Comfrey – the wonderplant

Looking for comfrey plants? We will have some of this hard-to-find, all-purpose herb at our plant sale on Friday and Saturday.

Garden accent, healer, compost activator, green mulch and liquid fertilizer, all in one plant.

Apart from its reputation as a healing herb (one of its common names is knitbone), comfrey – Symphytum officinale and cultivars –  is also a good compost activator (add a layer of leaves to your dry, brown matter). Its leaves’ high nitrogen and potassium levels make it an excellent green mulch, too. Steeped for six weeks, a comfrey tea is a good liquid fertilizer (and about as smelly, in its own way, as seaweed).

5 comfreyComfrey’s attractive, bold leaves make it a useful accent or contrast plant in the garden. The more common specimens have purple flowers, but some produce remarkable blue blooms.5 C5 omfrey herb JENNY F 5 DSC_0051 (58)

Got tickets to Open Gardens Constantia? Follow the link for more info.

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


Gardener Q & A – Rosemarie

open gardens constantia 2014

Every Wednesday, over the next five weeks, we’ll publish an interview with one of our five open gardeners, in preparation for our open garden days on November 14th and 15th.

Every garden is a reflection of its owner’s personality, sensibilities and outlook on life. While looking carefully at a garden can allow you to read a lot between the lines, we think introducing the gardeners themselves will make your visit to their gardens even more rewarding.

rosemarie open gardens constantia

Gardener Q&A with Rosemarie van der Pas:

Why do you garden?

I love the outdoors and my garden is my little paradise.

Where is your garden?

In Constantia, next to Buitenverwachting wine farm.

What size is your garden?

One acre.

vegetable garden

When did you start to garden?

Many years ago in Sasolburg – northern Free State.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

We bought a house which had a lovely garden, and we kept it beautiful.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

Yes – I had dahlias and they grew so well there [in Sasolburg] in the sandy soil.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

Not really.


What plant has made you happiest?

The snowdrops in this garden, and last week there was the tiniest viola which climbed the wall; maybe it wanted to see what the rest of the world looked like!

What do you love about your garden right now?

It is spring, everything is growing and the birds are so happy. The new green on the trees is so fresh and all the new plantings love their new home.

eco pool open gardens constantia

What do you feed your garden?

Natural fertilizers. We try to be organic as much as we can (see the swimming pond above, no chlorine or other chemicals).


How often do you garden?

I have a gardener. Her name is Heather Krumm and she has a business called Earthbound. She designed the changes in the garden 7 years ago. She and her crew have been looking after the garden ever since.

I am not a hands on gardener anymore but I hope I am a good manager!


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

That’s difficult to answer as my part of the valley is perfect.

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

Root vegetables were never a big success

pineapple lilies

Food, flowers, native or ornamental?

Indigenous, but also lots of flowers with colour in the sunny spots. And trees – my love for trees grew when we lived in Secunda, a new town in Mpumalanga, and there were no trees at all, and growing them was very difficult!

Your favourite garden writer, or personality?

Una van der Spuy

What plants do you dislike?

Gladioli, poor things. They are just too stiff and formal. And maybe Black Eyed Susan, because she becomes very invasive, but she is pretty.

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I am so lucky, we have it all, deep shade, and very sunny and in between as well.

If you could visit just one garden, what would it be? (Formal, informal, suburban, famous, or wild – like a part of the mountain.)

Informal and wild. And my favorite formal garden is Arduaine, in Scotland

What would you like people to know about gardening?

For me my garden is therapeutic, and I would like to share that with other gardeners.


Come and enjoy some garden therapy and see how Rosemarie’s vegetable garden has progressed, on November 14th and 15th.

Photo credits: Rosemarie van der Pas, Marianne Alexander.