Makeover gardens at Garden World’s Spring Festival

Many of the display gardens at Johannesburg’s Garden World Spring Festival are makeovers of older gardens. It’s a challenging design brief but one that’s very similar to what a designer can find in a residential situation, where you have to work with existing garden features. Here are two 2016 gardens that are makeovers of old gardens. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘1,000 Butterflies’ by Adrian Hoskins

Who doesn’t love seeing a butterfly fluttering through the garden? Adrian Hoskins must because he has spent the last 35 years studying and photographing them in various parts of the world. The study and conservation of butterflies has been a lifelong passion for Hoskins, a passion that began when he was a boy. Hoskins spent many years working voluntarily for Butterfly Conservation in England, as well as leading many butterfly watching tours, and entomological expeditions. Continue reading

Bugs, bees and birds bring beneficial biodiversity

Lately we have been hearing a lot more about biodiversity in the garden and in particular the diversity of insect life that can and should exist in a healthy garden. As we rush through our gardens on the way to work or school we barely notice insects. If we slow down a little we may notice the odd bee or butterfly or grasshopper, and as we take the time to stop and sit in the garden and really watch what is happening we soon start to notice a variety of different bees, wasps, flies, dragonflies, beetles and bugs. Continue reading

Open Gardens West Coast – my garden launches WA’s new scheme

My Perth garden is the inaugural garden opening with Open Gardens West Coast and I’ve been spending all my spare time making sure it lives up to the honour. The new, not-for-profit scheme will open three Perth gardens this year and a statewide program in 2017. Garden lovers are rejoicing as openings have been scarce in WA since Open Gardens Australia folded 16 months ago. Continue reading

Terracing: the gardener’s response to gravity and gradient, then and now

Terraces, terraces everywhere on the Cinque Terre’s vertiginous slopes. (And believe me for yours truly they are sickeningly vertiginous.) Sick, but impressive, as lines of terracing snake along the contours around the hills dropping away into an azure sea. The terraces allow crops of grapevines, vegetables, olive and fruit trees to be grown on slopes that would otherwise be far too steep for cultivation. The stone walls that comprise the terraces date back to the BC when Roman soldiers were rewarded with land to farm as a pension for their service to the conquering generals who happened to make Rome great as they built their political careers on conquests. Continue reading

Bringing the outdoors in: why you need plants inside too

Indoor plants have become a fast growing trend for many good reasons. However, with so many different plant species available it can be a bit intimidating for the first-timer or even experienced gardeners to know what plants are best suited for the home. I purchased my first indoor plant two years ago and I’ve never looked back! Indoor plants have become a whole new obsession of mine. Continue reading

Camellias that could be just your cup of tea

There’s always been something almost mystical about camellias which makes people fall under their spell. And, like rhododendron and Japanese maple lovers; enthusiasts go all starry-eyed and wistful at the very mention of their name. Perhaps it’s their exotic Far East pedigree that captivates hearts, but originating in a corner of the world loosely strung out between Nepal, Vietnam, Japan and Korea – they grow in a very unglamorous climate. With Britain’s four distinct seasons – much the same as large chunks of Europe – they suffer sun, rain and snow, much as we do, and that is why they are so perfectly at home here. Continue reading

Book review: The Bee Friendly Garden

My claim to fame is that I love books, and I have a (novice’s) garden. So this review is coming to you from a beginner gardener, veggie eater, flower lover and book reader who took this book as I take most garden information – an opportunity to learn something that might help me keep my plants happy. And wow, did “The Bee Friendly Garden” help me learn! Continue reading

On the nose: exploring fragrance in our ancient flora

Have you ever seen the beautiful Grevillea leucopteris? We have it growing far from its home in Western Australia on the northern side of Howson Hill in the Australian Garden at Cranbourne. When in flower it has large trusses of cream-white flowers arching over the surrounding garden – just magnificent. The Herbarium in Western Australia knows this beauty by the common name White Plume Grevillea. It is however more often known by another common name ‘Old Socks’ – as to some people these otherwise beautiful flowers have a very unpleasant smell indeed. Continue reading