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A Guide to Plant Food

One of the best ways to improve the soil is compost or mulches, but in order to thrive and be healthy plants need extra supplementing nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, known as NPK. Any fertiliser containing all three of these elements is classed as a balanced fertiliser.

A Guide to Plant Food

Nitrogen (N) is a high priority for leafy plants and vegetables as it stimulates growth and increases the protein content of fruit and leafy edibles, such as cabbage, spinach and lettuce.

 When growing vegetables using the annual rotation method by growing plants in different beds each year some edibles naturally supply nitrogen to the soil, like peas and beans, so the following crop in the bed should be a leafy veggies which will benefit from the nutrient-enriched soil.

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A Guide to Plant Food - Root development

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For strong root development a feed rich in phosphorus (P) is important, as this will help early root formation and seed germination. Newly planted shrubs and trees need this essential nutrient to aid growth, flowers and seed formation. Phosphorus should be applied directly around the plant using a soluble solution. A lack of phosphorus will be evident in poor seed germination and slow growth. Phosphorus can be found in bonemeal fertiliser.

The addition of potassium (K) to flowers and crops will boost healthy growth. It is essential for photosynthesis, which enables plants to make food for growth, and, in edibles it is necessary as it is stored as starch. Potassium will make plants more resistant to extreme temperatures and drought so should be added to plants in Autumn, especially deciduous fruit trees and roses. Potassium can also be found in manure and wood ash.


When using any fertiliser for the garden it is always very important to read any instructions on the packet as applying too much can have an adverse affect on plants.

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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Stunning Strelitzias

Also known as the Crane flower or Bird of Paradise owing to the shape of their gorgeous blooms, which resemble an exotic bird, the awesome Strelitzia is a showstopper in any garden.

Strelitzias

The Strelitzia is an indigenous plant that thrives in full sun or light shade and, once established, can tolerate long periods of drought. Birds are attracted to the large quantities of nectar provided by the plant.

There are five species of Strelitzia, although only two are generally used in gardens.
Strelitzia reginae is the most popular variety and is widely used as a cut flower, with its long-lasting stalks of blue and orange flowers. Very easy to grow, these clump-forming plants will bloom in Autumn, Winter and Spring, reaching a height of 1.5m tall and 2m in width, and will grow happily in well-drained soil, needing little maintenance, apart from removing old flowers and leaves. Strelitzia (Mandela’s gold) is a yellow variety of the reginae.

Strelitzia nicolai (Natal wild banana) looks amazing set in a tropical style garden with long, banana-shaped leaves, and can reach 8m in height forming a dense clump approximately 4m wide. It is also invaluable as a feature plant in coastal gardens as it will withstand salty winds.

 Unlike the reginae variety, which bears single flowers on its stems, the nicolai has two flowers on each stem, white and mauve in colour. Owing to the ultimate size of the nicolai, the roots can cause problems as they can lift pavers and make nearby walls unstable. Ideally, this variety should be planted in a very large container and placed in a permanent position in a suitable spot. Although this will inhibit root growth, the plant will still flourish and look spectacular!

Strelitzia reginae can be propagated by root division every two years.

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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Growing edibles on a balcony

You can still indulge your horticultural desires even If your only outside space is a balcony and you fancy growing some vegetables!
The balcony doesn’t have to be large, but needs to have at least 6hrs sun a day to grow veggies successfully, and, if the balcony is west-facing, some protective screening from the midday heat. East and North-facing balconies are best for growing vegetables

Edible Balcony

Weight is an issue, so use lightweight plastic containers, the larger, the better, as the soil won’t dry out so quickly.

The containers need drainage holes, and by using saucers under each pot, water can be re-used when it has drained through.

Make the most of your space by planting vertically. Walls are great for growing plants up trellis, using hanging baskets or smaller containers fixed to the wall, even some window boxes fixed to railings. This will all create the appearance of a lush, bountiful garden on your balcony.

What edibles to grow on balcony?

There is quite a choice of edibles that will thrive in containers on balconies, just choose the ones you enjoy and maybe experiment with different varieties.

Tumbling Tom tomatoes and strawberries are great in hanging baskets, climbing beans, cucumber or some peas to climb up the trellis. 

Plant sweet peppers, spinach, egg plant (patio baby), radishes, mixed salad leaves, baby pak choi, chillies and garlic in containers.

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Herbs are very hardy and will thrive on a balcony so include some aromatic lavender, rosemary and thyme plus basil, chives and parsley. They’ll smell pretty lush too!
Remember to add a few pollinating plants like Calendulas and Nasturtiums to help deter any passing pests!

