Warm winter greetings from The Compost Heap!


Welcome to this, the first edition of gardening articles in The Scenic South, where we will look at a myriad of topics relating to all matters green, gardens and the great outdoors.


So, why The Compost Heap? Well let’s look at what you get from compost…. Bugs, beetles, worms, caterpillars, spiders, wood lice and so on….. and, of course, all the organic enrichment you need to create great gardens.


Admittedly, the creepy crawlies may creep you out a bit, but they are an integral part of the creation of compost and this is what you get…..

–          Soil conditioning,

–          Increased water and nutrient absorption and retention,

–          Better aeration,

–          Better nutrient absorption

–          And just a little bit of inherent nutrient value..


Therefore, in these regular articles you will be able to glean a whole lot of useful gardening tips and ideas.


Admit it! … We are still just creatures of habit with certain basic animal instincts no matter how far we have removed ourselves from the natural world. Winter would normally be a time of withdrawal or hibernating. We don’t want to get out a do things and would rather choose a quiet snooze on the couch in front of the TV or big log fire. However, winter is the perfect time to address all your gardening issues… especially revamping, redesigning, shuffling plants around, splitting, pruning and creating new areas of interest.


Ok, so you have never really contemplated what really goes into a good garden layout. The great thing is that it isn’t rocket science!! ANYONE can get it right! So, you think you don’t have an artistic bone in your body….. That too, is a misnomer; we are all created to be creators! Without going down a whole spiritual and philosophical avenue just consider what we create…


We create interesting buildings, tools, machines, vehicles and space craft. What about sketches, paintings and sculptures? …and great meals, music and poetry?.. and, then, of course, there’s mother natures all time favourite, more people!!.

While this is true we must also realize that we create negative things too, such as, waste products, war and destruction, problems and so forth- These we usually achieve without any conscious thought.


The flip side of the coin shows us that not everyone is a great world famous chef, or painter or architect and they all take more effort than creating negative results. We have also been governed by social pressures and what others will think, negative emotions that have possibly been instilled in us since childhood – “You will never make a good artist” or “you make that violin sound like a murdered cat!” Enough negative reinforcement or lack of exposure and encouragement will naturally lead us to believe that “I Cant…!”, and “ I’m a hopeless artists” or “what I know about cooking is dangerous!”


Did you know that Garden design has its origins more than 7000 years ago! That’s a long time for us to perfect an art. With guidance and a little bit of detachment from what your friends might think or what you think are norms and rules you will discover that you also have the ability to create great gardens.


So then, what constitutes a good garden? Have you ever seen two nice gardens but one has a little “something” extra? Just like that great guy or girl that you met at the checkout counter- he or she has something you can’t quite describe- let’s call it “IT”- well that garden also has “IT”.

Kirstenbosch, well-designed, has that IT!. Photo: Viv of Scenic South

Kirstenbosch, well-designed, has that IT!. Photo: Viv of Scenic South

If someone told you what “IT” was, then you would be able to manipulate your not-so-nice garden and give it “IT”. The chances are that a really nice garden has been properly planned and designed. The different elements in the garden work together as a single unit or composition.


WHY DESIGN?- proper designing will allow you to play with a variety of ideas and to visualize your

garden before you spend money on it and feel remorse when it does look as good as you   anticipated.

–          Plants and garden accessories can be quite expensive so at least make sure your design has a budget plan and costing. Expensive mistakes can be avoided.

–          In a world where we have an infinite number of choices it is often difficult to choose only one and so we end up buying what we like- and before your know it your garden looks like a fruit salad!

–          Designing allows one to achieve a sense of order or peace or control in the garden.

–          It will make your friends and family envious of your new found abilities.

–          Ultimately the time and effort spent on your garden design and the implementation thereof will pay dividends by increasing the value of the property and/or making your property more saleable.


In the next issue we will look at some of the elements of Garden design.

See you in the Compost Heap!


Ken Wainman – Horticulturist, Landscaper and facilitator with 20 years experience.



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