Cape Garden Centre, Cape Town, South Africa

cape-garden-centre-cape town


Whilst building the garden in the Wallacedene Township in South Africa, I would first like to note that I was a part of a team. A very large team. And I simply played a part.

To that there where so many really good people I met out there. One in particular was a really good guy Peter and not forgetting his foreman Garreth.

Btw Peter insisted he take this photograph of me… 😆

Back to it… Peter owns The Cape Garden Centre that I passed on my way everyday to work. On the final day of the build plants whilst laying out plants and running back with Garreth to get some more I got about 20 minutes to take a look around his place whilst waiting for plants to be loaded.

I had spoken to Garreth and Peter abut the operations and working side but…. To say I was blown away by his setup, the garden centres layout, the displays, the restaurant, the list is endless…. is an understatement. As my first ever garden centre review I am so proud that this is first on the list.



Peter spoke to me about how they used what was the bark from a [weed] tree that needed clearing from the land to make what we know as willow like screening and features for the garden.

I noticed how no member of the public was left unattended and at all times there was a staff member nearby ready to help or give advice.

The door of their design studios were open for all to see into. Being really honest the people, the customers seemed really happy. It had a very feel good feel about… I sat down at one point for about five minutes and watched the people stroll by… It was phenomenal. And to think that in the midst of all of the mayhem that was happening not so far away, that I had left for just a moment… even I was beginning to relax… then Garreth bipped the horn on the bakkie [open back jeep/ truck] and it was back to it 😉

I loved the family areas, the play areas, the pet area, the garden displays…. [breath] the fact that almost any variety of plant could be seen in a setting or at the varying stages of growth and moreseo that it was for sale in abundance at any of those sizes. There wasn’t a hair out of place… Throw in the individual craft and art shops and the indoor and outdoor furniture places… it was like a little village with too much to do. I loved every second of it.

I’ll be reviewing in the next days some of the plants you may know, you may have seen or may not have that are more common to the Cape Town climate…



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Garden Hygiene

garden hygiene...

garden hygiene...

I remember when I was about 14 years old I’d been given this summer project of my parents front and back garden. Lopping shears, shears and my secateurs in hand I went for it.

The place had become quite overgrown. Of course when filled with plants like the Fuchsia, Forsythia, Eleagnus, Senecio, Spirea Ligustrums and the like… the types guaranteed to grow and what also would have been so popular and reticent of the 1980’s. I took them right down from about 10/12′ tall to about 2-3′. The place hadn’t been touched in ages. Within no time at all, Mom was out and I was being labelled a butcher!

One must appreciate that at this stage I had been working and reading up on my plants since I was about 5 years old and whilst I had done and been paid to do this for others…. Mom wasn’t impressed, at all! I think she liked things nice and very neatly trimmed… but never cut back for the benefit of the plant long term wise….

it left an unsightly appearance…  

The plants had become very woody. Extremely woody in fact. But as I said they are that genre. That is what this group of plants do.

The plants had grown into each other so much so that the bases of some had begun to rot. The flower quality wasn’t the greatest either and minor problems, albeit nothing that the more mature plant couldn’t cope with, had begun to appear on the foliage. Again, whilst not wasn’t such a problem for the bigger boys, the smaller more delicate plants nearby were getting a battering from insects, disease vectors and wind/ rain transferable diseases.

Garden hygiene as it is known is of great importance…



Assuming you have trees growing in your garden that will not grow to 60′ tall…. and assuming you live in a garden where that is not the case… one should prune upwards of the stem rather than ‘top’ the tree. Crown raise as it is known.

The more vigorous ‘shrubs’ should then be cut back and hard. This allows the regeneration of the new growth, the removal of dead and diseased wood from the plant and equaly as important the removal of a season long of debris falling to the base of the plant where micro climates may build up increasing the possibility of pest  and diseases.

The ideal scenario to create is that there is wind movement through the plants and this in itself will help prevent pests and diseases from harbouring within an extremely sheltered space that is your garden.  

This then also allows for the removal of any weeds or plants growing where they really shouldn’t be….



Once this is done… a good layer of bark down and you’re pretty much good to go. The key now is to remember how big the plants actually grew… so as you don’t end up putting plants into a gap where it won’t be seen in 6 months time or/and where overcrowding may once more occur. I guess a lot of this comes back to good planning and good design.

Do remember that it is a garden and it is supposed to be for enjoyment rather than endurance 😉 Also most plants are on the verge of dormancy and now is not such a bad time to get at this laborious chore. If the next question is ‘is now the righ time….?’ The answer is, if your garden requires some tending to and it will save the plant, even though it may not flower, then it is…

If you are unsure of what and not to do… don’t be afraid to pay for some advice and guidance and whatever you do make sure and get someone who really knows what they are talking about. Yes… someone as intelligent and as good looking [if that is possible…] as me 😆

Of course you can also leave a comment below…

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November In The Garden



It is that time of year… some say it’s bloody depressing. But I like it. I don’t know why particularly… maybe it’s that I get home [a little] earlier… maybe it’s that I get to burn the timber that I have mamaged to amalgamate over the last eight months or so… I don’t know. 😉

To the garden… mine and yours, this is probably the most important month/ season, for me, in the entire calender. It is what I do here that will pay most dividends come next season. So once again, this is what will I be doing in my garden this month and what I recommend you do in yours…

new plant trees trees ireland trees dublin

Top of my list is my trees. I’m now in a position where they can be cut back without all of that foliage in the way and so some crown raising will take place [removing of the lower branches…]. I’ve also got a batch that served a purpose until the others surrounding them matured and so I’ve got to move some and relocate others… if I don’t do it this year I am literally up the creek and next year it will become an impossible task. Stakes and straps at the ready….

