture courtesy www.ballstraathof.co.zaWhether you consider celery to be a vegetable or herb, bland and boring, or delightfully unique in flavour, celery remains one of the world’s healthiest foods and a required addition to many classic dishes. In many countries it is served as a vegetable and in others the seeds, stems and leaves are used for flavouring as well as medicinally.

The celery we know today is a direct descendant of the wild celery (Apium graveolens) commonly called “smallage”. A member of the parsley or carrot family, this wild celery can be found growing on boggy riversides and marshy ground, giving a clue to its growth requirements. It has been cultivated since antiquity, and although it is thought to be from the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated since at least 3,000 years ago, the "wild" relatives of celery can be traced from the British Isles to Sweden, Algeria, Egypt, China, and India. Celery was cultivated in Egypt about 3,000 years ago and the seeds were buried with the pharaohs for strength in the afterlife; and the ancient Chinese ate it to slow down the ageing process.

Books

Gardening in the Shade

shade book

Growing Vegetables in South Africa

Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa

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