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.
Archive for the ‘caudiciforms’ Category
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
Just an example (we use it for our nursery customers) of a simple, easy to maintain succulent garden. We made it within 4 hours (3 staff) including the sculpture. Plants used are diverse Echiveria species and Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera).
It’s ideal for people who want to have a different garden but don’t have the time for extensive maintenance.
At Soekershof, Private Mazes & Botanical Garden in South Africa, we are continuously busy creating new gardens. Some are simple to make (see picture); others can take a few years before they are ready. For the rockery at the entrace we count that we still need two more years to finish it. Partly because we are still growing plants which are still too young and partly because it’s very labour extensive to arrange rocks (different sizes and colours etc.) and gravel between it. The rockery (below an artist impression of how a part of it looks now) covers a surface of around 2000 sqm (almost 1 acre) and is divided in a caudiciform garden; Australian/Asian succulent garden; American succulent garden and an All Africa Succulent Garden. Yes; we are ‘Rocking the World’.
During Festive Season (school holiday) 2007/2008:
At Soekershof Walkabout, Klaas Voogds West, Robertson, Western Cape, South Africa.
Daily at 11 AM and 3 PM:
Rocking the World; A succulent landscaping project in Robertson.
Designed for all (succulent) gardeners/landscapers who want to know more about the possibilities and impossibilities of waterwise gardening in South Africa with emphasis on the Western Cape. See this and that plus media release below.
R 150.00 pp including picnic and standard program with quest in maze and tour in succulent gardens (see http://soekershof.com).
Duration 3-4 hrs. Only prepaid bookings.
Number of participants per educational limited to approx. 10 PAX.
1) Theoretical basics of landscaping rockeries (soil, composition, creating micro climates)
2) Landscaping a rockery in practice. Interaction between participants and the garden artists of Soekershof.
Discover that waterwise gardening is more labour extensive than generally perceived but also very much rewarding.
Info and bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 023-6264134
Rocking the world
Robertson (Western Cape); November 13 2007 – Soekershof Walkabout, Mazes & Botanical Gardens, commenced excavagation works for two rockeries which will the ‘growing ground’ of approx. 1000 succulent species from around the world within two years. These new species are in addition to the 2467 registered different succulent plants in the existing succulent gardens.
The gardens of Soekershof Walkabout distinguish themselves from those of other botanical gardens in South Africa with all plants under the open sky (not under roof or shade cloth) and all plants are organically cultivated without the use of fertilisers and other chemicals. Furthermore is Soekershof Walkabout the only botanical garden in South Africa which is certified by Fair Trade in Tourism in South Africa (http://www.fairtourismsa.org.za/).
Both rockeries are near the entrance; one will be the ‘growing ground’ of caudiciform plants (f.e. ‘bottle trees’, including several baobab species, from Australia, Madagascar and Southern Africa) and the other one will mainly consist of American succulent plants such as cacti, yuccas and agaves next to Brazilian ceiba trees (Choriosa speciosa). Most plants of the new collection are home grown from seeds and hardly or not on display elsewhere in South Africa.
The investment in the new rockeries is the first phase of a three year program during which all ‘gaps’ in the existing landscape of 10 hectares will be filled with different sphere gardens. In the beginning of next year excavagation works are scheduled for a very formal layout of sample gardens for the own nursery customers and the extension of the Langeberg Garden (in fact a maze without dead ends and home grown indigenous trees and shrubs).
Since the official opening in December 2002 Soekershof Walkabout is increasingly attracting (amateur) horticulturists, garden societies, botanists, etc. from around the globe. Locally Soekershof Walkabout is mainly known for its Klaas Voogds Maze which is regarded as the ‘largest hedge maze in the world’.
Mazes & Botanical Gardens
Primary Unusual Destination
Certified by Fair Trade in Tourism in South Africa
Klaas Voogds West, P.O. Box 291, Robertson 6705, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)23 626 4134
Soekershof Science: http://soekershof.wordpress.com
Soekershof Walkabout is a sacred enterprise, based on an appreciation of nature, humor, play, creation, expression and respect for the land, and the growth and development of the people and plants that participate -employees and visitors alike.
Soekershof Walkabout is a personal event which is simply described as the “Largest Hedge-Maze in the world” and/or “a garden with more than 2400 different succulents from all over the world under the open sky”.
But Soekershof IS more than that.
The original concept goes beyond all prejudice perceptions.
Walk, Wonder and be Inspired!!!
Just let it happen and take your time; a few hours at least.
Experiencing Soekershof Walkabout is, globally, a unique and hugely entertaining exercise for Body, Mind and Spirit; not to be missed.
Daily Tours: 11 AM and 3 PM (sharp!!!)
See website for more details.
With reference to an earlier submission:
Last week we started excavagation works for rockeries with a surface of around
1000 square metres. This at the entrance of Soekershof Walkabout.