If you are feeling adventurous you could even plant a dwarf variety tree in a suitably sized container. A lemon tree, cherry or blueberry will all grow happily in containers with careful pruning after fruiting.

Somewhere to sit and relish your future balcony produce is obligatory!

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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DIY Family Garden projects – Origami Newspaper Seed Pots – Rain Chain

Your garden in not just a place where you grow produce. It’s a place where you find inspiration and crafting medium. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty and reaping the benefits at harvest time. Most plants you can grow grow have a dual purpose; Always find an alternative use for the plant in addition to its common function. These projects  helps you get the most out of your garden chores and for adding a bit of fun décor to the space. They also great for getting keeping the kids busy and getting them outdoors.
Before you start any project, look around to see what you can use. This includes items from your garden, yard, house, etc. There’s always a way >to repurpose an item or creatively use an object in another way.. I encourage you to take inventory of your surroundings. Branches, leaves, old garden tools, scrap fabric, rope—all of these items are waiting to be transformed into something amazing for your home. If you find that you are stuck in a creative rut, my suggestion is to think like MacGyver. Yes, I am speaking of the eighties icon who could take paper clips, glue, scrap fabric, and a helium tank and make a hot air balloon. Perhaps you don’t need a hot air balloon, but we should all learn from MacGyver’s ability to take what he has, gather inspiration from it, and create something new. Below is two amazing DIY tutorials

More advice and articles :

Advice & Articles

A Guide to Plant Food

Advice & Articles

Stunning Strelitzias

Advice & Articles

Growing edibles on a balcony

Advice & Articles

DIY Family Garden projects – Origami Newspaper Seed Pots – Rain Chain

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Creating a cottage garden with indigenous plants

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October in the garden

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How to approach your edible landscape. Edible landscape – PART 1

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Build your own wildlife pond to bring a sense of calm

Let us know how we can assist.

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Creating a cottage garden with indigenous plants

If you love plants and wildlife, and would like a more relaxed, country vibe to your garden then a cottage style is ideal for you

Plants are grown closely together, and allowed to merge with each other, which can look slightly chaotic, but it is part of the garden’s charm.
Wall and trellis are covered in rambling plants, so that there are no bare spaces, either in the borders or surrounding walls and fences. Pathways should meander between the colourful flower beds, with seating areas randomly placed in sunny spots. This type of garden is all about the plants, both flowering, vegetable and a few herbs.

Trees

Generally, cottage gardens are small to medium in size, so any trees you choose to plant need to be small. The dwarf Coral tree, with its stunning flowers or the gorgeous pink flowering PomPom tree (Dias cotinfolia) are both ideal.

Shrubs

For shrubs, try the Melianthus comosus, which will attract sunbirds, the Pink Mallow (Anisodontea Scabrosa), both just perfect for a cottage garden, Bauhania Nataensis (White Bauhania), loved by butterflies, Wild Dagga (Leonotis Leonurus), Freylinica (Freylinia Tropica), Wild Bush Petunia (Barleria Greenii), and the Buddleja Salvifolia, much loved by butterflies.

Plants

Wild Jasmine (Jasminum Multipartitum), Thunbergia Alana (Black-eyed Susan), Senecio Macroglossus, the flowering Ivy and Cape Grape will all look, and small fabulous rambling over bare walls or trellis, and also attract a host of wildlife.
Indigenous perennials that will all look amazing in the cottage garden are Gerbera, Helichrysum, Gazanias, Felica Amelloides, Rose-scented Perlagoliums, Lavender, Wild Garlic and Scabiosa. Arum Lily (Zantedeschia Aethiopica), Agapanthus (African Lily) and Red Hot Pokers are clump forming plants that will add some texture to the garden.

A true cottage garden should have a few vegetables and herbs growing randomly among the flower beds, with companion plants like Calendulas and Nasturtiums, used as pest deterrents, planted nearby.

More advice and articles :

Advice & Articles

A Guide to Plant Food

Advice & Articles

Stunning Strelitzias

Advice & Articles

Growing edibles on a balcony

Advice & Articles

DIY Family Garden projects – Origami Newspaper Seed Pots – Rain Chain

Advice & Articles

Creating a cottage garden with indigenous plants

Advice & Articles

October in the garden

Advice & Articles

How to approach your edible landscape. Edible landscape – PART 1

Advice & Articles

Tasty herbs for culinary delights!

