Category Archives: Gardening

Planting Trees For Special Occasions

tree plantingPlanting indigenous trees is one way we can all make a difference. Whether it is because we want to reduce our carbon footprint, restore a bleak landscape or just because we love trees, a tree planted and looked after will most likely outlive us, a positive legacy that we can be proud of.

Planting a tree is a great way of marking a special occasion: a birthday, an anniversary. Now that the autumn rains have started it’s a great time for tree planting and our girls were determined to plant a tree each for Easter, not so much for their carbon footprint, it must be admitted, more because the Easter bunny has always left eggs in their special trees! Even though you don’t need to wait for an occasion to plant a tree it is lovely to have a growing memorial to a special birthday or event, and kids love having their own trees to look after. Continue reading

September is Tree Planting Month In SA


© Yury Shirokov |

If you haven’t planted any trees yet this winter, now’s the time, while spring is still mild and occasionally wet and before summer heat sets in. Arbor Day has been celebrated here since 1983, encouraging individuals and communities to plant trees in their own gardens, in schools, along pavements on community land and wherever there is space. Arbor Day then became Arbor Week in 1999 and now the events go on all month, so there’s no excuse to miss it!

I still need to decide on what trees to plant on our farm, having promised my daughters to plant them each a tree. And should I plant a small tree that will take a while to settle in and find its roots, but then should grow well once it has established a deep enough root system? Or large trees that we can enjoy in the landscape from the start, but which will generally take a lot more careful looking after, especially through their first two or three summers?

Whatever trees you plant this month, it’s not just about the planting. Someone needs to make a commitment to tending the trees, giving regular watering through the first few years until they are properly established. But it’s worth it as trees can transform a garden or a dull community space. And trees are one of the most basic but also the most beautiful ingredients of green living.  Besides the huge benefits to the environment on a global scale!. So get planting.

Check out this list of indigenous tree species, designated as trees of the year, if you want inspiration of what to plant.

Check here for more green events in South Africa this month.

Green Living With Herbs

Start a little patch of herbs in your garden for really green living. If you don’t have a garden, a cluster of pots on a balcony or window sill will do – herbs are generally quite hardy as long as they get enough daylight and some sun. There’s no need to get fancy – just start with the basics from the Scarborough Fair song – parsley, sage, rosemary  and thyme.
And what’s so green about growing your own herbs… besides the fact that they are green, of course!

There’s far less wastage when you grow your own herbs instead of buying packets of them at the supermarket. You just snip off exactly what you need and it’s fresh and bursting with flavour. No packaging, no leftover quantities to wilt in the fridge and you’re saving money all the way.

Herbs are full of vitamins and minerals – in fact parsley is a multi-vitamin and mineral in leaf form, so you can keep healthier by having a steady supply of fresh leaves in your cooking and on your salads. If you eat plenty  and eat healthily anyway you can probably get away without taking any further vitamin supplements (note that this is an opinion, not medical advice!)

Herb teas are good for you. Read up about the medicinal effects of parsley and rosemary, sage and thyme and you will find that you have a natural medicine chest on your doorstep – perfect for treating coughs and colds, digestive disorders, flagging energy levels and more. Here is a great post on the uses of herbs, researched from my favourite Margaret Roberts book – she is the South African authority on growing herbs and highly recommended reading if you are going to start growing them.

If you only have a small garden, start mixing up the herbs with the ornamental flowers for a pretty cottage garden effect and get the satisfaction of knowing that your garden is feeding you as well as looking beautiful.