One rockery will, in due time, filled up with caudiciform plants like adenia, delonix, cussonia, pachypodium, fockea and fouquirea species. As you can see at the picture we already planted with main infrastructure (focal points) with Brazilian snow trees (Chorisia speciosa) and some adenia species.
The other rockery will consist of 4 spheres; one American (we will call it ‘Little Texas’); one Australian (with Australian succulent plants including 2 Brachyton species (bottle trees); one Southern Africa with a mix from Madagascar, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia and the fourth small one will contain mainly Sempervivum, Crassula and Sedum species.
It’s very important to gradually plant the rockery. Ours is a three year plan and don’t be surprised if it takes longer. As soon as all focal points are in we just wait and look and think before we make additions. The focal points are essential. You will have to visualise the future size and shape. During the next months we probably move a few ones.
The most rewarding way of enjoying your plants is growing them from seeds. But we understand that not everybody has that much patience and growing plants from seeds is also very labour consuming.
But once the decision is made one wonders where to get the seeds. Ordinary nurseries generally only sell cactus seed mix but for people who want to grow something special it can be difficult to find the right adress for the desired seeds. And than there is always the risk that seeds do not germinate. We’ve had our experiences with that.
One of the few specialised succulent growers with good quality seeds can be found in The Netherlands (more than 80 percent of the seeds germinating; via friends of friends we got around 50 packets. In comparison average less than 10 percent of germination rate of seeds acquired at South African seed suppliers including the National Botanical Society) . In the online cataloque (secure payment method) of CactusPlaza you will find seeds of over 5000 different succulent species including cacti, mesembs, caudiciforms, etc.
The Dutch supplier states that its seeds are not older than 2 yrs at the most and that most probably explains the high germination rate.
Previously we wrote something about the South African Garden Forum. Not that we are ‘going strong’ in only that forum; there is another Garden Forum with members from all over the globe. Yesterday we published a few photos and look to the comments!!!
OK, we are proud of our garden but the real reason we provide the readers of this blog (all succulent plant lovers we assume) to these forums is that these consist of submissions of people who are all dedicated and passionate about their plants and they exchange knowledge freely. Worthwhile to bookmark the home pages of these forums.
Whatever you do to avoid it; sooner or later there is a plant with rot. We recently experienced this with a quiver tree which prosphered in one of the gardens for more than 6 years. And suddenly, at the brink of the South African Autumn, the tree let us know that there was such a ‘soft feeling’ at its neck. Taking the soil away we discovered that part of the neck just started to rot. We took it out (almost 150 kilogram) and laid it to rest in the barn. The past week we’ve taken the rot parts away and let dry for the next few months until Spring before we replant it. Luckely for both, us and the tree, some of the roots were not attached. In October we will replant the almost 3 metre high tree on a somewhat higher spot and we’ll cover the neck and the top part of the roots with coarse sand for better drainage.
Rot can never be avoided in full but some measurements can avoid at least 90 percent of the misery.
It starts with buying your succulents.
And plant them in the right soil; more or less the mix as described in one of the contributions last month.
The top layer of the soil should be 30 to 50 cm deep and the subsoil should be able to drain the surplus of water sufficiently even after a heavy rainfall.
Keep the soil around the plants free of weeds.
Plant vunerable succulents on a small sandy heep (5-10 cm high).
After (heavy) rainfall aerate the soil around the plant (loosening the top few centimetres).
But still than, as in our case with a very valuable quiver tree, rot can strike suddenly.
Neck-rot is caused by phytophthora. This is a fungus which also occurs in potatoes and caused the Irish famines in the 19th century and with that the Irish influx in the America’s.
There is not much what you can do in a natural way other than taking the affected plant out and cut the rot part out. If you discover the disease in a late stage it can be too late for the whole plant. The only thing left is to cut the plant off above the neck and let the stem dry first and than root again as a cutting.
ALWAYS remove the soil around the affected plant (it might be contaminated) and do not add the attached parts (or whole plants) to the compost heep for it will spread the disease to all the places where you spread the compost.
Connie Krochmal, the cactus and succulent editor of Bella Online, recently wrote an informative article about all kinds of (rot-related) diseases in cacti and other succulents such as fusarium, botrytus and (powdery) mildew.
At last but not at least: communicate with your plants. They will tell you about their needs, their shortcomings, their symptoms of ‘illness’. Talk with them with your eyes, your fingers, you nose and also with your mouth. It helps. Really.
To simplify things a little bit botanical names always consist of a genus and a specie name sometimes added with a sub-specie name; for example Acacia sieberani woodii (paperbark tree).
But genera (plurial of ‘genus) belong to a family. The succulent family Cactaceae is composed of about 100 genera with around 2000 different species.
Example: Cactaceae (family); Ferocactus (genus) acanthodes (specie).
