Specials this week in garden centres around town:

      Superplants in Tokai are offering the nice shade-tolerant Impatiens at R29,95 and the ever popular Aloe Vera at R19,95.

      Ferndale is offering an assortment of plants, all priced at R22, which includes the drought resistant Confetti bush, the hardy but pretty Daisy bush, Agapanthus aka the ‘flower of luuuurve’, and the versatile Cape Honeysuckle.

      Stodels are offering a special on their dog kennels, although I’m not quite sure what the special is, but will check next time I call. They said that they would have new specials next week and to call back, so stand by!

    With thanks to Wikipedia, here’s the lowdown on Leonotis leonurus (I’ve copied the important bits only!). Please remember that Wikipedia knowledge is not always scientifically based.

    Leonotis leonurus, also known as Lion’s Tail and Wild Dagga, is a plant species in the Lamiaceae (mint) family. The plant is a broadleaf evergreen large shrub native to South Africa and southern Africa, where it is very common. It is known for its medicinal and mild psychoactive properties. The main psychoactive component of Leonotis leonurus is leonurine.


      The shrub grows 3 to 6 ft (1 to 2 m) tall by 1.5 to 3.5 feet (0.46 to 1.1 m) wide.[1] The medium-dark green 2–4 inches (5.1–10 cm) long leaves are aromatic when crushed. The plant has tubular orange flowers in tiered whorls, typical to the mint family, that encircle the square stems. They rise above the foliage mass during the summer season, with flowering continuing into winter in warmer climates.

      A white variety (known colloquially as ‘Alba’), as well as a yellow variety also exist.


      In its native habitats Leonotis leonurus attracts nectivorous birds (mainly sunbirds), as well as various insects such as butterflies. The flowers’ mainly orange to orange-red colour and tubular shape are indicative of its co-evolution with African sunbirds, which have curved bills suited to feeding from tubular flowers.


      Leonotis leonurus is cultivated as an ornamental plant for its copious orange blossom spikes and accent or screening qualities for use in gardens and parks. It is a moderate drought tolerant plant, and a nectar source for birds and butterflies in landscape settings.
      Lion’s tail can especially be found in other subtropical and Mediterranean climate regions beyond South Africa such as California, Hawaii, and Australia where it has naturalized in areas. In cooler climates it is used as an annual and winter conservatory plant.


      An animal study in rats indicated that in high doses, lion’s tail has significant toxicological adverse effects on organs, red blood cells, white blood cells and other important bodily functions.

      Traditional uses

      Leonotis leonurus has long been used in traditional African herbal medicine for fevers, headaches, dysentery, flu, chest infections, epilepsy, constipation, delayed menstruation, intestinal worms, spider bites, scorpion stings, hypertension and snakebites. Externally, it is often used for hemorrhoids, eczema, skin rashs and boils.

      One experimental animal study suggests that “the aqueous leaf extract of Leonotis leonurus possesses antinociceptive, antiinflammatory, and hypoglycemic properties; thus lending pharmacological credence to folk usage of the herb in the management and/or control of painful, arthritic, and other inflammatory conditions, as well as for adult-onset, type-2 diabetes mellitus in some communities of South Africa.”

      Recreational uses

      The dried leaves and flowers have a mild calming effect when smoked. In some users, the effects have been noted to be similar to the cannabinoid THC found in Cannabis, except that it has a much less potent high. It has also been reported to cause mild euphoria, visual changes, dizziness, nausea, sweating, sedation and lightheadedness.

      It is sometimes used as a Cannabis substitute by recreational users looking to evade current laws on cannabis and other psychoactive plants. Leonotis leonorus is not currently scheduled under federal law in the United States. The smoke is reported to have an unpleasant taste and to be an irritant to the lungs and throat.

      The picked and dried leaves are also commonly brewed as a minty tea.

      Here’s how were helping our clients save money.

      Our clients receive:

      1 month free if they refer a colleague, friend or family member who takes a contract with us
      5% discount if they pay within 5 days
      5% discount on their monthly invoice if you pay by direct debit

      And for those especially keen gardeners, they can save more money with these local garden centre specials:

      Stodels in Kenilworth have a huge sale on at the moment, 50% off selected items, and they’re offering cobble stone pavers for 99c

      Super Plants in Tokai have African Voilets at R12.95, snail bait for R24,95 and garden rakes at R14.95

      Earth Worx in Hout Bay has Geraniums on sale for R19.95.

      If you need help with your garden, or if you would like an obligation-free consultation, we can help. If you’re interested in any of those specials and don’t have the time to shop yourself, talk to Tim on 083 444 5267.