Advice & Articles

Build your own wildlife pond to bring a sense of calm

Let us know how we can assist.

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October in the garden

Here’s 10 easy steps to keep your outdoor space looking great in the coming months:

1/ Blitz those pesky weeds before they get established, then cover the soil with a thick mulch or homemade compost. This will help prevent weeds and retain moisture in the soil.

2/ Decide on the edibles you want to grow this year and plant some seedlings like carrots, beetroot, beans, squashes and spring onions. Peppers, Swiss chard, tomatoes and lettuce seedling can also be planted out.

3/ Grow hardy, drought-tolerant groundcover plants like Felicia, Gazanias, Verbenas and ivy-leaved Perlagoliums, that will quickly fill any bare spaces in the flower borders.

4/ Why not grow some delicious edible flowers in amongst your veggies? Not only do they look great but they are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. They taste pretty good too! Try Nasturtiums, Calendulas, Pansies, Violas, Lavenders, Perlagoliums and Marigolds.

5/ Choose some new shrubs to plant – Evergreen Choisya with scented white flowers, Philadelphus, amazing for evening fragrance, Deutzia, Brunfelsia, Abelia Grandiflora or the Burchellia bubaline (Wild Pomegranate). All of these shrubs will attract wildlife and provide stunning focal points.

6/ Plant up some summer flowering bulbs, such as Dierama, Alliums, Crocosmia, Ixia, Watsonia, Gladioli and Agapanthus.

7/ Lift and divide existing overgrown clumps of Agapanthus, Crocosmia and Watsonia. Cut into pieces, discard the centre and replant using the outer sections. Water well and add a layer of mulch.

8/ Add a fresh layer of new compost and liquid fertiliser to containers to feed this year’s new growth. Check for any roots showing through drainage holes, and repot the plant as it has outgrown the container.

9/ Plant herbs like Sweet Basil, Coriander, Dill, and Oregano. Mint needs to be planted in a container to stop it spreading too far!

10/ Window boxes and hanging baskets can be planted up with colourful Pansies, Lobelia and Nemesia. A shady patio will look fabulous with Cineraria, Clivias or Fuschias in containers

More advice and articles :

Advice & Articles

A Guide to Plant Food

Advice & Articles

Stunning Strelitzias

Advice & Articles

Growing edibles on a balcony

Advice & Articles

DIY Family Garden projects – Origami Newspaper Seed Pots – Rain Chain

Advice & Articles

Creating a cottage garden with indigenous plants

Advice & Articles

October in the garden

Advice & Articles

How to approach your edible landscape. Edible landscape – PART 1

Advice & Articles

Tasty herbs for culinary delights!

Advice & Articles

Build your own wildlife pond to bring a sense of calm

Let us know how we can assist.

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How to approach your edible landscape. Edible landscape – PART 1

Lets discuss food that’s fresh, pure, local, and delicious.
We have had our fill of tasteless, woody tomatoes from the far reaches of the globe.
We have decided once and for all that a peach should be juicy and sweet, not pithy and tart.
Lets begin to understand the true cost of food traveling to our tables from distant corners of the planet.
We are starting to taste again, thanks to farmers markets and local co-ops, the real flavors we remember from our childhoods or have heard about in stories from our parents and grandparents.

REASONS TO GROW OUR OWN FOOD

Countless perks come with growing your own food, no matter how or where you do it. If you have ever grown any of your own food, you know the excitement of growing interesting, unusual varieties and the fulfillment that comes from bringing fresh food right from
your garden to your table.
Flavor of course is a big part of the equation too.

There’s something different about the flavor of a tomato or zucchini that you plucked right out of your own garden.

There’s a magical sweetness that comes with the knowledge that your hard work and care helped these plants grow from tiny seeds into lush, bountiful plants. 

Nothing can quite compare to the singular flavor of a cherry tomato picked from the vine with the warmth of the sun still lingering in the juices,
nor the delicate snap of a just-picked bean or the perfect tenderness of salad greens right out of the garden.

These flavors are what drive so many of us to spend hours on our knees tending and pampering,staining our fingernails with soil. The promise of real food—sweet, rich, nutritious food—tasting of the sun.

LOOKING AT EDIBLES IN A NEW WAY

There’s something wonderful and surprising when you take these delicious, bountiful plants and place them into the realm of the ornamental landscape. Suddenly they take on new life, new purpose. Not only do they provide food, but they add color, texture, and form to your landscape.

