Nursery Visits

The Herb Farm at Doonholm Nursery

Fennel flowering - beautiful combination with purple of Lavender

Fennel flowering - beautiful combination with purple of Lavender

I attended a seminar at a venue called The Herb Farm at Doonholm nursery a few weeks ago and was delighted to discover this piece of gardening paradise! The gardens consist of a South African indigenous medicinal herb garden, a reflection pond, a spiral labyrinth herb garden, a scented rose garden and an educational garden. All the plants in this garden (trees, shrubs, groundcovers, climbers, annuals, succulents) are herb plants and this garden has been created to showcase the incredible range of herbal plants at our disposal.

A plant lovers delight! Amazing plant combinations, variety of colour and texture

A plant lovers delight! Amazing plant combinations, variety of colour and texture

The gardens began in 2006 and evolved over the years (the owner described it as a “lappieskombers” or “patchwork quilt”) so that each year a new section was added. It is estimated that it now contains over 450 types of herb plants.

Educational Garden with terraces of herb planting

Educational Garden with terraces of herb planting

There are numerous signboards throughout the garden indicating plant names and their uses. In the Educational Garden you will find: Herbs for Pets, Scented Herbs, Healing Herbs, Insect Repellent Herbs (On a side note I have heard that certain herbs deter pigeons, I really need to find out which ones!) Companion Herbs for Veggie Gardening, Flavour Herbs for Cooking and Herbs for Teas. Herbal plants have numerous beneficial properties and it is widely accepted that our knowledge of the potential that plants hold is under utilised. Look at https://healthyliving-herbs.co.za/medicinal-herbs/ to see specific herbs and their health benefits.

Sprout visits Herb Farm

The Scented Rose Garden: Planted entirely with scented roses ranging from strong to subtle scents and light to dark coloured blooms. Rose petals are edible, used to flavour rose water for food and cosmetics, and used to make confetti and potpourri.

Rose Garden with Steel Gazebo

Rose Garden with Steel Gazebo

Beautiful Rosemary

Beautiful Rosemary

Refreshments are available at The Herb Cafe. Conference Facilities for smaller groups available. Please contact them before visiting as access is by appointment only. 264 Summit Road (R562), Midrand (Olifantsfontein Offramp) Tel: 0861 244 837 or info@herbfarm.co.za

Sunbird Aloes Open Day

Aloes

Every garden needs a selection of Aloes, not only for their sculptural quality but more importantly for the splash of colour they bring in Winter when everything else looks dull and drab. Aloes are indigenous and waterwise and they really need very little attention (unless they get diseases... see far below). There is a wide variety of species available in different sizes as well as different growth forms - from larger clump forming Aloe arborescens and free-standing Aloe marlothii to smaller Aloe cryptopoda, Aloe striata (no thorns) and even the Tree Aloe Barberae.

These species get used in landscaping repeatedly so it is always exciting to find new species in the forms of Hybrids to use; these add interest and variety to a design. Leo Thamm from Sunbird Aloe Nursery specialises in growing hybrid Aloes that he has bred to produce the best flowering plants, something he has been doing for over forty years.

"Wherever different Aloe species flower together in the wild one is likely to find natural hybrids. Hybridisation happens when a bird or an insect accidentally deposits pollen from one species on the flower(s) of another. The seeds that form as a result of this so-called cross-pollination hold the genetic key to plants that are different from both the parent plants. The resulting seedling(s) grow up to be hybrids showing a combination of characteristics of the parent plants. Normally the pollen ‘donor’ is called the father, and the seed bearing parent the mother plant.

In theory any 2 aloes can be “crossed” to create a new hybrid. Some do not make good parents – their offspring can be very disappointing. Still others may be incompatible, and it takes many years to discover the best and most viable combinations. Consequently the pedigree of most of our cultivars is a closely guarded secret." (http://www.sunbirdaloes.co.za/)

Aloe garden at Vine Street Nursery in Ferndale

Aloe garden at Vine Street Nursery in Ferndale

Form, Texture and Colour

Form, Texture and Colour

On Saturday 17 June 2017 Sunbird Aloes held an Open Day where the public could buy directly from them (it is not normally possible to buy directly from a wholesale nursery, especially when only purchasing a few plants). It was wonderful to the see the plants growing so happily in the greenhouses and to see the beautiful flowering cultivars on display. I purchased Aloe 'Green Gold', Aloe 'Snowkiss', Aloe 'Campari' and Aloe 'Andrea's Orange' and am excited to plant them in my garden. But first I need to deal with a small problem...

With great dismay I admit that the existing Aloes in my garden are diseased and although I have been in denial about it for a while, hoping that nature would take it's course and that the plants would fight their own battles, I have realised that some intervention from my part is required. I was grateful for the information about Aloe Care posted on the Sunbird Aloe Website and specifically the guidance given when your Aloes have Gall Mite (Aloe Cancer)  or Aphids and Mealie Bugs. Since my Aloes have both (see images below) I am implementing the advice given (using Blue Death Powder and Systemic Insecticide) and hope that this will help to save my existing plants as well as prevent the new Aloes I bought at the Open Day from also getting the diseases!

Deformed Inflorescence - flowers look cancerous 

Deformed Inflorescence - flowers look cancerous 

Deformed Inflorescence with Aphids

Deformed Inflorescence with Aphids

Inspired by South African Indigenous Flora

I have been fortunate to listen to two presentations by Elsa Pooley: one hosted at Random Harvest Indigneous Nursery in 2015 and the other at the ILASA Conference held in September 2015 (See Previous Blog written on ILASA Conference). I also recently attended a course at The Cavern in the Drakensberg where I was able to view some examples of beautiful indigenous plants  and see examples of these plants growing in the wild.

