About me

About me
🌿 I've been gardening ever since a child, when I spent time with my father in his vegetable garden. But my fascination with Echeverias started in the 1980's, when my father gave me a pot with five Echeverias, which turned out to be E. imbricata. At first I wasn't much interested in them and planted them in some obscure corner of the garden and completely forgot about them. How great was my surprise when, a couple of months later, I noticed that they had spread and made a beautiful display - I was hooked!
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Friday, 28 June 2019

Candelabra Tree (Euphorbia ingens)

Something that has totally surprised me since we moved to the North Coast of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa) eighteen months ago, is the fact that succulents and cacti grow so beautifully here. I've never seen so many succulents as here in Ballito! I mean, a succulent and a cactus is a desert plant, and yet, here they are, thriving in a tropical, wet climate and being totally at home in an average rainfall of  828 mm (32.6in) per year. EVERY garden boasts dozens of succulents and probably never needs watering!


On my way to town one morning, I spotted these glorious flowers cglowing in the sunlight, so I stopped to take a picture. It was only then that I noticed the large Euphorbia hiding in the shade. At first glance it looked like the Euphorbia had these lovely flowers, but when I got closer, I noticed that the flowers belonged to the tree behind the Euphorbia, an Ant Tree (Triplaris americana), an alien invasive from, yeah, you guessed it, Central and South America. (You can read more about this tree HERE.


Afrikaans : Naboom

Native to South Africa, this tree prefers warm areas and can survive in areas that go through long periods of drought or are generally very dry. It usually grows on rocky outcrops or in deep sand within bush-veld vegetation. Distributed throughout KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Limpopo Province, Gauteng, North-West Province, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and further into tropical Africa. If you are looking for a low maintenance addition to a rock or succulent garden, this large cactus-like tree is ideal. It can grow up to 40 feet (12m) tall,

The flowers attract butterflies, bees and other insects, which collect pollen and nectar from them, pollinating the trees in the process. The seeds are a good source of food for many fruit and berry eating birds. Birds also like nesting in these trees; hole-nesting birds such as woodpeckers often use dead sections.


 
It is important to mention that Euphorbia ingens is a poisonous plant. If ingested, the latex can pose certain health threats. It can cause skin irritation and even blindness on contact. Since it is considered to be toxic, a lot of people avoid planting them in areas accessible to children and pets.

There is a bright side to the toxic nature of this plant – the poisonous latex makes sure that pests bring no damage to the plants.



Monday, 24 June 2019

Crassula multicava

Crassula multicava (pics taken in Sheffield, Ballito, KwaZulu Natal

For months I've been passing this Crassula on my walks and then, suddenly this week, a pink mist of blooms greeted me as I rounded a bend. I knew all along that it was a Crassula, but the flowers finally allowed me to do a full identification.

Pronunciation - KRASS-yoo-la mul-tee-KAH-vuh
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English: Fairy crassula
Afrikaans: Skaduplakkie
IsiXhosa: intelezi; phewula
IsiZulu: umadinsane

    •    Canopy Shade
    •    Deep / Full Shade
    •    Dry Shade
    •    Light or Dappled Shade
    •    Partial Shade
    •    Sun
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Crassula multicava is particularly useful for dry shade and to cover unsightly spots. It is tender to frost. There is a distinct difference in appearance depending on the position in which the fairy crassula is planted: in deep shade the leaves are larger and dark green and the plant has fewer flowers while in full sun the leaves are smaller and light green and flowering is profuse.
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The flowers are tiny stars on thin stems held above the leaves

And just look at all the benefits of this gorgeous ground-cover!

    •    Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects
    •    Border
    •    Container
    •    Edging
    •    Filler
    •    Ground Cover
    •    Mass Planting
    •    Pioneer for new gardens
    •    Rock Garden
    •    Stabilize Banks
    •    Suitable for coastal gardens
    •    Wild Garden


Indigenous to South Africa, it is found from the southern part of the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape to Natal and Mpumalanga, in thickets, along river and stream banks and in forest margins. Spreads easily, but it  responds well to pruning: use hedge cutters to remove as much of the foliage as you wish - recovery time is short and the reward is a dense carpet from which a pink mist of blooms will arise. Prune after flowering and seeding have taken place and again in early to mid- winter. Although very vigorous in well-composted, deep soils, this tough little crassula will thrive in clay or sandy soils. Give them a good start with some compost and mulch, and water until established. They propagate easily from seed, from stems and leaves that root and from tiny plants that grow on the tips of the flower stalks.

(Info from Khumbula Nursery)
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