Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Flame lilies at the end of a year.

It is the end of the year and our rains have transformed the dry dust bowl of a garden to a lush green haven that requires constant mowing. In among the green lush grass and cycads are growing a selection of out Christmas flowers. the national flower - the Flame Lily. Happy new year to everyone and may 2009 be better!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The rains have come!

The rain has come at last. A pleasant change to the dry and dusty season we have just been through! With the rains cvome the weeds and with no gardener we spend our time weeding the vegetable garden and trying to keep the garden tidy.
This year we will plant vegetables in pots to save the extra work!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hidden away

I am always amazed as I walk around the garden what I find in hidden away. This little orchid was attached to a tree and flowering away quite happily with no care at all - except for perhaps a spray of water every now and again.

Walking around our garden is always a pleasure as one comes across the unexpected almost everyday.

This lovely lily came from the Zambezi Valley but seems to like our rockery.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ground Orchids

This orchid grows on our rockery. We give it no attention whatsoever but it flowers each year at this time - a great addition to the garden.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ammocharis coranica

This member of the Amaryllidaceae family normally grows in open areas in Acacia or mopane woodland on silty or alluvial soils and on flat ground. Here it grows in our rockery and seems completely at home. It can be found in both Zimbabwe and South Africa and usually grow in colonies - this one is one its own!

In Swaziland the charred bulbs are made into a tar like paste which is used for making head rings for Chiefs. and the paste is used in the north-eastern Transvaal for water proofing earthenware.
Surprising enough there are still a number around!
The flowers last for about three to four days and become pinker as time goes on. The outer flowers come out first and then the centre flowers so one gets a lovely bouquet by the second day - by the third the flowers are dying off.

Friday, November 7, 2008


This grows everywhere in our garden. it has been used by the indigenous people as a cure for cancer and for AIDS. It is a lovely plant - so very green and with wonderful bright yellow flowers. there are a number of varieties and it is sometimes called the African potato

Monday, November 3, 2008

Scadoxus multiflora

Known as the 'common fireball' this lovely plant flowers in October through to December. We are lucky enough to have this specimen in our garden.

Although widely spread throughout Africa it is usually only encountered in the wild.

It can be seen on the outcrops above the Victoria Falls.

We planted this specimen last year and it appears to like its spot on the rockery.

This one appears to have a good inflorescence - some plants only have about ten flowers in each clump.

The name is derived from Greek and means 'sharp umbel'.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lilies in the garden

There are beautiful indegenous lilies Zimbabwe. The one shown here we are yet to name. Fearing we might loose it we have planted in a pot and hope it will seed. Indigenous lilies grow well in the open ground so if this one survves we willplant it out and plant the seeds in the open grond. This is how it looks at this time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tree Wisteria

This beautiful tree has just finished flowering in our garden.
Bolusanthus speciosus is graceful and grows to 7 metres in height. When the flowers fall they form a carpet of purple on the grass below.
This tree was planted about 15 years ago from seed and has almost grown to its full height.
So much for indigenous trees being slow growing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dry gardens

Well ------ this is about it at the moment! We are waiting for the October/November rains. Not wanting to deplete the underground water we do not water the grass. It means more dust - but, hey, grass dies down in winter anyway - so why make it grow! It needs a rest!

Our vegetables have taken the brunt of the weather - but still produce a few tomatoes, peppers and the spinach, rhubarb and strawberries are fine. Dusty berries are coming on, as are raspberries. Our crop of guavas should be good and the mango trees are flowering - whether or not we will get any that ripen properly is yet to be seen however none will go to waste as I will stew them with some specially saved sugar and make puree for the coming year.

A lot of our vegetables will be planted in pots this year as we have no one to help in on our acre plus garden.

Seed is impossible to obtain but Alex has posted us some from SA - hope it arrives!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gardenia spatulifolia in flower!

Although spring as such does not exist in Zimbabwe - the transiton from cold to hot happening almost overnight - this time of year is full of flowering trees and shrubs.

One of my favourite trees is Gardenia spatulifolia - giving us an abundance of white waxy flowers that turn to yellow . The flowers are highly perfumed and the perfume can be sensed over the whole garden. The tree is this picture was planted by us about 12 years ago.

