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, 26 July 2019

Winter splendour

There are over ±155 Aloe species in our country (South Africa) ranging in size from the large Tree Aloes (Aloidendron) to the attractive little Grass Aloes with the Creeping Aloes (Aloiampelos) in between.

This is the time of year (Winter) when these striking flowers are at their best. Aloes attract a variety of insects and birds, particularly Sunbirds.

Take a moment to watch them.

(The above pics taken at The Quarter, Ballito, KZN)
Found this beautiful Aloe chabaudii on one of our morning walks along the promenade on the Beach (Ballito, KZN)

Found this beautiful Aloe chabaudii on one of our morning walks along the promenade on the Beach (Ballito, KZN)
Found this beautiful Aloe chabaudii on one of our morning walks along the promenade on the Beach (Ballito, KZN)
Aloe just outside Caledon Estate in Ballito, KZN, South Africa 

Aloes just outside Caledon Estate in Ballito, KZN, South Africa  

The flowers of Aloe marlothii attract a plethora of insects and birds, supplying much-needed sustenance in the cold winter months

Aloe arborescense - pic taken in Sheffield Beach Estate, Ballito, KZN
Aloe arborescense - pic taken in Sheffield Beach Estate, Ballito, KZN
One of my all-time facourites is Aloe ferox, a true gift from nature. The world over, users revere aloe ferox for it’s numerous properties. The bitter sap contains powerful anti-oxidant properties – an ancient source of a modern cosmetic buzzword. Healing, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, Anti Bacterial, Anti-Viral and Anti-Parasitic – and those are only a few ways in which Aloe Ferox helps in maintaining personal wellness. It is an important life-line for insects and birds in winter, supplying much-needed sustenance in the cold months.
For centuries indigenous healers have treated man and beast successfully with aloe preparations. In Xhosa culture here in South Africa, it is applied to fresh and inflamed wounds to encourage healing and is a known cure for ring-worm and tapeworm, boils and ulcers. Aloe is used to treat enteritis in calves and fowls, as well as roundworm in the Zulu culture, while the Pondo mix aloe juice and water for a refreshing body wash. An extract, bitters, is ingested to help with detoxification, as well as gout, rheumatism and arthritis, stomach and digestive ailments.

Other recorded uses include: insect bites and bluebottle stings, fungi, toothache, sunburn, as protection against the elements and to stimulate the immune system, to name a few.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Aloe thraskii (Dune Aloe)

Aloe thraskii (Dune Aloe)  

During one of our walks on the beach at Umdloti, not far from Ballito (KwaZulu Natal), I came across these large Aloes growing right on the beach. Fascinating! Not many plants can withstand the onslaught of wind and sea spray and yet, here was this beautiful specimen absolutely thriving in these conditions. Hence the name, Dune Aloe.

Indigenous to South Africa, it is a lovely plant for coastal gardens. This Aloe is a single-stemmed plant with giant, thorny-edged leaves that curve outwards and downwards, like fleshy arches. The sturdy inflorescence's with their racemes of bright yellow flowers appear in June and July and it is one of the few aloes that will withstand wet conditions

Pronunciation : AL-loh THRAS-kee-eye 
Afrikaans: Strandaalwyn
siXhosa: Ikhala
IsiZulu: Umhlaba 

The Dune aloe grows fast in cultivation and is especially suited for coastal situations as it tolerates wind and salt air. It can be grown in inland gardens with mild winters and not overly damp summers. 

It can grow up to 10 feet (3m) tall and is naturally found in dune vegetation along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is a hardy plant but not completely frost resistant.

Aloe thraskii is classed as Near Threatened in its natural habitat, due to habitat loss from urban and coastal development and illegal collecting for the specialist succulent horticultural trade. Experts estimate that 20-30% of the habitat has been lost to urban and coastal development in the last three generations (generation length 20 years). Severe storms are also likely to become more frequent with climate change, and may impact more severely on dune systems in the future.

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