      As we start to really start to settle into winter there are a few things in your garden that need to be done in July.

      It’s that time of the year that comes around when your roses need to be prunned. Don’t also forget to spray them with lime sulphur to stop any fungal spores that can badly effect you prize petals.

      It’s also a great time to divide any plants that have become overgrown in your garden and are taking over or dominating your other plants. You don’t have to take them out completely, just cut them back. Trees can and should also be cut back to allow the plants underneath them to get more sunlight in summer.

      A winter lawn feed is also a great idea for July, you may not think you need it but you’ll really enjoy the results in a few months’ time.

      Spring is slowly coming out of its shell and temperatures are beginning to increase. The days are also getting longer, which means that the plants in your garden are starting to get more sun time each day.

      If you have not already begun watering your garden then it’s time to start thinking about it now. The Western Cape has had quite a late start to Spring, and this is good news as our dam levels are exactly where they were this time last year, at 89.9% full. A month ago it was not looking great at all but, lucky for us, September has been unusually wet. Although we can be thankful for the good weather, a few more rainy days this year would not go amiss!

      Alas, in terms of rainy days, we won’t always be so lucky in the Cape, the water situation will only get worse. With water becoming a very valuable resource, we need to think about how to slowly evolve our gardens into water wise areas by planting water sensitive plants where we can.

      We have heard it time and time again but we really do need to be aware of how much water we all consume in the coming years. I monitor our dam levels every week online because what happens in those dams today will affect Cape households six months from now. No water for a month in winter makes our hot dry summer just that much longer. If we use less water now it means more water in the dams for us all in February /March next year, which hopefully will help us avoid water restrictions before the next winter.

      So while you need to get watering, you need to water smartly, using only as much as is needed. You will be surprised how little water your garden actually needs when watered effectively. Keep these points in mind before turning on the taps.

      • Water in the morning, just after sunrise, so that the water droplets have a chance to settle on the leaves before the heat of the day.
      • If watering by hand, don’t spend too long on one spot – 10-15 seconds is sufficient for an area of 10m².
      • Watch your soil carefully, if you notice run-off stop watering immediately.
      • If there is run-off as soon as you start watering then you need to put down compost or mulch to retain moisture. This will help to feed the roots.

      Here’s to Summer and wise watering!

      Thinking of paving over your garden to keep down your monthly water consumption? The bad news is that it will probably get worse.  The good news is, Cape Town now has its very own Climate Smart Campaign to help promote and support local climate change initiatives. Launched in March this year, the coalition of organisations and partners involved in the campaign have agreed to work towards proactively positioning Cape Town as a leading environmentally sustainable city, committed to practices that enable the city to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, so protecting and enhancing the natural, cultural, social and economic environment.

      This info is straight from their website.

      Cape Town is a coastal city highly dependent on power from coal power stations nearly 2000km away. Historically, cheap electricity has meant very low levels of energy efficiency in households and production processes.

      Now the country has been hit by unanticipated severe and worsening national electricity supply constraints resulting in the threat of blackouts and sharp tariff increases. Urban sprawl is compounding these challenges and is entrenching social inequities as the poor generally live far from resources.

      People remain dependent on private vehicles, and only now are the first steps being taken to replace a weak and under resourced public transport system.

      Today, the City faces a triple challenge: a high carbon footprint, poor energy security and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

      How does climate change affect Cape Town?  Although the effects of climate change will be wide spread, with everyone being affected to some degree; these are 5 of the most pertinent challenges that will arise as a result of climate change:

      Firstly the risk of flooding throughout the city will increase as rain is likely to fall in heavy showers over shorter lengths of times.

      This will increase the vulnerability of those living in informal settlements throughout the City, as well as place heavy strain on disaster management and emergency capacities during the winter months.

      This will also put pressure on systems such as the storm water system.

      Secondly the management of coastal areas will prove challenging. The coastline in Cape Town is long and storm surges and increased swells are expected as weather patterns change.

      Thirdly, the city’s transport networks will be significantly stressed in instances of extreme weather events like flooding.

      This will create numerous challenges. One in particular is food security as the large majority of the city’s food supply is brought in from surrounding areas.

      Fourthly, the hotter, drier climatic conditions will make it difficult for the globally significant and economically valuable biodiversity to survive, which could threaten the city’s resilience – its ability to cope with natural disasters.

      Finally, all these challenges are set in a development context, where poverty, limited access to services and poor provision of housing will only further exacerbate challenges associated with expected extreme weather events.

