Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Reviews

My Visit to Seebauer Garden Centre in Munich, Germany

I’ve just returned from a two-week trip to Munich in Germany which included a two-day stop in Paris on the way home. Of all the fabulous things we did and saw over the two weeks, for me, a visit to Seebauer Garten Center was one of the highlights. Even if you are not a plant-nerd, this Nursery is impressive, not just for the sheer size and scale of the offerings but for the quality and presentation of plants. I didn’t take my good camera with me but the little Canon Ixus managed to capture some of the outstanding features of the Nursery, but regretfully, not the size and scale of it all.

Seebauer Garden Center

The multi award-winning Nursery was awarded “Bestes Gardencenter Deutschlands” in 2005, 2006 and again in 2008 and wow! it shows! Started in 1864 by Georg Seebauer, today it is still run by the family. The love of plants instilled in her ‘in the crib’, the Nursery today is run by his family, at this time by Gertraud Gerstenkorn and her husband Lutz and their son, Bernhard.

Lets take a look around …

[one_half]At the entrance to SeebauerAt the entrance to Seebauer[/one_half]

[one_half_last]I love what they’ve done with these potsI love what they've done with these pots[/one_half_last]

[one_half]A look at the potted plant sectionFirst look at the potted plant section[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Loved these “soft pots” (fancy grow bags)Loved these "soft pots" (fancy grow bags)[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Potted plants displayPotted plants display[/one_third]

[one_third]More potted plantsMore potted plants[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Ginkgo BilobaGinko Biloba[/one_third_last]

[one_half]A highlight for me … the Tree NurseryA highlight for me ... the Tree Nursery[/one_half]

[one_half_last]A fabulous Autumn showing of AcerA fabulous Autumn showing of Acer[/one_half_last]

[one_half]This display was simply beautiful This display was simply beautiful [/one_half]

[one_half_last]I really, really want one of these!I really, really want one of these![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Bamboo – We thought of you, Alan 🙂Bamboo - We thought of you, Alan :)[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Beautiful grasses – a stunning displayBeautiful grasses - a stunning display[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Rows and rows and rows …Rows and rows and rows ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And more rows of beautiful plantsAnd more rows of beautiful plants[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Beautifully displayed plants …Beautifully displayed plants ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]I came away inspired and full of ideasI came away inspired and full of ideas[/one_half_last]

[one_half]This was my favourite display – ‘Heide’This was my favourite display - 'Heide'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lots of ideas and beautiful plantsLots of ideas and beautiful plants[/one_half_last]

Looking back at these photographs I now wish I had taken the fancy camera. I have really not done justice to this impressive Nursery with my amateurish photos. The Tree Nursery, for example, spreads out at the back of the centre and looks like a little forest – row upon row of magnificent trees, all in their finest Autumn wear. It was a beautiful sight. I could have bought so much …

We stopped off for tea at the Cafeteria which was upstairs and afforded a birds eye-view of the centre (and a few little birdies joined us for tea).

[one_half]My Mom getting us tea at the CafeteriaMy Mom getting us tea at the Cafeteria[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Even the grown-ups keep texting!!Even the grown-ups keep texting!![/one_half_last]

[one_half]In the Cafeteria at SeebauerIn the Cafeteria at Seebauer[/one_half]

[one_half_last]A view from the top levelA view from the top level[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Another view from the upper levelAnother view from the upper level[/one_half]

[one_half_last]They had plenty of Roses on displayThey had plenty of Roses on display[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Everything here is accurately labelledEverything here is accurately labelled[/one_half]

[one_half_last]An impressive range of hardwareAn impressive range of hardware[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Rows and rows of pots and decorRows and rows of pots and decor[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Not a speck of dust, anywhereNot a speck of dust, anywhere[/one_half_last]

I had to get special permission to take photographs which was given to me after I had signed a register and explained that I was a tourist from South Africa. It took incredible self-restraint not to go completely crazy in here. I could honestly have bought so much if I were allowed to bring this back to South Africa. Sadly, it is not permitted to bring plant material back home, understandably so. But it was great fun imagining and I came home with lots of ideas. First one is that I absolutely have to get an Acer Palmatum for my garden. They thrive in the same conditions that Azaleas do well in, so it seems like a no-brainer for my garden. And perhaps a Ginkgo Biloba too? How beautiful they looked together here.

