Autumn Gardening Tips - Hedges & Topiary

    March is the perfect time to give your growing or established hedge or topiary feature that one last trim before winter. Cut back no more than one third of the woody branches at a time. If it is a shrub that needs its height, leave the growing tip or leader at the top. If a hedge or topiary needs shaping, leave the top alone until it has reached the desired height.

After the shrub has been pruned, sprinkle Bounceback onto the soil at the base of the hedge to lessen the shock of the pruning and to give it a good start or the growing season. If necessary, spray the whole hedge or topiary to prevent thrips or scale. Finish off by watering deeply and add fresh mulch to keep the soil moist and warm.

In Spring time (for a perfect shape) prune the hedge on two sides by cutting the branches back to the shoots that face outward to allow lots of new growth and density.

Hedges & topiary

Innovative sustainability at the 2012 Design Indaba

One of the top trends at the Design Indaba this year were designers and manufacturers applying innovative design interventions to create viable sustainable solutions.

The Botany Project has a simple approach to sustainability and uses multiple ways to achieve its end. The Upcycle Flower Lamp is created by local potters as part of an employment program and is one part of a beautiful lamp that encourages consumers to recycle their used glass bottles and jars and use olive oil at home to create a simple, sustainable plant oil lamp.

Using an innovative casting technique, ceramic artist John Bauer encases knitted fabric in clay to create tactile and evocative ceramic pieces. Some of Bauer's pieces are knitted by people with mental disabilities, where the knitter cannot create a full circle. The resulting chunky seams add to the character and story of the finished product. Other work explores the translucency of porcelain, again evoking an encased fossil treasure with imprints of leaves and flowers within the material.

Consol, the biggest manufacturer of glass containers in South Africa, partnered with designers Ockert van Heerden and John Bexley to create a lamp housed in a one-litre Consol Classic preserve jar. LED lights are powered by sunlight, harnessed through a solar fitting on the lid. The familiar preserve jar provides a practical and attractive casing and provides an alternative light source literally from bottled sunshine. Solar-powered LED lights are powered by sunlight, which is harnessed through a solar panel fitted on the lid.

The Consol Solar Jar was a finalist in Design Indaba's Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) and received the Special Recognition Award at the 2011 Institute of Packaging SA Gold Pack Awards (although not strictly packaging, the judges decided that this clever use of a packaging material deserved an accolade).

The Design Indaba also unveiled 9 other most beautiful and beguiling designs made over the past year for its 2012 Most Beautiful Object in South Africa award.

One of the (MBOISA) finalists was Suzaan Heyns with her dress called 'True Colours' that reflects on the dichotomy of human nature and who we really are when no one is looking. The double-sided nature of humans is symbolised by the different materials in the dress. The fragile nude netting reflects our natural vulnerability and is juxtaposed with the repetitive pattern of hand-cut metallic leather scales representing the self-important parts of ourselves - our more cold-blooded, reptilian nature.

View Design Indaba's website for more information on the Most beautiful object 2012 finalists.

Design Indaba 2012

SA's first prototype wind turbine blade

SA's local wind turbine manufacturer Isivunguvungu Wind Energy Converter (I-WEC) has completed its first prototype 50m wind turbine rotor blade in a longer than expected process, that turned out to be more challenging than initially thought. Instead of rushing the project, they put in the extra time to ensure a 'perfect blade' was produced.

The rotor blade has been manufactured under the supervision of advisers from Aerodyne (which is the German engineering company specialising in the design of large-scale wind turbines from whom I-WEC obtained the turbine design under licence) using approximately 300 layers of four main materials; balsa wood, glass fibre, PVC and epoxy resin.

Next month will see if the blade can withstand the pressures of static load testing and resin frequency testing in which the blade will be flexed up to 8 m in the spacious Cape Town harbour.

It is anticipated that the first 2.5 MW turbine with three 50m rotor blades will be completed by the end of May and will be erected at the Saldanha steel plant. I-WEC will fully finance the turbine and will sell the power generated from the turbine to the steel plant. Further negotiations are in place to extend the wind farm to include an additional five turbines and to supply the energy to the steel plant in the second and third quarter of 2013.

Increased interest in I-WEC as the third renewable energy independent power producer is being shown as the bid round approaches, as the company would be able to assist in meeting the local content requirements with a state of the art product.

