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GARDENING: Sunshine days

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As the open garden charity season gets under way across the country, South African legend Keith Kirsten launches the fourth edition of his best-selling gardening guide

Legendary gardening celebrity Keith Kirsten launched the fourth edition of his popular book, Gardening with Keith Kirsten, this month. The first edition of Kirsten’s best-selling garden guide was published in 2001, and was born out of the now classic Keith Kirsten gardening manual published in the 1970s. 

Published by Struik Lifestyle, the book has been revised with a new design, additional photographs, updated invasive species legislation and the latest plants. 

Keith Kirsten launched the fourth edition of his book earlier in September.

Go wild

“The text has also been updated to incorporate more indigenous species, locally bred hybrids, and waterwise plants, in keeping with changing trends that recognises the importance of gardening in harmony with the natural environment,” said Kirsten.

The handy plant directory is divided into sections from trees, shrubs and perennials through to roses and a kitchen garden. It includes descriptions of more than 2000 plants with symbols that identify their growing conditions and requirements.

“Gardeners need to consider the location and climate of their gardens when planning and planting this spring,” said Kirsten. “Plan, plant and make your garden sustainable by planting indigenous plants in whichever location you are gardening.”

The torch lily (Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’) produces bright yellow flowers in summer. Picture: Lukas Otto

Tips for your spring garden

How can you get the most out of your garden this growing season?

◆ Make your garden a pollinators’ delight by filling it with colourful spring and summer flower indigenous shrubs and perennials. Consider, Pride of De Kaap (Bauhinia galpinii), lion’s ear (Leonotis leonurus), agapanthus, honey euryops (Euryops virgineus) or Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis).

◆ Set up a water feature. Water is life-giving in the garden, and even a small feature attracts wildlife and increases your garden’s biodiversity.

◆ For ponds, consider aquatic plants such as the blue water lily (Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea) or waterblommetjie (Aponogeton distachyos). Plant water-loving plants between the pond margin and the garden.

◆ For a courtyard garden, a reflecting pool with a glass-like, dark surface creates a sense of serenity and provides a quiet space to unwind.

◆ Find a spot, under trees, at the end of a pathway or alongside a water feature to place a garden bench.

◆ Along with your summer vegetables, plant edible flowers to add to salads for colour. Consider borage, pansies, violas, lavender, rosemary, pineapple sage and dianthus.

Pretty, edible violas add colour to a summer salad. Picture: Lukas Otto

◆ As the weather continues to warm, the evenings become a wonderful time to spend outdoors. Plants that release their fragrance in the evening include the dainty evening stock (Matthiola bicornis), lilies, honeysuckle, the drumsticks plant (Zaluzianskya capensis), aandblom (Gladiolus tristis) and aandbossie (Gnidia squarrosa).

Open gardens to view 

Looking for ground-breaking inspiration for your garden? During the next two weeks, three magnificent gardens in and around Joburg and Cape Town will be open to the public to raise funds for charity.

Revel in gardens filled with spectacular water features, magnificent trees, flowering borders and superb edible gardens. 


Water Oak Farm: Visit Water Oak Farm and discover a meadow garden, waterwise succulent landscape and a raised kitchen garden. Pathways link various rooms on different levels and there is abundant birdlife and natural water features to view. Enjoy refreshments in the tea garden.

Date: October 5, from 9am to 5.30pm.

Address: Water Oak Farm, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia. Follow the signs to Klein Constantia Wine Estate from Spaanschemat River Road. Entrance: R30 at the gate. Proceeds to SA Riding for the Disabled (Sarda). Contact: Sarda on 021 794 4393 or Deborah on 082 406 3434.


To raise funds for Johannesburg Child Welfare, a breathtaking garden designed by Liz and Tim Steyn will be open in Westcliff next weekend. Picture: Elsa Young

The Stables: The Johannesburg Garden Club will open a magnificent garden designed by Tim and Liz Steyn next weekend. Designed to enhance the period feel of this Herbert Baker home, the garden frames extraordinary vistas across Joburg’s northern suburbs.

View extensive planting schemes, classical water features and stroll along shady pathways. Refreshments are served in the tea garden or head for the champagne and smoked salmon bar.

Dates: October 5 and 6, from 10am to 4pm. Address: 34 Pallinghurst Road, Westcliff, Joburg. Entrance: R50; under 12s free. Proceeds to Johannesburg Child Welfare. Contact: Prue on 083 309 7949 or visit www.johannesburggardenclub.


Mulligatawny Farm: A magnificent garden on a private estate near Skeerpoort in the Cradle of Humankind will be open to the public on October 12 and 13. 

About a 70-minute drive north of Joburg, this 16ha garden features a dynamic collection of water lilies, thousands of roses and irises, plus a garden cathedral. Plants, food and drinks will be on sale at the venue.

Dates: October 11 for groups and clubs only. Pre-bookings essential. No sales on this day.

October 12 and October 13, from 9am to 5pm. Address: Farm S86, Skeerpoort, Cradle of Humankind. Entrance: Adults R200; children and students R100; pensioners and groups of four or more R150. Booking: Webtickets. or at the gate. Proceeds to the St George’s Turning Point Foundation. Contact James on 083 326 4493.


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