Winter Gardening Tips - Shade analysis

    As the year goes by and the seasons change, the characteristics of our landscapes change with it. In winter time the suns trajectory in the sky is lowered by about 15 degrees. This lower sun arc will impact on the extent of shade spots and sun spots on the landscape accordingly.

During the depths of winter, spend a bit of time outdoors - in the morning, midday and early evenings - to see where the sun reaches and how far the shade has extended into the garden, away from the walls and nearer or further away from the house.

Moisture and the temperature of the soil will change too with the movements of the sun and shade patterns. Keep a note of all of these characteristics, as they will affect the choice of plants that are planned, purchased and planted during Spring and Summer.

Winter Gardening Tips - Shade

A clear intent is behind each candle design

New creations have been born in the quiet long hours of winter, an aloe, a stargazer that flashes its light from deep blooms, a geometric anemone, little floating flowers, and a morning glory candle.

Gretha Quinlan's shop in Greyton has a range of subtly vanilla scented or unscented candles that are hand-crafted from a German wax for strength and formulated to be slow burning, outshining most commercial candles by many hours, burning in and not down.

The clear and sacred intent that goes into the design and manufacturing of these candles, is why so many people use these candles for relaxation, their meditation practices, in ceremony and ritual and in public and private shrines.

A tantalising fragrance of cinnamon tickles the nose as you enter the shop. This spice is mixed in with wax when warm and a unique candle is created by dipping dried pine cones into this mixture. The pine cones with the wax, wick and delicious scent can be hung for room or cupboard fragrance, burnt as a traditional candle or added to a warm winter fire, releasing the cinnamon spice as it burns.

Candle making is light making. These candles go out into the world where people mourn the death of a loved one, where lovers meet over dinner, say their marriage vows, meditate and pray, relax in a bath after a hard day, or light the way in the dark to get from one room to another; and it is a privilege to be the source of that light.

Source : Gretha Quinlan's website

Gretha Quinlan candles

Faster internet in a fibre

A new fibre-optic cable that seamlessly shuttles multiple beams of light simultaneously could drastically speed data transfer over the Internet.

Telecommunications companies use light to encode and send data through fibre-optic cables. Over the last few decades, scientists have increased bandwidth by enabling a single beam to carry more information, but their progress soon will be outpaced by the vast amounts of data people exchange. Laying more fibres would be expensive.

Siddharth Ramachandran, a physicist at Boston University has found a solution - dispatching multiple beams of light through a single fibre. The idea goes back nearly four decades, but is not easy to do because traditional fibres allow light beams moving in parallel to interfere with each other, jumbling the 1s and 0s encoded in each beam.

Using an instrument called a spatial light modulator to twist the beams, the researchers sent as many as four concurrent beams, transmitting data at speeds up to 1.6 trillion bits per second, through their custom fibre, squeezing more data into each of those beams using methods already exploited by the telecom industry and for the first time, allowing multiple beams to reach their destination intact.

Source : Science News


Plant hormones affect the taste of bananas

Bananas are a staple starch for many tropical populations. Depending upon cultivar and ripeness, the flesh can vary in taste from starchy to sweet and texture from firm to mushy. Both the skin and inner part can be eaten raw or cooked. There are fuzzy bananas whose skins are bubblegum pink; green and white striped bananas with pulp the colour of orange sherbet; and bananas that when cooked, taste like strawberries.

During the ripening process, bananas produce a plant hormone called ethylene, which indirectly affects the flavour. Among other things, ethylene stimulates the formation of amylase (an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar) and influences the taste of bananas. The greener, less ripe bananas contain higher levels of starch and have a 'starchier' taste, while yellow bananas taste sweeter due to higher sugar concentrations. Ethylene also signals the production of pectinase (an enzyme which breaks down the pectin between the cells of the banana) and causes the banana to soften as it ripens. If bananas are too green, they can be put in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomatoe overnight to speed up the ripening process.

