Summer Gardening tips

    As summer proceeds, the suns rays become more harsh and you should therefore protect many of your sensitive plants and bonsai from the sun and wind (especially in the Western Cape).

Remember to adjust your irrigation program for the summer period, taking into consideration the rainfall volume for your area. In the winter rainfall areas the irrigation should be set to water at least 3 times a week for minimum 30 mins on each station, while in summer rainfall areas the irrigation program can be set to water once a week. Test your soil moisture content by digging down to about 20cm below the surface, if your soil is not moist at this level then increase your watering times. If it is damp from the surface down to 20cm below, then switch your irrigation system off or decrease the watering times accordingly.

You will also need to water your bonsai more frequently due to the higher temperatures and wind. Maple bonsai are very sensitive and their leaves can dry out and look scorched. Mist spray the tropical and sub-tropical trees such as Figs, Bougainvilleas, Brush Cherries and the White stinkwood/Chinese Hackberry. Feed the flowering and fruiting bonsai with Nitrosol or Hortisol, alternating with a fertiliser high in potassium (3:1:5). Your bonsai can be fed every 3 weeks.

Keep a close eye on the training wires for your bonsai, as gross feeders such as Figs and Brush Cherries bulk up quickly and the wire could cut into the branches. You can still re-pot Figs, just keep them out of the sun for at least 3 weeks.

Weed your garden beds and your bonsai regularly. Remember to replenish the mulch in your garden beds this season as this will assist in decreasing the growth of weeds and will also keep the soil moist during this time, lowering your watering requirements further. The mulch will also provide a neat finish to your planted areas.

Bonsai care tips from Heine at Bonsai Care - South Africa

Summer Gardening Tips

Taking the festivities outdoors

It is quite difficult not to get caught up in the festive feel of the time around Christmas. Whether we celebrate for religious beliefs, or whether it is just in recognition of the relationships we have with friends and family, the love and sense of magic is felt and definitely very visible all around us.

As South African's we are lucky to be able to celebrate this festive season in sunshine and warmth, and naturally would choose to spend most of our time outdoors. So here are a few tips on how to take the festive feel out into our landscaped gardens and do it tastefully, without compromising on its style.

  1. Follow through with the style you have in your home already. If you have a contemporary feel, stay with the geometrical shapes and natural materials. If it is modern ensure the use of white, black and splash of 1 bright colour, if it is soft and feminine, a palette of pastels should be used.

  2. Keep in mind a few basic elements of landscape design and use these to work with your focal points.
    • Color & texture
    • Shapes
    • Scale & balance

    Colour and textures are definitely the easiest design elements to work with. A person's eye is drawn immediately to items that stand out, and 2 ways to make something stand out is by using colour and textures effectively eg: a smooth shiny object in front of a really textured area like the foliage or bark of a tree. Likewise, by using bright colours, attention can also be drawn to that specific area.

    The traditional colours of Christmas are red and gold and green, however as decor styles have changed, so have the colours associated with Christmas. Any choice of colour could work, as long as the choice of colours work together for example: blue and silver, orange and gold, even bright purple and lime green. I would suggest using colours similar to those in your home, that would compliment your existing decor.

  3. There is a lot of different textures in a garden, so remember to understate the effort. Minimalist is good.

  4. And, a good design is always in the detail. Put the extra effort into finishing items off.

Extending your living space is really about bringing the indoor elements outside, and the outside elements indoors, creating a flow from one area to another that compliments each other. Similarly this can be done for the festive time by taking the elements of the garden like twigs, sticks, seed pods and plants and merge them with the elements of christmas.

Outdoors festivities

Paranoia - its all in the mind

Humans have "theory of mind" - the ability to imagine what others are thinking and learn from their social habits. Matthew Rushworth at the University of Oxford is trying to find a specific circuit that performs social learning, and in the process, has identified a neural circuit that allows people to predict whether someone is going to lie to them. This finding could help to explain why some people become paranoid.

Rushworth's team scanned volunteers' brains while they chose one of two boxes to win points. They were sent advice on which box to choose from a second player (who was sometimes dishonest). When the volunteers suspected they were being lied to, activity levels rose in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DPFC), an area near the front of the brain.

If the volunteer thought the player was telling the truth the activity remained low. If their suspicions were proved wrong, the activity changed to illustrate that they were rethinking their opinion of the second player.

In effect, the activity was predicting how trustworthy the advice would be, then reacting to the results of that prediction.

Failures of this neural circuitry system could explain why people with schizophrenia are often paranoid, as they show false prediction errors and this way of thinking would lead to distrust and paranoia.

Rushworth is now mapping the circuit using diffusion-weighted MRI which tracks the movement of water through the brain, to find out which areas the DPFC is linked to, and which might ultimately assist in the design of targeted treatments for paranoia.

Source: New Scientist

Neural Circuitry

Diatomaceous Earth - organic insecticide

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that contains fossilized skeletons and tests of siliceous marine and fresh water organisms, particularly diatoms and other algae and is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder.

The most common use of diatomaceous earth is as a filter medium as it has high porosity levels due to its microscopically small, coffin-like, hollow particles. Diatomaceous earth (diatomite) is used as an aid in chemistry to filter very fine particles that would otherwise pass through or clog filter paper, it is used to filter drinking water, fish tank water and other liquids such as beer, wine, syrups and sugar. Other industries such as paper, paints, ceramics, soap and detergents use it as a fulling material.