[one_half]The Orchid display was impressiveThe Orchid display was iimpressive[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Orchids seemingly everywhereOrchids seemingly everywhere[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Orchids and accessoriesOrchids and accessories[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Start of the fake flower sectionStart of the fake flower section[/one_half_last]

I did buy a few odds and ends of the non-plant variety. They had an impressive ‘Christmas Shop’ and I couldn’t resist a grow bag. My daughter’s wish for artificial Cherry Blossoms was realised – they had the most impressive range of silk flowers I have ever seen. I’m not a lover of fake flowers, but these impressed even me, so I squashed and bent 10 huge sprays of fake cherry blossoms into my luggage and after 24 hours of resting they are standing tall and proud, ready for a massive glass vase – Daughter loves them! I think I do to …

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Perenniels

Open Gardens visit

I wanted to share the Elgin Open Gardens Route visit we did last weekend. I took a few photos of the beautiful flowers and gardens we visited, namely Heaven Scent Nursery and Duncan’s Roses. This happens every year in late October/early November. We selected three gardens to visit out of many.

Duncan’s Roses Gardens – Elgin

November open garden day










Heaven Scent Nursery, Elgin





A little history on the Elgin Open Gardens Route:

The story of open gardens in Elgin goes back to the 1960s and 1970s, when Lady Bourne opened her spring garden each year to the public. In her early years she had befriended Collingwood Ingram, the great Japanese flowering cherry enthusiast, and it was through him that she acquired a number of cherries, becoming the first person in South Africa to grow them. Her garden (begun in the thirties) lay in a sheltered kloof and featured terraced beds, a bluebell wood, a jasmine pergola, a charming dog’s cemetery, a sweeping lawn with islanded beds filled with roses and irises, and a magnificent Judas tree. She also designed many other gardens in the district, and her influence is still felt today.

In 1991 Fresh Woods, well known for its collection of heritage and species roses started by Maisie Knox-Shaw in the early fifties, opened to the public for the first time and has held open days each year since then. Gradually more gardens started opening and in 2011 there were 23 gardens to visit.

To learn more about the Elgin Open Gardens click here.

Barbie's garden Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Reviews

Harry Goemans Garden Centre – a review

Harry Goemans Garden CentreAbout two weeks ago Barbie and I took a drive to Noordhoek to visit Harry Goemans Garden Centre. I’d read about the nursery somewhere and it was on my list of nurseries to visit and then Harry himself offered me some advice by commenting on this blog so we decided it was time to make the effort and travel the few extra kilometres to see what we could find.

About a forty-five minute, very scenic drive from my home to Noordhoek, we found Harry Goemans Garden Centre quite easily, situated on the Kommetjie Road in Sunnydale. The view from the road of the nursery is unimpressive but first impressions were soon put aside once we entered the garden centre. We found a stunning nursery with lovely, well cared for plants and an interesting range of paving slabs and related concrete items (such as edgings, cobbles, sleeper steps), many of which I believe they manufacture themselves which would account for the prices being very reasonable.

We did a quick run through the nursery to see what was on offer and then a shower of rain motivated us to seek refuge in the most charming little coffee shop they have on site, called Easy Dig Café. It was warm and cosy with a roaring fire creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. After a few cups of coffee and wonderful croissants, we were recharged and ready to “shop”. (Seriously, the coffee shop alone is worth a stop if you are in the area). We wandered around the nursery picking up plants and immediately had someone carrying and sorting our plants for us (the service was unobtrusive, helpful and great! 10 out 10 for that) and I was delighted to see a lot of plants I’ve been looking for available for sale here.

They have a wide variety of hardy, indigenous plants on offer as well as lots of exotics. I saw a lovely selection of Hellebores (very nice size plants which are obviously more mature than the ones I bought – they are only the second general nursery I’ve found them at, but the first with such large, healthy looking specimens), lovely large sized Clivias, of course the usual Camellias and Azaleas I’m seeing at all the nurseries at the moment. I was impressed by the condition of their plants. For the past few weeks I’ve had difficulty buying anything at my weekly visit to the two usual nurseries I frequent – simply because I’m seeing the “same ol’ same ol'” plants there every week, and everything is looking a bit tired and “wintry-fied”. Not so at Harry’s – I managed to part with a good amount of cash simply because they had a number different plants there that I had on my list of “thing to buy” and the plants all looked great!

As can be expected they offer pots and planters of all shapes and sizes, hardware and garden tools, gifts and décor accessories, a dedicated irrigation supplies department, and all the garden necessities like fertilisers, composts and mulches you expect to find at a one stop garden centre.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Not really – I couldn’t fault them but I was a bit disappointed in the selection of grasses. I would have liked a larger selection and didn’t find any of the grasses I’m looking for. But I suspect this is the wrong time of year to expect a great selection of ornamental grasses at any nursery in the Western Cape.