Source: Engineering News

SA's wind turbine

Natural ways to soothe sore muscles

After the hard race of the Argus and the upcoming Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, many sporting enthusiasts will be suffering from sore muscles, sprains, cuts and bruises. Naturally, there are organic therapies for assuaging muscle/joint strain, try any of these:
  • Massage your muscle soreness and/or joint aches with an organic plant oil to which essential oils with analgesic or anti-inflammatory qualities have been added. Eucalyptus, peppermint, ginger root, rosemary, lavender and nutmeg makes fragrant and relaxing massage oils for sore or stressed muscles. Mix 8-12 drops of your favorite essential oil(s) into one ounce of organic plant oil and massage specific areas that need attention.
  • Use your favourite essential oils and bath salts in a warm bath with Epsom salts which provide muscle-enhancing, pain and cramp-reducing magnesium or have a mustard bath to increase skin circulation, open the pores, stimulate sweat glands and help toxins release.
  • To help bruises heal, eat produce that is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids - both of which contribute to the integrity and elasticity of blood vessels. Such foods include berries of all types (including elderberry, hawthorn and bilberry), plums, citrus fruits, bell peppers and broccoli.
  • Herbs that are chock-full of flavonoids include butcher's broom, nettle, Oregon grape, rosemary and skullcap can be drunk in tea, while infusions of witch hazel, wormwood and chamomile can also be applied externally to speed the healing of cuts and bruises.
  • Arnica is one of the best pain relievers for sore muscles as well as sprains. Make a salve or liniment from this comforting plant. Several herbs mixed with the arnica oil, including valerian, skullcap and rosemary help decrease muscle spasms.
  • Black cohosh, chamomile and mint applied topically decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Cayenne pepper, a warming herb, will increase circulation when used in a salve. Increasing circulation helps in the removal of substances such as lactic acid that are produced by overworked muscles.

You can also:

  • Stroke your skin. This releases a pharmacy of natural feel-good chemicals into the blood stream: natural growth hormones, anti-depressants, tranquilizers and pain relieving endorphins, as well as immunity boosters and circulation promoters.
  • During massage apply moderate, sustained pressure to the web area between the index finger and thumb, a powerful acupressure point (the hoku point) for alleviating pain and fatigue.
  • Breath deeply and use a mantra to help you relax and engage in movement activities such as yoga and tai chi which are very good for getting the body quickly back into balance.

Natural ways to soothe sore muscles

Local is lekker for hikers

Table Mountain is part of the soul for Capetonians (or becomes part of the soul surreptitiously for Joburgers transforming themselves into Capetonians). So encompassing a hike up Table Mountain on your weekend off, or incorporating a jog up the steep slopes into a daily exercise routine, is as natural as walking a dog or cycling or going to the gym.

There are various walking / hiking routes up table mountain, but one of the most well-known (and certainly one of the oldest) is the Pipe Track going south from Kloof Nek to Slangolie Ravine. This track was constructed in 1887 to lay the pipeline from the proposed reservoirs on Table Mountain to Kloof Nek. Work began in the same year on Woodhead Tunnel to which the track leads and is a pleasant stroll along a well worn level track, offering wonderful views of the Atlantic Coastline, Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles. The track literally follows the pipes, sometimes walking directly on top of the underground pipe and sometimes next to a raised portion of the pipe.

For those inclined towards more of a physical challenge and a hike up the sides of the mountain, then Kasteelpoort is definitely the choice of many. It is a straightforward 2.2km hike up the steep sides of this unique and interesting mountain leading to the Back Table and the reservoirs on the mountain. The start of the hike up Kasteelpoort can joined from the Pipe Track (starting from Kloof Nek) or from Theresa road in Upper Camps Bay, and the route back down can either be the same path, via one of the other kloof routes or (with an extra little walk) down with the cable cars.

One things is for sure - this route up is enjoyed by many outdoor enthusiasts - school kids on a Grade 7 (Standard 5) Beach to Beacon challenge, serious trail runners, young hikers and elderly hikers and of course one or two tourists - the full route is for the fit outdoor hiker, and for the not-so-fit or time-restricted hiker, half the route is just as rewarding.

The Pipe Track and Kasteelpoort is best done in the early hours of the morning as it is in full shade up until about 11am. The fynbos on the sides of the mountain is magnificent at any time of the year, but is spectacular in Spring when the pink watsonias are out on show.

Pipe Track & Kasteelpoort

Hot News

Landscape Trends

Cheral Kennedy, owner of Living Matter has started a website, totally independent of Living Matter - Landscape Styling and Design or this monthly newsletter, that will identify and comment on the trends that can be found in the local landscaping industry.

Landscape-Design Trends

Additions to this website will include opinions of new styles that are emerging, common design threads that are being picked up and used by landscapers & designers and/or new products brought into the market place.

Landscape-Design Trends

This trending website will aid DIY enthusiasts in staying up to date with the latest trends and products, and will also assist the landscapers in keeping up to date with what is happening in the market place, and how general design trends can affect their industry.

Featured Plant

Chrysanthemoides Monilifera

Chrysanthemoides Monilifera
(Bietou, Tick berry)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous spreading shrub to 2m with yellow flowers.

Flowering time :

Autumn / Winter

Conditions :

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

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

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Lyngrove Reserve Chardonnay 2010

Winery : De Grendel
Winemaker : Hannes Louw

Description :

A well-known, popular wooded white wine blend of Semillon, Viognier and Chardonnay.

Aroma : Apricot and peaches on the nose.

Palate : Ripe citrus, tropical fruits and butterscotch flavours. Firm acidity combined with a full and rich mouth feel.

Winemaking : The three lots were vinified separately. The Semillon was only tank fermented with very little skin contact. The Chardonnay was partially tank and barrel fermented while the Viognier were only fermented in oak.

Food Pairing : Rich in flavour and texture, an every occasion wine. Enjoy on its own, excellent with cheeses or even with meat dishes.

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:


  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • 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

    February's Teaser Answer :
    "Once upon a time"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82