berry fruits birds fruit cotoneaster-1

With the trees in mind and leave fall in place… it is time once again for the bird feeders to go back out. That and I need to get some other types of berrying plants into the garden to help those birds who don’t go to sunnier spots for their winter hols. Looks like a trip to farm supplies shop is looming….. or do I still have some in the shed…

In other news…. 😯 The apples on my trees had started to drop. It is at this point that the apples are about as ready as you will get…. I’ve picked them all now – except for the smaller fruits [about the size of a plum as they won’t taste so good – best leave them to nature]. Once again when the leaves fall off some select pruning will be required, removing dead and diseased wood and then the branches that over cross each other. If you planted yours in the last two years  make sure the straps and buckles aren’t too tight.

winter-colour colourful pots cyclamen 

If you are looking for some instant colour you’ll find there’s tonnes of it to be found – don’t those pots just cheer you right up 🙂 Some instant colour – from the plant department can however be bought in the form of ornamental cabbages and cyclamens. Add them to existing beds that need a little sprucing or redo those hanging baskets you took down last month…. g’wan you deserve to treat yourself!!

hedges lavender creative

Outside of that you [and I] still have to get those hedges cut… the plants still need to be trimmed back… and with that done… the mulch has to go down. This will leave the garden pretty much with its groove back on so it doesn’t look like a brand spanking new hair cut… more a well maintained garden, come Nanny & Poppa calling around for turkey and mulled wine for the celebrations December 25th 😉

Finally, trees and bulbs!! and finally [finally 😆 ]… herbs. Crop them and what you can’t dry store… pop them in ice cube trays… pour water on top and freeze. You’ll need them for cooking that big bird in a months time and believe me there once you move from dry herbs to fresh…. you’ll never go back. 

Have I forgotten anything…. leave me a note and I’ll add it to the list.


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kilkenny Castle Rose Garden & Park

On Monday the 26th October 2009 I went to visit Kilkenny Castle Rose Park & Gardens. I went under the recommendation of my good friend Pat Fitzgerald.

As I walked up towards the castle I was bemused at the amount of brand spanking smooth polished granite that adorned such a vast are[n]a, complete with mirror polished steel against this ancient backdrop of the beautiful castle…. who on Gods earth decided on this…? such a shame. And to those who did this… you should be ashamed.

That out of my system. It was the gardens I went to see.Admission is free. The grounds are very well maintained.The sight of new tree planting schemes is to be applauded and admired. I really do love this park… The hills of grass so high in parts that one couldn’t see over the far side. The wooded areas were left with stacks of wood [brilliant for wildlife]underneath the canopy of wooded leaf areas. The leaves adorned some of the footpaths but not all. There are so many options when walking here… the poem ‘the road less travelled’ really does come to mind. The walkway by the waters edge is superb, so romantic, such a break from the norm…

It really is so very well done.  The grounds staff deserve a standing ovation. I could have stayed here all day….

The bad bit…. the rose garden was closed off. I attempted to sneak in under the advice of two local ladies…. but I got caught and was chucked out 😉 So this now becomes a review of Kilkenny Castle Park…

Go there and visit. Take your time. Bring the kids. Bring the dog. Watch out for the such beautiful secluded seating areas. Take your time and enjoy. This is up there with the best of them.

More images of kilkenny castle gardens can be viewed here

rothe house and gardens, kilkenny



I had given the Rothe House and gardens a mention before and I had noted it was on my to do list. And I did go. Sunday 25th October 2009.

I wanted to go on the Sunday morning/ afternoon, but unusual for me to assume different, on Sunday it only opens between 3-5pm. I also really [no offence] only wished to visit the gardens.

Their website describes it as an ‘early 17th century Irish urban garden’. But it was the front of one of their brochures that caught my eye….

Rothe Garden Kikenny. Your chance to ‘own’ a piece of a medieval garden



I was very intrigued… I’ve visited, researched and been awarded for the design and build of a 17th Century Garden… so this was going to be some treat… ?

The South East Ireland gardens guide tells me that it is only €2 to see the gardens and €5 to see the house and gardens. I went to pay in. I was told €5 multiplied by two. I paid. Money [the amount of that is]  aside, if I had known in advace the ‘price structure’ I would have only paid in to see the gardens.

The question then is to the gardens themselves. Are they 17th century….? Are they medieval…? Honestly, not in my opinion. Or shall I rephrase yes there are fruit trees planted and yes there are vegetables growing. Was I impressed to the standard of…? Not really, being honest.

I am not trying to be disrespectful here. I’m not trying to knock the Rothe House trust who I must admit have done amazing work on the house and the displays within the building. It really does deserve applause and admiration. The work on the [re]construction of building internally and externally is superb.

But with regard to the gardens, if I was simply told that there are some gardens attached and it is €2 in to see them…. would I pay it and would I have any complaints…? Not one.

There are positives. I admire the fact that the brail signs are there; that one can have a tree planted in their or a loved ones name. That visitors were simply sitting and enjoying each others company is also a truly wonderful sight; it is very serene and there really are some nice pieces within… That said, the overall design leaves a lot to be considered. [Although] possibly a factor of funding, the gardens are also young and for them to mature and come into their own will take time. On a side note I should also add that the gardens are particularly well maintained.

The point of this weblog is not to be bold in my writing. But whether the entry is €2 or €200 the question is how honest in my appraisal should I be and more importantly would I recommend for you to visit the gardens…. ? Not really.

UPDATE: 15th Dec ’09 The Rothe House responds

there are more photographs here

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