Celebrate Garden Day

Celebrate Garden Day

Sunday 15 October 2017

South Africans from all walks of life are joined by their love of gardens, no matter what size, shape or form. That’s why we’re celebrating Garden Day, on Sunday 15 October, with one simple ambition in mind: to encourage people to put down their tools and spend some quality time enjoying and celebrating their gardens.

Planting Garden Day Ideas
In the lead up to Garden Day, visit your nearest nursery or garden centre to get inspired. (Visit the Life is a Garden website to locate your nearest Garden Centre or nursery.) What you do in your garden on Garden Day is completely up to you, but we think it’s a great opportunity to get together with family and friends so that as many people as possible can celebrate together – it’s all about growing goodwill.

Here Are Some Ideas on How to Celebrate:

  • Use fresh flowers and greenery from your garden to make flower crowns for everyone. (See how below.)
  • Invite friends for a bring-n-braai, and use herbs from the garden to flavour the meat.
  • Invite neighbours and friends around for rooibos tea “en beskuit.”
  • Have a garden scavenger hunt.
  • Instead of book club, have a plant club. Ask guests to bring a rare or interesting plant to swop with one of the other guests.
  • Enjoy dinner outside in the garden, with each dish featuring a home-grown ingredient.
  • If you don’t have your own garden, visit someone who does and enjoy it with them.

How to Make a Flower Crown

Flower crowns have been taking the world by storm recently and seem to be the go-to accessory. Here’s how to make your own:


  • Floral wire
  • Floral tape
  • Floral wire cutters
  • Greenery
  • Flowers

Choose flowers that you like and that will suit the colour scheme you’re going for and how big you want the crown to be. (If you want to make a flower crown that will last for more than a few days, you can even use silk flowers.)

1.Take a piece of floral wire and form it into a circular shape. Rest it on your head to see how long the wire needs to be to form a loose crown. Cut off excessive wire and bend the rest into a circular shape. Tape the circle shut with floral tape, wrapping the tape around the wire several times.

2.Choose your greens and flowers. You should start your crown with a layer of pretty greenery that covers the wire, and which will act as the base of your crown. Tape the greenery in place with floral tape.

3.It’s time to add your flowers. Make sure the flower stems are at least 8cm long (trim stems to length with scissors or wire cutters), and tape the stem to the crown using floral tape. Just like with the greenery, you’ll want to wrap the tape around the stem about 4 – 5 times to make sure it stays. Add as many flowers to the crown as you want to.

Seeding Social
Share your Garden Day celebrations on Instagram and other social media using the hashtag #GardenDay.

For more ideas and Garden Day inspiration, visit our website and follow us on social media.


The Traveling Gardener

The Traveling Gardener

Our mission: to catch our breaths after the ten day East Coast House and Garden Show! Ashley, Izolda, Gerald and myself headed for Port Elizabeth, destination Graaff-Reinet. So off to The Eastern Cape we went – fitting in so much over the 4 days, including the gorgeous Valley of Desolation, Nieu- Bethesda with its famous Owl House, and a bookstore with the best second-hand gardening books I have seen in a long time. Needless to say, I left with an entire box of new treasures to enjoy.

No visit to Graaff-Reinet is complete without taking a walk through the amazing garden of extraordinary collector Johan from Obesa nursery. What an experience and an honor to spend some time with such a wise man whose plant breeding has created the most spectacular crosses of succulents – of course some of them just had to come home with me – two full boxes of new plants made it back safely on the aeroplane and are now planted, joining my hundreds of other plants in the ever growing collection of succulents.

We were privileged enough to also visit Johan’s son Anton who is also an avid collector. Not only does he have a magnificent collection but oh my goodness his garden is something else – plants that make your mouth gape with pure amazement, plants that I have only ever seen in books, and a real maze of succulents and cactus species – wow wow – please do treat yourself to a visit!

The School of Garden Design Charity Breakfast

The School of Garden Design Charity Breakfast

Each and every year, the School of Garden Design Charity Breakfast does an excellent job of bringing together like-minded people that want to see growth in nature as well as in human nature.

Thanks to The Gardener Magazine and this year’s sponsor, Mpact Recycling, we saw a good 300 people arriving at the Chantecler Hotel on Thursday morning, which is nothing short of picturesque and sets the perfect scene for an event that celebrates the beauty of life, and of course, a well-kept garden.

The beautifully dressed Hall was draped in white linen and fairy lights, all meeting in the middle as if to illuminate the wonderful idea of people coming together to make a difference, while songs like Doris Day’s ‘Dream a Little Dream for Me’ created an ambience like no other.

