28 Jun

Unusual Living Rock of South Africa: Titanopsis calcarea

Though I have not had much success with growing it, Titanopsis is one of my favorite succulents any day. My recent purchase was a couple of Titanopsis calcarea from Uwe Beyer a few months ago. So far they are doing well.

Titanopsis calcarea

Titanopsis calcarea/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Titanopsis is a small genus of dwarf succulents from the family of Aizoaceae. Naturally growing in the Upper Karoo in South Africa, Titanopsis is an attractive but quite unusual plant because of its formation. The plant grows as a dwarf succulent and produces thick truncated leaves that have crumpled surface. These unusual leaves display all the hues of red, purple, green, cream and blue throughout the year. Flowers appear in late fall and winter. Like its cousins in the Aizoaceae family, Titanopsis produces small daisy-like flowers of yellow color.

Titanopsis grows to form clumps. These clumps can be divided for further propagation of the plant. Titanopsis calcarea, like other species, requires moderate watering during the growing season (late fall to early spring) and almost no water the rest of the year. These succulent plants prefer porous soils with excellent drainage. They are capable of tolerating both high (45° C or more) and low temperature (up to -10° C).

The best place to grow Titanopsis calcarea is a sunny spot where it gets bright sunlight in summer and direct exposure to the sun in winter. Other popular species of Titanopsis include: Titanopsis fulleri and Titanopsis primosii.

27 Jun

How to Set up Your Garden Furniture

The placement of your garden furniture can make or break your garden. Having a bench in the right place can enhance the enjoyment of your garden or it can show you all the flaws. It is therefore important to make sure that your garden furniture is in a place that is comfortable and shows your garden in its best light.

How to Arrange Garden Furniture

Start With a Plan

If you are much organised, you will have thought out your furniture placement before you have even landscaped your garden. However, if you are not, and a garden bench was an inspired afterthought, then worry not. Sketching out your garden, either on computer software or good old pencil and paper, will help you to visualise what it will look like, whether it will fit, etc, etc. Try to draw it to scale, and make sure you note prominent bushes and trees. Make a note of the empty spaces where your table, chairs, loungers or garden bench will work.


Go out into your garden and sit or stand where you have noted that furniture might work. Think about what your garden looks like from this angle. Consider the sights, smells and whether there are any overbearing trees that might provide shade on a different part of the day. Overhanging trees might make the maintenance of your furniture that little bit more difficult, and attract insects such as midges that you might not want if you are eating or relaxing. You should also take into consideration whether you can see into others’ gardens and whether they can see into yours. Take a measuring tape and plan out where they might sit.

Garden Bench Arrangement

Largest First

The largest pieces of your furniture should go in your garden first. A dining set or a garden bench might be the focus of your garden if you place it in the middle, but may look crowded if you add another piece. If you place it to one side, your garden may more easily accommodate more furniture. Once you have placed the main pieces, then you will have a better idea of where the smaller pieces will look good.


Like any other room, it will not look complete until the finishing touches are there. Whether it is garden lights, water features or birdfeeders, you will only be happy when you have placed your new dining set or garden bench with the accessories that set them off perfectly.

If you think that you are garden would look better with a bench, check out The Garden Furniture Centre Ltd for a wide range of stylish garden benches and other furniture suitable for every style of garden.

Garden Furniture: Bench

27 Jun

Storage and Security Solution for Gardening Tools: Asgards

Why You Should Keep Your Garden Shed Secure

Many burglars scout out the property before they break in, and can tell just by looking at it whether it is worth the risk of breaking in. They check out whether you have been sloppy and left any belongings out for the taking, whether there is easy access. One of the things that they have been known to break into is the garden shed. While this is not something that you immediately equate with much value, but you may keep your precious bike in there, gardening tools, perhaps a lawn mower, all of which seems worth breaking in for if you are a thief.

