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Garden ideas: Inspiration in the wintertime

Winter is hanging in the air like a crisp promise of sleepy mornings and early evenings. If you’re looking for garden ideas to get yourself outside and busy beautifying your garden, help has arrived. Winter gardens are as abundant with harvests as summer gardens.

Wonderful winter garden ideas

Each season brings its own offerings from the soil. We love that winter is potato season; it’s also avo season and time to pick baskets full of nuts. If you don’t have any of these crops growing in your garden, it’s the perfect time to get busy. Some crops will yield this winter, others will yield next winter.

Grow a vegetable garden

garden ideas
Organic vegetable garden fertiliser

As the sun sets earlier and a noticeable chill creeps in, hearty stews, soups, and baked dishes replace the salads and the ice cream treats we enjoyed in summer. Fortunately, nature agrees – the most flavourful vegetables flourish in winter, adding this high on your list of new garden ideas.

  • Onions, spring onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks form the foundation to your belly-warming winter comfort foods. Plant them in autumn for a winter harvest. Onions will only yield the following winter, but get them into the ground now anyway. You’ll be glad you did, this is an exciting way to get started on your garden ideas.
  • Perpetual spinach is a vegetable that offers abundant harvests. Simply cut the leaves you wish to use, they will regrow, giving you a continuous crop.
  • Broad beans feed the ground as fast as they feed your family. All legumes pump a rich supply of nitrogen into the soil, helping to maintain a fertile growing medium. They are also quick to establish after planting.
  • Peas are a lovely winter vegetable to enjoy. They’re also pretty hardy garden crops. Varieties like Pea ‘Meteor’ especially so.
  • Tender and fresh asparagus from the garden sounds delightfully tempting. This crop will take two years to start yielding, but once established each crown can yield up to 25 crowns per season.

Improve the quality and quantity of your harvest by feeding your soil. Pokon’s organic vegetable garden fertiliser is jam-packed with everything a veggie garden needs to thrive.

Winter garden ideas with Ranunculus

garden ideas

Winter is not typically associated with vivid flower beds. Yet, some of the most radiant flower bulbs bloom in the chilliest months. One example of a beautiful winter flower is Ranunculus. They’re as lovely as roses but without the tedious pruning. We would call them the highlight of all our winter garden ideas, but there are so many beautiful winter bulbs to choose from, we prefer to think each corner of the garden deserves its own highlight – ranunculus is certainly one of them.

Bringing colour into the beds with Hyacinths

There is so much you can do to embellish your garden beds with gorgeous colour in the winter time. The Hyacinth is one such reminder. Partner them with similar coloured flowers for a clearly defined colour scheme and inspirational garden ideas. They tend to do well in areas that enjoy winter rainfall, alternatively, a thorough soak every 3-4 days will also keep them thriving.

Winter garden ideas for bountiful harvests: Add fruit trees

Nature has a way of ensuring all the foods that benefit us appear at just the right time of the year. In summer, we see fruit-bearing trees yielding crops with lots of water (for hydration in the heat) and higher sugar levels (for energy in the longer days). In winter, the grapes, the watermelon, mangoes, and peaches disappear. Instead, we have foods that help us stay insulated; avocado pears, nuts, and hearty vegetables. Winter is your avo tree’s time to shine.

garden ideas

Gardening tools to simplify planting in the middle of winter

We are fortunate to enjoy mild winters in South Africa. Frost touches a few regions, but for the most part, we can continue to enjoy getting our hands dirty in the rich and bountiful soil of our gardens.

The winter bulbs range brings us some of the classics, like daffodils and tulips.

As true garden enthusiasts, we have created a number of planting innovations, if you would like to continue gardening but find it too chilly to immerse yourself fully in the outdoors. Grow your own vegetables in this handy no-bend growing table. Add this vegetable garden fertiliser and a great quality hand trowel and you’re set. Looking for some colour? Browse our winter bulbs here.

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Daffodils’ charm: A cheerful winter inspiration

South African winters are blessed with the cheerful golden cups of the daffodil flower – like a sunny smile to warm the chilly mornings. Despite their unassuming beauty, daffodils also called narcissus, and, if you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ll know the back-story here.

The Greek myth behind the cheery daffodil

daffodils
Narcissus Pipit

The story goes that Narcissus was a beautiful hunter, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. He was so beautiful, he broke hearts as far as went, but he treated everyone with cold disdain.

One day while he was hunting in the forest, the Oread nymph, Echo, saw him in a clearing. She swooned, instantly smitten. As he had always done, when Echo approached him, he pushed her away and spoke unkind words to her. Her heart was shattered. She spent her remaining days wandering through the forest aimlessly until she eventually faded into just a faint echo.

