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How to decorate a garden for the Festive Season

Outdoor festive decorations are key in creating a cheerful and festive ambiance during the holiday season. Whether you’re going all out, making your house and garden the envy of the street with elaborate light designs and displays, or you just want to welcome your guests with a simple hand-made wreath and some soft candle glow, we offer you suggestions on how to decorate a garden for Christmas to lift spirits and make warm memories during the beautiful summer evenings in Johannesburg. A)      The Christmas Lights They are the number one choice in Christmas decorations for a reason – no festive decoration is complete with them, whether you only choose to outline the front facing windows, to wrap columns or deck the entire patio with lights. Mix light sources.In order to be captive of only the soft glow of twinkle lights, you will need to subdue your year-round exterior lighting. Consider changing year-round bulbs with lower wattage ones to let twinkle lights immerse the outdoor space in their soft glow. Wrap hedges.It is best that you opt for net lights – they might be a tad more expensive than strand lights but they offer convenience and precision of installation which saves time [...]


From the earliest times, indeed throughout the history of civilization, people from around the world have held the rose close to their hearts. The earliest known gardening was the planting of roses along the most travelled routes of early nomadic humans. Earliest roses are known to have flourished 35 million-years ago and hips have been found in Europe and petrified rose wreaths have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs. The Romans outdid the Greeks when Nero, the hedonistic emperor, 1st century AD, dumped tons of rose petals on his dinner guests. Cleopatra had her living quarters filled with the petals of roses so that when Marc Antony met her, he would long remember her for such opulence and be reminded of her every time he smelt a rose. Her scheme worked for him. Such is the power of roses. The Romans cultivated this great beauty and named it Rosa Gallica.  Newly married couples were often crowned with roses. Roman high society women used petals much like currency believing that they could banish wrinkles if used in poultices. Rose petals were often dropped in wine because it was thought that the essence of rose would stave off drunkenness.  Victorious armies would return to be showered with rose petals from [...]

SPRING – It’s finally here!

Spring means emerging from winter hibernation and the commencement of tree climbing for the younger (and maybe not so young folk) as we celebrate Arbor month, iced drinks, oversized sunglasses, outdoor sports, short shorts and of course beautiful flowers everywhere.  After a long winter, it feels good to take off one’s coat, go outside, and enjoy the weather. Not only does the light and warmth put us all in a good mood, but it also gives us more energy to accomplish our gardening goals. This season brings extended daylight, rising temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. The word equinox comes from the Latin words meaning “equal night”, the name explains the time of the year when the day and night are of equal length, spring equinox is on the 23rd September 2018. Spring is the time when bumblebees emerge from their hiding places to stretch their sleepy legs. The days are a flutter with renewed signs of life everywhere you turn and the spirit of starting anew begins to take hold. Spring has been celebrated throughout human history as a time of organic and spiritual rebirth following the “dying of the year” in winter. Spring cleaning may hold different meanings to different people, to  some it [...]


Why are women so rarely celebrated in the history of gardening? What is the history of gardening women. For centuries gardens have been important to women and women have been important to gardens. We look at a vivid vignette of Mistress Thomasin Tunstall, a Lancashire gardener in the late 1620s whose passion for horticultural rarities earned her a fierce retrospective rebuke from the irascible 20th-century plant collector, Reginald Farrer, who blamed her for the disappearance of the Lady’s Slipper Orchid from Britain. Many formidable women gardeners of the past seem to have turned to horticulture as a solace for grief or scandal. Take Lady Anne Monson, an 18th-century charmer who captivated a string of men, bore an illegitimate son, for which her husband divorced her, and so entranced the great Swedish botanist Linnaeus that he named Monsonia Speciosa after her, dedicating it to her with a flirty note in Latin: ‘Unhappy is the husband whose wife pleases no one but himself. I have never seen your face, but in my sleep I often dream of you…’ Then there was Lady Dorothy Nevill, married in a hurry to an elderly cousin after she incautiously spent half an hour alone in a summerhouse with a [...]

A Prisoner in the garden – Nelson Mandela

In 1977 the South African prison authorities allowed a number of journalists to visit the notorious Robben Island. The intention was to persuade the outside world that the conditions there were not as bad as widely believed. On their tour of the island the journalists encountered a tall, thin man dressed neatly in prison clothes and leaning on a spade. The expression on his face was one of intense hostility, and his bearing was more that of prince than prisoner. The man was Nelson Mandela, in his 13th year of incarceration on Robben Island.  Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his prison sentence confined to Robben Island as a political prisoner. In his own words – “In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the results. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.” We all know gardening is a great escape. Nelson Mandela used it as one for 27 years in prison: “To plant [...]