It’s all in the way we look at the plants. We’ve been trained all our lives to think of vegetables having a place only in a vegetable garden. Period. Why is that? Why are these plants considered so different from those we choose to put in our flowerbeds? 

Food plants have color, flowers, interesting forms, and textures. Why then do we force them into tight rows? If you’re going to grow food in your yard, why not make it look nice? You’re going to look at it every single day and likely spend a good bit of time out there. It doesn’t take much more planning or work, and you’ll be treated with a garden that does it all.

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10x FAVOURITE EDIBLES
They’re easy enough for a novice and yet offer challenging options to satisfy the creative, well-seasoned gardener.

Alpine strawberry
Blueberry
Celery
Chard
Eggplant
Kale
Mizuna mustard
Parsley
Tomato
Zucchini (bush-type

A NATURAL BALANCE

A successful garden is all about balance. A balance of flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs creates a diverse ecosystem in your yard. Growing edibles and ornamentals together provides benefits above and beyond aesthetics and food. The mere intermingling of a wide variety of plants makes for a healthier, and therefore more easily managed, garden. You’ve heard how mono-cropping in large-scale agriculture is detrimental because planting only one crop leads to nutrient depletion, disease incidence, and insect pest problems, meaning huge losses if there’s a problem.

Planting so much of one crop means that if a pathogen or insect finds one plant it likes, it’s bound to find all the rest—and that’s not good for yields.
That’s why diversified farming is such a good idea. Having a mixture of plants means risk and nutrient needs are spread out among a lot of different crops. So if an insect pest attacks one crop, chances are most other crops will be okay and make up for that loss. By not being dependent solely on one crop, chances for success are higher.

When it comes to nutrients, there are heavy feeders like cucumbers that take up a lot of nutrients from the soil as they grow, and there are generous nutrient-providers like beans that actually give back to the soil. There are sun-worshipping squash that demand the brightest spot in the yard, and there are easygoing greens that’ll take whatever bit of sun is left over. There are pest-sensitive plants “>that might be severely damaged by insects or disease, and there are plants that help ward off pests or attract pest enemies. These theories apply similarly on the small-scale home landscape. 

A diverse planting also means lots of food for pollinators and other beneficial insects, which are essential to any farm or garden. The more good insects we can attract the better off our plants will be.

It is the balance of this natural give and take, which is inherent in naturally occurring ecosystems, that we should try to achieve in our yards and gardens. This balance is part of what makes this type of gardening so logical, fascinating, beautiful, and ultimately successful.

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KEEPING TRACK

It’s a great idea to keep notes of all that happens in your garden.
From the very beginning phase of studying your site, to amending the soil, to planning the design and choosing plants, and all through the season, including pest and disease incidence, weather events, plant performance, and even harvest details. 

A garden notebook is a great way to collect and organize this information. This could be a virtual notebook organized on a computer or a good old-fashioned three-ring binder filled with information you find in various places and notes that you keep throughout the season. I prefer the old-fashioned method because, for me, it’s more inspiring to assemble and look through actual pages and pictures than to click through folders and image files. Either way, the garden notebook is a valuable tool that you can build to suit your interests.

 It’s a place to keep details about various plants, ideas you’d like to  try, sketches of your garden plans, calendars for seed starting and transplanting, and notes from throughout
the season.

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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Get In touch

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Tasty herbs for culinary delights!

Herbs are a bonus to any garden. They make our food taste amazing, smell divine, look great and attract bees and butterflies to the garden.

Try growing some in containers, troughs, hanging baskets or any unusual containers, making sure there are drainage holes.

Site your containers, or herb bed, close to the door so you can enjoy the fabulous fragrance every time you open the door.

Herbs can also be frozen if you can’t use them all. Just chop them up and pop into ice trays filled with water, then freeze.

Popular herbs to grow are:

Chives – A perennial ‘cut and come again’herb that will grow in sun or partial shade, in free-draining soil. Just snip with scissors and add to soups, omelettes, salads and sandwiches for a little extra zing! The flowers can be used for garnishing.

Rosemary – Available in upright or trailing varieties this strongly scented hardy herb is ideal to plant by a path or patio and is easy to grow in well-drained soil. It loves the sun and is very water-wise. Use in the kitchen to flavour lamb or chicken. Throw some on the braai for a fabulous aroma!

Parsley – Both curled and flat-leafed varieties are kitchen staples. It’s a biennial herb and likes to grow in full sun, in well-drained soil. Chervil is sometimes used as a subtle alternative.

