Previous Newsletters

Jul 2018
I first ventured into keeping chickens about 20 years ago when I responded to a Junkmail ad and bought a few Sebright bantams. Unusually for Sebrights, they bred and bred with the result that we eventually had in the region of 30. They were the bane of Robert’s life, particularly when the hens decided that the facilities inside the house were most suitable for egg laying... [Click here to read more]

Jun 2018
Land expropriation is a very hot topic these days, with some of the arguments for and against focusing on the point of how redistributed land will be utilised. This got me to thinking about how people are already working with the idea at - well, grassroots level... [Click here to read more]

May 2018
I am a fan of the Jeremy Maggs show on DSTV and recently watched a program on Checkers and their “Little Garden” promotional campaign. With my little nephew in mind, I regretted not taking advantage of the previous “Little Shop” campaign as I remember how much I loved playing with my Oumie’s collection of mini boxes of Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Omo, Silvo etc. as a child. But I have to confess I thought the new idea of mini seedling kits was a little silly and that even people with only a passing interest in gardening wouldn’t be captivated by the thought of raising tiny samples of seeds into plants... [Click here to read more]

April 2018
 Pilea peperomioides found its way into my home a number of years ago when my friend Mike pinched a steggie at a home office. We propagated it and had plants in the nursery for a while but nobody seemed very interested despite the attractive bright green disk shaped leaves and the added advantages that the plant is very easy to grow and makes a good indoor plant. At some stage the stock was sent to the compost bin with  a few “mother plants” left in the garden...[Click here to read more]

 Mar 2018
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... [Click here to read more]

Jan 2018
A nursery, like any other retail business, calls for regular restocking. Perhaps this is a chore for other business owners, but I must confess that my regular expeditions to stock up on plants are one of my favourite parts of the job... [Click here to read more]

Nov 2017
" An acquaintance merely enjoys your company, a fair-weather companion flatters when all is well, a true friend has your best interests at heart and the pluck to tell you what you need to hear.” (E.A. Bucchianeri: Brushstrokes of a Gadfly). I met Francis Thompson at a Rare Plant Fair in Stellenbosch many years ago.  He lives in Cape Town and I visit him whenever I am there and vice versa... [Click here to read more]

Oct 2017
My good friend and fellow no-holds-barred plant enthusiast Jason Sampson of Pretoria University recently said, “My favourite colour is October.” I couldn’t agree more. All but the most neglected gardens are a riot of flowers at this time of year and I for one have fallen in love with my garden again – as I do every Spring! [Click here to read more]

Aug 2017
Now that an early spring seems to be upon us and I’m sure people’s minds are starting to turn to stocking up the garden, I thought I would remind those of you who don’t live in the vicinity of Pretoria of our online mail order service. It is actually a thriving “division” of the nursery and has had faithful followers for years, but I suspect that some people are hesitant about putting plants through the stress of being packed up in a box and thrown around for a few days! Let me put your minds at ease... [Click here to read more]

Jul 2017
One of the fun things about thinking up stories for the newsletters is the opportunity to reminisce. I recently remembered one of my favourite nursery “encounters” which was with someone who wasn’t even in the country!... [Click here to read more]

May 2017
Robert and I were recently in the Cape for a family wedding where the venue, décor and floral arrangements were quite a breath of fresh air. The bride’s bouquet was simply made up of leaves and flowers from the garden, and you could hardly call the flowers on the tables “arrangements” - random sprigs of plectranthus, salvias and other bits and pieces popped into  glass beakers... [Click here to read more]

Mar 2017
It was with great sadness that we all heard of the passing of Margaret Roberts on 4 March. A great plant lover and hands-on grower, Margaret was as passionate about sharing her wealth of knowledge through books and talks as she was about the plants themselves. She became such a household name in South Africa that even my non-gardening friends speak as though they knew her personally... [Click here to read more]

Feb 2017
One of my pet peeves is how people in the plant world, gardeners and even experts, seem to be under the impression that South Africa’s indigenous flora begins and ends in the Western Cape... [Click here to read more

Jan 2017
In my November newsletter I confessed that I had sold all the Thunbergia erecta shrubs in the nursery and failed to keep one for myself. What a response to my appeal to gardeners for a few cuttings so I could propagate again!... [Click here to read more]

Nov 2016
With our second Summer Rare Plant Fair on the horizon (see below) I’ve been wondering whether an email received from Jenny McKeown after our spring fair in September is cause for concern... [Click here to read more]

Oct 2016
The Sunday Times Careers Section of 9 October featured a heart-warming interview with Gundula Deutschlander, Master Gardener at Babylonstoren in the Western Cape... [Click here to read more]

Sep 2016
We all know that 1 January is New Year, but for us gardeners there is a bonus New Year every spring time. It’s the time of year when deciduous plants in particular really come into their own... [Click here to read more]

Aug 2016
Like many of my generation I did not embrace the arrival of social media with much interest or enthusiasm, and when a friend eventually persuaded me to join Facebook I was certainly not one of its most sophisticated users. I once tried unsuccessfully to send a friend a birthday message and a year later when she was visiting I showed her where the stuck message was still sitting. She pressed Enter and off it went!... [Click here to read more]

Jun 2016
Curious about the reason for a mealy bug infestation in the garden this summer, I consulted a number of my colleagues but no one could give an explanation. Then in the latest Ludwig’s Roses newsletter I read that Ludwig Taschner had noticed the same thing, and all was revealed... [Click here to read more]

Apr 2016
I grew up on a farm so water supply was not a given and we had to be quite inventive about accessing it. Water was pumped up from the “sproet” (i.e. spruit) into tanks (proudly emblazoned with “Pennels from Louis Trichardt”) and then channelled into the house.  Drinking water however came from a large corrugated iron rain water tank that stood on a plinth outside the kitchen door.  No matter how wet or dry the season, that tank always managed to provide drinking water for everyone in the home... [Click here to read more]

Feb 2016
"Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it." — Rumi. My niece Lynette du Plessis recently sent me this post from the Standard Bank-Arts Facebook page... [Click here to read more]

Jan 2016
Gardeners are kept busy enough dealing with pesky insects among the plants, so we need all the help we can get when it comes to the mosquitoes and flies that are the bane of everyone’s lives... [Click here to read more]

Dec 2015
Thrilled as we were about the long-awaited rain in Pretoria some weeks ago (thankfully also followed by more bearable temperatures), we can be under no illusion that a couple of weeks of localised showers will fill the dams and rescue our farmers. The long term drought is bound to be a hot topic of conversation for months to come. As gardeners, we can sit around bemoaning our fate or we can get smarter about how we use our water resources... [Click here to read more]

Nov 2015
With the sweltering heat, elusive rainfall and water restrictions in some areas, perhaps it is not surprising that a sense of lethargy seems to have overtaken many gardeners. Let us try to remain positive and make sure that we have our gardens prepped and ready for those summer showers when they eventually come – which they always do! ... [Click here to read more]

Oct 2015
With another successful Rare Plant Fair behind us, a big thank you to our wonderful exhibitors and loyal plant collectors. One regular visitor told me that he was so excited after getting the newsletter about the Fair that he could barely sleep. He arrived with eight friends in tow and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see them either! ... [Click here to read more]

Sep 2015
In August, the Botanical Society’s KwaZulu-Natal branch added a twist to their annual indigenous plant sale by partnering with the EThekwini Municipality’s Sustainable Living Exhibition. Hordes of school children were invited to attend and the exhibition organisers saw to it that they were well catered for...
[Click here to read more]