Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fab 5 - Pincushions

The fab 5 for this month is leucospermums commonly known as pincushions, they form part of the Protea family Proteaceae and there is 48 species in the genus. Most leucospermums occur in the Western Cape of South Africa. A lot of the species are popular as cut flowers and as garden plants.

Flowers of pincushions are mostly pollinated by sun birds and sugar birds, once seeds are ripe they are released immediately. In the wild the seeds will fall on the ground and get buried by insects or ants. During a fire (which is common in the Western Cape) the mother plant will die but the seeds underground will germinate and replenish the population.

Leucospermum muirii
Leucospermum muirii is an endangered bushy shrub growing up to 1.5m tall. The leaves are pale grey green and it bares yellow flowers from August to October.

Leucospermum cordifolium

Leucospermum cordifolium bares the most flowers from July all the way till the end of November. Flowers are orange and an added attraction is the numerous bird species found pollinating them when they in full flower.

Leucospermum reflexum var. luteum

Leucospermum reflexum commonly known as the rocket pincushion is a rounded silvery grey leaved shrub that grows up to 4m tall with either yellow or deep orange to crimson flowers.

Leucospermum erubescens
Leucospermum erubescens grows naturally on hot, dry, north facing slopes. Flowers are rounded and are produced in clusters of up to four heads per stem. The flower colour changes constantly as it ages from bright orange to deep red and normally last on the bush for about 2 months.

Leucospermum bolusii
Leucospermum bolusii is quiet unusual for a pincushion in that it flowers are creamy white in colour, where other pincushions are normally orange or yellow. They grow to about 1.5m tall and flower heads are flat and rounded. Flowering from mid September to early November they are pollinated by bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and moths. The species is named after Harry Bolus (1834-1911) a South African botanist.

These fab 5 pincushions are very different from each other but will all look beautiful in home gardens.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve

Spring is seen as a time of growth and new life in both plants and animals, for me it is the best season to see beautiful flowers!

Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve in Darling is a great place to view our renosterveld flowers. The reserve was originally a part of the farm Slagkop owned by the Versfeld family from Darling.
In 1953 the owner Mr Marthinus Versfeld (also known as Oom Tienie) donated the 20 ha farm to the National Botanical Institute because of its conservation potential. The reserve is open throughout the year but flower viewing is best from August to October.

These are just some of the reasons to visit the reserve and other reserves around Darling.

Wachendorfia brachyandera growing low inbetween the grasses.

Mating butterflies, such a treat to see and photograph.

Grasshopper, one of many seen on the day.

Geissorhiza radians commonly known as winecups or satin flowers.

Pauridia canaliculata offers flower seekers fine displays of brilliant, floral stars.

Osteospemum monstrosum has beautiful yellow flowers with dark brownish purple centers.

Lachenalia pallida just look at all those colours!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fab 5 - Ericas

The genus Erica has about 860 species in them and of that 860 species South Africa is home to 760. Their flowers have many different shapes from bottle to globe to tube to urn shaped flowers and they are mostly pollinated by birds, insects and the wind.

I always thought Erica species was such a typical fynbos plant, with their small growth habit and needle like leaves, but after seeing them in flower I look at them differently because they are such beautiful plants and easy to maintain if they are given what they need.

This month's Fab 5 wasn't easy because I was exposed to so many amazing Erica sp. It was difficult to choose only 5. I selected the best 5 flowering Erica sp. I could find (and photograph). 

Erica baccans
Erica baccans produces bright cherry pink splashes of colour. Its common name is berry heath and is grown easily in a variety of garden conditions it even grows well in a pot. They are in full flower from September to November.

Erica patersonii
 The bright golden yellow tubular flowers are arranged in closely packed spikes. Flowering stems resemble corn on the cob, giving its common name Mealie heath. It is listed as rare and occurs in wet or marshy areas along the Western Cape. They are threatened by urban expansion and farming.

