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CRYSTAL GARDENS

Adding Value To your Living and Working Experience

HOW TO CHANGE FROM FROM INORGANIC GARDENING TO ORGANIC GARDENING

Many gardeners desire to transition from gardening that involves use of chemical inputs to purely organic gardening.

Where the rubber meets the road is how to exactly go about it. Your garden will not be classified as organic if any chemicals in any form are used-no matter how selectively applied. It is better to transition to organic garden in one fell swoop and face of the resulting difficulties in one season rather than spread them over a number of seasons. While the basic techniques of sowing, planting and cropping as the same as for chemical gardening,, the main difference is the soil chemistry which affects growth mechanism and in the pest and disease control.. It is here that challenges will arise.

The natural cycle

Organic growing relies on the interaction of soil microorganism and other plants to convert organic fertilizer into suitable plant food. In chemical growing soluble fertilizers dissolve quickly into solution and are absorbed by the plant through the sap. When you extensively use chemical fertilizers on the soil, the end up killing off beneficial micro-organisms resulting into inability to convert the organic products into plant food.

Going Organic

Firstly feed the soil instead of the plant. Enrich your soil with plenty of organic matter like compost, manure, green manure or other organic alternatives. This will improve drainage and water holding capacity, creating a crumbly, oxygen rich medium that tiny roots can easily penetrate and create a home for countless soil organisms. From bacteria to earthworms they all live in harmony producing ideal conditions for plant growth. They also work on organic and mineral food sources –releasing them as and when needed. This way you grow a strong healthy plant . Transitioning If your soil has been subjected to chemical fertilizers without addition of organic manure, it will be lacking in life giving humus which replaces essential trace elements.

From an organic view the soil will not be in a good fertile condition. It is scientifically proven that healthy plants are more resistant to pests and diseases. During the first year of transition therefore emphasis must be laid on raising the soil health to a level to produce these more resistant plants. This can be achieved by addition of organic matter to produce the correct soil structure and the feeding of the soil with organic fertilizers such as sea weed products.

In an organic garden, emphasis is laid on control of pests by natural predators. Obviously in plots where chemicals have been used, it is likely the predators as well as the pests will have been killed since chemicals are not selective. For a while the plants will be highly vulnerable, until the soil fertility has been raised and predator populations have re-established themselves. To attract predators grow plants to which these organisms are attracted. You can also leave part of the garden fallow to serve as breeding and shelter space for the predators.

Planting

Three to four weeks prior to planting, apply a dressing of 250g/m of calcified sea weed and rake it into the surface of the soil. Calcified sea weed is used as it reacts faster than sea weed meal even though it doesn’t contain nitrogen. For soil deficient in nitrogen , dried blood, fish or bone will be needed. Calcified sea weed releases its nutrients over a period so a single dressing is adequate. However for uniform growth throught the season spray a foliar mix of liquid seaweed.

During the growing period of plants, add organic matter to the soil in the form of mulch. These could include; grass cuttings, well-rotted compost or animal manure. Place about 4 sheets of newspapers between the rows of plants or around shrubs and bushes to act as weed suppressants. Then cover this with 3-4 inches of 8-10cm layer of mulch. This will rejuvenate the soil life and by the end of the season will have broken down and enriched the top later of the soil with organic matter.

Pest control

In the first control of pests and diseases will mostly rely on vigilance. And the acceptance of non-toxic products until a natural pest resistance is reached. At onset of trouble take action to minimize widespread break out. A few pests can soon become an infestation. Any diseased plant or wood must be cut off immediately. And in buying seeds, get certified seeds and plants to avoid importing trouble into your garden. In gardening the sign of one pest may not necessarily be the cause. Aunts can be possibly the cause of an aphid attack.

Generally nontoxic control to the gardener include use of soaps, companion planting and natural predators. Sometimes the only way to save a crop is to prevent please outbreak in the first place. Carrots should not be planted in some areas without protection from carrot root fly. Meanwhile in the garden the best way to protect the crop is to build a physical barrier to prevent the fly from reaching the plant. This is also true for rabbits, pigeons and deer.

