Garden Fair promises many delights

Cape Town - The countdown has begun. In nine weeks, the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society will host its 39th Annual Plant Fair at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

It is to take place at Kirstenbosch Stone Cottages on the corner of Rhodes and Kirstenbosch Drive on Saturday, April 12 (9am to 3pm), and Sunday, April 13 (9am to 1pm).

The compact, shade-loving silver spurflower grows in light shade, dappled shade, semi-shade or deep shade, on a shady veranda or indoors.  Picture: ALICE NOTTEN, KIRSTENBOSCHGrow the spectacular fireball lily in semi-shade, dappled shade or full shade.  Picture: MONIQUE MCQUILLAN, KIRSTENBOSCHYoung plants of the white aerva are fast-growing but take about a year to establish. They are seen here with the rock sage succulent (Thorncroftia). Picture: ALICE NOTTEN, KIRSTENBOSCHThe Golden Pagoda. Picture: ALICE NOTTEN, KIRSTENBOSCHFan aloes are ideal for rockeries that dont get hot afternoon sun. Picture: ALICE NOTTEN, KIRSTENBOSCH

This year’s theme is Nourishing Bees and Nurturing Chameleons.

The Kirstenbosch branch of the Botanical Society has called on gardeners across the Peninsula to consider joining the fair as exhibitors, and to take a stand for the two days. If you are a beekeeper, plant grower or other business or individual with products that might be related to the theme, you are invited to sell your wares.

Primarily a fundraiser for Kirstenbosch, the Botanical Society’s (Botsoc) Plant Fair aims to popularise the conservation of indigenous plants through horticulture. The event attracted more than 2 600 visitors last year.

It is a wonderful family outing, with good food and entertainment.

Not surprisingly, conservation and education exhibits will feature prominently.

A demo garden will be developed with the theme of bees and chameleons, workshops and talks will be run throughout the event, and the Botanical Society will have a variety of environmentally friendly garden-related products for sale.

There will be a strong presence of related environmental NGOs and BotSoc-Sanbi partnership initiatives like Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew) and Fabulous plants.

One of the most exciting aspects of the plant fair is the range of cutting edge, very special indigenous plants which are being specially grown for sale at the fair.

Here is a glimpse of the exciting, rare, and in some cases, “red listed as vulnerable” indigenous plants that will be available at the fair, and can be added to your garden:

The golden pagoda occurs at only two localities on the Gamkaberg and Perdeberg, near Herold.

It is red listed as vulnerable, meaning it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Grow the golden pagoda in a warm, sunny position, preferably on a slope, in well-drained acidic soil.

It will do well in sandy or clay soils, provided it is well-drained and is well-suited to sunny rockeries, retaining walls, fynbos and Mediterranean water-wise gardens.

White aerva is a herbaceous perennial with graceful stems to 750mm, topped with masses of tiny flowers packed into spikes that hang like strange woolly worms, from December to May.

Grow white aerva in fertile garden soil in a sunny spot with plenty of water during spring and summer. Aerva goes dormant in winter when the plants should be cut back to ground level.

It is Red Listed as Vulnerable, meaning it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild.

The Port St Johns impatiens is a soft perennial to 1m, with large delicate orchid-like pink flowers that float like butterflies above its large, dark green leaves, in early to mid-summer. It is deciduous, going dormant in winter and surviving due to its tuberous red roots.

The fireball lily is deciduous with large soft spreading leaves during summer. In late summer (December- March) it produces a large, spherical flowerhead made up of about 200 bright orange-red flowers. The flowerheads are 25cm in diameter on plants 110cm high. The Fireball lily grows wild in forests, forest margins, savannah woodland and on shady river banks from the Eastern Cape northwards into tropical Africa. This plant is toxic to grazing stock.

Grow in light shade, dappled shade, semi-shade or deep shade, or on a shady veranda or indoors. It is easy to grow and easy to root from cuttings, but short-lived and should be renewed regularly to keep it vigorous.

The Tygerberg spiderhead used to grow on the sandy flats between Kuils River and Firgrove but is now extinct in the wild.

Grow groups of three Tygerberg spiderheads in well-drained, sandy, acidic soil in a sunny, well-ventilated position. It is ideal for rockeries, retaining walls, embankments and large containers.

This plant is relatively short lived, and should be replaced every few years. Propagate by seeds or cuttings.