Keep Your Garden in Good Repair  

By this, I mean keeping the fences and gateways up to scratch. Leaving them to rot or not repairing them when they are broken means that your property looks dishevelled and not looked after- more inviting to burglars. It also means that it is probably easier to get into. The same goes for the material that your shed is made from. If it is wooden, then check that all the boards are solid and secure.

Keeping your garden neat and tidy in general also helps to contribute to the general atmosphere of someone who is at home and takes regular care of their garden and could be out to tidy at any moment.

Reduce the Risk

If at all possible, you should keep all your valuable belongings in somewhere more secure that your shed. However, if this is not possible, then marking your valuables with a UV pen with your postcode will mean that if they do happen to be stolen, then they can be traced.

Secure Your Shed 

Asgards shed

If there is no other place than your shed to store your valuables in, then you need to make sure that your shed is as secure as possible. While installing a big lock on the door might seem like a good idea to you, it probably will not put a thief off when they can see your big mower through that tiny plastic window. Instead, make sure that they cannot see anything by using a metal shed. Metal sheds are infinitely more secure than a wooden one. The metal sheds from Asgards are built from galvanised steel, have reinforced joints and include a five point locking system, so you know you are in safe hands. Click here for Asgards high security metal sheds.

20 Jun

SolaRadiance Lighting in my Garden

I am a big fan of gardening accessories and gadgets. My latest accessory is SolaRadiance – a simple and unique lighting solution for small gardens. I received my SolaRadiance kit in the last week. It came with live plants in a beautifully designed pots that give the look of vintage copper pots. On top of the pot fits the SolaRadiance light.

My Solaradiance

My Solaradiance

The light is powered by a AA size rechargeable battery that is charged by the solar cell that sits on top of the fitting. The pot can be used to plant your favorite varieties easily. The plants can be watered and fertilized just as ordinary plants and there is no extra maintenance required.  So far, the solar panel is working well. I have placed my plants on the terrace where they receive direct sunlight in early hours of the morning.


The light on the plants creates a dramatic effect in the evening. I do not have a lawn but I believe these illuminated plants will look gorgeous in gardens, walkways patios or near pools.

SolaRadiance Lighting

I am planning to plant succulents in my SolaRadiance pots. I will share more pictures of my SolaRadiance pots soon. For more details, you can visit their website www.solaradiance.com.

19 Jun

Lovely Summer Bloomer for Cold Climates: Phygelius

Phygelius is a small genus of ornamental bloomers from South Africa. These cold hardy plants make excellent border plants that grow up to 1 meter and produce and produce long spikes of fuchsia-like flowers. They can also be grown in large pots and hanging baskets in semi-shaded or sunny spots.


Phygelius/ Image by faroutflora.com

Phygelius are grown as evergreen shrubs or as perennials in colder climates for their ability to produce abundance of tubular flowers that usually appear in summer and stay for a long time. Flowers are orange or red.

In their natural habitat, Phygelius grow in shade near water. Therefore, they prefer slightly moist and semi-shaded spots.

Though only two species, P. capensis and P.aequalis, are found in nature, a number of interesting cultivars and hybrids of Phygelius are commercially sold. The popular varieties include:

Phygelius x rectus ‘African Queen’, Phygelius x rectus ‘Sunshine’, and Phygelius x rectus ‘Salmon Leap’. These varieties are usually easy to grow when grown in a slightly moist and fertile soil.

18 Jun

Hardy and Lovely Bloomers for Sandy Soil: Lewisia

Lewisia is a genus of hardy perennials from the alpine climate western North America. These lovely bloomers make excellent plants for rock gardens, borders, and container gardening. Most species of Lewisia are low-growing, sometimes dwarf, perennials that produce spectacular and considerably larger flowers for their size.

The genus of Lewisia is characterized by hardy plants that produce small rosettes of succulent leaves and very showy flowers white, pink, purple, mauve, yellow, and cream colors. Flowers appear in early summer or late spring.