Organic gardening is most cherished from the vegetable aspect due to the health food concerns. Once you adapt to organic gardening, you will become aware of the holistic gardening experience where the garden is transformed into a living community. You then become aware that not everything that crawl or moves in the garden is an enemy. While birds can be destructive, they can also be of great benefit and the little damage they do may be a small price to pay for their presence

Friends In the Garden

Birds –eat aphids, insects

Centipedes- feed on mites, insects slugs

Frogs and toads-Feed on slugs insects, wood lice caterpillar, flies

Ground bettle- Feed on insects, eggs eelworms and larvae

Hedgehog –Eats slugs and mice Hoverfly-its larvae feeds on aphids Lacewing-larvae feeds on aphids

Ladybird-adult and young feeds on aphids Spiders-webs catch aphids and other insects

HOW TO GROW LAVENDER IN YOUR GARDEN 

 

Among the most useful plants in gardening is the lavender. Besides being a much cherished herb with a culinary reputation, lavender is applicable in a variety of uses within the garden.

However to efficiently apply lavender in your garden it is important to know which variety is suitable for whatever design function you wish to achieve. This beloved shrub has over 25 species and many more cultivars.

 

 Choosing Lavender

If your desire is have lavender  for clipping into low neat hedges in small gardens, go for small varieties  like the Spanish  lavender or French lavender (L. dentatta)

Spanish lavender (L.stoechas)

It is a compact bushy shrub,  with linear-grey-green leaves ,long fragrant dark purple flowers. The spikes are dense, ovoid, oblong spikes.

French lavender (L.dentatta)

Spreading bushy shrub  with linear oblong, scalloped dark green leaves. It has long unbranched stalks that produce dense spikes.

For bigger, robust borders, pyramid or ball- use strong growing tall varieties like English lavender (L. angustifolia) and Dutch lavender. Of course neat compact hedges with flat tops and straight lines sustained trimming is needed. Naturally   with such trimming you will not het flowers. In a natural free flowing garden your lavender may be more relaxed and probably even overflow into the path.

L. angustifolia

Compact bush shrub with linear grey -green leaves. Its long branched stalks produce fragrant, pale to deep purple flowers in dense spikes.

One key advantage is their hardiness. Originally from the dry, sunny and rocky regions of N. Africa, Asia, India and Canary Island lavenders are drought tolerant and therefore useful for water wise garden.

How to Grow your lavender Hedge

Lavender is an easy plant to propagate. Rather than purchase tens of lavenders plants for a hedge at a princely sum, you can propagate your plants in a quick and easy manner from one bush or cutting from a friend.

Here is how to do it

  1. Choose a healthy bush or shrub that has non flowering spikes. Cut off the 5-10 cm pieces of spikes. 
  2. Remove all leaves that are at the lower side that would be underneath the soil.
  3. Make a potting mix from free draining  top soil mixed with sand and place in a container
  4. Insert the pieces of sticks into the soil and firm them up.
  5. Water lightly. Keep moist in a warm sunny place.
  6. As soon as slips have rooted move them to individual container full of rich soil mix.
  7. Transplant as soon as roots start showing through holes

 

Pruning

How often should lavender hedge be pruned? Regular pruning or clipping is desirable, as if left untamed, lavender will become woody and bare of foliage at the base. Once a lavender becomes leggy, new flower buds rarely emerge from the old wood.

Lavender is best pruned after flowering. Cut it back by 1/3 and see it flower in the next 4-5 weeks.

 

Soil mix

Grow lavender in moderately fertile well drained soil in full sun. Lavenders are ideal for wildlife gardening. The flagrant tubular flowers have a very high nectar content which attracts bees.

 

Pests and diseases

Lavenders are susceptible to   honey fungus, Froghoppers, and grey mold (Botrytis).

 

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HOW TO GROW FRUIT TREES

There was a time fruit trees were in vogue. Then landscapers, facing space constraints, opted for the now common one or two fruit trees stacked in a corner of the property.

But now, thanks to improvement in plant propagation techniques, growing fruits is now trendy again. Even with small urban plots, varieties exist that can fit even the smallest of spaces –including pots.

 

How to grow fruit trees

With fruits you kill two birds with one stone. Not only are fruit trees a beautiful addition to your landscape, but they will supply you with bountiful fresh fruits. And nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction when you pluck sun ripened juicy fruits grown by your own hand.

