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.

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

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

Art in Garden

We love to do extraordinary things in our gardens. That makes gardening a real challenge. Five years ago we ‘planted’ a wire baobob tree (3 metres high) at the entrance and this changed the life of street wire artist Messina Mussindo (“Joey”) completely. Within half a year the second (same size) was acquired for the hall in the new South African embassy in Berlin (Germany) and since than Joey’s fame has been going around the globe. From a humble street wire artist Joey (not subsidised as many others) transformed into a wire artist in a real workshop but he remained modest.
Joey just started up with a new range of wire trees. The ‘Acacia joey’ can be found in several private collections around the world. Interesting however is also where his different ‘genera’ end up. The baobabs (‘Adansonia Joey’) are mostly found in German speaking countries and Australia plus North America and the flat-crowns (‘Acacia Joey’) in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Scandinavian countries. The one on the picture is made for South African account and designated for a wedding present.

Joey once said that he wants to go into history as

the ‘one wire artist’. He made a range of ‘one wire products’ of which the elephants and the geckos are the most wanted; followed by his ‘TokTok Egg Cups’. The more complicated elephants and geckos are not easy to make. It takes him, for example, two days to create a one wire gecko out of 6 metres of wire. The end result is a maze in its own right. And isn’t that one of the things Soekershof is known about?
But Soekershof is more and Joey is a significant part of the experience for except telling visitors something about his life and his ancestry he also lets them “shake and rock and roll” and by giving so much, guests (including South Africans!!!) learn something about a (forgotten/unknown)part of the African culture. Joey has many friends for life around the globe!

Locally less known is also that the gardens of Soekershof are home of the largest OUTDOOR collection of succulent plants from around the world including the oldest cactus of South Africa.

And very soon a new object will be erected somewhere in the gardens: a laminated wooden cactus of 4.5 metres high. This cactus is created by another user of our workshop: local woodworker Marthinus Plaatjies. He is also the one who makes our seedboxes with embedded cotyledon.
Marthinus PLaatjies in workshop.

Marthinus PLaatjies in workshop.

Pachypodiums

Pachypodium succulentumThe genus Pachypodium belongs to the family of the Apocynaceae. There are two seperate areas where they are native: Madagascar and Angola/Namibia. There is some confusion about the number of species. Fred Triep counts 13 species of which 4 from Namibia/Angola and 9 from Madagascar. Wikipedia totals 25 species of which 20 originate from Madagascar.   The truth might be somewhere in between for we have the impression that wikipedia also mentions some hybrids.

The most commonly known Pachypodium in South Africa is the P. namaquanum (halfmens) from Namibia. This is a very slow growing specie (in its habitat max. 2 cm per annum) and many nurseries unfortunately sell the fast growing P. lamerei from Madagascar as the ‘halfmens’ (= ‘half human’ because of its shape). The P. namaquanum is a protected specie in South Africa.

Another interesting specie is the P. succulentum (also from Angola/Namibia). Although not on the list of endangered species it’s less common in its native area than the P. namaquanum.

Pachypodium lamerei (left on picture)

Pachypodiums grow in a wide variety of mediums. Every specialist nursery has its own. In nature many of them grow in rocky outcrops on slopes and others in sand with laterite red soil (rich in trace elements) as subsoil. In our gardens and nursery we use a mix of red clayish soil with sand and carcoal. This we learned in Mauritius at Pepiniere Exotica (nursery) with which we maintain an exchange program and which  can be regarded as the Madagascar specialist nursery in the Indian Ocean. The soil around the neck is always sandy (prevents neckrot).
Pictures:
Top: Pachypodium succulentum
Bottom: Pachypodium lamerei (from Madagascar)  in our garden. Many nurseries sell this fast growing specie as P. namaquanum (Halfmens).