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Gardening in South Africa

Thyme is cold hardy and also thrives in coastal regions, tolerating strong winds, heat and drought.

Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)This tough little plant is heat and drought tolerant and does well in hot dry climates.  Dryer conditions concentrate the aromatic oils in thyme, so keep your plants on the dry side. It is also very hardy and will tolerate snow and all but very severe frost.

Thymus is native throughout Europe and much of Asia, from Scandinavia in the north and the Iberian Peninsula in the south west, including the islands, eastwards through western and central Europe, the Mediterranean countries, including north west Africa north of the Sahara, Turkey, Russia, Mongolia and Japan and as far south as the Himalaya. It is a family of aromatic herbaceous plants with around 250 species and subspecies and over 300 cultivars. There has been a considerable amount of confusion in the naming of thymes and the common names given can lead to confusion.

The Cape Town Flower Show

Calendula is a wonderful healing plant which is quick and easy to grow.

This fun and fast growing winter and spring flowering annual is easy to germinate and simple to care for; producing large, single or double flowers that last long in a vase. The clear, bright colours are available in shades of orange to apricot, and golden to lemon yellow. Calendula has been grown for centuries and is native to Southern Europe around the Mediterranean Sea, where it was greatly valued by monks in medieval times for its healing properties. It was also used by the ancient Romans and Greeks and early Indian and Arabic cultures as a medicinal herb, a dye for fabrics, in cosmetics, and to flavour foods. It is still used medicinally today in creams and ointments to soothe skin and sprained muscles, to name but a few.  Calendula can be used topically to treat itchy skin on dogs and cats, and freshly chopped calendula plants (without the roots) can be added to chicken feed to make the meat tender, with a yellowish colour.  It also gives the yolks a bright yellow colour, adding to their flavour.

Your regional gardening guide for July

Camellia japonica 'Jurys Yellow'Camellia japonica 'Jurys Yellow'All Regions

In July it may be cold outside but our gardens and the veldt are aglow with brilliant displays of flowering aloes, various species of our indigenous wild pear, or as they say in Afrikaans ‘drolpeer‘; and an array of indigenous berries. Not forgetting the non-indigenous but trusty old firethorns, which are much appreciated by our feathered friends at this time of the year. July is also camellia season, and they remain the most beautiful and rewarding shrubs, beloved by gardeners worldwide. Sasanqua Camellias bloom in early autumn; and Japonica and Reticulata Camellias bloom in winter and early spring. The Saucer Magnolia and Star Magnolias also bloom in late winter and spring; so if you don’t have any of the above in your garden, now is a good time to choose some from your local garden centre.  

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Books

Gardening in the Shade

shade book

Growing Vegetables in South Africa

Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa

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