All you need to grow fruits is a good understanding of the climate of your area, and space available for fruit growing. Most fruits require a sunny position and well drained soils. Paw paws, Mangoes, and Bananas are hot season fruits .They thrive well in hot areas.

On the other hands deciduous trees like peaches, apples, pears apricots plums and nectarines do very well in cold areas of Limuru and Nyandarua.

 

Size of space

Space is a major consideration when selecting fruit trees especially in urban landscapes. For small spaces go for dwarf and semi dwarf varieties. The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has done tremendous work in development of fast maturing an small sized trees that can grow even in containers on your balcony. In contrast, the standard fruit tree grows to 25-30 feet (7-9 m tall). Even though the latter have plentiful of fruits, they require a sizeable yard

Variety

If there is one thing you need to know about your fruit tree, is whether it is self-pollinating or it has to have similar trees in the neighborhood for pollination to occur. It is not always easy to tell if a tree is self-pollinating. At the nursery ask questions about pollination. If not check your locality to see if similar trees exist that may pollinate your trees.

Planting fruit trees

Once you brought your fruit tree home, plant it out just like you would for any tree. Space the trees amply to encourage enough air circulation. This prevents emergence of fungal diseases that thrive ibn damp environments. Again, crowding the trees causes them to shade each other-resulting into low fruit yield.

For grafted trees like mangoes, apples and peaches, always ensure the grafting joint is above the ground. Placing it in the soil will have the mother stock sprouting and making amess of your efforts. Always ensure that the soil level at planting is at the same point as it was in the bag. Tree stems when inserted in the soil start rotting away eventually leading to tree death.

Mulching

Mulching is essential for fruit trees. The trees main roots occur in the top 30-40cm range of the soil. In this area, roots from weeds and other plants compete for water and nutrients. A mulch of fir bark, moss or shells will act as an attractive covering to protect or inhibit weed growth, keeping moisture in and heat out. Always spread your mulch within drip line and away from the tree’s base.

Feeding

A healthy vibrant tree will give you abundant fruits. Feed your tree with organic compost or manure. A fruit tree needs strong roots that will support heavy foliage and fruits.  Remember on average, 12000 leaves feed one fruit. A fruit tree also needs to be strong enough to resist pest and diseases that alter fruit taste and reduce harvest. You can boost your organic feeding by addition of 3:3:2 fertilizers. This implies the fertilizer has 3 parts of nitrogen to foster leaf growth, 3 parts of  in phosphorous for  root growth and 2 parts of potassium for  flower, fruit formation and strong stem cell structure .Potassium also helps in resistance to pests and diseases.

Watering

 

New trees will need more watering than established ones. Newly planted trees should be watered deeply once a week. In the cold season watering should be twice a month. Occasionally it may be necessary to dig down the soil using a small trowel to see how well the water has penetrated.

Pruning Fruit trees

Left alone, a tree will not produce wonderful fruits. They need to be managed to reap the maximum harvest and quality. Fruit trees require pruning to provide new year growth-upon which new fruit will form. Prune using the semi pyramid system that does not expose the tree to sun burn. Peaches, apples, cherries and plums require little pruning. Pruning is one aspect where you may seek help the first time you need to do it.

Thinning fruit trees

Once your trees start loading fruits, you may need to thin them out . Too much fruit may overload the tree resulting in feeding stress and resultant poor quality fruit. I have also seen tree branches brought down by the weight of fruits. Keep your fruits about to 1 fruit for every 12 cm   length of fruit bearing shoots. Apples, plums and apricots need twice the amount for every 12 cm.

 

Harvesting Fruit trees

When the fruits of your labour are ready, you can use simple harvesting techniques. You will need a straw basket or a net.

For low hanging fruits on mangoes and apples simply pick them off and drop in the basket.  You can also gently shake the trees to have the fruits drop into the basket.

For high level fruits, a net held by two other people will do. As you shake the fruit tree, the net is held spread out underneath the branch. Fruits drop right into the net.

 

Pruning off the fruit is another way to harvest fruits. Simply cut off the fruit using secateurs.

You can also twist and pull off each fruit for pomegranates which are hard to come off the tree.

