Saturday, November 15, 2008

Container gardening with John

You’d think with my huge garden, I’d not bother with container or indoor gardening. The thing is, I have a large patio/courtyard. The entrance to the house is on the side (access is across the courtyard, where everyone parks) and I like to keep the whole area pretty and welcoming!

A few weeks ago, while visiting the nursery in a nearby town, I bought a dozen trays of Begonia plants. (Begonia semperflorens) These replaced the pansies (Viola tricolour) and primulas (Primula spp)which beautified my winter patio.

Later I wandered to my small front patio, which is never used, to check on the state of my container plants there. Woe is me! All that remained of my winter plantings were a few bedraggled vygies, (Portuluca spp) wilting in a dusty planter. (See photo below)

I called John, my one gardener, and he loaded this sorry example of a container garden onto the wheelbarrow and took it to the back of the house to implement some serious renovations. First we pulled out all the existing plants and tipped the soil into a garden bed. John washed the container and after placing a few sturdy rocks over the drainage holes, we added a couple of handfuls of stone chips followed by fresh potting soil. Then we walked around the garden together and collected suitable succulents for the container.

This is the part John really enjoys. I always have a hardcopy picture of what I want to create (this time I copied a container garden featured in a gardening magazine) or I’ll draw a picture using coloured pencil crayons (as a grandmother I always have crayons and felt-tipped pens in my house!) and black marker pens to illustrate my idea. John LOVES this. When we stop at bed with a plant which he sees in the picture, he gets very excited and says: “Hona, Mme?” (This one ma’am?) And I say, “Yes, let’s take that one out.” Often he spots something I would have missed and I tell him this; you can see he enoys being one up on Mme!

Here John poses proudly with the completed project. Later he added a few more plants; he'd asked the gardener next door for succulants he'd seen on my neighbour's pavement/sidewalk (see close-up photo above this one)
While planting the container up, John referred often to the magazine and reproduced the featured garden almost to the letter! Afterwards he posed for a photograph alongside his creation which has pride of place at the door to the house.


  1. Hi Jo, I'm back & just catching up on all your blog posts - so nice to see your gardener, John, & put a name to a face ! I also simply LOVED your post on the state of West African roads & overloaded vehicles - I can completely relate !
    Bye for now
    Lynda xx

  2. Love the planter, Jo, hope you'll show them again as they grow

  3. Hi Jo, John could be branching out as a garden designer after all your instruction!

  4. Hi Lynda, welcome back and thanks for popping in. I know you're busy; I really appreciate your "presence". John was a working in my garden when I arrived back in South Africa in mid-2006. He and I have "grown" together in this particular gardening time. I just knew you would relate to the West African traffic. Hugs Jo

  5. Thanks Toni, it is a difference from the winter container we carried from the front porch. Hugs Jo

  6. Yes, Peggy, John takes a keen interest in everything we do in the garden. He doesn't merely work because it's a job. Yesterday he and I were discussing a new birdcall. I knew it and was trying to explain it to him, imitating the call (also trying to find the words in his language pertaining to mother bird, brood parasite, etc. very difficult) As we stood and chatting in the garden, the bird called and I said: "there it is! He was thrilled and said "Awww, eeh" ( "Oh, yes...") I love sharing nature with anyone and it's unusual to share it with a local person. They generally only take notice of mammals, birds and other creatures if they can catch them and eat them! Out of necessity. Thanks for popping in. Hugs Jo

  7. You there, this is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information. Quality content is what always gets the visitors coming. gardening experiences


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo