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 [...]

Water friendly gardens

Summertime, and the gardening is easy! Well, it can be if you follow the tips in our latest blog. You’ll find loads of information on preparing for a spectacular display of blooms, controlling insects without harming the environment, and most importantly, how to be a waterwise gardener. Normally by this time of year we would be enjoying the first summer rains, but all the experts seem to agree that this year the much-needed rains will come late. Many areas are already looking rather dry and brown, and the challenge for gardeners is how to keep our outdoor spaces looking their best, while being responsible consumers of water. We believe that the answer lies in waterwise gardening, and especially in growing indigenous plant species which are more drought-resistant and don’t require nearly as much water as exotics. Summertime also sees an increase in the number of insects in our gardens – both beneficial ones, and some which are less friendly. Encouraging birds to visit your garden is one way of helping to control insects, and you can also take more direct action by using organic, eco-friendly pesticides. It’s all about working with Nature, not against it. One bit of good news in a dry [...]