Aside from actually being greeted with a wonderful gift bag that included a range of special items to take home, from beauty products to vouchers, every which way I looked I was greeted by smiling faces or bursts of laughter, with some generally happy chatter quickly filling the very short gaps of silence.

school of garden design Sunflower fund talk

One thing I have to make mention of, however, is how quiet the hall appeared to get when I got up to give my talk – there is nothing more wonderful than sharing your knowledge and experiences and truly knowing that there are so many people actually interested in listening. With each click of the slides, that showcased the many beautiful gardens that I have been lucky enough to visit around the world, came an echo of ooh’s and ah’s.

There were so many people involved in this fantastic initiative for The Sunflower Fund, and I am truly blessed to be able to say that I was a part of it. While I am upset that the event is now over, I am on to the next!
Find me at the East Coast Radio Home and Garden Show from the 30th of June to the 9th of July or take a look at where you can catch one of my upcoming talks here.

My Shisanyama experience

My Shisanyama experience

While working in Jo’burg last month, I decided to venture forth and find out for myself what an authentic shisanyama experience was all about.

My first obstacle – I didn’t know where to go! I could have Googled it but I chose a different approach. At the time I was standing outside Gallagher Estate, with streams of visitors walking past me as they left Decorex, so I decided to do a little market research. I stopped a random selection of passersby and asked them where I could get the best shisanyama. Interestingly enough, every one of the 20 or so people I asked gave me the same answer: “Imbizo Shisanyama! Busy corner!” With that it was a done deal, so I set my GPS and headed off, driving deeper and deeper into Midrand.

I have to admit I was feeling a little anxious but my nerves disappeared when I was warmly greeted by Ann Booyen, hostess and assistant to the managing director, Rita Zwane. I was immediately offered a seat and a glossy, slick menu. “Cocktail?” asked Ann. “Don’t mind if I do!”, I replied. I headed off to the cocktail bar and made my (virgin) selection, and, wow, it was good![ux_image id=”4052″]

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I was visiting on a weekday and Ann commented that I was lucky I was as the venue ‘pumps’ on weekends! Nevertheless, being on my own, I wanted to get the feel of this much-talked-about place. So what does one do in such a spot? You make friends! I ordered my meal, The Ultimate African BraaiFeast, and sidled up to the gentlemen sitting nearby and asked if I could join them and share my lunch. And folks, that’s when the real shisanyama experience kicked in!

Lesley and his friends chatted openly to me, first asking me why I was alone and whether I felt safe. I laughed and asked why I wouldn’t feel safe when in the company of such big strong men! The waiter then walked through with my selection of fresh meat and handed it over to the braai masters. I was told that all six of the fires get started up at five in the morning, with grids big enough to hold kilograms and kilograms of meat at a time. Who could resist that sight? I jumped out my seat and made my way to the stations and watched with amazement how quickly and with what precision the meat was turned, basted, and suddenly ready to serve!

Now to the eating part, because this is when I got to have the most fun. Lesley passed me a plate and took charge, telling me what to serve and how to eat it. I was offered a knife and fork but decided instead to follow Lesley’s lead. On the large central dish was a selection of chicken, lamb chops, boerewors, kebabs and short rib. What a mouth-wateringly delicious sight! The way to do it is to take a generous serving of pap and slop that on your plate together with the yummiest spinach I have yet to taste (it took me back to my childhood years, when my nanny used to make me my favourite spinach). Add to this a generous portion of chakalaka and some meat (I started with short rib), and then tuck in – fingers and all! Short rib is an interesting cut of meat that many people don’t buy anymore, but I love it when I braai at home for two reasons – the chief braaier (me) gets to sample it straight off the hot coals, and my friends love it![ux_image id=”4053″]

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What I loved most about my experience at Imbizo Shisanyama was that the meat was piping hot, the succulent bits of fat on the chops and short rib were crispy and delicious – exactly the way it’s meant to be, from the fire to the mouth…

But I nearly forgot to tell you about the best part. My new-found friends drew my attention to the steamed African bread. Guys, this was the real winner! Lesley showed me the proper way to eat it – spread lashings of chakalaka on the bread, tear off a piece of meat, hold the two together, and aim for your mouth! Heaven in a munchful!

This, my friends, is the real deal: eating, sharing, crossing barriers, breaking the mould, learning, and all over a meal that is called ‘burnt meat’ when translated into English. I am totally converted, and in fact our next get-together for the Braai magazine team is at our local shisanyama!

Go on, try it, you’ll love it!

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About Imbizo Shisanyama

  • It’s known by patrons as ‘Busy Corner’.
  • It started on a dusty corner in 1997 with only a 2-litre pot, a gas griller, display fridge, paraffin stove and two employees.
  • The original ‘pap’ pot is now displayed proudly in the restaurant.
  • Started and still run by Rita Zwane.
  • Imbizo Shisanyama now supports over 100 families. Other small businesses have been born out of this business – a car wash, security services, locally sourced chakalaka, salads, and steamed bread.
  • The Imbizo Shisanyama bursary fund was launched in 2012.

Click here to read more!