Narcissus paid retribution when the goddess Nemesis visited him. She led him to a pool and showed him his own reflection. When he looked into the water, he believed he was seeing a beautiful nymph. He was smitten. Calling to the nymph made no difference. He eventually died at the riverside, unable to leave the beautiful face he saw in the water.

In the place of his body grew some beautiful flowers – daffodils, also called narcissus.

The highlights of the beautiful genus ‘daffodils’

We love the golden colour, but certain corners of the garden may call for something a little more subtle. Or, maybe you have a particular colour scheme going? We totally get it.

  • Replete – a showy example of the daffodil with a mix of pastels. Cream, peachy pink, and delicate orange make it subtle and classy.
  • Acropolis – milky white and a striking warm orange centre for understated beauty. They’re perfect for areas that need a touch of light without dominating. They’re also perfect on their own.
  • Obdam – pearl and ivory. Pure like the moonlight. Companion them with low growing and petite herbs like thyme. A floor of forest greens brings out the contrast of the pale blooms.
  • Juanita – with faces like little suns, they warm the heart and add a touch of brightness to the garden beds.

How to grow daffodils (a basic overview)

These perennials will reward you with beautiful flowers year after year if they’re looked after. They love partial or dappled shade and well-draining soil (persistent moisture tends to rot bulbs). For the best effect, plant daffodils massed together in groups of at least 10-12 bulbs.

Consider your purpose for growing daffodils; do you wish to harvest them for a cut flower display, or purely to brighten the garden? For easy harvesting, rows or “double reach beds” (beds which allow you to reach over and harvest from either side) may be ideal. If you’re just growing for the garden, rounded beds or corner beds are particularly beautiful.

Bury them so that there is about 5cm of soil above the neck of the bulb. Give them a thorough soak every four days. Only fertilise them after they have flowered, to ensure they build up enough resources to flower well the following year.

daffodils
Garden Flowers Yellow Flowers Spring Daffodil

Love winter. Love your garden

The humble daffodil is one reason to love winter. Some of our other favourite wintertime blooms are Ranunculus, tulips, Hyacinths, and lilies (Hemerocallis). Happy planting in winter! Need help? Feel free to contact us.

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The 6 major ways gardening benefits your children’s health

Children are naturally drawn to the outdoors. If you look at children’s health, energy levels and enthusiasm for life, we have to ask ourselves how they manage that. Perhaps barefoot in the garden has something to do with it?

Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise contribute to children’s health

It turns out, from a medical perspective, the outdoors offers numerous benefits to the human body, especially your children’s health. You can maximise the positive effects they enjoy from their time outside by adding (over and above free play time) some structured gardening time. This gives them a chance to bond with their caregivers, while they nurture a hobby that will serve them for the rest of their lives (learn more about the benefits of gardening for adults).

We have researched the most notable benefits of gardening for children’s health:

Better eating habits to improve your children’s health

Take the children to the store when you buy plant seeds. Let them choose the packets, and carry them. Give them a sense of ownership, they’re the guardians of the seeds.

Choose a spot in the garden together. Plant the seeds and tend to the seedlings – let the children marvel at the miracle of life that comes from a small brown bead. Have them water the seedlings daily, and as they flourish into plants, appreciate the progress.

When the time for harvest arrives, let the children pick, with pride, what they have grown. Give them the credit – this is their handy work! Let them say how they want the produce prepared – it may surprise you how open they are to taste vegetables they have previously refused.

Carrots, radishes, berries, fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery can be picked and enjoyed in the garden – fresh and crunchy! Just like that, nurturing your children’s health becomes easier.

Patience and responsibility

Growing a garden is never easy. Any passionate gardener will attest to this. You plant seeds, and it takes months before you see the brightly coloured rewards. Sometimes, after months of painstaking work, everything dies after one weekend visiting away from your home.

All of these woes and frustrations are part of gardening. As are the riots of unexpected flowers after the spring rains, the seedlings that happen after you have forgotten you even planted seeds. The surprises in the compost heap, as a result of tossing your kitchen waste. The way you can’t help but gasp when those flower bulbs finally yield.

Teaching children about work and delayed gratification is an important lesson in life. As is hard work, diligence, and the responsibility of caring for your plants on an ongoing basis.

Your children have a front-row seat to witnessing seasonal changes and learning about the world

Spending time outdoors, hands in the soil, your children will naturally acquaint themselves with the seasons. It’s important to talk about how plant and flower care in the garden change from season to season.