Once the fruit harvesting is done, inspect each fruit for bruises, pests or rot. Discard the bad ones into the compost heap.

 

In harvesting your fruits, don’t be selfish. Leave some for birds and other foraging organisms.

 

Succulents In Your Garden

Why are people obsessed with succulents? One reader recently posed on Quora.

There can be no better explanation for Succulent’s popularity among gardeners than this question.  Succulent lovers tend to go overboard with their love for this group of plants.  Before I even knew what succulents are, I had already come across Succulenta Society Of Kenya.  In virtually all media forums hundreds of groups exist dedicated to succulents alone.

 

What are succulents?

Succulents are plants characterized by thick, fleshy, leaves, stems or roots that store water. They occur in a range of habitats from deserts, semi deserts, cold alpine climates to semi temperate and subtropical climates to rainforests.

                      Echeheveria destetiana       Aloe arborescens                             Kalanchoe thysiflora         Cabrobotus acinaformis

Succulents are loosely grouped as stem succulents, leaf succulents or root succulents.

Stem succulents

This group consists mainly of cacti. They have swollen, moisture retaining stems that can be columnar, oval or spherical in shape. Some are pendent (hanging), climbing or tree like in habit.   

Cactii originate in North, Central or South America. They have areoles, their unique growing points which are shielded by spines. Most cacti lack foliage which limits water loss. An exception is pereskia which does have leaves. On the stems of cacti will be found longitudinally arranged ribs. These ribs expand and contract depending on water volume in the stems.  From the areoles, new growth, flowers and spines emerge. Modified cactus spines are actually leaves-reared as radials along the edge of the areoles or centrals-from the centre of the areoles.

They condense moisture which drops to the base of the plant’s roots.

Other cacti like Melacactus have a cephalium. This is a terminal head like woody structure.  The cephalium produces wooly spines and flowers-which stop any more vegetative growth.  Some cacti genera have a lateral cephalium which allows growth in height to continue. Such a cephalium is referred to as pseudocephalium.

 

Leaf Succulents

You can tell a leaf succulent just by looking. The leaves are fleshy,waxy or gloss in texture . They are also varied in shape although many of the leaves are small.

Leaf succulents have adapted to their environment in a number of ways.

  1. Leaves have a limited number of pores to lessen water loss through transpiration. They also remain closed during the day.
  2. Many species have opaque areas at the tip of the leaves. This helps to diffuse sun’s rays
  3. Leaves have water storage tissues which swell and shrink depending on their water content. During severe drought, the leaves will drop away.
  4. Many succulents have their leaves forming tight rossettes borne on short stems. This minimizes moisture loss from the soil beneath the plant and the plant itself.

 

Root Succulents

In harsh climates or areas of poor and thin soils root succulents will be found. With swollen roots hidden below the ground. Root succulents develop from a normal root system but some emerge from tubers. When good conditions prevail, many root succulents will have their stem or root emerge.

Caudiciform succulents

Certain species like adenium, euphorbia and pachypodium have a roots stock that may grow to a larger size emerging above ground to form rounded slightly flattened, bottle shaped or tree like growth. This is known as a caudex. The caudex is swollen base formed at the junction of root and stem above ground.

 

Succulents In Your Garden

In the garden succulents can be applied in a variety of ways. Locally succulents are popular as rock gardens and xeriscape gardens. They provide unique forms and shapes that make rock gardens a prized garden feature in urban landscape.

Succulents also make spectacular indoor displays. Planted in containers and grouped artistically, succulents’ flowers, foliage and unusual form, make for eye-catching display on patios, terraces and balconies.

 

Cultivation requirements for succulents

Outdoors observe minimum temperatures of 10c. In containers use potting soil consisting of 2 parts composts, 2 parts grit/pumice and  slow release fertilizer, in full sun.  Humidity should be at the lowest although rain forest epiphytes require high humidity. You don’t need to water your succulents but apply slow-release fertilizer.

 

How to propagate succents

Succulents are easily propagated through division, seed, root attached to it, stem cutting and leaf cutting.

