Gardens are per definition ARTificial; even if the gardener strives to let the garden look as natural as possible. We at The Green Cathedral of South Africa are very much aware of this and it is also one of the reasons we go beyond the general perception of a garden. Part of it is Art in the Garden. And it is easy to buy statues and other mass produced ornaments at the garden center. We rather challenge talented people to make something unique and preferable with material from the land or recycable material. An example of the last is the wooden cactus of 4 metres high made by local woodworker Marthinus Plaatjies from restpieces wood.
Recently land art artist Jody Joyner from Tucson, AZ, USA created is giant nest out of hibiscus twigs and a few years ago our own staff created the earthwork Mama Africa (we expect Mama Africa fully covered with succulent groundcovers within 1 year from now.
Here some pictures:
It’s easy to copy things you see on the way. For us it’s a challenge not to be the sheep that follow but the one with followers.
Cuttings rooted on H2O. Took 2 months to develop roots of 2 to 5 cm. These are Eurphorbia resinifera but also other Euphorbia species root well in water. Ideal temperature is around 20 degrees Celcius (=68 F). Just started an experiment with 2 Lophocereus species. Keep you updated.
The reason for this experiment is that there is an overseas demand for this rooted plant material and as it’s a regulation that no soil particle is allowed to leave the country.. (etc. etc.). At this stage we are rooting a few hundred Euphorbia cuttings (diverse species) in water.
We are no scientists (just make use of them) but we like to experiment and prefer to choose for the most unlikable things. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes not but when you never try you will never know.
And for PRECISE road directions, times, etc. you may (must) visit this site.
Most beautiful in Winter because the impressive caudex is uncovered by leaves of this Southern African caudiciform with a diametre of up to 35 cm. Locally it is also named ‘Bobbejaansgif’ (Afrikaans for baboon’s poison) for its high content of toxic sap (cyanogenic compounds). The genius Adenia (21 species) belongs to the family of the Passifloraceae. The specie A. fruticosa was first described in 1926 by Joseph Burtt Davy. The Adenias fruticosa and glauca are the best known species and grown relatively easy provided the right environment. It’s also suitable for cultivation in a container and is drougth tolerant but likes some extra water in Summer when in leaf. Hardiness: Zone 10a to 11 with minimum temperatur of minus 1 degree Celcius (30F). Well drained gritty loamy soil. Do not fertilise!!! The plant in the picture is grown from seed (2004) and resisted this year 5 months of no rainfall here at The Green Cathedral of South Africa.
This question arrived yesterday on one of our Face Book pages.
Our answer: “We hardly have ‘frost’. Just a bit of ripe a few times per year (gone before 8AM). Quite a few succulents can have -3 to 4 degrees Celcius during a few hours; we even know of a cactus (San Pedro) that survived minus 20 C and snow in Yorkshire UK. But if somebody tells you that cacti grow virtually everywhere in South Africa (as a nursery man once told in the TV-program Top Billing) we can assure you that this is nonsense for in a large part of this country ‘Black Frost’ occurs. Majority of succulent plants including cacti don’t survive ‘black frost’ but it is interesting to see which succulent plants survive in those areas.
“Black Frost” is when suddenly in a very short time the temperature goes down to several degrees Celcius below zero.
Thanks for this question. The answer also explains why we always ask our customers about their local environment including the occurance of ‘black frost’. This to avoid dissapointments.”
And word spreads for more and more people from areas with ‘black frost’ are buying succulent plants at our nursery or contact us per email with the question where they can find a reliable succulent plant nursery within driving distance. There are not that many of these but to mention a few: Obesa in Graaff Reinet, Fynkwa in Oudshoorn, Cambroo in Pretoria and (not primary succulents) Simply Indigenous in Hartebeespoortdam.
Oh … and there is a difference between frost and frost: Ripe is the ‘white’ on your lawn caused by a tiny bit of frost, dissapearing early in the morning (sun). In Holland they call it ‘nachtvorst’ (nightfrost) that leaves ‘rijp’ (ryp = Afrikaans word for it). Frost is real frost that goes below -1 to 2 degrees Celcius for a longer period.
Every now and than we shoot in the garden; not with a shotgun but with a digital camera. Here 5 pics; one shows a part of the garden (totalling 11,000sqm and over 2500 different succulent plants outdoor); one showing an elephants foot (Dioscera elephantipes); one with a fruiting Pilosocereus lanuginosus; the fourth is a Adenium arabicum with flowers AND seedpods and the last is an overview of our retail nursery. It’s not all succulent here in The Green Cathedral of South Africa but that’s for you to find out; preferable on the spot where you can feel, touch, smell, hear and see.
Next week we are with both feet on the ground again:
The Independent (UK): “Best Garden in the Western Cape” http://ow.ly/11jQP
Warm greetings from the Hot Spot in Klaas Voogds,
Herman & Yvonne
One of our pollinators is BZZZZZZZBee and you might think that bees are always busy pollinating in the garden but this bee is the exception of the rule. Oh yes; BZZZZZZZBee pollinates but also enjoys life like cuddling with a co-worker and having a break.
See for yourself:
Six years ago the idea for a Dry Garden was launched for a piece of bare land with a surface of approx. 1500 square metres. It was the most brackish part of our 10 hectare (25 acres) property and soil analysis in The Netherlands showed a pH of 8.3 and an organic content of 3 percent next to numerous deficits of nitrogen, phosphorous and diverse trace elements. We choose for the organic and slow way in improving the soil by deminishing the brack and bringing the pH down to 6.8 by adding coarse river sand and plenty of compost in the top 50 cm of the existing (too clayish) soil. After that we soaked everything a few times to get the brack level down (<40ppm; was 200 ppm). And than again mixing compost and gritsand through the top 30 cm of the soil. Considering that it takes approx. 3 years before the new soil (micro-organisms, etc.) is established we waited that long before we made the first trials with some cacti, other succulents and some acacia species including acacia hybrids.
This year we made the final decision and two students (Pauline Gillet and Sybille de Cussy) from the landscape university in Blois, France (ENSNP) have been fully engaged in designing the garden and implementing their design in practice.
De Cussy and Gillet knew literally nothing about succulent plants and lack of knowledge often results in an unusual surprising approach.
They created a dry garden with 7 spheres (totalling 78 different species, subspecies, etc.); creeping plants, shrubs/trees, rocks, cactus and euphorbia bushes, aloe bush, mixed border, agaves.
A PDF-file with plan and plantlist is -free of charge- available for interested landscapers and other interested parties with simular soil ‘problems’. Request e-mail to info -at- soekershof.co.za