Interestingly, a 2008 study reported that ripe bananas fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. This property is attributed to the degradation of chlorophyll leading to the accumulation of a fluorescent product in the skin of the fruit. Banana-plant leaves also fluoresce in the same way suggesting that this allows animals which can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum (tetrachromats and pentachromats) to more easily detect ripened bananas.

Another interesting fact is that bananas are naturally slightly radioactive, more so than most other fruits, because of their potassium content and the small amounts of the isotope potassium-40 found in naturally occurring potassium. Proponents of nuclear power sometimes refer to the banana equivalent dose of radiation to support their arguments.

Health benefits :

Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6, soluble fibre and contain moderate amounts of vitamin C, manganese and potassium. As one of our best sources of potassium (an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function) and little sodium, a banana a day may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. Potassium may also counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by high-salt diets helping to prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate, as well as replenishing electrolytes that help regulate heart function and fluid balance. Substances in bananas help activate the cells that compose the stomach lining, so they produce a thicker protective mucous barrier against stomach acids. Other compounds in bananas called protease inhibitors help eliminate bacteria in the stomach that have been pinpointed as a primary cause of stomach ulcers.

Source: Wikipedia and Nutritional data


Close up and personal

For someone who has been to the Kruger Park and has wished for x-ray vision or a zoom lense worthy of a professional nature photographer, waiting around for animals at a waterhole or squinting ones eyes at some animal in the far distance is regarded as normal behaviour. This well known Western Cape game drive location dismisses all of that in one instance - up close and personal encounters with their wild animals is expected at Aquila Game Reserve.

Aquila Game Reserve is located in the lower parts of the Karoo, about 70 km from Ceres, and 2 hours drive from Cape Town through the pretty wine valley of De Doorns. The reserve is a 7500 hectare conservancy and is home to the big 5 legends of the wilderness: elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino. They also have giraffe, springbok, hippo, wildebeest, duiker and zebra that casually saunter around the reserve with no care in the world.

Their game drives are between 2 and 3 hours long, and the game rangers are full of lively chatter, with a mental reference library full of interesting information on each of the animals. The game rangers are very familiar with the habits of the animals in the reserve and will drive around to their favourite locations for that specific time of the day, ensuring that everyone gets a good close look at each animal in their habitat, socialising with other animals, eating, drinking or wallowing, while leaving the spectator with a sense of wonder at being a part of primal Africa.

The game drives are all conducted on open trucks giving the spectators a 360 degree view of the animals at all times. This applies to the lion enclosure too - a heart stopping experience for all if one of the lions show an interest in the truck. The rangers cleverly make sure that the lions are fed from a different vehicle, at a different location to prevent any confusion between food and humans.

For more information visit their website or read this humourous blog on the safari adventure Everywhereist.

Aquila Game Farm

Hot News

Get ready to laugh out loud and roll in the aisles as the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, makes its way to the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch, Cape Town now until 7 July 2013.

Featured Plant

Agathosma Ovata 'Glentana'

Agathosma Ovata 'Glentana'
(False buchu)

Family :


Description :

Sub shrub up to 1.5 m with pink flowers.

Flowering time :

Winter / Spring

Conditions :

  • Full Sun
  • Little Water
  • Evergreen
  • Wind resistant
  • Frost resistant
  • Well drained soil

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

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Rose 2010

Winery : De Grendel
Winemaker : Charles Hopkins

Description :

This attractive, strawberry pink coloured Rose is a blend of Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma : Ample fruit of raspberries, strawberries and watermelon.

Palate : Crisp, dry finish with a very well structured natural acidity.

Winemaking : Grapes are hand-picked then juice left in contact with skins for 6 hours to extract the colour.

Food Pairing : A great summer cooler to be drunk now on its own or with sushi or a fresh salad.

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
Red Cabbage

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


  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Swisschard
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • None
  • 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

    May's Teaser Answer :
    "Mad about you"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82