Gardening diva speaks at club talk
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