The development of a Dry Garden

general plan dry garden

general plan dry garden

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.

preparation works

preparation works

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.

artist impression of aloe bush

artist impression of aloe bush

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.

rock art in the dry garden

rock art in the dry garden

Students of the McGregor Waldorf School were engaged in rock art  drawings throughout the garden as part of Land Art Project in South Africa that is initiated by Soekershof.

detail of aloe bush

detail of aloe bush

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

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Thrip, aphid, worm and beetle control

Insect repellent teas can be made from any strong aromatic weed steeped in water for 48 hours.

A good result in the control of beetles, thrips, worms and aphids can be achieved with this recipe:

2 cloves of garlic shredded and placed in enough water to cover. After 24 hours add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, mix it and wait another 24 hours.

Add 500 ml water for a concentrate. You need only 10 ml of the concentrate for 1 liter repellant. Per liter repellant add 1 drop of bio-diswash liquid. Apply every 3 to 4 days until the populations of the different insects are manageble.

It works.

(The original recipe is from New Plant Nursery in George, South Africa)

Landscaping a rockery PART 3 (practical on THE spot)

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.

Subjects:    

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: soekershof@lando.co.za 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’.

Walk
Wonder
and be
Inspired!
 
Soekershof Walkabout
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
Skype: soekershof
E-mail:
soekershof@lando.co.za
Website: http://www.soekershof.com
Blogsite: http://soekershofwalkabout.blogspot.com/
Soekershof Science:
https://soekershof.wordpress.com
Dutch: http://www.dagboek.iblog.co.za
http://www.travelpod.com/members/soekershof

Mission statement:
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.

Another (global) garden forum

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.

Recommendation for US-readers

ken-and-deena-altman.jpgFor the American readers of this blog we can recommend the website of Altman Plants in Vista CA. Ken & Deena Altman visited us today and they are impressed but our ‘operation’ is small in comparison with theirs: 800 acres on 3 locations in Florida and California of which 290 acres with succulents. And their website is the most informative of all US-nursery websites we’ve seen with pop-ups which describes (with pictures) the different plants. Their prices are, within the USA, very competitive.

What started as a small backyard operation in LA in 1975 has grown into a huge well organised nursery.

bone meal and sea weed

Towards the end of the South African winter it’s not a bad idea to provide the Spring growth of plants with an organic ‘headstart’.

In Wikipedia you can find a few articles about organic soil improvers.

Look under bone meal and sea weed. Both stimulate the root growth. Good healty roots are the foundation for a healthy growth of the plant.

What’s not mentioned in Wikipedia is the use of composted horse manure; also rich is phosporous like bone meal but not the risk of contamination with lead and so on as some bone meal products.

Sea weed is available in South African shops as SeaGro and in large quatities at agricultural suppliers as Kelpak. It’s a true South African product (Made in Simonstown). Just spray it on plants and soil at the end of August and once more in mid-October. Bone meal: a little hand full around every plant and slightly cultivate it in the soil. Only once a year around this time. And don’t believe what the manufacturor writes on the package (“every six weeks”). Plants can get killed due to an overload.

Composted horse manure: Spread  between the plants and with a bit of cultivating mix it with the top soil. Here we are glad with a horse keeping neighbour. Thoroughbreed horses with honest natural food without hormones and other ‘boasters’.

One golden rule: Too much is too much. Relativily small quantities are the best. Don’t make it too easy for plants (they get vunerable for diseases and pests). Life is hard; should also be for plants. That makes them strong.

Keep on talking with your plants.

About Euphorbias

The Euphorbiaceae family consists of around 300 genera and about 7500 species of which approximately 870 are succulents. About 50 genera and 487 species are native to Southern Africa including Madagascar. These figures excludes the numerous varieties and hybrids such as those of the E. milii and E. pulcherrima (pointsettia).

The International Euphorbia Society covers the whole spectrum of this plant family including the non-succulent ones.

General information about succulent Euphorbias can be found here. The most valuable Internet source (including photo’s and cultivation info) however can be sourced at this site.

Euphorbias are named after the Greek surgeon Euphorbus.

Most of the succulent species of the Euphorbia are easy to grow in most parts of South Africa provided that there is sufficient drainage and the humidity is low. High humidity causes mildew and, combined with high temperatures, mealy bugs. Good drainage prevents Euphorbias from root mealy bugs and root rot (caused by fusarium fungus). Plant Euphorbias preferable on a slope and in well drained soil. Large collumnar plants always surrounded by rocks. In general Euphorbias are less susceptible to diseases than other succulent families. In the past we already submitted something about pest and disease control the green way . See also this contribution and these ones.

Propagation can be done by sowing and by means of cuttings.

Some Euphorbia species hybridise easy and to prevent this as much as possible is hand-pollination with a brush. Always plant two of more plants of the same specie next to each other.

As for cuttings: cuttings of succulent Euphorbias can best be taken towards the end of the dormant season. We normally take them towards the end of the South African Summer (February-March) and always in the early morning but preferable in the late afternoon. Keep the cuttings under a running tab until the cutting stops ‘bleeding’ latex. This milky sap is poisonous (always wash your hand afterwards and or wear protective clothing). Let the cuttings dry in a dry shady area with good ventilation for at least 3 to 4 days before planting them.