Gar­den­ing diva speaks at club talk

Talk of the Town - - Opinion -

AN IN­TRIGU­ING ar­ray of plants in the won­der­ful light-filled venue of the NG Dias Church greeted mem­bers and vis­i­tors at the meet­ing of the Port Al­fred Gar­den Club fea­tur­ing SA gar­den diva, Lizette Jonker, as the celebrity guest speaker on Tuesday.

“We try to get a celebrity speaker once a year,” chair­woman of the gar­den club com­mit­tee, Liesl Kleyn­hans said.

Good­ies given away in­cluded two free con­sul­ta­tions by Jonker, copies of Gar­den and Home mag­a­zine, seeds from May­ford, pink grass (gauras) from Elands Nursery for all par­tic­i­pants, free plants from Stander­wick Nursery on pre­sen­ta­tion of tick­ets to the event, gloves and gar­den­ing forks from Buco, as well as five big gauras for raf­fling.

Jonker, who de­scribed her­self as a “city girl” from Cen­tu­rion, said: “I will be talk­ing about lots of things you don’t know and don’t want to know, for ex­am­ple, roses.”

She asked the au­di­ence what other things they had tried be­fore and did not work.

The au­di­ence vol­un­teered hy­drangeas, proteas and le­mon trees which did not bear fruit and were sus­cep­ti­ble to scale and ants. Jonker said the prob­lem was not the ants, but the aphids which the ants milked. It is wrong to buy pes­ti­cides, as in this case ants are not the enemy, she said. They can pro­tect your gar­den, like wasps which eat aphids, she said.

“So don’t go inside for the can of Doom. Re­spect them, steer clear of them and let them do their job.” Jonker, who is a gar­den writer, pho­tog­ra­pher, ed­i­tor and pub­lisher, a land­scaper and an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor, sings so­prano and teaches singing in the af­ter­noon, at­tributes her colour­ful ca­reer to the me­dia in which she worked for 15 years since her first job as a food pho­tog­ra­pher.

“It’s all be­cause of the me­dia. They ex­pect you to do ev­ery­thing,” she said, and in­tro­duced her next topic with an anec­dote.

Once when she was tak­ing a pho­to­graph of a fa­mous gar­dener and his lily pond, the gar­dener said “Okay, how do you want it?” and picked up a pot of lilies and put it in the water.

“The blue indige­nous water lily is very easy to grow,” she said, “and can be grown all over South Africa”.

“You buy it in a plastic plot which you im­merse in water. The leaves and flow­ers will grow up and lie on the water’s sur­face.”

Get a large pot about hip height with­out a hole, fill with water and buy aer­at­ing grasses for fish tanks to oxy­genate the water. Let the water get nice and murky for three or four weeks, pinch­ing off spent flow­ers and leaves to keep it clean, but never clean­ing the water out.

Lilies die down in win­ter and re­main dor­mant in spring, so don’t as­sume you have killed your plant, she said. “Buy three gold­fish and let them feed off their own eco-sys­tem. They eat al­gae and mos­quito lar­vae, so they

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