As you start to prune, talk to your children about it. When it’s planting season, explain this too. Hands-on experience is always going to do more for their education than a chart or a textbook.

Develop your children’s’ fine motor skills

Have you ever held radish seeds in your hand? They’re tiny! Whether you’re digging the tiny trenches to plant them, or actually doing the strewing, it takes well-developed fine motor skills. That, along with weeding in delicate areas.

If your children are still very young, have them peek their garden interest by picking berries. Harvesting seeds is another activity that’s beneficial. For a young child less than two years old, it’s a wonderful exercise to strengthen their hand-eye coordination.

Increase bone mass and exercise to improve children’s health

Initially, the digging and the physical work may not interest the children – understandably so. Hopefully, you have inducted them into gardening by giving them rewarding tasks, like growing flowers or picking veggies.

If you’ve enticed enough and you know they’re hooked, have them do some of the hard digging (if it’s age-appropriate, of course). The benefits? A perfectly dug garden bed, yes, but the children will also enjoy improved fitness, increased muscle tone, and stronger bones. All in all, the children’s health improves. That’s right, impact exercise increases bone mass, so have them and pull and carry the heavy stuff (as always, keep it age/weight appropriate).

Develop their teamwork and social skills (because problem-solving abilities improve children’s health)

A successful garden takes teamwork, especially where siblings are involved. They have to share in both the flowers/harvests and in the work and responsibilities. It’s deeply rewarding to see children take guardianship of their plants and tend to them with care and genuine passion. Sharing this passion is even better. The fact that you will find improvements in your children’s health is an added bonus.

Have you read the adults’ edition of this article? Learn about the benefits of gardening for adults here, or jump straight into the fun part and stock up on bulbs now (order by the season) here.

 

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6 Surprising health benefits you get from gardening

Every passionate gardener will tell you that tending a garden is different from any other hobby, setting aside the obvious health benefits. It’s difficult to explain why – maybe because you’re investing in delayed gratification. Maybe it’s the fresh air, the brown earth, or the visual delight. Maybe, when we beautify our environments, we are also uplifting our minds and our souls.
 
Then, there’s also the immense benefit to our physical health – gardening is surprisingly energetic.

Gardening for health and happiness

Health benefits

Gardening offers surprising health benefits to both your mental and physical well-being. It’s an anti-inflammatory activity for the mind while it exercises the body. Plugging out of “life” by connecting with the ground will leave your home beautiful, trimmed, and erupting with glorious colour. Here are the most notable health benefits of gardening, research-backed:

#1 Top Health benefit: Improved oxygen levels in the blood

Gardening is physical exercise. It’s easy to underestimate how much effort it takes from the body to lean over when pulling weeds. Or, to launch a spade into the ground numerous times, or to carry heavy posts, planters, or large plants across the garden.
 
Cardiovascular exercise (any time you are breathing heavily or sweating) strengthens the heart. It also sends surges of freshly oxygenated blood coursing through the vascular system. This delivers oxygen and nutrients to every organ and cell in the body.
 
Improved oxygen levels and blood flow keep you strong, healthy, and wards off ageing. This is thanks to the free radicals which are countered by the wonderful fresh blood.
 
*always check with your doctor that you are fit and able to perform strong cardiovascular exercise if you have a health condition.

#2 Top Health benefit: Regulated blood pressure and heart rate

 

Health benefits

Stress: the silent killer. It affects every part of the body, as the blood is flooded with stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) when we are stressed. High blood pressure is one of the most obvious side effects of stress.
 
Shed the stress by digging deep in the garden. Your mind will naturally begin to wonder as you enter a state of quiet. Without realising it, you also breathe deeper when you are outdoors. This regulates your heart rate and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (taking you out of “fight or flight”).
 
#3 Top Health benefit: Stronger immune responses
 
When you are gardening, you are exposed to sunlight. The added vitamin D is vital for the immune system. Vitamin D helps to protect your body against the flu virus, it boosts energy levels and fights depression.
 
The immune system works the way any muscle of the body works – it needs exercise. Research indicates that stronger immune responses are observed in individuals who are exposed to elements like soil and plants.

#4 Top Health benefit: Reduce dementia risk

Health benefits

Interesting research is being done around this topic. A recent study examined 876 people around the age of 78 years. They examined the brain via MRI scans before and after exercise. Activities like gardening, or dancing, the hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls memory) physically increased. They found the patients’ cognitive abilities increased, brain activity increased, and memory atrophy (loss) shrunk.
 
The moral of the story? Get gardening! No one else is going to remember to water the hydrangeas often enough.