We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY is coming up this month. Let’s take care of our planet and you can begin in your backyard! RECYCLE glass, paper and cans and buy recycled products REUSE plastic bags, bottles; donate surplus equipment or old magazines to charities REDUCE waste going to landfill sites! Start composting! Up to a third of household waste can be composted! REFUSE – don’t buy products that have excessive non-recyclable packaging ROT – start a compost heap or a Bokashi bin REPLANT – share your excess plants with friends and make your own cuttings We will help you take care of your recycling – give us your waste pots and plastic! Taking care of our planet also means that you can make your garden a haven for wildlife. Our nursery will hopefully give you some inspiration. We will show you: how to make compost using organic matter mixed with a compost activator how to attract animals to your garden. Birds, toads, lizards, chameleons and even genets and bush-babies can live in your garden. Provide them with a habitat for feeding, nesting, resting and breeding. Encourage insects by leaving dead organic material in the garden. Carefully use pesticides. Provide dense shrubbery away from the house. Put out food like chopped fruit [...]

What our Mothers taught us about gardening and life!

A lot of us have memories of gardening in our childhood. Whether it was helping to weed, planting flowers, harvesting vegetables, or mowing the lawn, most of us spent some time in the garden learning about plants and life from our Moms. We would like to share a few fun quirky gardening facts that Mum might not have taught you! Torenia,a shade-loving annual, is called the wishbone flower. Look for tiny wishbone-shape stamens inside the purple, blue or burgundy petals. Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world – it can grow 09cm in a single day. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that grapes were grown to make wine about 8,000 years ago in Mesopotamia (Iraq), although the ancient Egyptians were the first to record the process of making wine about 5,000 years ago. During the 1600s, tulips were so valuable in Holland that their bulbs were worth more than gold. The craze was called tulip mania, or tulipomania, and caused the crash of the Dutch economy. Vanilla flavoring comes from the pod of an orchid, Vanilla planifolia.Though the pods are called vanilla beans, they’re more closely related to corn than green beans. Pineapples are the only edible members of the bromeliad family. The word pineapple comes [...]


February is often referred to as the month of love, and it’s no wonder, with Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of it. In the northern hemisphere, February 14th is traditionally regarded as the day when birds choose their mates, so it seems that it’s not just humans that are busy declaring love at this time. Whether you want to declare your love openly or anonymously, there is no finer or more expressive way to let the man or woman of your dreams know how much they mean to you than by saying it with flowers. As gardeners, we’re used to lavishing lots of love and attention on our gardens – and it shows in the amazing floral displays that can be seen in all the best gardens at the moment. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to combine our love for horticulture with our love for that special someone. Roses may be the traditional way of showing someone you love them, but as with any cut flower, they’ll soon start to fade. Surely we can find a better way to express everlasting love – a love that will grow and mature and still blossom many years from now? Rather than giving someone long-stem [...]

Love of Nature

Some people are scared of spiders, or snakes. We all know that’s an example of a phobia. The opposite to this is a real love for something – for example,  your love Nature (and living things) makes you a biophilic. Chances are that if you’ve already visited Keith Kirsten Waterfall Wilds, or you live in Waterfall Estates, then you share our love for Nature. With more and more people living in cities, and with virtual experiences starting to replace real ones, there is a genuine danger that we could all be cut off from Nature. This would not only be a crying shame, but could also be bad for our health. Think how much calmer and more grounded you feel when you’re surrounded by plants and trees. Wouldn’t you like to feel this way more often, and experience the satisfaction that comes when you work with Nature, rather than against it? Creating a beautiful garden, patio or balcony is one way of retaining and strengthening this natural bond. Celebrating Heritage Day brought us together as a nation and reminded us of our rich, deep cultural legacies, and our sometimes-turbulent past. But South Africa also has an outstanding botanical heritage, with a diversity [...]

Save lives – plant a tree!

All trees less 30% from 1 – 7 September 2017 at Keith Kirsten Waterfall Wilds. As we celebrate Spring Day, many of us are looking to the future both in our gardens and on a grander scale. As gardeners, we believe that there’s no greater vote of confidence that you can make in the future of our Rainbow Nation, than planting a tree. A tree that will grow and prosper long after you yourself have passed away. A tree that will provide beauty and shade to future generations of your family. A tree for birds to nest in and kids to climb. A tree that will drop leaves in someone else’s pool, or apples in your grandchildren’s baskets. The first week of September is set aside as National Arbor Week, and it’s all about encouraging all South Africans to plant more indigenous trees. Our trees are under threat:  with increasing demand for land for houses, malls and road widening, it seems that we are squeezing the trees out.