Ernst van Jaarsveld talks trends and waterwise plants
Have a plant or a plant-related problem that’s puzzling you? Writer and horticulturist Ernst van Jaarsveld is sure to have the answer.
Ernst van Jaarsveld spent four decades as horticulturist at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, has penned several books, including Wonderful Waterwise Gardening, and is well known for gardening columns. Ernst works handin-hand-with nature and is currently creating a succulent garden on the farm Babylonstoren outside Franschhoek.
Are people more interested in watersaving gardens than when your book on the subject was first published 16 years ago? South Africa is very dry. This makes people look for ways to reduce their water needs. It’s noteworthy that many gardens today have smaller lawns than before. Gardeners also make greater use of organic and inorganic soil blankets.
Why should gardeners consider indigenous plants? Planting local indigenous plants benefits the environment. These plants are adapted to cope with the prevailing drought. Settling the plant is essential, but once it grows well, it gives you so much pleasure. Local animals, especially endemic birds, lizards and geckos, will be very happy in your garden. All these animals play a role in biological control. You’re doing your bit for nature conservation and your water bill will certainly come down too.
South Africa is a world in one country, with a lot of different habitats and climates. For far too long people have been planting any indigenous plant regardless of the region, with the result that many of the plants died. If we plant ecologically correctly – in other words, the right plants for each region – the plants are self-sufficient. So if you live in the Bushveld, you should establish a Bushveld garden. What are some of the latest gardening trends? Succulents are very popular and aloes are used increasingly, thanks especially to all the exciting new cultivars released each year. These plants immediately give a garden an indigenous feel. Ground covers, bulbs and pig’s ears (the Cotyledons) are also very popular. Natural rock gardens are built to create a habitat for beneficial lizards and geckos.
What are your five favourite waterwise plants? May I pick seven? • Thorn trees would certainly