#5 Top Health benefit: Increased bone density

Health benefits

High-impact exercise builds stronger bones. Doctors know this, the challenge is that by the time people need it most, it’s already difficult to implement. Start high-impact exercise before you start to suffer from weak bone density.
 
Gardening is beneficial in building stronger bones, don’t shy away from heaving digging, tugging, jumping, and carrying. Make sure you use the correct gardening accessories and tools . Also, observe proper technique/good posture to prevent injuries.

#6 Top Health benefit: Decreased depression and lower anxiety levels

The modern lifestyle our society finds itself in today can overwhelm many people. There are constant deadlines, appointment times, meetings, traffic, and other stresses. It’s easy to fall into a “what is the point of all of this” mindset.
 
Psychologists have been experimenting with new approaches to treating mental challenges like depression and anxiety. One of the most poignant and challenging symptoms of depression is a lack of energy and motivation – almost like your muscles are heavy and weak.
 
Gardening is one of the activities that has shown enormous promise in treating the heaviness associated with depression. The simple activity and movements can pull that frozen feeling from the body, literally shrugging it away. The satisfaction and reward when your garden comes to fruition are deeply rewarding too. Gardening may not cure any mental disorders, but it certainly can improve the severity of the symptoms.

Tend your health – grow flowers in your garden

Health benefits

Winter bulbs are on sale now. In South Africa, we have some of the most fantastic winter flower bulbs. It may be a dry season (in many provinces) but it can still be delightfully bright and colourful. View Hadeco’s premium-grade flower bulbs.
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Companion planting ideas for vibrant garden beds

Companion planting is a concept that suggests planting certain species together will have a mutually beneficial effect on both plants. When it comes to planting your bulbs, you want to ensure you will have the best effect, visually. Here are some companion planting suggestions for the most beautiful garden beds. They work, whether you’re looking to fill a dry and hardy spot, or a rich and moist area.   

Full sun companion planting buddies

planting companions

DIERAMA PAUCIFLORUM – This plant enjoys full sun. They grow in clumps, making them a great addition to a garden bed that needs a dash of colour. Companion planting is most effective with plants like thyme or lavender – which also enjoy full sun. The purple flowers and silver leaves of the lavender bush complement the soft pinks. Give each plant enough room to grow and expand without becoming cramped. Companion planting needs to be considerate of each plant’s personal space.

Hemerocallis planting companions

HEMEROCALLIS, also known as Daylilies, are typically golden or maroon and love full sun. They’ll draw attention with their bright hues, so make sure they’re surrounded by complementing flowers that will accentuate their golden hues. Coreopsis, while a fairly common flower variety, create a magnificent colour theme when combined with daylilies. Add a few deep purple perennial salvias to the companion planting mix and you have the starkest but most gorgeous contrast.

Semi-shade companion planting buddies

Clivias planting companions

CLIVIA MINIATA – Clivias. Their dark green leaves are beautifully contrasted if they’re companioned with mint. The mint will need to be trimmed back from time to time as it spreads fast. Mint is also ideal because its bright green clumps can creep under the leaves of the clivias, creating a fuller and denser look in a garden bed.

Marshy soil companion planting buddies

Lili

LILIUM ASIATIC – The beautiful trumpet-shaped Lilium is best companioned with another plant that complements its clumping qualities. Sharing a love for moist and rich soil, the easy to grow Hosta (Plantain lilies) make grand clumps of their own, in between the clumps of Liliums. Their flowers come in white, lavender, or purple and the beautiful foliage extends to around 15cm in size, making a colourful companion planting bed.

CYRTANTHUS BREVIFLORUS EVERGREEN is a spritely little yellow flower and thrives in marshy conditions. Add a dash of refreshing white by planting them near Zantedeschia. Variety in terms of flower size will provide an interesting assortment for the eyes. Other plants that do well in marshy conditions include Siberian and Japanese Irises (not walking Irises, which require excellent drainage). Companion planting these marshy species together can transform a damp and muddy area into a prized garden bed.

Arid, rocky, and dusty companion planting buddies

AMMOCHARIS CORANICA is acclimated to scarce rainfall and poor soils. This variety spruces up dull areas and neglected garden beds (sometimes the soil is poor because it is sheltered from rainfall). Add a few succulents, like aloes and vygies, which enjoy hardy conditions. Be sure to water thoroughly once in a while, emulating the natural desert conditions where rainfall is scarce but deep when it does come.

Companion planting for garden bed longevity

Understanding the soil preference and water requirements of various species helps you to make informed decisions and implement companion planting effectively. If you’ve taken the time to do this research, it also means your garden beds are more likely to thrive and not just survive, as each plant contributes to the growth and success of its neighbour.