Divide the root stock into section ensuring that each section does have a root attached to it. This should be done on clump forming species as soon as new growth emerges. This will have each divided part with new healthy shoot, roots or bud

The leaf cutting involves cutting off a leaf like or columnar cacti into a length of 5-10 cm each with a potting mixture of peat and sand and placed in indirect light above 21C .

Seeds sowed should be sown in standard seed compost. Cover with twice their depth and kept moist in indirect sunlight. Once they germinate introduce lighter and air. Dumping off can be a problem so it is advisable to apply fungicides. Pick out large seedlings and transplant.

 

Stem Cuttings

Simply cut stems into sections 5-10 cm long Insert them into a potting mix.

 

PRUNING YOUR PLANTS

Pruning is the removal by trimming or cutting off parts of a plant that are old, dead, diseased or not needed for a plants growth, or whose continuous presence can be injurious to the plants health.

Reasons for pruning

Why do we prune plants?

Plants are pruned to maintain good health.  If a plant becomes too dense or bushy, it is likely that air circulation within the shrub will be lacking. This forms dark, damp spaces that encourage pests and diseases.

In the course of growth some plant parts become diseased or die off. These are removed during pruning so the plant doesn’t waste energy sending food to dead parts. Pruning is also done to encourage growth of vigorous bushy growth. A plant that looks lethargic can be reenergized with a heavy pruning that spurs fresh new growth. Strong young growth is desirable for production of quality flowers and fruits.

How to prune a plant

When you want to prune, first assess the overall shape of the plant. Start off by cutting down any diseased, dead, dry or damaged wood. This will promote good health.

Second cut off any inward facing branches. Branches are supposed to grow out, not into each other. Inward facing branches create a dense, dark environment which fosters diseases and pests. Ideally a plant should grow out like a glass-narrow at the bottom and widening at the top with space for air circulation within the foliage.

Keep in mind that a healthy plant, when pruned harder grows back more vigorously. Similarly if you prune, lightly the regrowth will be limited.

Principles of pruning

Plants are pruned principally to achieve there purposes; format the plant, restrict its growth or renovate/renew the plant.

Formative pruning

Formative pruning is done in order produce a sturdy plant with well-balanced framework. It aims to have well-spaced branches for air and light to reach the whole plant. Shrubs like Hibiscus require light formative pruning to ensure balanced growth. If you have deciduous plants, the right time to prune them is either at or soon after planting when they are dormant.

At the onset you can train your young shrubs to have a balanced framework. Cut back severely, and then select 4 branches that are evenly spaced to form the new framework. Remove all the other branches.

Note that not all plants require formative pruning. 

 

Restrictive pruning

Restrictive pruning is done to prevent a plant from encroaching on to a space it is not supposed to occupy. While it is always good to allocate a plant in a space it will fit, it is not always possible to know the eventual size of a plant. Restrictive pruning tends to be more severe so that the plant does not regrow fast to cause the same problem. Like in all pruning strive for a balanced well-spaced open framework.

Renovation/renewal pruning

For old plants or shrubs that produce new growth   from the base or from old wood, they can be rejuvenated by hard pruning. Overgrown shrubs too benefit from renewal pruning as a drastic cut down to 30-45 cm above the ground spurs new formative growth. Pick 4 healthy shoots that will sprout from each stem to produce a new framework. Cut out the rest.

Sometimes it is better to stagger the pruning over two years so that the place does not remain bare.

Whatever reason you have to prune, always make sure your tools are clean and the blades sharp. Blunt tools make ragged cuts that take long to heal and can be potential entry points for infections. Secateurs are best deployed for cutting small branches of up to 1 cm diameter. For larger branches use pruning saws to avoid crushing plant tissue.

 

MUST HAVE SHRUBS FOR YOUR GARDEN

 

Whether large or small no garden should be without shrubs. And never mind the space you have; balcony, porch or  rooftop-shrubs will serve you right. Even if you are not colour crazy, surely a little bloom can raise your moods.

Shrubs look good all the year round, giving you uniformity, colour, contrast and longevity because they are perennial. Besides they create a sense of vitality and flow in your garden.

 

Acalypha                                      Eranthamum                                     Brenia

Brunfelsia                                         Bougainvillea                                  Hibiscus

 

 

What are shrubs?