Friday, September 12, 2008


September is here and with it have come winds - not yet the heat we expect for this time of year. One wonders if the rainy season will appear on schedule but there was no rain around show time at the end of August and this is not a good sign.

Lack of water means that the vegetable garden is slow and not as productive as it should be. With constant power cuts and water cuts (no municipal water for three weeks and the borehole only operates when we have power!) water is almost out and we must wait for the rains to replant our lettuces and other vegetables.

Chillies and peppers have been planted but the germination rate has not been good.

Our avocado tree is producing well and mulberries and strawberries provide us with fruit. Our raspberries look like they may give us a good crop and the dusty berries are already starting to produce.

September is a slow month in our garden but we still mange to provide ourselves with something for the table.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Planting Your Vegetables

The end of August beginning of September is the time to plant vegetables.

One should remember that almost anytime in Southern Africa is the time to start a garden and flowers and vegetables flourish throughout the year.

In Zimbabwe one cannot divide the year into four seasons. The division is often indistinct between one season and another. There is the winter or cold season from mid-May to early August - the summer then takes us to November and the normal wet warm season from mid-November to early May.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July is here!

I have been very silent due to massive power cuts (yesterday 20 hours) and internet failure.

July is now cold and windy.

Our vegetable garden thrives but with over an achre and no help we are struggling. We cannot water as there is little water - sometimes at night we get a few hours - but who can get up in freezing cold weather and water?????

Our aloes look good and have flowered well desipte the adverse conditions.

Everything is very dry and brown at the moment. Hope we have more power and I can add to this blog later! Have to catch up on e-mail now!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gardening in May

The weather is getting colder and the grass is getting browner but the gardens still look good.

I am starting my herb garden again. Sadly I lost almost all of my 174 varieties due to drought and lack of care. My husband has been the gardener for a year - with no help. Keeping an acre of garden going when you have a job as well is not easy!

We now have a new gardener and already there is a difference - so the herb garden can go ahead!

What to plant? I already have a lot of the basics - a rosemary bush that has had to be pruned, parsley of course, oregano, lavender, green marjoram, rosella, black alexanders or lovage as some call it. My rocket and basil are still going strong but my sage needs replacing. I have lost all my thyme so that will have to go in. I have wild herbs as well - my favourite is wilde alse - good for flu, colds and fevers.

I will plant a half circle garden - in the middle there is already a tamerind tree and an elder tree.

There will be three rings - one for medicinal herbs, one for culinary plants and another for aromatics.

What else to plant now - well May is the month for beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cress, endive, kale, kohl rabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips.

Wish we could get all the seed. I have tried to obtain seed from South Africa but cannot find many South African companies that can provide the more exotic herb or vegetable seeds. Any ideas?

Hope to be able to post again soon - have had a month of 16 hour a day power cuts!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Today I am finally online again! Power shortages and internet outages are common place in Zimbabwe - the last two weeks have been very difficult.

Today we havested leeks - well worth the trouble growing your own as those bought in the supermarket are often tough and have little flavour. They are easy to grow and almost imune to pests or fungal deseases. They like rich deep soil!

Harvested,cleaned and cut I was able to vacumn pack and freeze seven packets for future use. nothing better than leek soup! The flavour and even just the smell of the home grown plant is wonderful! And don't forget the leaves.....they add flavour to soups and stews - just clean them well and chop - then freeze for instant flavour - use like chives.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Garden Jobs for April - Plant Stawberries

Plant strawberries now. They flourish in Zimbabwe. Always so expensive in the shops a few plants in your garden will keep you well supplied.

Obtain runners from good quality plants and plant out in rich well-drained soil. Water them regularly and when flowers form give food in the shape of liquid manure.

Before or as the fruit forms it is a good idea to place straw under the berries to keep the fruit off the soil. This also acts as a mulch to stop the soil drying out.

Fruit will be ready to gather from about September onwards.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cycads in a Zimbabwe Garden

Cycads were once one of the major components of the world's vegetation. They were grazed by dinosaurs and are today a modern living dinosaur of the plant world. Little appears to have changed in their make-up over the centuries that they have been in existence. Cycads are of the Encephalartos family. Zimbabwe boasts three cycad species, these being Encephalartos manikensis, E. concinnus and E.chimanimaniensis. The E. chimanimaniensis colony used to lie on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. However, those on the Zimbabwean side have now gone like so many indigenous plants in the area.

Cycads are poisonous to humans and livestock. Certain parts of the plant can be processed and then are edible.

Cycads are protected plants in most areas of the world and the same is true for Zimbabwe. Some years ago there was a registration process to register all cycads in private gardens - this seems to have been abandoned.

They are showy plants with on the whole, thick spiky leaves. The seeds grow in the centre of the plant in an orange cone. Very attractive!

Most cycads in gardens are hand pollinated but those in our garden have been left to their own resources and have seeded and propagated well.

Most cycads prefer full or filtered sun and well drained soils. Cycads grow well in Zimbabwe and are a great addition to your garden.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April Flowers

So April is upon us and with the cooler days perhaps a bit more energy.

Planting flowers to give our gardens colour is well spent time.

during Aopril in Zimbabwe plant the floowing:
Alyssum, Anemone, Arctotis, Calendendula, Candytuft, Canna, Cineraria, Clarkia, Coreopsis, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dimorphotheca, Eschscholtzia, Foxglove, Fuchsia, Gaillardia, Geum, Gypsophila, Helichrysum, Heuchera, Hunnemannia, Larkspur, Leptosyne, Linaria, Linum, Lupin, Matricaria, Michaelmas Daisy, Mignonette, Myosotis, Pansy, Pentstemon, Phlox, Plyanthus, Poppy, Pyrethrum, Ranunculus, Scabious, Schizanthus, Statice, Stocks, Sweet Pea, Sweet Pea, Viola, Violet.

Good planting

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Vegetables for April

During April you will need to transplant and thin out some of the plants in your vegetable garden. All those mentioned below can also be growen now from seed.

Broad Beans can be sown and take from 5 to 10 days to germinate
Beetroot can be growen in rows and those already in the ground thinned out
Cabbage seedlings can be Thinned out and new cabbages planted in seedbeds
Carrots can be grown and those already in the soil thinned out
Transplant your endive, kale and kohl rabi
Transplant or thin out lettuce
Broadcast mustard seed
Transplant onions
Thin out parsnips
Plant peas in rows
Plant potatoes
Plant radishes and remember they only take about 4 weeks to mature so don't plant too many at once
Spinich can be thinned or transplanted now
Thin out turnips

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Use of Water in Your Garden

So we have had a good rainy season....so what? This will now be followed by months of no or little rain leaving our gardens dry and parched.

Use of Municipal water is limited and often rationed and even with a borehole to rely upon one has to be careful.

I always feel that watering the verges outside ones house is a waste - as is watering large areas of grass inside one's property. Grass needs to die down naturally and be given a rest.

The most important things are to keep the vegetable garden going and save the most vulnerable of plants.

Watering with a hose pipe is wasteful and very hit and miss with some plants not getting enough water and others being drowned!

Sprays are the best method of getting water evenly distributed. Sink drums under stand pipes and collect water in watering cans for those small patches of flowers or other plants.

Plan your watering so each part of the garden gets its share.

Make small holes in the bottom of a plastic juice bottle and plant this with the neck protruding from the soil, near to bushes and plants that need water on a constant basis. Fill the bottle as needed and your plant will get the water it requires.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Fungus is this?

Every morning for the last week we have woken up to a display of these mushrooms on our front lawn. Mysteriously by 9 am they are gone!

I have identified it as Coprinus plicatilis or the Japanese umbrella. It is edible but the fungus is so delicate and there are so few of them appearing at a time that eating them would not be an option!

Flowers to Plant During March

Every garden should have some colour and planting a few flower beds will be most rewarding.

These flowers can be planted in Zimbabwe during March:
Alyssum, Anemone, Antirrhinum, Blue lace, Browallia, Calendula, Campanula, Candytuft, Canna, Cineraria, Clarkia, Coreopsis, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Eschscholtzia, Foxglove, Fushia, Gaillardia, Geum, Gypsophila, Helichrysum, Heuchera, Hunnemannia, Larkspur, Leptosyne, Linum, Lupin, Matricaria, Michaelmas daisey, Mignonette,Mina Lobata, Myosotis, Nemophilia, Pansy, Pentstemon, Phlox, Polyanthus, Poppy, Pyrethrum, Ranunculus, Scabious, Schizanthus, Statice, Stocks, Sweet pea, Sweet Sultan, Viola, Violet, White Lace.

With a list this long i am sure you will find something to suit your garden theme.

good planting!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vegetables to Plant in March

We are back on the vegetables! The following is a list of vegetables you can plant in Zimbabwe during March. It is important to stagger your plantings so that you do not have a glut of any one vegetable at a time but have variety throughout the year.

So in March plant:
Broad beans, Dwarf beans, Runner beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cress, Endive, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard, Onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Shallots, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnips.

Good vegetable gardening!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Growing Bananas

A small grove of banana trees will provide you with fruit for your family with very little work.

There are a number of varieties to choose from so ask your local nursery what they have in stock. I prefer the lady fingers and musa paradisica or plantain.

Place your plants in a frost free area of your garden and out of the prevailing wind. Bananas prefer well drained soils although rich humus loam is better than a lighter sandy soil. Suckers of 60 to 90 cm can be removed from mature plants and replanted.

The average banana reaches full maturity in 3 to 4 years. Bananas flourish best in conditions that are allow large amounts of nutrients. This enables the plant to produce maximum yields.

Allow a continual mulch around the plants and cut the stems at the base as soon as the bunches have been harvested - use them to mulch the plants.

The life of a banana tree is 5 to 7 years after which new planting should be made in most cases.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Avacado Pear Trees

An Avocado Tree in your garden will provide you with fruit year after year.

The tree can be started from a seed which is sprouted or a seedling can be bought from a nursery.

The trees prefer phosphates and potash - but a good organic compost will do just as well.
Cropping ususally occures in the third or fourth year after planting. but can take up to seven years!

Avocados like well drained loamy soils and do not do so well in clay or heavy soils.
Root rot can start even after ten years if the soil conditions are not liked by your tree. This is shown by the dying back of branches.

When plating make sure your hole is at least 120 cm square by 120 cm deep. Fill with goodd garden soil and compost. Water every three or four days until established and then water weekly.

Cover in mid may against possible frost in September or october the tree will start to grow very rapidly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Orchids in Zimbabwe

There are indigenous orchids in Zimbabwe and some of them in this web album are indigenous - some are not. They are however magnificent and I wanted to share them with you.
Orchids in Bloom in Harare

Roses do grow in Zimbabwe!

Even an almost indigenous garden needs some roses! I would be lost without mine - almost always in flower and blooms available for cutting. I always find that home grown roses last longer when cut than the bought ones!

During February one should water the roses as necessary - even if we have had above normal rainfall this year once the rain stops the roses need their moisture!

A thick mulch of well decayed animal manure ( your home made compost will do ) should be applied. Keep away from the plant stems.

This is the time to spray or dust, if you must, against blackspot.

Lightly dig in any old mulch if it has been compacted by the heavy rain.

Cut off any dead heads or dead wood to encourage new growth - happy rose growing!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Organic Gardening

Organic or not organic? How difficult is to make your garden an organic one? Not that difficult.

We started organic gardening some years ago and produce a mass of vegetables and garden plants with no fertilizers or insect sprays.

As long as one uses every bit of organic matter at hand from vegetable peelings to grass cuttings and other garden waste one can build up a compost pile in very little time - helped out by horse and other animal manures a rich natural substance is produced that can be forked around your plants. The taste of your vegetables and their size will reward you for all your efforts. By using your kitchen waste on the compost heap you do not have masses of smelly rubbish each week and you are using every bit of your vegetables by plowing back the parts you do not eat into the soil.

I will talk about companion planting to get rid of garden pests in another post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stapelias in Our Garden

Stapelias are small perennial leafless succulents. They are know commonly as the Carrion Plant due to the bad smelling flowers. They aattract blue bottles and can be seem buzzing around the open flowers. Gigantea - shown here - is the largest of the species and one of the largest flowers in the plant kingdom.

Despite the smell of the flowers this is an ideal rockery plant as they spread quickly and give colour in January and February in what can otherwise be a colourless season. Although not known to like water - we never water ours during the dry season - they seem to have taken to our heavy rains this year - so much so that we are having to thin them out!
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Barberton Daisies

Think of Barberton Daisies in Zimbabwe and think of Brian Terry whose magnificent plants have given pleasure to many Zimbabwean gardeners. His new varieties have always been colourful and hardy.