Companion planting is also beneficial in vegetable gardening, where heavy feeders, like potatoes, are companioned with nitrogen-depositing plants, like legumes. Some of the greatest companions that are both hardy and pretty are marigolds – they’re fantastic natural insect deterrents!

Love the flower bulbs we’ve mentioned here? You can order yours today, here.

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Sun and shade plants to brighten gloomy spots in the garden

Zantedeschia shade plants

Fill gaps in your garden with a flowering sun or shade plant. A genus that thrives in those particular conditions is the only way to ensure you enjoy years of beauty.

Replacing species that have failed to thrive is expensive. Before selecting sun or shade plants for an area, keep an eye on it all day to see how the sun affects it at different times. There’s nothing like assuming you’re dealing with a shaded spot – based on how you see it in the morning before work. Meanwhile, unknown to you, it gets the full heat of the sun at 2 PM.

Shade plants for darker areas

Hyacunthus

  • Hyacinthus, commonly known as the hyacinth, is the perfect flower for dense and darker areas in the garden. Shady patches are easier to fill with foliage-rich plants, few flowers flourish without sun. Hyacinths fulfil this need with their intense colours and clustered flowers.
  • Galtonia candicans, commonly known as the Summer Hyacinth, lightens dark shady areas in the garden with their pure white flowers. A fairytale-like shade plant. They have many small white flowers that hang from the stems. Perfect for the middle of a garden bed or to liven up a shady wall or boundary.
  • Zantedeschia aethiopica is perfect if you have a marshy area that’s less-than-attractive with thick shade. Zantedeschia, loved for its simplistic beauty, grows well once established, unassisted – a great way to demarcate a border, if you have natural contours in the garden. Use Zantedeschias to outline the hill.

Drought tolerant plants for hot areas

Alliums

Aliums, like the tulbaghia variegated alliums, they make petite flowers that are hardy enough to withstand drought conditions. They’re commonly used to liven the parking lots of shopping malls. They can just as easily liven up dry and dead areas in the garden that are sheltered from life-giving rainfall.

drought-tolerant non shade plants

Scadoxis multiflorus katherinae

Also known as the Blood/Christmas Lily, is another drought-hardy attractive bulb. They’re the most unusual flower – an exotic gem that deserves to take the focal point. While they can handle the heat, they’re not exactly drought-tolerant. They need rich soil with excellent drainage. Also, keep in mind, they dislike being lifted from the ground and will not flower for at least a year after being settled. That said, this beauty is a worthwhile investment for the future.

The Crocosmia variety also withstands long periods in the heat provided it has a good water source – they love a slightly damp soil.

Year-round beauty with the perfect sun or shade plants

A year-round garden isn’t only a pleasure to look at, it’s an investment. The property’s value is increased as is its appeal.

We often overlook those tucked away corners because sourcing the perfect sun or shade plants can be difficult. A garden contributes to your quality of life – whether you’re at home during the day or working full-time – there’s nothing in the world like kicking off your shoes and relaxing in your garden, colourful flower faces smiling up at you. The happy buzzing of bees in the background.

Hadeco offers easy online ordering for the best quality flower bulbs, garden accessories, and decorative pots and containers. Visit our online store to see which sun or shade plants are in season, now.

 

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3 Ways to use Amaryllis flowers indoors and boost your Christmas cheer

Amaryllis are some of the easiest bulbs to bring to bloom. They’re versatile, doing as well indoors as they do in the garden. If your amaryllis grows outdoors, you may wish to harvest some of the blooms to add a festive touch to your Christmas decor. These simple steps will ensure your harvested amaryllis stays fresh and beautiful for longer.

Harvesting Amaryllis

amaryllis flowers

Know how to cut them to get a better bloom for a longer time.

Cut Amaryllis flowers’ stems at the right time

Amaryllis flowers will last as long as a cut flower as they do while growing. It is beneficial to the plant if you harvest the bloom just before it opens, as this helps the bulb to conserve energy. The saved energy is directed into more glorious blooms in the future.

Harvest the flower when the bud is soft and just about to open. Hints of colour should tell you it’s ready!

Know your Amaryllis flowers’ optimal harvest height

Cut the Amaryllis stem about 3 centimetres above the bulb. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem, Amaryllis have hollow stems so using garden scissors may cause them to bend when they’re cut, damaging the bloom. Support the stem while you harvest it.

Let them rest  

amaryllis flowers

Place the harvested stems, at the height they are, in room temperature water. Place them in a vase that’s a suitable height to support the blooms. Keep them in a cool place overnight, so that they can rest. In the morning, you can trim them down to whatever height you wanted them. This rest period is an essential step if you want your cut Amaryllis blooms to last as long as your growing ones do.