Lewisias can be grown under bright sunlight in a sandy and porous soil that guarantees perfect drainage. Though slow-growing, most species of Lewisia are low-maintenance plants that withstand drought and neglect.


Lewisia in a rock garden/ Image by dan.kristiansen

Popular species include:

Lewisia cotyledon forms evergreen succulent rosette and produce flowers of orange, pink, white or yellow colors.

Lewisia glandulosa is a deciduous plant that produces a rosette of narrow leaves and bears small flowers of white or pink shades.

Lewisia x pygmaea is a dwarf and deciduous perennial that produces lovely pink flowers in spring.

Lewisias can be grow easily in moderately fertile, neutral to acid, and well-drained soil under full sun or light shade.

17 Jun

Lovely Winter Flowering Plants for Gardens: Chasmanthe

Chasmanthe is a small genus of winter flowering plants from the family of Iris mainly from South Africa. These winter-growing plants are known for their attractive flowers of red, orange and yellow flowers that grow along a tall stalk, which makes these lovely plants stand out from their neighbors.

Chasmanthes are propagated from corms and produce sword-like leaves that grow up to 1 meter. Most species form small colonies that require bright sunlight and a moist soil. Colonies of Chasmanthe can be planted in landscapes, garden borders or in the background of flowering beds where both the foliage and flowers make an excellent show.

Chasmanthe aethiopica

Chasmanthe aethiopica/ Image by faroutflora.com

Popular species of Chasmanthe include:

Chasmanthe floribunda grows up to 1.5 meters and produces brilliant orange-red flowers in winter or spring.

Chasmanthe floribunda var. duckittii is an easy-to-grow variety with lovely yellow flowers.

Chasmanthe bicolor has small growth and produces scarlet flowers in midwinter or spring.

Chasmanthe aethiopica or Cobra Lily grows up to 1.5 feet and bears prominent deep-orange flowers on tall spikes.

16 Jun

Lovely Aquatic Plants for Pots and Small Ponds: Nymphoides

Nymphoides is a genus of aquatic plants grown for their lovely white or yellow flowers. These plants are commonly known as Floating-Heart plants because of their heart shaped leaves that float on the surface of the water. The heart-shaped leaves have their roots submerged in the water and small white flowers that nod along the floating leaves.

Nymphoides cristata

Nymphoides cristata/ Image by Mary Keim

Nymphoides is widely grown across Africa, Asia, Australia and America in ponds, aquariums and ornamental water gardens. Most of the species vary in shape and size but their basic structure and growing habit is similar. Unlike other aquatic plants, they do not sprawl much and can be grown in rather small ponds. They can be grown along the margins of ponds in about 12″ of water, or in a pot in open water in up to 20″ of water where they can form small colonies.

Flowers usually appear in mid spring through the summer, and frequently into the fall. Propagation can be done from divisions or runners.

Popular species of Nymphoides include:

Nymphoides indica or Water Snowflake: Fast-growing perennial with white flowers that have feathery edges.

Nymphoides cristata: Beautiful aquatic plant with heart-shaped green leaves that have purple veins. White flowers appear in spring or summer.

Nymphoides pelata: Easy to grow and low-maintenance aquatic plant with lovely yellow flowers.

05 Jun

Highlights from The Painted Garden by Bachman

This year (March 24 to April 7, 2013), the annual Macy’s Flower Show brought exotic floral displays that celebrated the remarkable beauty and landscapes native to Asia in The Painted Garden by Bachman’s.

Started in 1946, the yearly Macy’s Flower Show  attracts more than 500,000 visitors who see the lush landscapes and millions of flowering plants and trees from around the world.

The Painted Garden Show

Flowers in the Painted Garden

The Painted Garden

View of the Painted Garden

Macy's Painted Garden

Orchids in the Painted Garden

Colors of the Painted Garden

Daffodils in the Painted Garden

Images via flickr by Photo Phiend