Colleen’s flowers

open gardens constantia colleen

Visitors to Colleen’s corner garden in Bergvliet were entranced by the flowers they found.

open gardens constantia roses

They spilled from baskets…

open gardens constantia visitors

…grew up trellises…

open gardens constantia

…tumbled from urns…

just joey

…made focal points in beds…

red rose

…floated in a fountain,

floating roses

…and provided pretty backdrops for friendly cats.

open gardens constantia 2014 colleen

Here’s a trick question:

What is Colleen’s favourite flower?


OUT foxing the foxgloves!

“You will never get foxgloves to flower in just a few months, unless they are this type or that!”  So say many seasoned gardeners.

Well, in just two months the little seedlings we bought have grown and grown and grown.


Some are now flowering just in time for open gardens. We have admittedly spoilt them rotten: they have been grown in pots, so the snails couldn’t get to them; re-potted three times; force-fed with one of our sponsors’ fertilisers (Talborne Organic‘s Seedling Food 6:2:5 and then Vita Fruit and Flower  3:1:5); foliar-fed and soil-drenched with Multi Booster (high potash food to stimulate flower development) and Kelpak.

Come and see these pampered plants for yourselves in Julie’s garden (home of Toe Toe the lettuce-eating tortoise) on Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th. We may even have a few extras for sale at our plant sale!

(Follow the link for Open Gardens Constantia ticket information.)

Photos: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen. Text: Marianne Alexander

Indigenous honey for the honey makers

Are you looking for a showy, easily grown indigenous small shrub that is tough and can take full sun and only needs moderate watering? Then southern African native Euryops virgineus or the honey Euryops is the plant for you.

Called the honey Euryops because it attracts our busy little honey bees which pollinate the many sweetly-scented bright yellow flowers that open on the plant in late winter and spring, it is an easy-to-grow, tough shrub that brightens up that dry sunny space in your garden in no time at all.

Prune back quite vigorously after flowering to keep the plant tidy and you will have the pleasure of this sturdy plant for several years.

There will be a limited number of these plants at the Open Gardens Constantia plant sale on the 14th and 15 of November, so if you want one, be sure to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

(Follow this link for ticket information and open garden times)

Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text Lyn McCallum

Walking iris at the OGC Plant Sale

Let the walking iris – Neomarica gracilis – take a stroll into your garden. This unusual iris is named for the way in which new plantlets develop from the stem where flowers once emerged. As its long stems hang down and touch the ground, they take root.

A bulbous, rhizomatous plant, rather like our indigenous Dietes, it grows in well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade.

Do not deadhead! New plants are formed after the flower is spent

Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text : Lyn McCallum

Gardener Q & A – Nicholas

ogc roses

Nicholas Walker’s Meadowridge garden is one of five that will be open to the public on November 14th and 15th. Ticket proceeds are donated to two local not-for-profits: Abalimi bezekhaya and Soil for Life.

Over the next few weeks we will introduce the owners of the open gardens on the blog, via this Q & A session, to allow visitors a better appreciation of what makes them and their gardens grow.

Where is your garden?


What size is your garden?

+/- 600sqm

When did you start to garden?

When I got married 33 years ago.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

My parents were keen gardeners and had a very beautiful garden.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

The first plant I remember planting was a cork oak (Quercus suber) which was given to us as an engagement present.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

I cannot remember being disappointed by any plant but disappointed with myself when a plant I have planted dies but luckily I have a high success rate these days.

What plant has made you happiest?

I get a lot of joy out of seeing new growth on all my plants as my garden matures.

What do you love about your garden right now?

Seeing it come to life after winter and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my work in it.

ogc compost

What do you feed your garden?

I am a great believer in lots of compost [above!] and folio feeding every two weeks with Kelpak and Nitrosol, organic pellets and a little chemical fertilizer. I only use 3:1:5. If one does not feed one’s garden regularly one cannot expect to have a flourishing garden.

How often do you garden?

I don’t have any assistance in my garden so I have to do whatever I feel needs to be done. So the time spent depends on the time of the year. Recently I have been spent more than 20 hours a week in the garden.

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Even the chores I least like doing are not so bad if I don’t do hours of it at any one time. I just enjoy been in my garden.

Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

I have only lived in Cape Town and only know about gardening in Cape Town and am not planning to move .

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

A forest. I can’t because I don’t have the space.

water feature shade garden

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I have slowly developed a good balance of sun and shade in my garden.

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

Stellenberg in Kenilworth and Water Oak Farm, in Constantia.

Why do you garden?

I started gardening because I like to live in a beautiful environment, so when I got married I had to start gardening, which become a passion, and now my business (Let’s Garden).

Photo credits: Nicholas Walker and Family