Plant sale

open gardens constantia plant saleJust some of the interesting and beautiful exotic and indigenous plants – all in excellent condition – at our Open Gardens Constantia plant sale, on Friday and Saturday.

Friday hours: 2pm – 5.30pm
Saturday hours: 10am- 5pm

Visit this link for ticket information.


Feverfew at the plant sale

There will be quite a few of these plants available at the Open Gardens Constantia plant sale (tomorrow and Saturday) in the herb section.

Tanacetum parthenium is a quick-growing perennial, native to the Caucusus region. The pretty herb sows itself freely in the garden and can also be propagated by taking cuttings. Feverfew needs a sunny position in the garden, as it is liable to get mildew when grown in the shade.

Apart from being a most attractive addition to the garden and indoors as a cut flower, feverfew can be used as a deterrent for moths and is planted in the garden to keep away aphids, especially in the vegetable and rose garden. The leaves and flowers are dried and used in pot pourri.

(Follow this link for open gardens ticket information.)

Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text: Lyn McCallum

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


The botanical name of  indigenous Melianthus major is a real mouthful but not nearly as bad as its Afrikaans common name: kruidjie-roer-my-nie. If you can’t get your tongue around either, just call it the giant honey flower.

The striking grey leaves with their giant serrations (below, paired with Perilla ‘Magilla’) provide an interesting contrast in the garden – but do have a rather unpleasant smell when crushed – hence the name!

perilla magilla

But what most gardeners grow it for are the long bronze-maroon flower-spikes which develop in spring  and act as magnets to any bird with a sweet beak: sunbirds, bulbuls, weavers, and white eyes all flock to them. The seed pods are also attractive, providing additional interest in an off-season garden border.

Left on the plant to dry, the seeds result in lots of baby plants. We saved some from our garden for the Open Gardens Constantia plant sale.

(The plant has toxic properties, so keep leaf-chewing pets and voracious toddlers away.)

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

Abutilons – a 40 year love-affair

Lyn McCallum is the secretary of the Constantia Valley Garden Club. She has grown and loved Abutilons in her Bergvliet garden for many years. Her shrubs are remarkable for their variety, beauty and health.

Lyn’s propagated stock from her Abutilon collection will be offered at the OGC plant sale, along with many other unusual and sometimes hard-to-find plants.

Read on to learn how to care for these exotic and indigenous flowering shrubs.

Lyn writes:

“These shrubs, also known as Chinese lanterns, can grow into small trees, are long lived, and make wonderful garden subjects. I have had an Abutilon pictum in my garden for over 40 years! It has survived a devastating cut-back by an over-enthusiastic gardener, stood up to severe winter gales and constant buffeting by summer southeasters, and nutritional competition from a mulberry tree and several hydrangeas.


“Abutilons flower in our warm peninsula climate almost all the year round, giving colour to the garden throughout the year. They need compost-enriched soil and require a fair amount of water, but their generous flowering makes all this worthwhile. The shrubs should be pruned regularly, if you can bear to do this to a plant still bearing flowers! This helps to keep its growth neat and compact. They grow and flower best in dappled shade or morning sun, and also make good container subjects.

“I feed my Abutilons twice a year – in spring with Neutrog Rapid Raiser or Talborne Organic 3:1:5 and in autumn with Neutrog Bounce Back and ensure that there is a layer of mulch around the root area at all times.


“Abutilons have a lax, willowy growth habit and drooping lantern-like flowers which come in white, as well as shades of red, orange, pink and yellow. The leaves are palmate with mainly three lobes and some are attractively variegated.

Abutilon megapotanicum

“There are many hybrids available – I usually buy from Jenny Ferreira at Klein Optenhorst in Wellington. She also has one of the species Abutilons, Abutilon megapotanicum (above), as well as a very attractive cultivar Abutilon ‘Kentish Belle’; both are small, scrambling shrubs that love to twine themselves amongst other plants.

“Recently, to my delight, I discovered an indigenous Abutilon – Abutilon sonneratianum (above) at the Kirstenbosch nursery. Occurring naturally in most provinces of South Africa, including the Western Cape, this perennial sub-shrub has butter yellow flowers most of the year, opening in the afternoons. It also has unusual and ornamental seed pods. It prefers to grow in semi shade and in my garden it has sown itself fairly freely, unlike the exotic Abutilons.

“Abutilons are fairly successful plants from which to take slips. Spring is the best time. I try to choose slim, semi-hardwood twigs or thin branches, preferable without flowers or buds and cut the stem just below a node, to about 10cm. Trim off excess leaves and put into sandy soil and water well. Keep in the shade and don’t let the slips dry out completely. It is quite a long slow process, with slips that do take, being ready for potting on after about 6 months.

“Unfortunately, Abutilons do not enjoy being cut and put into a vase – they droop after about 12 hours, some even earlier than that, but the plants make up for this disadvantage by the way they flower constantly in the garden.”

Text: Lyn McCallum. Photos: Deryck McCallum, Lyn McCallum, Marie Viljoen

Hermannia scabra – indigenous groundcover

Some of our gardeners have grown these ravishing little indigenous flowers specially for the OGC Plant Sale, from tiny plugs started by the Veld and Fynbos propagation nursery in the Swartland.

Hermannia scabra, doll’s roses (or poprosie, in Afrikaans) – a gorgeous little indigenous ground cover, which is at home on sandy slopes and flats in the southwestern Cape. It loves well-drained soil and full sun. Great on a sloping bank or in hanging baskets.

The young plants will appreciate small doses of organic fertilizer to set them up and pinching out the long “arms” will give you a tidier plant – if that’s what pushes your buttons.

(Insider Tip: Come early to make sure you snag one!)

Text: Marianne Alexander, Maureen Viljoen. Photo: Marianne Alexander.