Shrubs are woody plants that ordinarily start branching from the base. Shrubs differ from trees in that while the later usually are single stemmed; a shrub has several stems arising from or near the ground level. On average, most shrubs will not grow more than 5 m in height.

What to consider when choosing shrubs?

Conditions at your place

Does your place receive ample sun or is it dappled shade? In urban areas what may appear sunny, in the morning soon turns into a shaded garden in the evening, thanks to adjacent apartments at the back. If you know the amount of sunlight your garden receives you can then select appropriate plants that will fit. Some shrubs require full sun; others can flourish in semi shade. In general plants with variegated foliage survive semi shade conditions .


Colour-

Start with your favourite colour.  Shrub colour can be due to the flowers they give or the colouration of the foliage. Since you already know the light conditions at your site, look for plants that give your favourite  colour but suitable for your grounds.  This colour could be in form of attractive, striking foliage or flowers.

Growth Habits

Some shrubs like Hibiscus if left unattended will grow into big bushes.  A majority of the shrubs and Cultivars on the other hand attain smaller stature. Meanwhile most will lend themselves to being potted.

 

Management

Do you have time to attend to your plants? Roses need round the clock pruning, deadheading, spraying and feeding. Others like Croton not so much.

Some Shrubs worth having-;

1 .Hibiscus

 Who has not encountered the glory of hibiscus?

Hibiscus are hardy shrubs  that occur on stream sides, moist woodlands and dry  rocky sites in  subtropical, tropical and warm temperate regions. Their range of colour is diverse; red, yellow pink, white, purple and blue. Their flowers are showy and long lasting - the reason for their enduring popularity. Funnel shaped, the flowers can be solitary or clustered. 

Where to plant: Grow your hibiscus in a mixed border in a sunny place or dedicated shrub border or pot. You can also insert them within the lawn or use them as a hedge

With over 200 species, the choice can be difficult to make.  The most popular though is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Hawaiian hibiscus, Rose of china, Chinese hibiscus). It is evergreen, bushy with glossy dark green leaves and gives  5 petaled  bright crimson  white, yellow or orange  solitary flowers.

Hibiscus can be prone to aphids, mealy bugs and white flies but these are rarely a serious issue.

 

2. Codiaeum (Croton)

Commonly known as Croton.  Crotons are euphorbias   occurring only in   6 species that are found in Malaysia and E. pacific. Their attractive often variegated leaves are deeply lobed and leathery. Crotons actually produce tiny star shaped yellow flowers, but these are overshadowed by their showy brightly coloured leaves.

Growing tips: Grows well in humus rich soil either in full sun or partial shade.  If your croton is dropping leaves, it’s probably due to draughts and fluctuating temperatures. Scale insects and red spider mites can be a problem.

Where to Grow: Use the as specimen plants in the lawn, as hedges, or in pots.

 

3.  Roses

The ever ubiquitous rose is a flower for the ages. Some rose varieties have been in cultivation for centuries. Roses are found on the four continents of Europe, Asia, North America                                                 and North Africa. Roses have attractive flowers that come in a range of colours

Where to grow: You can grow roses as standards, in a shrub or mixed border or simply go rose crazy and have a dedicated rose bed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Better still use your roses as climbers to garland your pergola, pillars, tree or walls. Whatever you apply your roses to, there is an added benefit; cut flowers for your vases. Indeed apart from their remarkable flower colours, roses are cherished as cut flowers garlanding offices, ballrooms, occasions and as symbols of compliments.

4. Sanchezia nobilis

A nice bushy shrub with glossy dark leaves with yellow, ivory or white banded midribs and main veins. It bears yellow flowers with red bracts. It originates from Peru and Ecuador.

Sanchezia brightens up a dull shade area owing to its dramatically contrasting leaf colour.

Where to Plant: The best spot is a place with dappled shade or full sun with midday shade. Use it in a border with other foliage plants.  

5. Acalypha

Another arresting marvel of a beauty. Though acalyphas give flowers, it is their leaf colours that are the prize. Acalpha’s alternate   leaves are simple and toothed, oval to ovate. The flowers are tiny and petal-less. They are borne in terminal or auxiliary catkin –like racemes and  are mostly small and less prominent. In some species though they can be large and brightly coloured.

Growing tips. Grow in full sun or partial shade. The soil should humus rich moist but well drained.