This is an easily grown, easily cultivated and prolific flower. Gerbera Jamesonii were originally all one shade - terracotta or bright brick. Today they have been breed and can be found as doubles and singles and are in many tones and colours from yellow to wine and even white. There are bi-colours and multi-colours.

They like a loose, open, gritty soil which should be well drained.

They can be grown from seed but the best and easiest method of propagation is root division.

It is wise to break them up every 18 months or so as the clumps become unmanageable and take too much out of the soil.

The leaves should be pinched off and a dressing of well rotted manure should be forked around the plants. Nip of any spent blooms to keep the plants healthy and flowering.

Space given in your garden to this hardy perennial will give you pleasure from the wonderful blooms that they produce.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Flame Lilies

The Flame lily or Gloriosa Superba and Gloriosa Virescens is the national flower of Zimbabwe. It is a brilliant addition to our gardens and comes in a variety of colours - there being over 52 classified varieties.

It muliplies slowly in its natural state and propigation is quite tricky. Now the last of the blooms will have died off and one must know how to look after the plants so that the plants will multiply and ensure blooms in the coming year.

Do not over water the plants! This is the best way to destroy them!

Flame Lilies can be propigated from seed but although this will produce a large number of plants it is a slow process.

Propigation by tuber is the best method as one tuber will produce one stem and two tubers per year.

The plants like partial shade. It will tolerate early morning and late afternoon sun. Filtered sunlight will produce good blooms and string stem structure.

If strong plants are required - water no more than once a week.
Once the plant has died down apply compost and continue to apply water once a week until the leaves and stems turn brown. Transplant between end July and beginning of November. Dig a hole 23 cm deep and place the tuber flat on the bottom of the hole. Add bone meal to the soil from the hole and fill the whole with this (75gr of bone meal should be enough). Level the soil.

Water once a week during the dry period. When a shoot appears as compost and work into the soil and then water once every three or four days until the plant appears to be well established.

Tubers may be left in the ground for up to eight years. Then lift and thin out or re position. New plants tend to come up each year about 30cm from the original planting position.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Plant for Winter


February is the latest for planting new citrus trees. What garden and household does not benifit from a lemon, orange or grapefruit tree? Citrus provides a valuable source of vitamin C and lemon and orange juice can be made easily at home from the fresh fruit.

Roses should also be planted at this time - again really the last month that is acceptable to enable them to flourish.

This is the time to plant potatoes and strawberries and that new avocado tree you want to put in the garden.

Dahlias will start to bloom and should be fed and staked.

If you are lucky enough to have bulbs to plant this is the time to do it.

hope you winter planting is a success!
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Flowers to Plant in February


A show of colourful flowers is always appreciated. If one does not have an indigenous garden then flowers from other parts of the world will probably be suitable. the following are suitable to plant in February:
Alyssum, Anemone, Antirrhinum, Browallia,Calendula, Campanula, Candytuft, canna, Cineraria, Clarkia, Coreopsis, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Eschscholtzia, Fozglove, Fushia, Gaillardia, Geum, Gypsophila, Helichrysum, hunnemannia, Larkspur, Leptosyne, Lupin, Matricaria, Michaelmas daisey, Mignonette, Mina Lobata, Myosotis, Nemophila, Pansy, Pentstemon, Phlox, Polyanthus, Poppy, Pyrethrum, Ranunculus, Scabious, Schizanthus, Statice, Stocvks, Sweet pea, Sweet Sultan, Viola, Violet, Wallflower.

Happy planting!
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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Vegetables in February - or how to beat the supermarket blues!

Planting Vegetables in February

With so little produce on the shelves we need to think about a vegetable garden to feed our family with good fresh produce throughout the year.

The following vegetables should be planted in february:
Asparagus, Broad Beans, Dwarf Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Clery, Cress, Endive, Kale or Spinach, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard, Onions, Parsley, Parnip, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Salsify, Shallots, Tomatoes.

Remember if you cannot get fertiliser - use compost - we only use compost and never chemicals on our vegetables.

All you need to do is to collect all your organic waste and set aside a place in the garden to make your compost with it. Anything from grass cuttings to vegetable peel will do. in no time at all your will be producing your own compost and growing an organic garden!

Till next time.
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