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.


Adenia fruticosa

Adenia fruticosa:

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.

“Does frost not affect your succulents?”

This question arrived yesterday on one of our Face Book pages.

The Erasmus family of Sumsaré Wines (nearby!!!)  keeps track of us (and vice versa) and lives in an area with many indigenous succulent plants such as mesembs, haworthias and aloes.

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.

The quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) originates from Namibia and is naturally distributed into South Africa (Northern Cape, up to Kenhart) in areas with some frost.

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.

BZZZZZZZBee followed

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: