Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden

The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden is just 1: 30 minutes’ drive from Cape Town. It is definitely a Botanical garden different from others. They specialise in succulents and bulbs growing around the country. Most of the bulbs and succulents flower in spring from July till late September. There is also a wide variety of other desert and semi- desert plants that flower throughout the year.

A display of Aloe dichotoma

The garden consists of 154 hectares of which 11 ha are cultivated and displayed with a huge diversity of plant species. There are 270 indigenous species recorded among them 83 are geophytes and 74 are succulents.

After walking around the garden’s show beds, there are two hiking trails for visitors who are keen on seeing the natural vegetation.
This trail is called the Grysbokkie trail it is the longest trail in the garden, and takes
approximately 2 - 3 hours to complete.

History of the garden:

The garden was established in 1921 near Matjiesfontein, but because there was a lack of water they decided to move the garden to Worcester. When the garden opened again in 1945 it was known as Karoo National Botanical garden. In 2001 the word “desert” was added to the name to put emphasis on the fact that plants cultivated and displayed are from desert and semi desert regions of the country.

Along some paths are rocks filled with plants like Crassula rupestris subsp. rupestris.

Annuals starting to open in the garden for a lively spring display.

The garden has a magnificent succulent collection, if the public would like to see the 
collection they have to pre-arrange a guided tour.

Faucaria tigrina commonly known as tiger jaws (I can see why they call it that!)

Haworthia truncata var. truncata

These are just some of the plants available to view in their succulent collection. Some of the plants in the collections are over 50 years old and are still going strong.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fab 5 - Buchu

Buchu belonging to the citrus family, Rutaceae are ericoid like shrubs (plants with needle like leaves) they are indigenous to South Africa and are cultivated for its essential oil and as an ornamental. Some plants are known for their medicinal properties like Agathosma betulina and Agathosma crenulata. Buchu is part of the cultural heritage of the San and Khoi people. They used these plants to relieve stomach related problems. Buchu is still used in South Africa as a household medicine for treating stomach, kidney and urinary tract infections as well as for external wounds and bruises.

Buchus are really good garden plants once established in the garden. Almost all the buchu do exceptionally well in coastal gardens as majority naturally occurring there. They can tolerate nutrient poor soils, sandy soils, are wind resistant and cover their bushes with flowers around August to October.

For this Fab 5 I'll be focusing on the flowers and smell of these plants, if you need more information on the plant i.e. how to grow it: visit

Coleonema album commonly known as the white confetti bush or assbossie has a sweet honey fragrant and when in flower the entire bush is full of white dainty flowers.

Acmadenia heterophylla has a sweet lemony scent when the leaves are touched. and bears a variety of pink starry flowers.
Agathosma ovata "Outeniqua" is commonly known as the false buchu. It has white flowers and once in full flower attracts a large about of bees. This variety may grow up to 2m high.

Agathoma serpyllacea flowers in clusters of white,pink or purple, has a sweet lemony scent, and can also be grown as a pot plant. 
Agathosma mucronulata has a pungent almost turpentine-like scent when touched. The flowers of this buchu is easy to identify by looking at the small dots on the petals.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Protea magnifica

Protea magnifica has the second largest flower head after Protea cynaroides, the King Protea. The Queen Protea is one of the most attractive and sought after proteas.  No picture can describe how beautiful and fluffy it is, with its variable forms and colours in nature and its rounded bushy form. This protea will look great in any environment.

It is cultivated as a cut-flower for the export market because of its excellent cut flower characteristics of having long stems, long lasting flower heads and a good vase life. The air and sea freight ability is very good therefore it has remarkably high economic potential, as regular enquires from all over the world attest. It is considered the most prized cut flower in the trade, as its flowers can  last very long and looks great in dried flower arrangements.

Protea magnifica is a spectacular garden shrub in many situations. It requires good drainage and will not do well in damp, humid gardens.  It prefers to be planted in full sun and must have good air circulation.

It is an easy plant to grow in well-drained acid soils and can tolerate frost till about -8 ÂșC and can withstand some wind, but may show signs of foliage burn from excessive salt winds. They do not grow well along coastal ranges that are covered with moist fog through the year.

Do not disturb their roots as protea roots are very susceptible to infection if they are tampered with. Proteas are light feeders that adapted to very nutrient-poor soils and will die with the use of strong fertilizers and manure.

To read my full article on Protea magnifica go to

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Clivia bulbs

Clivia miniata  commonly known as the bush lily or Natal lily is easy to grow in pots.

The world started loving clivias in the beginning of the 1800s when specimens were sent to England from Kwazulu- Natal. It was then a very popular indoor plant in Europe and England, and is still an interest and loved plant by many gardeners.

These indigenous bulbs with their lovely shaped leaves and spectacular heads of trumpet-shaped to tube shaped flowers put them among our most attractive bulbous plants and form part of the Amaryllidaceae family .

The first clivia to be described was Clivia nobilis (1828)
Clivias have become popular in recent years, especially with all the beautiful cultivars of various colours found. Some of the harder to find types have become collector's items.

Clivia cultivar with yellow centers, cream to salmon tips

Clivias thrive in shaded spots in the garden.

Clivia miniata loves growing in shade