Art in the Garden 2

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.

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Succulents rooting in H2O

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.

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This month in the garden

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.

Basic Soil preparation

This post is “Under continious Construction”.

In the past we have mentioned a few times ‘soil’ and ‘soil preparation’. See here, there and there.

Every nursery has its own recipes and one may assume that these all work.

In addition to the info provided via the links above:

Succulent plants thrive in a wide range of soils each with their own characteristics. An Aloe plicatillus originate from acid soil (pH <6) near Franschoek in South Africa and and the Gunniopsis glabra originate from a saline flood plain (pH >7.5) in Western Australia.

These differences don’t necessarily mean that these plants don’t grown in different environments.

A good (general) pH of the soil is just below neutral (=pH 7); pH  6.8 is recommended. Soil analysis in the Western Cape is done by Bemlab in Somerset West Do It Yourself pH-meters are not always accurate.

An interesting article about pH is this one. With thanks to Ralph Martin of the south Wales branche of the British Cacti ad succulent Society.

The most important characteristic of the soil is drainage. Especially the top soil must drain freely an excess of water to avoid ‘neck rot’ and also (high temperatures after rainfall) mealy bugs. Ideal is a free draining top layer (10-20cm) of coarse sand or gravel rich soil and a sublayer (10-20 cm) which can accumulate a little bit of water. The characteristics of the sub soil (>30 cm) should be more or less simular to that of the sublayer of the topsoil and is important for deep rooting plants like collumnar cacti. Soil (top- and subsoil alike) may never be waterlogged.

Preferable poor soil (low organic content) but some compost (preferable of horse manure or composted mushroom medium) in sublayer and subsoil is recommended. In some part of South Africa (for example those with brackish/saline soil) an small dose of bonemeal can improve the soil.  Fertilisers (even dried chicken manure or ‘bounce back’)  improve plant growth but also make the plants extra vunerable for pests and diseases.

No-till

In large scale agricultural operations there is an increasing amount of farmers that implements ‘no-till’ in the cultivation of their crops thus as less as possible disturbing the soil.

Quote from WikipediaIn no-till farming the soil is left intact and crop residue is left on the field. Therefore, soil layers, and in turn soil biota, are conserved in their natural state. No-tilled fields often have more beneficial insects and annelids[12], a higher microbial content, and a greater amount of soil organic material. Since there is no plowing there is less airborne dust.

No-till increases the amount and variety of wildlife.  This is the result of the improved cover because of surface residue and because the field is disturbed less often than conventional fields.

If you know that your soil is suitable don’t dig. drygardenpreparationworks1Preparation limits itself than only to weeding, cleaning and planting unless you planned to make (small) rockery heeps, etc.  (see picture).

Earthwork

mama16dec20081

Almost every country in the world has one; an ancient or contemporary man made Earthwork representing deep spiritual feelings or as an Art form, etc.

Our ‘Mama Africa’ is dedicated to the African Continent and its people.
 
At this very moment we work together in the finishing of the shape and the planting of around 500 succulent indigenous Antima creepers which will cover the 3 metres high, 7 metres wide and 16 metres long object in one to two years.
 
Hopefully ‘mama’ is going to make history in Africa.
 

Landmarks in the garden

Every garden has some focal points. The art of landscaping a succulent garden is to have focal points which change with the seasons or even months or weeks. A few of this weeks landmarks:
Euphorbia akmat
Euphorbia akmat

Adenia glauca

Adenia glauca
Euphorbia horrida
Euphorbia horrida
Pleiospilos
Pleiospilos
Aeonium hybrid
Aeonium hybrid
Pachycereus weberii
Pachycereus weberii
mesemb
mesemb
Dioscera elephantipes (elephants foot)
Dioscera elephantipes (elephants foot)
Soekershof garden 2
Soekershof garden 2
Echeveria cultivar
Echeveria cultivar
Agave victoria regineae
Agave victoria regineae

'crossbreeding' South African Euphorbia species

Notocactus
Notocactus
Crassula sp
Crassula sp

'Landmark' in garden