[one_half]Easy Dig CaféEasy Dig Cafe[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Shade plantsShade plants[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Exotic shrubsExotic shrubs[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Interesting nik-naksInteresting nik-naks[/one_half_last]

For the record:
We did not announce ourselves, they were unaware of who we were and this is an unsolicited review of a nursery I will travel the extra kilometres to visit again!

Where to find them:
Harry Goemans Garden Centre, Kommetjie Road, Sunnydale, Noordhoek.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 785-3201

Flickr Photo Gallery

(Photographs © Barbara Mueller-Thiart)

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Miscellaneous

How much I’ve learnt in ten short months

It is no secret that less than a year ago I knew pretty much nothing about gardening and plants. OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little … I knew the names of a few plants, bougainvillea, roses and lilies spring to mind. I think I also knew about Marigolds, daisies and ferns. Oh and of course I knew all about Ivy, because Ivy was the most prolific plant in my overgrown jungle of a garden. Ivy and a few ferns.

Fast forward ten short months and during a visit to a nursery today I amazed myself by how much I have learnt. Stopping at plants and knowing the proper names, recognising textures and shapes, knowing what would work where … and of course stumbling on a few new-to-me plants, looking at the names and recognising having seen them before on a blog or in a book. It was a most pleasurable (and again educational) two hours spent amongst the plants.

The gardening course I have been busy with promised me in the opening notes that I would no longer go to nurseries and come back with “impulse buy” plants. The course entitled “Planting Design” promised that I would make plans before buying and that I would more often than not leave a nursery without buying anything, if what I had gone there for was not available. Well that was put to the test today … for the first time I discovered Hellebores at a nursery here in Cape Town. Eleven little Hellebores all lined up in a row and I so badly wanted to buy them. But my new ‘plant philosophy’ is that if I don’t have a plan, I can’t buy, so I left without them. A first for me! That’s not to say I won’t go back for them … as soon as I have a plan for them.

But then a detour to Exclusive Books and I succumbed to impulse buying and left with two new books. Pocket books actually, both by the Royal Hortucultural Society (RHS). The first book is RHS Plants for PlacesWith full colour photographs and information for over 1,000 tried and tested plants, this is the pocket-sized guide for trips to the garden centre and nursery.

The second is RHS Good Plant GuideWhether you want to cultivate the classic English rose or grow a crop of climbing French beans, choose plants with confidence with the RHS Good Plant Guide. Recommends over 3,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, bedding plants, fruits and vegetables for every garden situation and with more than 1,500 colourful photos and illustrations.

These are two lovely little books to assist in my continued gardening education 🙂

[one_half]RHS Plants for PlacesPlants for places[/one_half]

[one_half_last]RHS Good Plant GuideRHS Good Plant Guide[/one_half_last]

I love these little books as they are great reference books as well as being useful to pick up and page through for a few minutes every now again, just to familiarise myself with new plants or to look up known plants for more info. Small and compact they are also easy to pop into a bag in case I do want to take one on a nursery visit – easily hidden in a bag so I don’t go there looking too much like a gardening-nerd!

Off to read about plants
Happy Gardening

Annuals Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

One bag of potting soil

This afternoon I had to pop in to the nursery to get ONE bag of potting soil. That’s all. One bag of potting soil. I promised myself that was all I would buy as I have so much work to do in the garden and still have some plants standing around (from the Elgin trip) that need to be planted. That’s the deal I make with myself – I’m only allowed to buy plants when everything is planted and there is nothing much to do in the garden.

I needed one bag of potting soil to fill a container that is being planted with spring flowering bulbs. Thats my mission this weekend – to get all the bulbs planted. So I really needed the potting soil.

Here is what one bag of potting soil looks like in my world …

One bag of potting soil ...

But here’s why …

When I got there I realised that the Narcissus bulbs need a container too (aren’t they pretty?)
The “bulb book” says its a good idea to over-plant the bulbs with annuals (as a living mulch), so I  “needed” the Lobularia.
I found Helichrysum which I just love and had been looking for.
And I fell in love with the Dianella (variegated Flax Lily) – I think it will look great with the uninvited Caladium in the shade garden.