Turrea floribunda flowering at Random Harvest Nursery

Turrea floribunda flowering at Random Harvest Nursery

To see more about the tree in the above image visit: http://www.randomharvest.co.za/South-African-Indigenous-Plants/Show-Plant/PlantId/112?Plant=Turraea%20floribunda  

Elsa Pooley is an advocate for using indigenous plants in public and civic spaces and strongly believes that any form of rehabilitation should exclusively make use of locally indigenous species. She has spent many years studying the indigenous flora of South Africa, particularly in Kwa-Zulu Natal and knows the great potential that South African plants have, but are unfortunately not commercially grown and therefore not well known by landscapers and home owners. Fortunately for us Random Harvest is one of only a handful of nurseries in the country growing indigenous plants, many of which have until now been unavailable.

An indigenous garden can have colour all year round and although this may not always be bright flowers it can come from foliage and the variety of colour and texture from different plants. Elsa mentions how South African plants are used throughout the world but we do not necessarily appreciate their true value as we prefer to make use of exotic plants in our designs. The temptation for landscapers is to use the same old plants they always use because they are easy and work well but there are so many other plants that we could be using.

Some plants I saw in the Drakensberg that I hope to use in the future in my landscape designs:

Pelargonium reniforme   (photographed at Engen Garage in Harrismith, all other images taken at The Cavern in the Drakensberg)

Pelargonium reniforme  (photographed at Engen Garage in Harrismith, all other images taken at The Cavern in the Drakensberg)

Helichrysum sutherlandii  - look at this wonderful grey foliage

Helichrysum sutherlandii - look at this wonderful grey foliage

Kniphofia northiae  - large Poker highly rated by Elsa, impressive flowers

Kniphofia northiae - large Poker highly rated by Elsa, impressive flowers

Hesperantha coccinea  - Pink Variety, normally Red Flowers

Hesperantha coccinea - Pink Variety, normally Red Flowers

Monopsis decipiens

Monopsis decipiens

Inulanthera calva

Inulanthera calva

Helichrysum hypoleucum  - likes a bit of shade

Helichrysum hypoleucum - likes a bit of shade

Merxmuellera macowanii  - beautiful ornamental grass ( Gomphostigma  on Right)

Merxmuellera macowanii - beautiful ornamental grass (Gomphostigma on Right)

Syncolostemon macratnhus  - tall purple pink flowering shrub

Syncolostemon macratnhus - tall purple pink flowering shrub

Helichrysum acutatum

Helichrysum acutatum

Metalasia densa

Metalasia densa

Gladiolus crassifolius

Gladiolus crassifolius

Wahlenbergia

Wahlenbergia

Lotononis pulchella

Lotononis pulchella

Thalictrum rhynchocarpum -  soft and delicate foliage for shady areas

Thalictrum rhynchocarpum - soft and delicate foliage for shady areas

Seriphium plumosum  (Bankrotbos) also known as  Stoebe plumosa

Seriphium plumosum (Bankrotbos) also known as Stoebe plumosa

Polygala virgata  (Purple Broom)

Polygala virgata (Purple Broom)

Clematis bracteata  (Travellers Joy) - beautifully scented dainty white flowers make this an ideal creeper 

Clematis bracteata (Travellers Joy) - beautifully scented dainty white flowers make this an ideal creeper 

I hope that you will also be inspired by these beautiful plants and experiment with indigenous plants in your garden!

Random Harvest Details: 

For directions please go to our website www.randomharvest.co.za : or call 082-553-0598

Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Sundays

I highly recommend subscribing to Random Harvest Newsletter on their website

Bristlecone Nursery, Skeerpoort

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On the 21st of January 2015 Bristlecone Nursery held its annual Skeerpoort Market Day for landscapers and clients at their farm in Skeerpoort which is not far from Hartbeespoort Dam. It is always a real treat driving out to their farm beautifully located at the foot of the Magaliesburg mountains.  Each year they go out of their way to make it an enjoyable experience – besides the various suppliers exhibiting their products there is always an open bar, a talented musician filling the garden with atmosphere and a delightful meal. I must compliment their cooks - the food is always exceptional!

Leon & Elize Sholtz run this family business with its notable reputation for quality and this year it is celebrating its 35th year! Bristlecone is known for its variety of grasses and these are on display in an area specifically planted up to see what the species look like in their mature growth form.

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Some of the suppliers who were exhibiting included:

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Aqua Flora SA specializing in water plants

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Madibri Nursery specializing in Ericas, Proteas and other Fynbos plants

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Ngena Succulents specializing in Succulents

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The garden is full of plants used to their full potential and one of the highlights of the day is exploring the magnificent spaces that they have created.

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Around every corner is a new discovery and the variety of colours and textures is enough to make you want to buy your own farm somewhere nearby, fill it with plants from Bristlecone, and spend all day pottering in the garden.

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As you walk through the garden you will encounter several unique spaces which together create an impression of creativity and intrigue: a clump of tall bamboo forming a secret hideaway; a lonely bench for contemplation; a vegetable garden with enormous plants guarded by a cheeky scarecrow; an artistic collection of pots and buckets; formal beds of flowering plants; the tortoise enclosure and then finally crossing the wooden bridge edged with Crinum lilies to experience the most glorious sight… a large dam filled to the brim with Lotus flowers and Water Lilies.

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A magical place and always a joy to visit.

Please visit http://www.bristlecone.co.za/ for more information.