Erica blenna
 Flowers are bright orange with green tips and are sticky. They flowers from April to November. This Erica is relatively small because it is a slow grower. It is one of the most magnificent Ericas and is well known.

Erica leucotrachela
 Erica leucotrachela has two toned tubular flowers flowering from May to October. The species is found on mountain peaks between Rooi-els and Palmiet River and is endemic to Betty's Bay. It loves growing in moist cool conditions. This Erica really reminds me of Christmas because of its red and white flowers.

Erica haematocodon
 Erica haematocodon has deep red bell-shaped flowers and is listed as a rare plant. They are in full flower from December to February and occur naturally on rocky slopes of Cape Peninsula.

These photos were taken at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, most of these Ericas are grown and cultivated here as many of them are endangered or rare in their natural habitat. This is only 5 of many beautiful Ericas displayed in the numerous sections of the garden. Once you see some of them you'll notice how enticing they are and it could just lead to a lifetime of interest.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lachenalia bulbs


Lachenalia come in many colours like this one consisting of red, yellow, orange, purple and green.

One of my favorite bulbs is Lachenalia also know as the Cape cowslip. They belong to the Hyacinthaceae family and are deciduous perennials. They normally get one to several leaves but usually only two is seen. They flower in racemes or spikes. Flowers are more or less zygomorphic meaning its symmetrical when cut in half. Flowers are often described as nodding because their flowers are hanging. They come in many shapes, bell shaped, tubular shaped, cylindrical or urn shaped. They are variously coloured and often scented.

Flowers are often described as nodding.

Lachenalia viridiflora an endangered blue species.

Different flowers have different shapes and flower in recemes or spikes, in this case its flowering in a spike.

Most Lachenalia sp. are easy to grow and are often very attractive, making them well worth cultivating. Their small size combined with their variously coloured flowers make them ideal pot plants although mass plantings in the garden of some species look great in gardens, giving the garden a different look when it all flowers.

Lachenalia trichophylla is a great pot plant because of its hairy leaves and different growth.

These bulbs will bring colour and texture into any house and garden and are generally easy to grow.

Mass plantings in gardens will look lovely especially with bright yellow species.

This bulb is a beautiful low maintenance plant when they deciduous u forget about them and when they in flower they bring such beautiful colours back into the house and garden, its a must have for all bulb lovers.

Attracting bees and other friendly insects into your garden.
All of the pictures of these bulbs were taken at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in the conservory and in the nurseries, being a temporary student in the gardens I have the advantage of seeing these beautiful plants being grown and get to take pictures through out the day. Lucky me!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Caring for your garden roses

Hybrid roses have more than five petals because they are made for ornamental purposes.

 Everybody loves roses  they can be quiet fussy to grow but a little care goes a long way to produce beautiful blooms. They come in all colours from whites, yellows, reds and even black. Did you know that real roses only have five petals? This means other roses are hybrids made for ornamental  purposes. By following my easy method your roses will look lovely throughout the year.
Watering and feeding
The plants must be watered every two days. Always water after applying granular fertilisers.

Feeding and watering
When feeding roses it’s good to use a granular fertiliser, just before the first blooms are opening, about 30g scattered in a circle around the stems of medium sized rose bushes but always read the requirements on the packaging. Always water after applying granular fertilisers.

Watering should take place at least twice a week, or every second day depending on the season but it’s always good to feel if the soil surface is dry or not, it gives a good indication of when to water the plant. Water at the base of the plant and not the leaves.

Black spot on roses appear as round lesions, these spots can be small to large lesions.

Pest and diseases
Black spot and aphids love roses. They never seem to go away and the best advice I could give here is that prevention is better than cure. Black spot is a disease and the truth about it is that once it’s there it can’t go away. You need to spray your roses regularly with a systemic fungicide. This means that the fungicide will be taken up by the plant and then protect it from the inside out. When you see black spot all over your roses try and prune the serious parts but if you can’t leave it alone it will eventually go away.

