We often have clients in the nursery from so-called “eco estates” where they insist they are only allowed to have indigenous plants in their gardens. Since I have sometimes wondered about the reasoning behind this, I was interested to come across an article by Dr Johan Wentzel of Wildflower Nursery on the very subject. A physicist, geologist and specialist on the rehabilitation of grassland areas, Dr Wentzel is very critical of developers who come in and destroy all the natural vegetation in an area in a matter of weeks, build their houses and then, when their budget is depleted, plant vast expanses of lawn and a row of indigenous trees before sitting back and selling properties in their “eco estate” at premium prices. The important point he makes is that once our grassland has been destroyed through residential or agricultural development there is little chance that any of the endemic plants will ever re-establish themselves. A scary thought!
Admittedly, I have seen estates where the developers have taken care to preserve pockets of natural vegetation between the properties but they are certainly few and far between. And although using plants that are adapted to your local conditions can be a sensible approach, gardeners should be under no illusion that they are contributing to rehabilitating developed land by going 100% indigenous.
Click here if you would like to read the article in full.
IN THE GARDEN
Last month’s light pruning and the lovely rains we have had over the past few weeks have certainly made a difference in the garden.
While many plants are now in resting mode, the autumn flowering ones are such a joy. The salvias and abutilons have been joined by Japanese anemones and plectranthus and the ruellia brittoniana is in spectacular full bloom.
A garden must have at least one dahlia
Galphimia glauca in full bloom
There is also a wonderful assortment of climbers coming into flower including Thunbergia mysorensis and the delicate indigenous Sphedamnocarpus pruriens.
IN THE NURSERY
You can now view all the plants listed in this newsletter on one page on the website.
· Indigenous plants
The beautiful Anisodontae scabrosa is one of my Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens finds. This is a fast growing, sun loving Cape shrub with woody stems, aromatic leaves and large cup shaped pink flowers from spring to summer. Evergreen and hardy, it grows to about 1m in my Gauteng garden. It is definitely more sparse than in its natural habitat but nevertheless still a stunner.
Buddleja glomerata is a neat upright 3m high shrub with attractive tough scalloped grey blue leaves and pyramids of yellow flowers in summer. It likes sun and is evergreen and very hardy.
If you are looking for flowers all year round, consider the gorgeous evergreen Hibiscus calyphyllus. This hardy low growing cascading shrub with large lobed toothed leaves and large deep yellow flowers with a red centre does best semi shade. Ours is not the same specimen as that found in other nurseries which is about 3m tall and upright and seems to have softer leaves. (Don’t be put off by how the plants look in bags. This is not a good container plant but performs well once it is in the ground.)
Bees love the large cream flowers of Thunbergia dregeana. This waterwise scrambling climber has heart shaped toothed furry green leaves and grows to a height of 1.5m. Evergreen and hardy, it flowers from spring to summer. Plant in partial shade.
· Exotic plants
Agastache cana is an evergreen and very hardy compact perennial with aromatic leaves. Mauve apricot flowers attract bees and butterflies in summer and autumn. It grows about 50cm tall.
A rather gorgeous tufted perennial with lance shaped grey green leaves and panicles of star shaped white flowers in summer, Arthropodium cirrathum likes sun or dry semi shade. It is evergreen and very hardy and grows to a height of about 75cm.
Cobaea scandens is a seemingly delicate, but vigorous, 6m high climber with branched tendrils and fragrant cream flowers which age to purple. Its flowering season is officially summer to autumn but mine seems to flower through the winter months. Evergreen and semi hardy, it likes a sunny position.
Euphorbia wulfenii iis a well shaped 1m high shrub with purplish stems, grey green leaves and yellow green florets with nectar glands which attract butterflies and birds in summer. It is evergreen and very hardy and likes sun or semi shade.
May Viljoen is looking for homes for the last of her epiphyllum collection. She lives in Waterkloof Ridge Pretoria and can be reached on 082 415 2059.
I need to end with two thank you’s. One is to all the kind people who arrive at the nursery when I am not there with gifts of plants, seeds, pots or other useful bits and bobs. When asked, my staff tell me it was “my friend” or “someone I know” or “the lady with the big car” – not very helpful when you want to know who to thank! And then also to my many colleagues in the nursery trade who are always more than generous with their advice, rooting cuttings and germinating seeds. You make it a pleasure to be in this line of business.
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