Spring Gardening Tips - household liquids

    The urge to garden in early spring is primal. Re-connecting with the earth is affirming, renewing, promising. Waking up the garden to a new growing season is about more than soil and seedlings, this rite of spring is a tonic to the gardener as well. As an avid gardener you don't have to look further than your kitchen for some gardening maintenance resources.

  • To remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it.

  • You can control aphids with a strong blast of water from the hose or with insecticidal soap. or if you want to rope your kids into doing it for you - get some tape! Wrap a wide strip of tape around their hands, sticky side out, and let them pat the leaves of plants infested with aphids concentrating on the undersides of leaves, because that's where the little bugs like to hide.

  • The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you'll be amazed at how the plants respond to the "vegetable soup."

  • Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of 1 teaspoon applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.

  • Use chamomile tea to control damping-off fungus, which often attacks young seedlings quite suddenly. Just add a spot of tea to the soil around the base of seedlings once a week or use it as a foliage spray.

    Spring gardening tips

    Precision artwork

    David Reade is a true designer and artist. As a highly skilled and competent glass technician he has earned the position of South Africa's foremost craftsman in the ancient art of glassblowing.

    The Welsh-born artist trained as a glass blower on the Isle of Wight. In 1984 he emigrated to South Africa and shortly thereafter established a studio in Worcester to apply his trade. In 1992 he moved to a renovated 1790's barn that became his present studio, where he exhibits his work alongside the paintings his wife, artist Lorna Reade creates, in their Barn Gallery, a well-known destination for any glass and art enthusiast.

    David makes his own glass using an old English recipe. His design process starts by drawing rough sketches of what he wants to achieve. He then moves to his workbench and begins forming shapes. The challenge is not only to create a flowing form but for it to be functional too. The colours he uses are imported from Germany in the shape of rods and he uses free-blowing and casting techniques for the creation of unique sculptures and functional art glass. He applies colour during the final stage of the production process using various techniques such as fusing, where two coloured rods are separately heated and than joined together. Working with architects and art galleries around the world, David's designs are clean and classical and have a simplicity of colour and form. His glass sculptures are inspired by the mountainous environment he lives in, the seas around the Cape coast and the deserts of Namibia.

    David has also created a magnificent flawless brandy crystal decanter for Van Ryn's Limited Edition AU.RA Brandy. Only 107 decanters of AU.RA were created, with each crystal decanter being a dedication to the 107 years the Van Ryn's distillery has been crafting the world's finest brandies.

    Never before has so much craft, patience and attention to detail gone into a single decanter of brandy and the crystal decanter is a masterpiece in itself. Each and every decanter was individually handcrafted by David, and is adorned by a signature teardrop shape neckpiece plated in fine silver, designed by jeweller Bridget Zietkiewicz. The stylish outer case crafted from solid oak was handmade by world-renowned furniture designer James Mudge.

    The crystal decanter had to hold the precise amount of liquid. The brandy needed to be encapsulated, almost suspended, in the glass. The shape, evocative of a drop, is represented both in the stopper and in the inner form of the decanter. This was an extremely challenging process, as each time the measurements had to be precise. Eventually, after many tests, David managed to bring all the required factors into the design. Each decanter is individually made by hand from liquid glass, without the use of a mould; just calipers and a well-trained eye.

    David Reade has exhibited all over South Africa and collectors locally and abroad seek after his work. David's work is housed in private collections and art museums such as the Gilby's Collection, Cultural History Museum Cape Town, Durban Art Museum, Pretoria Art Museum, Pietersburg Art Museum and Stourbridge Glass Museum.

    View more information on David Reade, the AU.RA decanter or the Barn Art Glass Studio

    David Reade

    Evolutionary timeline of orchids

    Evolutionary biologists have never lost their fascination with orchids. With more than 25,000 species, they're the biggest group within the plant kingdom, comprising roughly 8% of all vascular plant species. Biologists have proposed various explanations for this extraordinary diversity, but it has been impossible to nail down their relative importance.

    By using new gene sequencing methods, a team led by Thomas Givnish, a plant ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created a phylogeny (the evolutionary history of a group of organisms, especially as depicted in a family tree) of orchids with an unprecedented 75 chloroplast genes from 39 species, representing almost all major groups of orchids, as well as from 96 distant relatives among all flowering plants. Using the estimated ages of fossils of 17 flowering plants, including the few known orchid specimens, they were able to date the main branches in the phylogeny and calculate the rate at which new species appeared.

