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Front garden activity

This has been such a busy weekend in the garden for me – no longer could I stand the disheveled look and the hanging, overgrown bushes. I had the energy and the will-power to get it right! With my boots and gloves on, I got out the lawn mower,  edge trimer, wheelbarrow, sheers and spade! The neighbour was thunderstruck! She could not believe that I did it all single-handedly! I even had time to fetch more apricot pips and a new (old) bench that was given to me by my best buddy! Thanks for the new addition to my front garden – it stands proudly and awaits friends to come and rest awhile!





I absolutely love it – it fits perfect into my style of garden. Thank you again and we both wait for your next visit!

The front garden is looking good – the one Leopard Tree had a burst of growth this summer – the other always seems to be 6 months behind!

[one_half]My Leopard Tree in the Grass feature[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Grass feature looking dried out![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Barrow of flowers managed through summer[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Grass mowed and edges cleaned[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Leopard Tree One[/one_third]

[one_third]Leopard Tree Two[/one_third]

[one_third_last]New Bench[/one_third_last]

I am exhausted but pleased with the clean up! Now I need to feed the garden. I have placed an order for Neutrog (organic fertilizer). I have found it the best and gives my garden a burst of new vooma! Can’t wait!

Happy gardening xxx

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Front garden cleanup

It has been an eventful week in my garden – with my first Louisiana Iris bloom and with the warm sunny days we have had all week, the energy is there to get the garden looking spiffy! Out came the lawnmower and the big job to cut the knee-high grass! Oh boy! What a job.

[one_half]This took ages to cut! Whew![/one_half]

[one_half_last]But it was worth it-looks great[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Rose bushes with their new leaves[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Healthy growth[/one_half_last]




As the sun sets on a productive day, I look out over my front garden and am happy! I will be able to see the new expanding plants, grasses, trees, flowers and veggies.

Now I need to plant all my seeds … my job is far from over, but I am smiling!

Happy Gardening xxx

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Perenniels

Gardening mistakes

Most of the time, gardening is a feeling and with some research and new-found knowledge you plant and sow and usually your garden will grow – with love and lots of watering. In this past year, I have made a few mistakes and tried a few recommended tips and found that they were a waste of time.

My first mistake is that sun-loving plants should not be planted in the shadow of trees or large bushes. I was too impatient to fill the gaps that I did not ask the plant (or read the label!) where they prefer to be planted. So I have a few plants that are not thriving – my Lychnis Coronaria is not doing well at all and I have seen some amazing specimens to know that mine looks anorexic! I now have to re-position them and this is double work – so I have learnt a valuable lesson!

My second mistake or planting boo boo is putting a large shrubby lavender in a small bucket. They are just not thriving. They seem stunted and a mould has begun to form, so my fancy threesome are not happy in their bucket homes. Hmmmm…. I’ll have to find smaller plants that are better suited.  Any suggestions?

[one_half]Unhappy Lychnis in the shadows![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lavender just not thriving in the buckets[/one_half_last]

My third and hard learned lesson is that I mow the grass too close! I am lazy with the mowing and cut the grass short and then I get these bald patches that look ugly and take ages to come right. If I would just cut the grass more frequently and not so short, it would be lush and consistently green. It is not my favourite job but once the lawn is mowed it usually makes the whole front garden look nice and neat! So, now I have to come clean, clean up my act and get that lawn looking tip top!

My forth gardening lesson learnt is that all is not always a “good idea”. I want to be a responsible gardener and try to recycle as much as I can. I have tried the toilet roll inners and have failed miserably with them. I thought it was the best idea ever – all you have to do is plant the seedling directly into the ground (once you have the little darling happily growing in the toilet roll) and you have an added protection from nasties getting to your tender stem. Well, this turned out to be a big flop!  I painstakingly mixed the soil, placed it in the inner roll (quite difficult I must add) and then planted a seed or two into this – it took all afternoon. Watering was difficult too. I didn’t want to drown the seed so I used a small measuring cup and gently poured the water (or feed) into each individual roll…..yup! What a schmuck!!

[one_half]Bald patch in my lawn[/one_half]

[one_half_last]My excited attempt at recycling toilet rolls – planted with basil and tomatoes[/one_half_last]

Well, this did not  produce a great crop of plants – most of them did not even pop a head out! They remained stunted and looked malnourished! After all the attention and love and great worm tea …..!! I don’t think I will try that again. Oh yes! AND!! The toilet roll was so stiff that I had doubts that they would ever decompose! So, I had to tear them up gently and plant the surviors. You will see the difference in the photos below – the seed in the ground (literally shoved into the ground and watered) looking full of promise in producing a host of tomatoes and the delicately cared for wimp of a plant that looks as if it will take another year before it bears fruit!