Display harvested Amaryllis flowers

amaryllis flowers
White Bulb Amaryllis Blossom Flower Plant

Amaryllis’ sophisticated trumpet-shaped bloom have the power to draw attention to themselves, regardless of how they are arranged. Simply placed in a vase and left tall will make a statement already. They also blend beautifully with other flowers if they’re arranged together.

  1. When you choose a vase, make sure it’s clean. Cloudy water will shorten your Amaryllis’ life.
  2. Add Chrysal flower food to the vase. If you don’t have any, click here to visit our online store.
  3. Maintain your arrangement by topping up with fresh Chrysal flower food solution as needed. Trim the Amaryllis’ stem if you see it curling or looking soggy. Remove any grime from the vase by washing the sides of thoroughly. Remember to replenish the water with flower food.

Remember, your Amaryllis will take around 5 weeks to bloom from the time you plant them. Ordering them now will ensure you receive them on time to have flowers for Christmas. What’s great about Amaryllis is how easy they are to grow and how rich the rewards are when they bloom.  

Learn more about extending the life of your cut flower from Chrysal’s website, or contact Hadeco, we love to help.

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French garden design: Make your own Mediterranean paradise

A French garden is timeless,  you don’t French garden very often anymore. They appear to be labour-intensive and the initial installation can be costly, but the rewards are beyond words. The budget and the manpower required depends on your design. It’s easy to create a beautiful, low maintenance and budget-friendly design.   

french garden

French gardens increase your property value

Picture quadrupling your property value and appeal, although if you plant a successful chateaux garden, why would you ever want to move?

Bulbs, succulents, and various other materials are essentials in the creation and maintenance of a chateau or French garden. The help of modern-day gardening implements makes a project like this far easier to achieve.

french garden

Transform your box-shape backyard into a symmetrical masterpiece

One of the most defining characteristics of a French garden is their love of symmetry. Everything is planted according to a pattern.

They love using focal points with elegant pots, box-shaped planters, paving, edging, and neatly trimmed hedges. It’s the ultimate outdoor manicure. A chateau garden should provide lots of easy access routes to the gardens via pathways, with the garden enveloping the walkways in a haze of greens and white with soft splashes of other colours. It’s certainly not chaotic, it’s neat.

This is why it’s important to plan your garden layout before you get started. Here’s our step-by-step guide for creating your own Chateau Villa Garden.

french garden

 

Build the necessary elements into your French garden design

  • Stonework, stucco walls, and paved pathways form the way in which your garden layout will work. They also add that vintage-villa feel.
  • A few large old flower pots with a crack or two have an unrivalled sense of authenticity to them. Geraniums (Pelargoniums) are an old favourite. Although they tend to add a distinctly English feel, they still blend with the time period.
  • Geraniums are extraordinarily low-maintenance – rewarding forgetfulness with prolific flowering when they’re in full sun.

If you want to approach this with nothing but authentic villa constituents, large lavender bushes planted along the walkway will do the trick.

french garden

Use geometry to neaten your French garden

  • The French love that square/rectangular garden shape. Add a stone surface with a square of green plants within that, and a stately pot in the centre.
  • Geometry is easy to work with, you can make it as basic as you feel you can manage. Complex designs that wrap around focal pieces with variety and colour are breathtaking but complicated.
  • Often, a small space has the opportunity to make a bigger impact if its design is kept basic and simple. It soothes the senses, giving the eyes a welcome break from the visual stimulation that generally bombards us in modern life.
  • Gravel and stone surfaces are practically maintenance-free if you add a layer of coarse salt to the ground before you lay the stones. A centrepiece that contains succulents will add a further low-maintenance element.

french garden

Use monochrome elements in your French garden beds

  • The most important factor, no matter what you do in your French style garden, is to think “shape”. Adhere to your geometrical plan. Even your garden beds need to be part of a pattern.
  • The next item to consider is colour. French style gardens are typically monochromatic. That means they focus on green, plus one other colour. It’s usually green and white or green and lilac. Lavender bushes, Zantedeschia (Arum lilies), white Albuca, Irises, Galtonia candicans, and Hymenocallis are perfect French garden bulbs for a crisp white appeal.
  • Ensure your garden beds have neat borders. Mondo grass makes a neat border, and it’s fairly resilient to heat, provided it gets watered.

french garden

Add colour – but do it with the style of a French garden

The tradition French garden-makers don’t often opt for very vivid colours, breaking tradition only in the form of bright window boxes in order to add vibrancy into the picture as a whole.