    The evolutionary timeline begins 112 million years ago, when the first orchids appeared. About 90 million years ago, the major living lineages started to split from each other. Then, sometime before 64 million years ago, a key innovation occurred: Orchids developed a way to lump their pollen into sticky balls, called pollinia, so that pollinators would not lose any grains before reaching other orchids.

    Next, some orchids evolved an aerial lifestyle. By 35 million years ago, many had become epiphytes (plants that cling to trees). This shift opened up many new areas to colonize and new environmental conditions. To make up for having their roots exposed, some lineages adopted a kind of water-saving photosynthesis called crassulacean acid metabolism that likely helped them survive only on fog and rain.

    The biggest boost, however, came in lineages that moved into tropical mountains such as the Andes and the New Guinea highlands, where they found many new opportunities for diversification. The rate of speciation among these cloud forest dwellers rose 24.9% compared with lineages that stayed in the lowlands.

    Source: Science Magazine


    Mamre's Spring Garden Competition

    This month marked the birth of Mamre's annual Spring Garden Competition organised by Bea Heyman. The prize giving was planned to be tied in with the timing of the Mamre Wildflower show and Spring Festival held every year in mid September. This year the Spring Festival was held on the 18 - 20 September and the garden competition contestants had only 4 months preparation time.

    The contestants were all local residents with an interest in gardening and the effort and care they took in getting their gardens ready for judging day was very evident. Creativity flourished in the forms of materials being recycled - soda bottles for hanging planters, bottle lids for decor items, tyres for pots; and focal points - murals on the walls, fish ponds, painted art, and even a mannequin - adorned these gardens for that touch of individuality and personality.

    The plants and gardening materials utilised in their gardens were all donated by companies and individuals in the greater Cape Town area and landscapers and volunteers gave their own time to come to this fun and friendly town to teach the participants how to create a garden.

    Cheral Kennedy, alongside Fay Silverman and Anita Murray, spent the Wednesday before the festival traveling around the town to the 24 contestants homes and reviewed each individual garden on 10 criteria ranging from structure, colour, flow, focal points, groupings of plants, to creativity utilised. Each garden was entirely unique and the personalities of the contestants shone through in their interpretation of a Spring garden, filling this viewing and judging day with visial pleasure, but on the other-hand making the decision-making process that more tough to come to a consensus.

    Wendy Ackerman, recognised by SA Nature Foundation for outstanding achievement and contribution to environmental conservation and also acknowledged by WWF as a Diamond Custodian of Table Mountain, had the privilege to award the 3 top gardens their prizes at the Mamre Wildflower Show and Spring Festival on Saturday 19 September 2015, while 8 other contestants received special certificates of merit for a specific attribute in their garden that made theirs outshine the rest.

    Mamre Garden Competition

    Art and good food

    The Barn Gallery and Cafe is a must-do in Worcester if you have a taste for art and delicious food. The cafe is child-friendly so this makes a great place for a family lunch. It is great to sit indoors surrounded by art (the wonderful work of Lorna Reade) or outside in the courtyard alongside David Reade's Glass Blowing workshop.

    Enjoy lunch off their daily specials board that is filled with yummy unpretentious home cooked country fare. Everything is cooked from scratch with the freshest ingredients and there is plenty to choose from with very good variety. The menu changes depending on what is in season, so no matter if you are first timer, or a seasoned diner, you will always taste new delicious meals.

    View more information on The Barn's Facebook page or visit their Tripadvisor review.

    The Barn

  • Hot News

    Mamre Garden Competition

    Cheral Kennedy (owner of Living Matter) had the absolute pleasure of being one of the judges of Mamre's first Spring Garden Competition that was held mid month.

    Mamre spring festival

    Read our article below for more information on the competition.

    Mamre spring festival

    Featured Plant

    Clivia Miniata var citrina

    Clivia Miniata var citrina
    (Yellow Clivia)

    Family :


    Description :

    Sub shrub to 70mm with showy yellow flowers.

    Flowering time :


    Conditions :

    • Dappled shade
    • Lots of water
    • Deciduous
    • Some frost tender
    • Warm sheltered area
    • Well drained soil

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

    Design idea feature

    Create a neat and modern twist on the traditional veggie or herb garden with a strong structural element using geometrically shaped boxes on a wall, with horizontal lines on the facade to give it a neat contemporary feel.

    Design idea feature

    Or install large metal containers in long lines to present a minimalist look in a neat organised layout. Raised boxes make gardening and harvesting easier, and a metal finish adds a modern twist to the design.

    Design idea feature

    Simply let the containers be the feature of the veggie or herb space, bringing in an architectural element and elegant style to a traditionally messy farmstyle look.

    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

    August's Teaser Answer :


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82