Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Hessea cinnamomea - a timely reminder

Right now, there is a once-in-a-lifetime display of Hessea cinnamomea blooming in the Cape of Good Hope reserve (Table Mountain National Park). Exactly 7 months ago, almost to the day, it was hard to imagine the incredible profusion of delicate life that covers the valleys now. Then, as we struggled in a huge team effort to protect the houses of our community, giant flames fanned high into the sky. Our eyes and throats burned and bodies shook with the thudding of helicopters just overhead and often out of sight in the dense swirling smoke.

But there has never been a better reminder than this week that we live on the edge of a remarkable ecosystem for which regular fire is essential. Some of the Hesseas you can see flowering today have been hidden underground for at least TWENTY-EIGHT years, and some maybe much longer. Hessea cinnamomea, and 100s if not 1000s of other plants in the Cape Floral Kingdom, are completely dependent on fire to flower, seed and multiply. This tiny, endangered amaryllid lily is surely one of our most special flowers, naturally only found in the lowlands around Cape Town and now largely restricted to the national park. It’s a great mascot for fire flowers, and the scenes that the flames have stimulated are truly inspirational.

Sunday, 22 October 2017


Sick building syndrome” caused by poor indoor air quality has been linked to illness and lack of productivity around the world.

One easy way to fight it is to decorate with pot plants.  Not only do they help in purifying the air of all the toxins we put into it with our cleaning chemicals and household products, they are also credited with many other benefits such as lower stress levels and increased happiness and productivity.

And who better to find the best plants for the job than NASA, with its focus on the well-being of astronauts in space?

Wikipedia’s “NASA Clean Air Study” article has a chart detailing which air-filtering plants are most effective at removing horror pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia.  Pay attention to the last column “toxic to dogs, cats” and in particular watch out if babies or children might be able to reach any of them. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Autumn gardening

With late autumn the seasonal change is upon us. 
Many gardeners are outside in the fresh cooler weather preparing their winter gardens and planning for spring.
Regardless of whether you are a balcony or pot gardener or have large garden, this is the time to attend the those essential tasks to ensure that everything is done before the real winter arrives.

We reccommend the following approach:
- Have a critical look at the current state of plants, shrubs, flowers etc.
- Read the newsletters from your garden centre to brush up on tips and advice. Here are a few  from our advertisers:
                      Safari Garden
                      Garden Pavillion
                      Starke Ayres

- Click on our garden savers page at: and see on which days your favourite gardening centre is offering senior discounts.Plan your visit accordingly.

Happy winter gardening!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Garden Pavilion wins national and regional awards

Congratulations to Garden Pavilion in Potchefstroom that has been voted the best small garden centre in South Africa. Theunis de Jong has been supportive of our garden savers page from day one and we wish them well for the future.
To our best knowledge the Garden Pavilion Centres are the largest group of Garden Centres in South Africa and has garden centres in many parts of the country. You can see details of their savers for seniors by clicking here on

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bird Census calling all gardeners and homeowners.

Avian scientists are calling for your help to establish a comprehensive snapshot of suburban birdlife. This action takes place on a regulat basis.
You are requested to help by recording birdlife in your garden and feeding this information through to their website. Full details and registration can be found on the website
Mybirdpatch is a project of UCT's Animal Demography Unit in collaboration with Birdlife South Africa and the South African National Biodiversity Institute(SANBI)
They ask you to spend at least one hour in your garden during the 24 hours and record all bird life you see or hear, including those flying overhead. You will be able to download checklists for the bird species for your area from the above website.
This sounds like relaxing fun and gives all of us an opportunity to look at our gardens with different eyes. Maybe you will decide to plant more bird friendly indigenious flowers, shrubs or trees in your garden.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Great honour for South Africa

Our heartiest congratulations to Nick Stodel with his appointment as president of the International Garden Association (IGCA). We are confident that Nick will make a valuable contribution in this role and of course put South Africa firmly on the map as a great gardening country with our wide and interesting diversity of flora.
The following is an extract from the Stodels website:
At its international congress in Italy, the International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) appointed Nick Stodel, MD of Stodels Garden Centres, as president. He is its first president from the African continent and the Southern Hemisphere. Nick will serve as president for two years and then as past president for another two.
The IGCA provides a forum for the mutual exchange of information and benefit of similar minded independent garden retailers on a world-wide basis. This objective is achieved through an annual congress held between August and October, in a different host country each year. In addition to the AGM, the congress offers a concentrated business study tour, a social programme and individual study tours organised on an ad hoc basis by national groups, which have special learning requirements.
"There have been South African board members before, but not a president," says Nick. "They seem to have kept it to Europe and North America before me. I was asked to join the IGCA board five years ago. As a member of the South African Nursery Association, one automatically becomes a member of IGCA."
His main responsibilities will be to facilitate networking and communications between garden centre owners and association administrators. "We do this via on line communication, an administrators' meeting once a year and a tour of garden centres in a specific country once a year. It is also the president's job and that of the board, to ensure that we make the right choices on which countries to visit and that the standard of the tours are exceptional."
Before Nick, joined the board of IGCA as Vice President; it was made up of older people who had retired from the business. "IGCA felt they needed younger generations in order to help grow the organisation. I was brought in to help with that. In the time that I've been there, the board has changed a lot, the biggest change being a decision we made to move the administration and secretariat from Switzerland to Canada, which allowed us to have a fresh approach," he concludes.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Super savers for seniors.

The gardening season is in full swing across South Africa and seniors in particular are spending a lot of time and money at their favourite nurseries. This is therefore the right time to remind all of you about the great savings that are offered by our participating garden centres.
Do not visit your garden centre before looking at what is on offer to seniors from garden centres around the country. Go to our "Supersavers" front page at and click on the gardening page for particulars.
By the way, if your local garden centre offers senior discounts, let us know and we will include them.