When they do use vivid colour, they do it in a big way. There are no half-measures!

For example, a field of tulips, or a large bed dedicated to daffodils. It conforms to the rule of same with same. This also brings out the English influence, but as we said earlier, you’re respecting the time-period, so it works.

When you opt for bulbs that are seasonal, plan what you will have in that space when those bulbs are not flowering. Stay season-aware.

french garden

The final touches for your beautiful French garden

You’ve done all this work to create a French garden, it seems only right to enjoy it at a table and in good company.

It’s an important part of the Mediterranean culture to enjoy large meals with family outdoors. Include a wrought-iron or wooden dining set. Not only is it fantastic for entertaining, but it’s also a lovely quiet area to sit in the sun and read a book. Every work of art requires a place you can sit and admire it from.

french garden

As you know, you can get all the bulbs, planters, and gardening for your French style garden from our online store. Or, if you’re a novice in the garden, start at the beginning and learn how to plan and design a garden.

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Make your own festive greeting cards with pressed flowers from your garden

pressed flowers

You thought summer bulbs were just for the garden? Maybe a few that can be grown indoors? They’re far too versatile to serve only one purpose. While living, growing, flowers are the greatest way to gift someone beauty, you can add a personal touch to your Season’s Greetings cards this December.

pressed flowers

Pressed flowers for greeting cards

Pressing flowers was a common hobby in the Victorian era as a way to preserve the beauty of a season all year. The preserved flowers are gathered into an ensemble on a page and secured with a small blob of glue. When they’re arranged with thought and care, they bring delight into the home, or into the hearts of those who receive them as greeting cards.  

In today’s consumer-driven world it is easy to purchase a greeting card and personalise it with your own message. With relatives who are separated by many miles, and many South Africans homesick overseas, the most original and thoughtful way to send them a piece of your heart is to send them a garden. A garden minus the soil. A garden’s worth of flowers – immortalised in the peak of their beauty – on paper.

pressed flowers

How to make your own pressed flower greeting cards

Pressed flowers are about to make a come-back in the craft scene, and personalised greeting cards are always in. Unfortunately, not all flowers can be pressed, some contain too much sap and tend to rot. Others may have a thickened area that doesn’t flatten well.

It’s important to know which flowers can be pressed and which ones you have to simply enjoy while they bloom on the plant. Daylilies, so named because each flower only lasts one day, will last a lifetime once dried. They’re every bit as majestic when they’re preserved, making a lovely statement piece on the front of a Christmas greeting card.

pressed flowers

What you need to make your own preserved flower greeting card:

  • Flowering bulbs: Dahlias, Daylilies, Gladioli, and Irises.
  • Heavy books – encyclopedia or phonebooks
  • A heavy article, a cinder block or a brick
  • Clear-drying wood glue
  • White typing paper
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors for harvesting flowers

How to preserve fresh flowers for your greeting card

Making your own greeting card is fun and it’s a great way to keep children busy this holiday season. If you get started now, they can grow their own bulbs for the greeting cards. Some of the pressed flower highlights include gladioli, sandersonia, and irises.

pressed flowers

Step 1: Harvest flowers on dry days

The perfect time to harvest flowers for pressing is when the flowers are at their driest after the morning dew has dried and before the evening clamminess sets in. Avoid harvesting on rainy days.

Harvest only the freshest looking flowers that you’d like to immortalise. They need to have crisp colours and perfect edges. If your flowers have suffered damage, or if they, for whatever reason, fall apart during the harvest, it is still possible to save just the petals. Once they’re dry, there are endless ways to arrange your preserved flowers – they don’t have to form the shape of their original flowers – be creative!

Once you have your flowers, it’s best to get them home to prevent wilting. Wilting will interfere with their aesthetic appeal once they’re dry.

A bonus of harvesting flowers to dry is that you’re also deadheading. Dahlias make incredible dry flowers, either whole or as separated petals. Dahlias also benefit enormously from deadheading, as this prolongs their flowering season and encourages them to divert energy into a better recovery during winter and a better flowering season next spring. You can call it two-birds-with-one-stone.

pressed flowers

Step 2: Prepare for the press

Keep the same varieties together. Different flowers will dry at a different pace, which is why it helps to sort them according to their variety. Label each “press” so you know which flowers you have saved in which place.

Sorted? Now you can arrange them. Place each flower face-down on a white sheet of paper. Make sure no two flowers are touching. If they’re touching when you place them to dry they will be stuck that way.

Cover the sheet of paper of face-down flowers with another sheet of white paper. White typing paper is perfect, it helps to absorb the moisture which is pressed from the flowers. Place the papers with the flowers between two telephone books or heavy encyclopedias.