[one_half]Stunted growth from the toilet roll planting[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Seeds shoved in the ground at the same time have flourished[/one_half_last]

Oh the joys of gardening! I have learnt valuable lessons this year!

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Progress in a forgotten corner

We all have neglected spaces in our gardens, or no? Well, I have a few, but I have a good excuse. I’ve only been gardening properly for a few months and it is taking time to get to all the areas that need work and to acquire the right plants for each space – add to that an area that was being cared for being destroyed by plumbing works and I’ve had lots to do and fix!

There is a funny little space in my back garden that has been crying for some attention for years. It forms part of “Dexter’s garden”, the space where he is allowed to make as much mess as he pleases, where he does not get reprimanded if he tramples the plants, a space where he can just be the great big 65kg, exuberant Rottweiler that he is. Seems fair, right? I think so. But that doesn’t make gardening in this space easy.

The reason he was given this part of the garden is that it starts at the end of a long alley way at the side of the house where we throw balls for him. It is his favourite game. Mom throws the ball and he charges up the alley to retrieve it and then charges all the way back to bring it back for a repeat throw. On and on it goes … Problem with this game is that the ball ends up in this part of the garden and all the charging after the ball makes creating a pretty garden here very difficult almost impossible. Hence it was christened “Dexter’s Garden” and pretty much neglected.

But then we had the plumbing disaster, we laid new lawn and … well I decided to start doing something in the area.

But todays post is not actually about Dexter’s garden, its about the tiny triangular patch opposite his garden which has an old tree stump in it and nothing else. I have never shown this patch before – I used to crop it off photos or angle the camera in such a way that it excluded this patch – because it was embarrassingly ugly. Really.

I still didn’t have a plan but I did have a few plants that require full sun and nowhere suitable to put them, or so I thought. One day as I was again bemoaning the fact that these full sun plants were declining in their current spaces I had the idea to move them to this patch as it gets pretty hot in that corner and seems to get plenty of sun. So I moved the plants here and all three plants are Happy as Larry, having sprouted plenty of new growth in the two weeks they’ve been planted here. I’m not sure they really work together, but its a start … I plan to add a creeper and something that will grow over and around the tree stump in due course.

I planted:
1). Solanum rantonnetii (Blue Potato Bush) – I’ve had this shrub for months and it never grew an inch. In fact it was losing its leaves and looked as if it was about to die. I planted it, cut back all the dead branches, pruned it a little and within two weeks in its new space its trebled in size and has started flowering.
2). Lynchnis – this was an impulse buy. The label said full sun and I had no idea what I was going to do with it … so it got planted here. So far its doing fine. Its grown a bit in the past two weeks and is covered in blooms. I like it a lot. I love the silver/grey foliage and the bright red flowers. Cute.
3). This was my first “Bamboo” purchase – unfortunately I lost the tag so I don’t have a clue what it is (Alan, are you reading this?). I think its a ground cover type bamboo – I do recall that the label said its a “clumping” type bamboo, and I’m really hoping its Pleioblastus viridistriatus which I’ve wanted that for some time ever since I saw it on this blog: It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening.

So here are some photos to show what it looked like before and after with close ups of the plants (you can click the photos to enlarge)

[one_half]”Dexters garden” in August – a real messThe way it was[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The arrow shows “that” awful corner"That" corner[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Photo taken today – we have progress!Photo taken today - we have progress![/one_half]

[one_half_last]The “corner” this post is all aboutThe "corner" mentioned above[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Plant 1 – Solanum rantonnetii (Blue Potato Bush)Plant 1 - Solanum[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Plant 2 – Lynchnis (coronata I think)Lynchnis[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Plant 3 – Unknown small BambooGround cover bamboo?[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Dexter enjoying “his” gardenDexter enjoying "his" garden[/one_half_last]

Dexter seems to like his “new” garden. Strangely we’ve had no plants damaged even though we still throw the ball for him, but we are a little more careful about where we throw it now.

The lawn is coming along nicely too. I’m very happy with it so far.

Happy weekend gardening

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Going Green

I had taken a number of photographs towards the end of September because my garden is bursting with green. I don’t know if you remember, but I used Blade Runner on my lawn at the end of July. Julie, from Neutrog, kindly sponsored some samples and all I can say is WOW! I am very impressed!

I am so impressed with the look of my lawn – it has never been so lush. I have struggled with a patchy, brown lawn in my front garden for years. No help with the chickens scratching it all up. So, I decided to lock them out and really look after the lawn. But still, no real results. Until I used Blade Runner. It has made the world of difference! I have also noticed that the fruit trees are also healthy and green and dense with leaves!