      Read more about Climate Smart Cape Town.

      I came across this flower during a hike up Elsie’s Peak above Simonstown this past Sunday, and was struck by the colours and appearance.  It’s not a flower that I’m familiar with so I took a photo to show my father and we looked it up in his reference book of wild flowers.  It’s called a Painted Lady and unfortunately, although you may find a plant called a Painted Lady in your local nursery, it’s not likely that you’ll find this particular flower.

      Pretty, isn’t it?

      So our garden gave us a bit of a pleasant surprise last week. One of our dinner guests, loitering around the kitchen before dinner was served, noted our kitchen window box and one tall, blue, flowery plant in particular. She asked us if it was a borage plant, to which we replied, as the knowledgeable gardeners that we are, “What??”. Thanks to the magic of mobile technology, quick as a flash our guest had googled the plant and confirmed it was indeed a borage plant.

      Neither of us had ever heard of this plant and didn’t quite get her excitement until she pulled off a flower and urged us to taste it. It was surprisingly good – I don’t think my words will do justice to the taste, but there was something as sweet and creamy as honey mixed with the freshness of a ‘cucumbery’ flavour. Apparently borage flowers are very good in salads, who knew? The plants in our window box come from a lucky packet of herb seeds free with a local gardening magazine, which we used one slow afternoon as an activity for our four year old daughter.

      The small blue, edible borage flowers are shaped like stars and borne in clusters that rise up above the plant’s leaves. Apparently, due to their cucumber taste, they are good also as a garnish for iced teas, lemonades, and other cold summer beverages. One article I read suggested freezing the flowers in of ice cubes then adding that to your drink.

      The flowers can also be crystallized for use as a decoration for cakes and other desserts – don’t ask me how to do that though, that’s for another type of blog!

      According to another article, borage plants are also great for the garden. Due to their sweet smell, they attract bees and other friendly insects, and it has been reported that they improve the flavor of tomatoes when grown together with them.

      They grow well and tend to germinate easily to cover unsightly gaps. Be warned though that the plant can grow quickly, as we found out, and reach heights of about two feet. If you like really tidy beds they might not be the plant for you, but if you like a kind of wildish, colourful look, they’re perfect.

      A couple of months ago I wrote about the rising popularity of garden walls, otherwise known as metro-horticultural, a great way to add greenery inside your home or to grow plants in a small place.

      At the time I wasn’t aware of anyone in Cape Town offering this service, but last weekend the Weekend Argus ran an article about terraniums and vertical gardens that mentioned such a company.

      Garden Up designs and installs Vertical Gardens and provides innovative and creative greening solutions for commercial infrastructures. If you’re interested, please contact them through their website www.gardenup.net and tell them you read about them here.

      Every year come Spring I tend to get testy phone calls from clients asking me why we have not been tending to the weeds.

      I always take a deep breath before replying.

      As we all know Spring is a time for things in our gardens to begin to sprout – funny thing is there is no exception for weeds! One of the reasons they are called weeds is because they grow like … well, weeds actually.

      For most of Winter it is too cold for most plants to have any new growth although this never seems to stop weeds. Come this time of the year – late Winter, early Spring – Cape Town is experiencing quite a bit of rain interspersed with a few sunny days, perfect conditions for weeds to jump into action. It seems to me that they think they are in some kind of race against other plants and they’re determined to win every year!

      Truth is that everything in your garden is growing but the weeds are just doing it way faster! Because most of us despise them so much, we tend to notice them more. My team is continually spraying to stop weeds but it is a month or so of a battle before there are any signs of success as most gardens only get sprayed every two weeks. This is normal and nothing to worry about. It can take two to three weeks for the spray to take hold of the weeds and for any signs to appear that they are dying off. They will start to turn yellow and then their leaves should turn and deform. They will shrivel up and die and most lawnmowers just suck up what’s left.

      There are some popular plants, like aram lilies, that will be affected by the spray so before you take action find out what plants in your garden might be vulnerable. A good garden outlet should be able to tell you this when you buy the spray.

      If you would like to do the spraying yourself then use products like Banweed, Hormaban and Weeds. These are some of the most common and well used products that I favour and they are sold at most garden outlets. You do NOT want to use Ridder, Roundup or Wipeout as these products will kill everything and anything in the garden that is green! They are, however, very useful if you have weeds in paving areas or driveways that you want to get rid off as nothing survives these products.

      Also always remember to wear gloves and any protective gear that the product recommends, follow the guidelines for use carefully. Rinse off all equipment after use and wash your hands and arms if needed.

      Happy Spring everybody.

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