Add a label to your homemade press with the name of the flowers it contains and the dates you harvested and pressed them.

pressed flowers

Step 3: Add weight

It’s important for the flowers to be under intense pressure. It is not necessary to use an actual flower press, but if you use heavy books, add a brick or a cinder block to the top of the books for added weight.

pressed flowers

Step 4: Do not disturb your flowers for a full month

Yes, it’s tempting to see how they’re getting on. Opening the pages too soon causes the pressed flowers to wrinkle. The flowers might rip apart as you open the pages. Patience is a virtue.

After a month, your flowers should be ready. If you live in a very tropical climate and the humidity levels are high, you may choose to wait a little longer, just to be sure.

You will know your flowers are ready when they are hard and dry and perfectly preserved. Use tweezers to handle your flowers, they are incredibly delicate now.

pressed flowers

Gather them onto your greeting card

You can now arrange your flowers on your greeting card paper. Use clear-drying wood glue to secure them in place. Try to be creative with your arrangements and make patterns that wouldn’t naturally occur in nature, for a breathtaking result. Experiment and lay out all of your designs before you secure them.

pressed flowers

Too late to make your greeting card on time this year? Stock up on summer bulbs now for next year. Hadeco’s top choices for pressed flowers include Dahlias, Daylilies, Gladioli, and Irises. Visit our online to store which bulbs are available for ordering right now.

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Make a flower crown from home-grown flower bulbs

Maybe you have a special event coming up, or you love to get creative. Maybe you like to grow flowers and you’re looking for a fun way to wear them. Either way, a flower crown is a must-have for summer, especially if you have children in the family!

They grow their bulbs and nurse to flower their plants. They can also harvest them and turn them into beautiful festive flower crowns.

It is best to consider what your colour scheme will be before you start. Also, consider your style – do you love large flowers with more detail on certain areas of the crown, or do you prefer a narrow and delicate crown that’s balanced all the way around?

Choose your bulbs only after you have decided what colour and style you prefer for your flower crown.

These are our top flower crown bulbs and plants for a festive and beautiful fairy decoration for your hair.

Dahlia’s for a brighter flower crown

Dahlias are among the best flowers for flower crowns. They’re easy to grow which makes them a great choice for children. When we say Dahlias, we should perhaps be more specific, as ‘Dahlia’ is the name given to a genus that is diverse in colour, shape, size, and scent.

One of the most spectacular in the Dahlia range is the Dahlia Pom-Pon Lollypop, but whether it is practical for a flower crown depends on the shape you want. Its roundedness makes it suitable for flower crowns that require a little bulk to them. Dahlia Border Carola is equally marvellous without the roundness, making them easier to incorporate into a crown. The Dahlia Cactus Good Earth variety is reminiscent of an underwater sea creature or coral and is easily intertwined with a springy vine to form a crown.

Polianthes for a fairytale flower crown

Have you ever seen such a delicate and ethereal white flower? Polianthes look like little snowflakes that landed on the stem of a plant. They’re great additions to a flower crown because of their daintiness.  The popular variety “The Pearl” is a neutral white colour that complements any palette.

Daylilies: the centrepiece on your flower crown

Daylilies are also known as Hemerocallis. They’re called Daylilies because each flower only lasts one day (although the plants are very floriferous, and will ensure a lasting and rewarding flowering season). It may seem odd to include Daylilies in a flower crown. While the crown won’t last, a Daylily will add a bold and dramatic statement to the crown for one day. A flower crown does well with a centrepiece, especially if the centrepiece is near the side, behind the ear (centrepiece referring to the centre of attention rather than its position on the crown).

Zephyranthes for a delicate touch

These dainty trumpet-shaped flowers, Zephyranthes, are a delight. They’re available in delicate pinks or white, again, complementing the colours most commonly used for a flower crown. Accompany them with a few smaller flowers, like baby’s breath, for a feminine and fairy-like look. Zephyranthes are on long stems of around 30cm in height, which is the perfect attribute to make weaving it into a crown easy.

Flower crown and summer fun

Children of all ages can make a flower crown. Boys can make flower crowns too, incorporate more neutral colours and different sprigs of green. Leaves in different shapes and sizes work to make a masculine and pixie-like crown. You can dry out your flower crowns and keep hem forever, depending on the vine you choose to use for the base.

To keep your flower crown fresh for the day you make it, pop it in the fridge until just before you use it.

Our summer bulbs are available to buy now. Order them online for fast delivery from our website, or drop us a mail and we’ll contact you. Shop for summer bulbs now or get in touch.