Subscribe to our Growing Gardeners YouTube Channel

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Green Roofs

I stay on the top floor of a block of flats, and lately with the temperatures reaching 30-36 degrees Celsius, it has been really hot inside.

As the temperatures go up, on go the air-conditioners to try to keep us cool.

But what with the recent Eskom power failures and the need to reduce the amount of electricity used, I was thinking about how a country like South Africa could really benefit from using plants for insulation on roofs - "Green Roofs."

Provided its done properly, the savings on cooling and heating costs could be quite considerable.
The soil, and plant material act as a far more efficient method of insulation, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.

Other benefits of Green Roofs include:
  1. It could reduce the amount of surface water runoff
  2. An effective water filtration system
  3. Protection and extended life of the roofing membrane
  4. Improves the air quality in and around the building
  5. Green Roofs could improve the environment - attracting birds and butterflies
  6. Makes for an attractive looking roof - especially when viewed from above
  7. Harvesting of vegetables etc. for food
  8. Sound insulation
Some other sites that talk about green roofs are Soekershof and Urban Habitats

A more detailed look at Green Roofs can be found here.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Inspiration comes from anywhere

Inspiration for my gardens comes from anywhere and everywhere. My favourite way of getting ideas is by paging through landscaping books in my favourite book shop over a cup of filter coffee. Inspiration comes from other places as well - such as the gardens that I see all around me, including the natural 'gardens' in the abundant nature reserves in and around Durban.

But ideas come from more obscure places as well. Some of my best ideas have come from places like; children's toys, fonts, construction materials, fashion, architecture and art.

The design in this 'g' holds plenty of ideas and shapes for a garden. Place this shape over a plan of your garden , and see what new ideas can develop from it.

Its all just a matter of looking with different eyes...

If you are planning your garden, it is important to look at what you like about the gardens in your neighbourhood. But open your eyes to the ideas, shapes, textures and colours that you see outside of the garden, decide what you like about them, and whether there is something you can use in the design of your garden.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Indigenous Beauties : Helichrysum populifolium

Helichrysum populifolium
Poplar helichrysum

Helichrysum populifolium is an amazing plant which is also one of the largest Helichrysum. It grows to about 2m high, by 2m wide. Its leaves are large, soft and velvety, and are quite striking in the shady conditions in which it thrives.

It is found naturally on cliffs and forest margins often as a scrambler, but is quite rare. Its natural growth habit tends to sometimes look a bit messy, but pruning it lightly in winter keeps it looking neat.

It flowers in Autumn, and it's flowers are quite insignificant but abundant.
It is a fast growing shrub, and is ideal in rich, well draining, moist conditions.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Gracious Gardens

I spent the last couple of days at Baynesfield Estate. It is a gracious old house built in the 1800's, with a garden to match. It seems a shame that a house and garden with so much beauty and history is so unknown.

A gem like this should have a lot more visitors which would also bring in funds to maintain and improve the house and gardens.

Home Made Pest Control Solution(s)

I'm really not a big fan of pesticides or chemicals. Actually, that's putting it mildly...I hate pesticides. They are almost always ...