Other succulents are botanically divided in approximately 50 families with over 600 genera and an estimated 15000 natural species (except cultivars and hybrids) of which around 10,000 are native to Southern Africa including Madagascar.
Other parts of the African continent with a significant number of native succulents are South Morocco and the isle of Socrota. The Canary Islands, India and Australia also have a number of ‘indigenous’ succulents. In Europe one can find the endemic areas of some sedum- and sempervivum species.
The America’s are home to the Cactaceae (except for one genus; Rhipsalis); and Agavaceae (a.o. genera Agave and Yucca) originating to a wide diversity of local environments within a stretch of 10,000 kilometres; altitudes ranging up to 4000 metres; climates with temperatures ranging from -18 degrees Celsius to +45 degrees Celsius; from dry rocky deserts to foggy deserts and (sub-)tropical rainforests and from fertile soils to soils with a high salt content. More or less the same diversity applies to succulents from other parts of the world.
Despite their different backgrounds it is very well possible to let a wide variety of succulents, including cacti, live harmoniously together in one garden provided that the involved gardener can organise (by simulation) some measurements/precautions in which certain plants will adept to their new environment.
In the description of the different families, genera and (where applicable) species we will indicate these measurements in the future.
In general it’s always worthwhile to find your way in the endemic habitat of plants in regards to soil structure/contents, local climate and local ecological aspects such as the nature of other plants.
A plant has, in its natural habitat, always a reason to grow just there. Not only humans are smart!
The majority of people buying cacti and other succulents don’t really care if their purchased plants die after some time; they just buy a replacement. These are fortunately not our customers (and that is very un-commercial!!!).
The real passionate gardener, hobbyist, etc. buys with the intention to enjoy his/her plants for a long time. These are the people we like to welcome in our nursery and they are invited to be critical and during many of such occasions we experience an educational interaction to the benefit of all.
First something about our own experience. In the beginning (we didn’t know that much about the subject and we are still learning) we bought quite a few Aloes at one of the botanical gardens in the Western Cape. The plants were nicely labeled with with their full botanical names. Almost all turned out to be hybrids. At a specialist succulent nursery we bought 12 cacti of which 8 had a ‘hidden’ (underground) disease.
Botanists are in continuous discussion with each other about botanical names and during identification of certain group (genus) of plants. The Aloes are very good example because these hybridise easily and proper identification, in case of doubt, can only be done with DNA-research. THE Haworthia ‘specialist’ of South Africa is very honest when he says that he is unable to generate a proper identification key which covers all Haworthias and that he has difficulties to identify some of the Haworthia-species. With other words: don’t always be too sure about about the botanical names with which plants are labeled. Another issue is that many botanical names are changing nowadays because of DNA-research (f.e. part of the Stenocereus species becomes suddenly Cleistocactus or whatever) and that makes it even more complicated. A self-respecting nursery man will, in case of doubt, always label ‘spp’ after the genus name; f.e. ‘Mammillaria spp.’
How can one check if the plants are healty? This is not always easy but you can take some precautions. Is the nursery clean, relativily weed free and do the plants, on first sight, look healthy? This is the first impression. If the first impression is not good be extra critical.
Some hidden diseases are difficult to identify such as roots which start to rot at their tips. Even if the plants look healthy but you see that they are waterlogged (and not just after a heavy rainfall) be critical. Some nurseries use quite a few fertilisers,pesticides, fungicides and so on to let the plants look healthy but once purchased you will have to apply these chemicals until you are pretty sure that they are adapting to your preferred way of gardening. Once we were at a succulent nursery where the plants were covered with a blue layer caused by the application of copper sulphate.
Golden tip, which prevents you in at least 70 percent of such cases of ‘buying a cat in a bag’, is removing the soil around the neck of the plant. If the tissue is not soft(ening) but feels solid the plant might be healthy. This applies surely for all Aloes, Caudiciforms (especially adenium- adenia- and cyphostemma sp., Lithops, Cacti and cacti-like Euphorbias.
Almost at last but certainly not at least: Most nurseries sell their plants from under a roof or shade net. Advise (especially in Summer): Don’t put the plant right away under the sun, once at home. Let the plant slowly get adepted to the sun. This can be done by providing the plants with morning sun and afternoon shade for the first few days and let them gradually stay longer in the sun until, after a week or so, they are used to the sun. Some plants, amongst others Echinocactus crussonii (Golden Barrel Cactus or Mother’s in Law Seat) need sun protection for the first year until they are established. Keep the plant covered with a shade net (at least between 12 and 4 PM) from the second half of December to the second half of March. A good nursery with in-house knowledge will give you decent information. If the
Damage on a plant caused by snails and (scale-)insects are in general not terminal and can even give the plant a natural charm. In nature you won’t find that many plants (=relatively) which are looking perfect. On the contrary but these plants are strong with some build in resistance.