[one_half]Front lawn – looking lush![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lawn near the grass feature[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Going green![/one_half]

[one_half_last]I love all this green![/one_half_last]

[one_half]My new Camomile plant![/one_half]

[one_half_last]New peaches! Still green[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Blueberry blush![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Loquat tree[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My new Hanepoot grape vine[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lush clover – green gold![/one_half_last]

I’m loving my garden at the moment. So much promise to come


Happy gardening xxx


Christine's garden Do it yourself Gardening Home page features

New Lawn and instant gratification

I’ve been battling with the small lawn area in my back garden for two years. It never looked good. I played around with the idea of getting rid of the lawn altogether, but it’s really a small area (31m²) and it’s the only “soft” area in my garden for kids to play on so I lived in hope that it would eventually grow. Then about 2 months ago we had the tree fellers and plumbers here within a week of each other who stomped around and dug up what was there, and the little excuse of a lawn I had, was completely destroyed. What to do?

I looked at my back garden despondently for a few weeks and got some quotes and was really unimpressed by what was being offered. (somebody recommended Kikuyu which I don’t like – invasive water-guzzler that it is, amongst others). So I decided to do most of it myself. (I’ve learnt so many times in life that if you want something done properly you need to do it yourself!). So I got out my books, hunted online and after hours and hours of research I finally put a plan of action together. With the help of my painter, we dug up the existing area to 300mm deep and worked in TONS of compost into the soil (the soil had become hard and compacted and I could see nothing was going to grow well if we didn’t prepare the area really, really well). We added the prescribed soil amendments and then I was ready to “find” my lawn.

I decided on Gulf Green for many reasons. Firstly because its harder wearing than Berea shade lawn (which from experience I know does not work in that area) and because although it requires sun – which it now gets, it is 45% shade tolerant (whatever that means, I’m taking my chances). Finally I got hold of a roll on lawn company who would deliver my lawn and, for a very nominal fee they laid it too (seeing as we had adequately prepared the lawn I think they gave me a really good deal). The service was outstanding, I was very happy with the execution and I am seriously delighted with my new lawn! I can now see exactly what I need to do in the beds surrounding it as opposed to being overwhelmed by the bare ugly lawn patches.

Here are the photographs …

The new lawn area

[one_half]Before plumbing – The old lawn at it’s “best”Before the plumbing works[/one_half]

[one_half_last]After the plumbersAfter the plumbers – destroyed[/one_half_last]

[one_half]”Dexters Garden” before"Dexters Garden" before[/one_half]

[one_half_last]”Dexters Garden” after (Yes, I have a plan for it!)"Dexters Garden" after[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Prepped and ready …Prepped and ready ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Newly laid lawnNewly laid lawn[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Looking from the top – downLooking from the top - down[/one_third]

[one_third]Looking from the bottom, upLooking from the bottom, up[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Taking a closer lookTaking a closer look[/one_third_last]

I have lots of work to do now for the next three weeks to make sure that the lawn establishes itself well so that it can grow and thrive, but I believe it will be well worth it in the long run and I am now looking forward to planting up all the bare patches in the beds – especially the little area we call “Dexters Garden”.

Anybody in the Cape Town area looking for really good service, great quality lawn and good prices, get hold of Brian at I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Happy gardening!

Christine's garden Gardening

Weekend project and redoing the lawn

I have a huge large area in my back garden that is made up of two sections. One was destroyed by recent plumbing works and the other was previously reserved for my dog to play in and mess up to his hearts content. He has grown up and is a lot less boisterous and better behaved (well, a BIT better behaved), so its time to change what was called “Dexter’s garden” from a dumping ground to a pretty garden. We’ve also cut the trees back drastically to allow more light into this area so things might actually grow here now.

This area is the lower corner of the L-shape that makes up my back garden (sort of out of sight unless you actually walk around there). I thought I’d share some “before” photos. As you can see it really is very unattractive and quite a mess. To add to the messy look of it all, the existing lawn was destroyed by the plumbing guys (unintentionally, but unavoidable with all the rubble that was removed). The ground is now completely compacted and I am preparing it properly before I plant up new grass.

This weekend I’ll be removing a lot of debris, adding compost, moving some of the plants I want to keep (the Clivias and Nandinas) and then I will be adding the same plants to the two curves at the front of this border which I already have at the other end. Once I’ve done all that I’ll have a clearer picture of how much space I still have to fill and will work out how many plants I need to buy to fill the area. It will take a while to get the area planted up as the plants I’m wanting to have in this area are not all available right now. I’m tired of planting things just to “not have bare patches”. This time it’s all about being patient and waiting for the right plants to be available.