See? All neccessary purchases after all …

Happy Gardening

Barbie's garden Gardening Perenniels

Heaven Scent Nursery purchases

Hi Chris, I just wanted to share the plants I bought at Heaven Scent Nursery with you and our friends. The Lavender Tree (Heteropexys natalensis) has beautiful oblong reddish leaves and will be a beauty when she is grown – about 6m with a tall narrow trunk and it is indigenous. I then bought three Lavender (lavendula intermedia) (I am still mad about lavender!!) to go into my three silver buckets. I’ll take a pic when I’ve planted them. Not quite sure where I’m going to put them. My Artemesia is a Powis Castle and I’m becoming very fond of these plants. They are great insect repellant plants and together with our soapy organic pesticide it keeps the bad nasties away. I also just nip off the tips and put them under infected plants as a mulch and so far so good. I planted mine under the roses – so beware aphids! And the last plant is a rosemary – another great herb – with white flowers.

Happy Gardening! xxx

[one_half]Heaven Scent-ArtemisiaArtemesia[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Heaven Scent-Lavender TreeLavender Tree[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Heaven Scent-Lavendula IntermediaLavender[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Heaven Scent-Rosemary whiteRosemary[/one_half_last]

Barbie's garden Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Reviews

Sithanda Nursery, Elgin Valley

Sithanda NurseryRemember, I took some photos of the nursery that we popped into when we took our trip through Elgin. It was on the N2 rest stop next to Pelegrine’s Farm Stall. It was small and quaint and I liked the garden decorations so much I had to show you. They had very nice Rhododendrons (spelling?) and I captured a butterfly on one of the flowers. So, if anyone was taking a trip to Elgin or Grabouw, let us know if you spend time in this nursery. We had no more room in our car boot.

[one_half]Sithanda Nursery[/one_half]


[one_half]Sithanda deco[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Sithanda deco 2[/one_half_last]

Contact details:

Sithanda Plants Nursery, Elgin Valley

Tel: 021 848-9146

Barbie's garden Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels Reviews

Fairholme Nursery in Elgin

On Tuesday morning Barbie and I set off on a little road trip to go “plant hunting”. We were looking for slightly less common plants, specifically ornamental and unusual grasses which Barbie plans to make a feature of in her garden. Two weeks ago when I attended the Rare Plant Fair in Stellenbosch I bought a beautiful grass from Fairholme Nursery who were in attendance. The grass is Panicum Virgatum “Shenandoah”, and after looking around locally and not finding it, we learnt that Fairholme Nursery specialises in perennials, grasses and lavenders. So off we set to go and find Fairholme Nursery in Elgin.

[one_half]Fairholme Nursery[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Fairholme Nursery[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Fairholme Nursery[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Fairholme Nursery[/one_half_last]

So first off I have to mention that if you plan to go there, you will need to call them first and get proper directions! They are not easy to find, there is no signage and no big board welcoming you to Fairholme, in fact they are tucked away off any major route and unless you know exactly where they are, you will not find them. The reason is that they are in fact not a mainstream nursery but a wholesale nursery. They only sell to landscapers and retail nurseries, not to two newbie-gardening-idiots who decide to trek all the way to Elgin on a whim and come knocking at their doors. But in typical friendly country-style we were warmly greeted and an exception made as we had come all the way from Cape Town, but not before being told that “next time” we need to buy a minimum of 30 plants if we want to visit (or visit on the annual “Open Day” in October, when the general public are able to visit the nursery).

No problem, Barbie had a “grass shopping list” not quite a mile long but she managed to find all the grasses on her list and we left with about 20 good size plants and what promises to become a beautiful grass garden! How we got them all into the car I don’t quite know, but we managed and all the beautiful grasses are now sitting on Barbie’s front porch, waiting to be planted. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

A bit of feedback on Fairholme Nursery – It is huge! And really impressive! And the plants are beautiful! Their selection of grasses was fantastic, we were in “grass heaven” here. Attached to the nursery is the owners home which boasts a hugely impressive garden. (their garden is part of the Elgin Open Gardens Festival held annually). It is a large and many-faceted garden with a magnificent view, terraces, pergola walkway, woodland garden, grass garden and rose garden. I took a few photographs of the garden which you can see in the photo gallery below, but as we were in fact intruding on this day, I was hesitant to take too many. We will have to go back in October during the Elgin Open Gardens Festival and take more photographs to share with you of this simply magnificent garden.

Contact Details & Address:

Owners: Duncan & Liz Henderson
Address: 2 km from N2 along Viljoenshoop Road in Elgin / Grabouw, Cape Overberg, Western Cape.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 848-9738 or +27 (0)82 550-8703.