Sage – Is an evergreen, perennial herb to grow in full sun, in well-drained soil. An ideal herb for adding to sausages, pork and lamb.

Basil – The flavour and fragrance of basil makes it a very popular choice of herb and there are countless different varieties to try. A sunny sheltered spot to grow suits this tender herb. Basil is used to make delicious pesto, Thai recipes and to add to salads.

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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Get In touch

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Build your own wildlife pond to bring a sense of calm

Every garden benefits from having a pond, it brings a sense of calm to the garden, and the wildlife will just love it!

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Spring is the best time to create a wildlife pond and it can be any size. Even a small garden pond will attract s frogs and other aquatic life, as well as providing a place for birds to bathe and drink.

Choosing a suitable position is important. It needs to be in a quiet, sunny spot with a tree or shrubs nearby for birds to use.
Once you have selected the ideal position for the pond make sure there are no utility pipes or tree roots before you start digging.
For a large to medium pond lay out the shape using some rope. Incorporate a slope so birds and wildlife can safely go in and out. Use a spirit level and a plank to check the pond is level. Remove any sharp stones and line the base with sand before putting the pond liner in the completed hole. Fill with enough water to weigh it down then add large stones around the top edge to secure it. Finally top up with water.

For a mini-pond any watertight container can be used. Just dig a hole to accommodate the container, leaving the top level with the surrounding soil. Firmly pack the soil around the container. Place bricks or large stones in the base for placing marginal plants on and wildlife to use, then fill with water.


Some gravel at the bottom of your new pond will give a natural effect.
Ponds need to be oxygenated and oxygenating plants will work in small ponds. Larger ponds need a pump for circulation and filtration.

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Now add the plants of your choice, relax and enjoy your wildlife haven!

More advice and articles :

Advice & Articles

A Guide to Plant Food

Advice & Articles

Stunning Strelitzias

Advice & Articles

Growing edibles on a balcony

Advice & Articles

DIY Family Garden projects – Origami Newspaper Seed Pots – Rain Chain

Advice & Articles

Creating a cottage garden with indigenous plants

Advice & Articles

October in the garden

Advice & Articles

How to approach your edible landscape. Edible landscape – PART 1

Advice & Articles

Tasty herbs for culinary delights!

Advice & Articles

Build your own wildlife pond to bring a sense of calm

Let us know how we can assist.

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Curb appeal for your front garden!

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Create a stylish welcome with a front garden that’s both beautiful and practical, not just a driveway for cars.

Use different materials together

Although the need for off-street parking is always a high priority it is still possible to create the appearance of a more interesting and colourful area with different types of material used together, such as pavers, gravel and brick interspersed with some clever planting, either in containers or in pockets of soil, which will add texture and colour, softening the hard landscaping.

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Planting area

The amount of planting area will depend on the size of your driveway and garden. Using pavers for the parking area with a 5cm gap between each one to help drainage, it’s possible to grow hardy, ground cover plants in the gaps.

Frame the house

Consider planting right up to the house to make use of every available inch of soil or spare space. Try to frame the house with planting to enhance and soften the exterior. Climbers, like the beautiful star Jasmine, which will fragrance the air as you arrive or leave through the front door, or a bold, colourful clematis. Both can be trained to grow up walls on a trellis.

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Plants to choose

Low-maintenance plants are a good choice for the front garden though the type of plant will depend on whether the area is sunny, semi-shaded or in shade. Evergreen shrubs like camellia, viburnum or the choisya ternata are attractive flowering compact shrubs that will add structure, also plants with colourful leaves will brighten any dull, bare areas. Gorgeous lavenders or rosemary, planted in containers, will smell sublime as you brush past!

Ornamental tree

If you have room, a small ornamental tree, such as the indigenous pompom tree or an acer palmatum will make a stunning focal point.

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Adding some plants to a bare, driveway will help the environment, encourage wildlife and greatly increase ‘curb’ appeal!

More advice and articles :

Advice & Articles

A Guide to Plant Food

Advice & Articles

Stunning Strelitzias

Advice & Articles

Growing edibles on a balcony

Advice & Articles

DIY Family Garden projects – Origami Newspaper Seed Pots – Rain Chain

Advice & Articles

Creating a cottage garden with indigenous plants

Advice & Articles

October in the garden

Advice & Articles

How to approach your edible landscape. Edible landscape – PART 1

Advice & Articles

Tasty herbs for culinary delights!

Advice & Articles

Build your own wildlife pond to bring a sense of calm

Let us know how we can assist.