Where to Plant. Grow acalypha as a hedge, as specimen plants or in a border with other foliage plants.

6. Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea has small flowers surrounded by 3 colourful petal- like bracts. More often it is the colour of the bracts that you will notice from afar.  It consists of 14 species of evergreen trees, shrubs and thorny climbers from South America. However there are   many cultivars of bougainvillea as plant breeders keep developing new varieties.

Growing tips

  Bougainvillea’s popularity hinges on its hardiness. It literally thrives on neglect, and in the tropics you have to keep cutting it back. Grow in full sun in well drained soil. Root from semi ripe cuttings.

Where to Plant.  Bougainvillea is useful as a hedge, Standards, pot plant or as a specimen plant. Popular as driveway plantings.

7. Euphorbia leucocephala(Snow mountain/snow Flake)

You may actually think this plant is perpetually in flower but it is the white bracts that give this illusion as they enclose  greenish-white flowers not so visible from a distance. With white bracts and white flowers, is it any wonder that its name leucocephala means white head.

Growing tips. It prefers full sun and well drained soils. The more light they get the denser and more beautiful they become. No major diseases or pests of note.

Where to plant. It is ideal as a rear plant in a mixed border or a stand alone specimen plant providing contrast and consistent colour.

Note that the milk sap can be skin irritant so wear gloves while pruning.

 

8. Breynia Disticha (Ice Cream Bush)

 

Breynia  are grown for their small, simple, flattened and  delightful oval foliage that grow on wiry red-tinged stem. Evolving leaf colours start off as mottled pink, fading to white before turning light green. The species also has green-white variety. The flowers are insiginificant.

Growing tips . Requires full sun and well composted soil. In the semi shade or dappled shade. Frost tender so Nyahururu and Kinangop may not be suitable.

Where to plant Use in a border or help light up a shaded area.

Breynias are originally from Pacific islands, Asia and Australia.

 

9. Eranthemum(Pseuderanthemum)

 Forget about the leggy, foliage scarce eranthemums you see in nurseries and gardens. If you care   for this plant well, you will have thick showy shrub.

 They are cultivated for their beautiful tubular flowers. The leaves are prominently veined.

Where to plant : Grow in fertile, moist but well drained soil in full sun or shaded border.

Eranthemum  is occurs naturally  in forest and scrub  in  tropical Asia.

 

10. Brunfelsia pauciflora

Commonly known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow due to its evergreen nature. It has leathery, glossy deep green leaves. The wavy-margined flowers open purple and age almost to white.

Its scent is heavenly and gets more pronounced at night.

Growing tips: It grows well in full sun in a well-drained soil

Where to plant: It serves well as hedge, border planting or a specimen plant within the lawn.

11. Gardenia grandiflora (.syn G.jasminoides, G.augusta)common gardenia

Gardenia has fragrant and showy flowers. It is a medium to large shrub with lance, elliptic or ovate shaped, glossy deep green leaves. The flowers are strongly fragrant, going from white to ivory.

Growing tip: Requires full sun

Where to plant: Good for border or as specimen plants. Gardenias also form good hedges.

12.  Viburnum

Many variants of viburnum exist. Viburnum are grown for their foliage, fruits and flowers. The flowers may be fragrant-white or cream, pink or pink-flushed.

Growing tip: Grow in full sun or partial shade in well-drained soil. Viburnums tolerate hard pruning.

Where to plant: Viburnums are ideal for shrub border or woodland garden. Against the wall, many thrive well.

13.Ixora

Ixora are grown for their large vibrantly coloured, scented –four petalled salverform flowers. They occur naturally in tropical woodlands and mountains up to 3000m as evergreen shrubs.

Growing tips: They grow best in warm, humid climates. Keep them in shade in hot places and shelter from strong winds.

Where to plant: Grow in a shrub border or as free standing specimens.

 

14.Cestrum elagans

Locally known as “Queen of the Night”. It is a loved shrub due their tubular or funnel shaped flowers and the strong scent emitted at night. They also give red or purple berries ideal as food for wildlife.

Where to plant:  Grow in a sheltered border or against a sunny wall.

Cestrums are from Mexico, Central and South America.

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