Before Photographs

[one_half]BEFORE the plumbing (it wasn’t perfect)Before[/one_half]

[one_half_last]AFTER – the area ruined by plumbingthe Corner[/one_half_last]

[one_half]The lower “L” – This was “Dexter’s garden”Dexters garden[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another “after the plumbing pic”After[/one_half_last]

Close ups of the compacted soil

On to the lawn … the lawn is a touchy subject with me right now because this will be the THIRD time it gets replanted. I will save the entire “lawn saga” for another post – but this time I am going to redo it by myself seeing as the previous attempts which were left to so called professionals have been unsuccessful. It seems that if you want something done properly, you need to do it yourself OR stand over the people who are supposed to do it and watch that they actually do it properly! (In that case, I might as well just do it myself!). The entire area is small. 15 m x 1.5 at the small curve and 2m at the wide curves (so +/- 30m²). “Dexters lawn area” is 2 x 4 m.

[one_half]Close up of compacted areaCompacted earth[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another close upCompacted earth[/one_half_last]

Digging, composting, revitalising

And now here we are revitalising the soil. Digging to a depth of 30cm (as the books tell me to), adding and mixing it with lots of fresh compost, turning the soil etc. Here are some progress pics.

[one_third]Starting to dig & compostStarted revitalising[/one_third]

[one_third]Half way doneHalf way there[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Contrast between Old & NewOld and new[/one_third_last]

So that’s my weekend gardening plan. Once I’ve completed the prep work I’ll document what I did. I’m working from a book and doing exactly what they say …

What are you doing this weekend in your garden? Anything exciting?

Barbie's garden Design Do it yourself Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous

New grass patch

Hi Chris – today was the day! I fetched my grass sods from our friend, Kevin, who grows the most amazing indigenous grass. (Star Light Lawn) This grass is Cynodon – an indigenous grass, valued for its drought tolerance compared to most other lawn grasses. Also known as Bermuda grass, originally from the savannas of Africa. It grows in open areas where there are frequent disturbances such as grazing, flooding, and fire.

Although most of these species have remained in Africa, today Cynodon dactylon is found in warm climates all over the world between 45° south and 45° north latitude. It can be found growing in pastures and the understories of open woodlands and orchards. It is called bermuda grass in the United States because it was introduced from the Bermuda Island.

Bermuda grass is a creeping grass, and will creep along the ground and root where ever a node touches the ground, forming a dense mat. It also reproduces from roots under the ground. It has a deep root system, and in drought situations the root system can grow 47 to 59 inches (120-150 cm) deep. Most of the root mass lies 24 inches (60 cm) under the surface.

To contact Kevin for roll-on-lawn at Star Light Lawn, please phone 082 441 3696 / 021 572 0089 or email

Watch the video below to see how easy it was!

Christine's garden Gardening

My “back garden” make-over

I’ve been going through hundreds of old photographs to find before pics to show you of how the back area of my garden looked when we first bought this house. It really was not attractive – it was already overgrown and was dominated by ivy, ferns and the trees! The only thing I regret is that the “gardener” I got to mow the lawn and “tidy up” the garden destroyed a huge, beautiful lavender bush we had in the back garden. Everything else was … well IVY and the delicious monster which Kathryn decided to keep in the garden. I’m still not mad about it, I may remove it one day, but for now I defer to her better judgement.

After our magical day spent in Philadelphia yesterday with the kids and their families, I spent the best part of today working on this part of the garden – As I mentioned to you, I have a bit of an “ant problem” back there and aphids are attacking the Camellias, so armed with my organic pest repellent I’ve been spraying and then weeding, removing dead leaves, learning to prune … lots of work!

Here is a current comparison in photographs. The way it looked before Kathryn worked her magic and a photo I took today.


Before – July 2010

Back Garden July 2010[/one_half]


6 Months later – January 2011

Back Garden January 2011[/one_half_last]

I do still hate seeing the house next door but the rate at which the trees are growing (especially the Viburnum that was planted), I’m confident that within a year I should have my privacy back. Not that they can see over their wall into my garden, but I just don’t like looking at neighbour houses from my garden.

I uploaded a set of photos of the “progress” the plants have made to in case you are interested in seeing how its progressed. There is one that I took just after the new plants and lawn were planted, then one in October, one in December and then two photos I took today. Here is the link: My Back Garden progress in photos. I’ll add more to the set as time goes by.

That’s all for today!