Fresh water food grade diatomite (100% organic) is used as an insecticide for the agricultural industry due to its absorption properties and has wide application for insect control in grain storage. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons and slugs and snails' skin causing them to dehydrate. However, since slugs inhabit humid environments, efficacy is very low and is sometimes mixed with another additive to increase its effectiveness.

Its absorbent qualities make it useful for spill and toxic liquid clean-ups and has been employed as a primary ingredient in some types of cat litter. The type of silica used in cat litter comes from freshwater sources and does not pose a significant health risk to pets or humans.

Food grade diatomite can also be used to de-worm both animals and humans and can be used to help control and eventually eliminate cockroach and flea infestations.

It can also be used as a growing medium in potted plants, particularly as bonsai soil. Bonsai enthusiasts use it as a soil additive, or pot a bonsai tree in 100% diatomaceous earth. Like perlite, vermiculite and expanded clay, it retains water and nutrients while draining fast and freely and allows high oxygen circulation within the growing medium.

There are mainly two types of fresh water food grade diatomaceous earth that can be used for flea, fishmoth, ants, cockroaches or other insect infestations:

  • Concentrate - External use - you can rub it into your pets coats once a week (dogs and cats), sprinkle it onto their bedding, place it on your carpets and on the grass outside.

  • Superior - External and internal use - It can be mixed into your pets food once a day and will clean out any parasitic activity they may have and in the stool itself. When flies lay their larva, the larva die instantly and decreases your fly count dramatically. It can be used as above for external use.

For more information on this organic insecticide visit Ecological Agricultural Projects and Wikipedia

Diatomaceous Earth

Butterflies fluttering by

If there was any place that imbues a sense of magic and fairytale, it is the butterfly world on the outskirts of Cape Town suburbs. For any one who has not been there, the first time is a wonderful experience. A small humid enclosed garden is a delight with many colourful, sweet smelling flowers all around and a variety of butterflies fluttering past.

Should you have a sweet scented perfume on, you could be lucky to have a butterfly alight softly on your skin and gently lick the scent off you, mistakenly thinking it is nectar.

This wonderland is genuinely an experience for all ages, it is wheelchair friendly with pathways between plants and has a bench or two where one can sit and watch the butterflies flutter from one flower to the next.

Tropical butterflies are raised on breeding farms in countries such as Costa Rica, Philippines, Malaysia and China and their pupae are flown in to Butterfly World (500 - 800 pupae per week all year round) where the butterflies emerge into their tropical garden.

Butterflies are, apart from high temperature and humidity levels, also dependent on the amount of sunlight present. The days that are overcast and cold may decrease the activities of the butterflies in comparison to that of sunny days. If you visit on an overcast or cold day you can see the resting butterflies close up, a privilege not always available when they are active on a hot day.

For the boys (both young and old) who require more "manly" creatures there is a spider room and and an accessible reptile enclosure with iguanas and monkeys to entertain them.

Butterfly World has an outside garden where children can run around and pet the friendly animals while you relax and have a cup of coffee or a slice of cake in their cafe.

They are open 09H00 - 17H00 Monday to Sunday and are open all public holidays except 25 December 2010. They cater for school outings and can host a birthday party for your child.

Contact Butterfly World Tel: (021) 875 5628 or visit their website for more information on entrance fees during this holiday season.

Butterfly World

Hot News

Cheral was on Expresso show

On Tuesday morning Cheral Kennedy of Living Matter - landscape styling and design got up bright an early to be interviewed in a 2 part interview by Liezel van der Westhuizen and Ewan Strydom on the Expresso morning show.

Expresso Morning Show

The discussion was on how to take the festive feel outdoors. For those who don't get up before the sun rises, read our article on taking the festive feel outdoors for more indepth information on what was discussed.

Seasons Greetings

As 2010 draws to a close (and didn't the year fly by), Living Matter would like to thank all of our loyal clients and suppliers, for without their patronage the year could not have been as successful as it was.

We wish you all safe journeys and happy holidays with your loved ones wherever you might be.

Here's toasting to 2011 - a year with large growth and potential!

Please note : Living Matter will be closing on Tuesday 21st December 2010 and will be reopening again on Monday 17th January 2011.

Featured Plant

Mimetes Cucullatus

Mimetes Cucullatus
(Common Mimetes)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous shrub that grows up to 2m with bright red tipped flowers.

Flowering time :

Spring / Autumn

Conditions :

  • Full Sun
  • Average water
  • Evergreen
  • Wind resistant
  • Some frost
  • Well drained sandy soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Chenin Blanc Reserve 2008

Winery : Teddy Hall
Winemaker : Teddy Hall

Description :

Lighted wooded, medium bodied white wine from low yielding bush vines.

Aroma : Abundant nougat, pineapple and summer fruit.

Palate : Distinct dryness with the vanillins from the oak counterbalancing tropical fruit and baked apple flavours. Underlining the wines pedigree is an intense finish which lingers long after the mouthful has been swallowed.

Winemaking : Only free-run juice is used. Kept on lees in French oak barriques for 14 months (35% new with remainder 2nd & 3rd fill). Will continue to improve and best drunk between 2011 and 2013.

Food Pairing : Suitable versatile this wine will pair with a range of seafood, chicken, or vegetarian dishes. Even as varied as a wild mushroom risotto or a creme brulee dessert .

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mielies
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swisschard
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Oreganum
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    November's Teaser Answer :
    "Broken Promise"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82