Aphids attack soft new growth, therefor you’ll always see them on your flowers and new leaves. These pests can be sprayed with a contact pesticide and they’ll die, if you want to you can also hose them away with water or wipe them off with your fingers ( although it’s to stomach-churning for me.)

While I was a student our class went to a local rose garden and this is where i learnt most of my rose pruning skills. I couldn't wait to get home that day to prune all our roses as well!

Two important techniques I’ve learned during a rose pruning practical at Durbanville Rose Garden are to prune your roses in such a way that you leave the bush in an open wine glass. Meaning cut away branches that are growing inwards. Try to leave the middle open so that air circulation can take place, it also decreases the risk of disease on the leaves.

The second technique is when pruning make sure you leave all the branches at more or less the same length, this will ensure that when they grow you have equal amounts of growth from each stem, if one stem is higher than the others the plant will generate all its energy to just that one stem giving you large roses from that stem only and smaller roses from the others.

When cutting roses for the house, don’t cut too many blooms at once as it drastically reduces the amount of leaves resulting in root disturbance this will set the rose bush back. Roses bloom best when they are a third to half open when picked. And don’t forget to watch out for those thorns!

I hope these few tips help you with your roses at home.

Creeping roses in my garden

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fab 5 - orange flowers

It's winter now and what's better to brighten up the garden and your homes with orange flowers. Orange is such a nice warm colour for winter and will make any environment look and feel cosy. My fab 5 orange flowers will defiantly be the colour you looking for this winter, these 5 are nice garden plants and cut flowers, attracting wildlife in the garden and lasting long in the home.  

Proteas are lovely flowers to have in your garden and as cut flowers for the house because they flower for long periods and even look nice when they dried out.


Everybody is familiar with roses, they come in loads or colours and varieties, I love how this one had a bit of yellow in it, and looks so nice with any greenery added to it.

 Orange and blue flowers in summer, indigenous to South Africa. They attract birds and butterflies into the garden as well.

  These plants form part of the protea family, their orange flowers last long and attract numerous birds.

 Aloes are one of my favourite succulents because when they flower in masses they look absolutely
magnificent. they very hardy plants and fit  well in rock gardens as well.

Why some indoor plants die after being purchased

Beautiful pink Cyclamen indoor plant with twisted petals, infront you can see one going into seed form, and the marbled foliage at the bottom.

When buying indoor plants from retail nurseries and shopping centres, it always seems to last a month or two and after flowering they don't flower again or they die. This happens because these plants are grown in greenhouses under strict temperatures and conditions to make them produce such lovely foliage and flowers so that they can sell well.

On Mother's Day my mother received a beautiful Cyclamen plant, and the following month we could see how the plant was withering away, I was determined to save this plant from dying and the key to doing that is to try and mimic the way it "grew up" in the greenhouse, or to find out what country they originate from and what temperatures occur there.

Cyclamens are an enchanting group of plants admired for their attractive, mostly marbled foliage and distinctive flowers with swept back, slightly twisted petals. They prefer a warm to cool climate. Most species originate from the Mediterranean and southern Europe.

What I did with this specific indoor plant was after some flowers had withered I cut the leaves and flowers off some tubers and left others on because I want them to set seed. When they set seed I will leave all the tubers in the soil, until they produce new growth the following season.

In general with all indoor plants give them enough sunlight and fertilise in their growing season this is very important because it encourages growth. Do some research on the given plant and find out if the sunlight needed to be direct or filtered. Water them according to their requirements. When working with bulbs and tubers like Cyclamen it’s vital to give them a GOOD watering once. When you feel the soil surface is dry you can water them again because if overwatered rotting can occur.

Beautiful pink Cyclamen indoor plant with twisted petals, infront you can see one going into seed form, and the marbled foliage at the bottom.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I love plants especially flowers. Never knew that there was actually a career in working with plants until I went to universities and saw that I could study plants, the way they grow and why they do the things they do.

Horticulturists work involves plant propagation and cultivation with the aim of improving plant growth, yields, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses. They work as gardeners, growers, therapists, designers, and technical advisors.