Sometime in the winter months I asked Pierre Marais from Growtip to come and have a look at the plants in the nursery which were looking rather poorly. His verdict? They were not getting enough nutrition.

I have to admit that my approach to feeding has been rather lackadaisical. We do it when it rains, when or if we remember, when there are extra staff members. Heeding the expert’s words, we mended our ways and started feeding our plants in the nursery and garden more diligently. We are mostly using the Atlantic Bio Ganic All Purpose fertiliser in the garden and are so thrilled with the result, particularly the growth of the plants in pots. This needs to be applied every two months, watering both before and after application.

Foliar feeding has the advantage that it takes only about two hours to cover the entire garden and the nursery plants. We are applying Talborne Nourish 5:1:4 (as supplied by Growtip) every three weeks. We spray early in the morning when it is cool and don’t water for at least three hours as it takes the plants about that long to absorb the foliar feed.

We really feel we are getting a handle on the fertilising business now, and reaping the rewards. I hope you are inspired to do the same.

A quick refresher: the ratio given for fertilisers is the proportions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the mix. These elements are essential for healthy plant growth in general although their ratio depends on whether you need to stimulate more root growth, flowering or fruiting. Compost alone does not offer nearly enough NPK. It is however an excellent soil conditioner and a good source of the many trace elements like magnesium, calcium and iron that are also important although in much smaller amounts.


I recently had to have some maintenance work done on our security system and was summarily told that the Ipomoea horsfalliae which graces the side of our front stoep had to go because it was obstructing the beam across the front door.

Well, that was not going to happen! Lebo and I put our heads together, and I am quite proud of what we managed to engineer with additional latticing and some swivels. The beautiful climber is now gently supported away from the wall and into a position where it will eventually grow all the way across the front of the stoep. A win-win situation.

Our support in the making

Other than that, with the little bit of rain at the beginning of the week, the garden is looking really fine!

Lathyrus pale pink

Alstroemaria bronze

Psychotria variegata with flowers

Berberis - Ring of fire


Click here to view all the plants in this newsletter on one website page.

Indigenous plants

The versatile Bauhinia galpinii can be used as a screen or to cover a pergola, or pruned into a lovely shrub. An approximately 3m high robust evergreen trailer with lobed leaves, its brick red flowers attract butterflies to the garden from spring to summer. Plant in full sun.

The waterwise Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora is a gorgeous rounded shrub with deep violet trumpet-shaped flowers in summer. Evergreen and semi-hardy, it reaches an average height of 1.2m, and is happy in sun or semi-shade.

Kniphofia ensifolia (with the lovely common name of torch lily) is a sturdy perennial with erect deeply keeled grey-green leaves and tall spikes of lemon/cream flowers in spring that are much loved by birds and insects. Evergreen and hardy, it wants sun to semi-shade and moist soil.

The indigenous arum lily Zantedeschia – Marshmallow has ovate dark green fleshy leaves and large deep pink flower spathes from spring to summer. Hailing from the colder areas of South Africa, it is happiest in sun to semi-shade and moist soil. It is evergreen and very hardy.

Exotic plants

Fuchsia – Lady Boothby is a tough evergreen 2.5m climber well suited for growing over an arch, trellis or fence. It has dark green leaves and dangling red and purple flowers from summer to autumn. Plant in semi-shade.

The huge corymbs of white flowers of Ozothamnus diosmifolius this spring were as breathtaking as its name! This 1.4m high erect multi-branched woody shrub with short scented leaves is evergreen and hardy, and likes sun to semi-shade and dry, sandy soil. We have plants in 5 litre bags.

The Chinese meadow rue, Thalictrum delavayi, is a clump-forming deciduous perennial with lovely greyish-green fern-like foliage and clusters of pendulous lilac flowers from summer to autumn. It reaches a height of about 1m, and wants semi-shade and moist soil.

The masses of rose pink tubular flowers of Weigelia florida variegata attract birds to the garden in summer. This is a very hardy deciduous shrub with attractive white-edged green leaves. It grows about 1.3m high, and can take sun to semi-shade. Makes a good cut flower.


This month’s newsletter is a little early as I will be away for a few days at the end of the month.

I hope everyone manages to tear themselves away from the cricket to spend some time in their gardens. Fortunately, the remaining World Cup rugby matches are at night for us.


Happy gardening!


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