Start fresh again in your garden


By Karen Viljoen

What thoughts do you associate with a new beginning? I immediately think of the Lord’s grace and mercy which is new every morning. So he gives us another chance every day and that’s why I always have hope which brings me a lot of peace.

Many people will also think about starting new challenges, new school, job or place to live. Or finally a chance to start paying attention to your exercise program, eating habits or faith journey again. Starting new things makes you feel good and immediately gives you hope and courage for the future. Just as we plan new things for our lives at the beginning of each year, we can also find many joys and hopes when we begin to see the new potential and opportunities in our gardens and nature. Start each day anew with a wonder for nature, God’s creation. This way you will quickly feel closer to God and also fulfill His command, to care for His Creation

Maybe start this year differently. Make intentions regarding your garden and experience how the journey ultimately also automatically helps you achieve your other goals. Decisions in your garden are always rewarded, just think of the excitement and anticipation for the first sign of growth when you have planted seeds or bulbs. The wonder of a new flower bud opening, the first bird that comes to frolic in your bird bath. A new beginning also creates the opportunity for second chances, apply it in your garden and pamper and take care of that little plant that maybe just didn’t grow well.

Grab a brush and scrub the birdbath clean and fill it with new water. If you have a fountain in your garden, you can do the same with it. Also check that the pump’s filter is clean, because leaves and sludge can easily get stuck, which can cause problems later.

Gardening activities can also help you fulfill your intentions to exercise more. Spend a morning in a nursery, take a quick walk around and see what lesser-known plants are available. A few that I have come across include:

Bulbine abyssinica (wild copy)

A very easy going plant that doesn’t need a lot of care. It is native, perennial and evergreen and produces a beautiful spectacle of yellow flowers that attract bees and is also frost and drought resistant. The plant can flower all year round, can be divided once it is bigger and prefers full sun.

Evolvulus glomeratus (blue daze)

Another willing plant that needs little attention and produces a blue spectacle of flowers most of the year. It is exotic, evergreen and hardy and also prefers full sun. The blue flowers close as soon as it gets dark and can look beautiful when planted together with the Bulbine in a bed. Although it is a shrub, it grows more spread out than upright, so allow enough space around for future growth.

Salvia leucantha (Mexican sage)

This is a perennial, hardy plant that is evergreen and prefers full sun. I remember as a child how the velvety flower stems fascinated me. The flowers also attract many insects and birds and even look beautiful in a small vase in your home. The plant likes to be pruned back after the winter punishment, after which it forms new foliage again very quickly. It becomes a large bush of more or less 1 x 1.5m and looks beautiful when planted in masses.

If you are considering planting a new tree in your garden, check out the tree of the year for 2024. It is common karee (Searsia lancea) and mountain karee (Searsia leptodictya). Both trees are evergreen and hardy, fast growing, reach a height of about 5 to 8 m and bear very fine flowers which are followed by small, round fruits.

Raking, wheelbarrow pushing and mowing will go a long way in making exercise not feel like hard work. Your lawn will now grow strongly after the heat and lots of rain and will need mowing more often. Keep the height of your mower slightly higher (4 to 5 cm in sunny areas) to allow the grass’s leaves to protect the roots from the heat and sun. As the spring feeding is now used up, you can feed your lawn again and 7:1:3 fertilizer, which is slow releasing and high in nitrogen, would be ideal. Spread it evenly over the lawn and then water well.

Pruning plants stimulates new growth and also ensures a fresh start for them. Also prune off plants that flower dead flower buds, herbs will show lots of new growth after a good cut back and so will roses. Not as severe as after the winter, but at least enough to push one last floral splendor before the next season. Also give the rose plants a good dose of fertilizer and make sure the bugs are also kept in check. For fertilizer you can sprinkle 8:1:5 Rose & Flower and water well and Rosecare can help with troublesome bugs. Remember to always use insecticides as a last resort.

Your indoor plants also require attention and many can help to create a new, fresh feeling in your home. Cut off dead leaves, feed with a liquid fertilizer and clean the leaves of plants with special cloths (available at nurseries) or rinse the leaves with water.

A very common visitor in gardens these days is the leopard moth (Zerenopsis leopardine) which can cause a lot of damage to the new growth of breadfruit trees. The moth lays its eggs on the back of the leaf and the little worms that hatch can quickly cause damage to the leaves. The worms’ color and also taste frighten the birds and it is therefore necessary to intervene with insecticide. A systemic insecticide such as Cypermethrin will help, as will the spraying of Blue Death. It should be applied quickly and directly to the worms.

New life in your garden may mean that you adjust an existing bed, make it bigger or smaller, or buy a new pot with colorful plants. Consider giving areas on your lawn that may not grow as desired, a second chance with nutrition or with new stepping stones yourself. Start a new habit in your garden and take a leisurely walk through it every afternoon and pay attention to new flowers, new growth, seeds, fruit or a new welcome bug.

A new beginning can create many expectations in life, make sure that your expectations are grounded, thought out and realistic, in your life and so also in your garden. Tackle your new ideas piece by piece and remember to celebrate every joy.

Find a quiet place and put a chair there and do your spiritual enrichment in nature and in God’s creation. You will be surprised how fresh and new you will feel afterwards.

  • Karen Viljoen is a landscape architect.