Photo Gallery on Flickr:

Christine's garden Gardening Reviews

Stodels in Kenilworth revisited

I decided to give Stodels in Kenilworth another try. I don’t normally go back to places I don’t get good service at, but there were three reasons for giving it another go – Firstly, my previous visit was on The Hottest Day in Cape Town this year. It was seriously uncomfortable and perhaps I was giving off some sort of “don’t even talk to me” vibes, so I thought I should give them another go. Secondly, I get a weekly electronic newsletter from them with a list of their weekly specials. I like that they stay in touch and give existing customers a heads-up about good deals. I think its good marketing and a few things on the this weeks list caught my eye. And my third reason? MD Nick Stodel left a nice comment on my not-so-nice review. That is quite unique – certainly in South Africa and if the MD cares enough about one arbitrary customer to leave a comment on a blog then I think its only fair to give them the benefit of the doubt and try again.

[one_half]Ornamental GrassesOrnamental grasses[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cordyline red fountainCordyline red fountain[/one_half_last]

Enticed by a special offer I set off on Friday afternoon. Stodels in Kenilworth is about a 10 minute (in traffic) drive from my home. They are my closest nursery, so it would be useful if I could like going there. As I mentioned in my last post, they have a nice selection of pretty much everything garden related – absolutely no problems there. Today I was specifically looking for more spring bulbs and “Cordyline red fountain” which they had on a special. I ended up not buying it but came home with a few Acorus gramineus (Japanese sweet flag). Its an ornamental grass with golden yellow variegation which does well in containers, as edging or ground cover. I have some in my back garden and I love them … so I wanted a few more. Grabbed 4 of those – nice price, only R12.95 each for nice quality plants.

Also bought a whole bunch of bulbs and was thrilled to find that they had bulb planting baskets of which I bought a lot. (I have a mole or vole problem in my garden and am against laying traps so have to protect the bulbs instead). Also got myself a moisture meter and a pH meter. About time I had those in my gardening tool-kit! Lastly, I bought a shrub – a blue potato bush. Barbie has one of these in her garden and I really like it a lot. I think mine will go in a container next to the Veggie planter as it requires full sun.

So how was the visit? Service was friendly and great! Whilst I was looking around I was asked a few times if I needed help but in a very pleasant way that allowed me to say I was fine by myself (which I prefer unless I need help). I ended the visit having a chat with three of the ladies who work there who were all very knowledgeable about gardening and were fun to talk to. I then paid for my stuff and left feeling happy and pleased with my purchases. The guy who helped me to the car with my plants was very efficient and friendly and seemed to do a little dance when he got a tip. Very sweet and I appreciated his help.

I’m glad I went again. And I will go back!

If you live in the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town and need gardening supplies or plants, give them a try. Find them at Stodels Garden Centre in Doncaster Road, Kenilworth or phone 021-6719050. There is plenty of parking and they are open every day from 09h00 to 18h00 except on Sundays when they close at 17h00.

Photo Gallery:

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Reviews

Stodels Nursery in Kenilworth

Stodels Nursery in KenilworthLast Saturday I paid Stodels Nursery in Kenilworth a visit with the intention of doing a review. A friend has recommended Stodels to me so I was expecting good service and a good variety of plants.

I went armed with plenty of cash because … well you know I’m a sales persons dream and can’t leave a shop without buying something, even if it is just something small. Now I don’t know if it was the heat or what, but its the first time I’ve left a nursery without buying something. Seriously, I bought zero, zip, nudda, nix. Must’ve been the heat!

Stodels Nurseries KenilworthTheir plants look healthy, they have some very nice displays, prices seemed on a par with what I am used to so there was every reason for me to buy something.

What did I like about Stodels in Kenilworth?

Parking is super convenient. It’s not a huge nursery, its actually quite small and I think they carry an amazing amount of stock. They had everything I could possibly want in the hardware department as well as all the bug-pest-insect repellents varieties known to man! I was impressed with the way they display their annuals and other plants – Clearly marked as “Sun Loving Annuals” or “Shade Loving Annuals” so ignorant wannabe gardeners (like yours truly) can’t go wrong here. Everything is well labeled – Water-wise, Indigenous, Low Shrubs, Big Trees, Shade loving – are just some of the signs that caught my eye.  I liked the displays of features such as gardening furniture, bird baths and pots positioned in between plant displays so you can get an idea of how something might look in an actual garden. I liked the large selection of indigenous plants, especially the lovely Proteas and Strelizias. Everything looked clean and fresh and last but not least, their Veggie seedling selection was great!

Where to find them?

Stodels Garden Centre, Doncaster Road, Kenilworth, Cape Town.
Telephone: 021-6719050.
Operating Hours: Open every day from 09h00 to 18h00 except on Sundays when they close at 17h00.

Photo Gallery: