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Featured Gardener | @Shani

Published on January 19th 2020
A close up of a flower
This year at Candide ZA, we have one very important focal point that drives everything that we do in 2020. Community. This is now each and every one of you that share in our interest and joy for everything gardening and plant-related.
One of the things we would like to start is a “Featured Gardener” series of our community members. Weeks fly by where we see these ‘stories’ unfold in the wonderful posts each and every one of you share and we decided it is time that we reach out to you and share these stories in a more formalised way so that others can share in the pleasure we receive from them.
We decided to kickstart this series with one from our very own team - @Shani shares her garden story and the garden adventure she has been on for the past two years. Read further to hear all about her garden and where her love for gardening started, and, if you would like to share your gardening story - please reach out to us (find more information below)!
"Gardening and plants have been a part of my life from as far back as my earliest memories."
I can’t imagine my life without plants, a garden or my mom trying to get me interested in Latin names when I was younger. Oh gosh, and how I was not interested in the latter at that stage in my life. As if I was going to remember those ridiculous names (me at around 16 I would guess).
Scenes from my grandfather's garden.
When I was young, we used to visit my grandfather living in the North West. He had the most incredible garden. Never have I seen anything like it. His plot was against a ‘koppie’ or hill and the terrain is quite rocky so he ended up laying out these beautiful rock gardens and rock paths and stairwells that trailed up into the hill. He had a very keen interest in Aloes and Cycads and collected them when my mother was very young through “Operasie Veldblom” when a lot of dams were made across South Africa. These rock gardens were filled with these Aloes and Cycads together with other beautiful plants and trees. We used to sit on his lawn, very early in the mornings, me on his lap, looking out over the garden and valley. I have very fond memories of him, his garden and all the time we spent in his garden and running around on his hand-made paths.
A small before and after section of my garden. As it currently stands, is much fuller already!
Naturally, my mom was the one that inherited my grandfather's interest in gardening and plants and so at our own home, I also have very fond memories of the garden, growing up in it, working with our gardener on Saturdays and generally always just playing outside. Funny enough though, the bug only really bit me when I was in my late 20’s, kind of in-between dreams, and the small patch of soil where we were living at the time became my escape and soon to be very keen interest...
Fast forward a few years and I now find myself sitting on my backdoor steps with my morning coffee, overlooking my garden and feeling immensely grateful and proud. In two years' time, we changed what used to be a very neglected, dry, sad piece of land which one can not call a garden into a young but lush haven. Might I add, also quite large in size, so the project is never-ending ;)
I don’t have a wealth of gardening knowledge but I've learned most of what I know from my mom over the years and then I also got one massive boost from the Candide community. I don’t think I generally have a specific style or preference at this stage, as I planted what I had, could propagate and could afford, but I do like lush green and grey foliage, and white flowers and I have a deep appreciation for indigenous! My garden is a combination of indigenous and exotic plants and it will probably never change. Who can resist a flowering Magnolia grandiflora or not have Eriocephalus africanus (Wild rosemary) in their garden?
A close up of a green Magnolia grandiflora plant with a white flower

Large - Flowered Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora

My indigenous sidewalk garden.
To date, I am most proud of my sidewalk garden. It was a horrible combination of grass, weeds and agapanthus when we moved in. I knew I wanted a low maintenance yet WILD garden so I borrowed some inspiration from the sidewalk gardens of Babylonstoren ;). Little did we know of how big the project will be due to all the soil preparation we had to do, but now, after just over a year’s growth, it’s one happy sight, indigenous - and I get to drive past it every day! Biggest bonus, it is completely dependent on rain, requires no maintenance except for the odd cut-back due to becoming too overgrown.
A gift from my mom - the African Dog Rose | Xylotheca kraussiana. One of the 26 trees we planted.
A few of my gardening successes thus far are the 26 trees we’ve planted over the past 1.5 years! Most of them were planted quite small, some a bit bigger - thanks to Themba Trees in Elgin - but the growth we’ve experienced from all of them makes me so happy. Just goes to show how important it is to dig a proper hole, with enough hummus, bonemeal, love and regular water. Here is a list of some of the trees I have in my garden:
Another gardening success is my spring/summer flowering bed where I started with Ranunculus bulbs and some mixed seeds I bought a few years back in San Francisco. I ended up saving all bulbs and seeds after my first year of planting them and then this year I had such success sowing them again. Few pictures below:
Naturally one also has a list of gardening woes! I managed to kill a few very rare plants like a Staghorn and Medinilla magnifica and have sworn to never again have string-of-pearls in my house :) Two small but very beautiful indigenous trees also died on me - think they were planted in the completely wrong spot. So yes, gardening is not always just happy moments - I’ve had a few very sad ones.
A Brazilian pepper tree in my garden full of old man's beard and tillandsias.
Last but not least, I also have a rather large collection of indoor plants, 36 to be exact! Some of my favourites are the Hoya carnosa plants hanging in my one bathroom, a few different Rhipsalis species and then obviously my Pilea peperomioides (which we dubbed the ‘pannekoek plantje’ as a friend from Holland brought it for me way before it became so popular).
I look forward to many more plant and gardening adventures that are yet to come, but most of all I look forward to sharing my garden with my kids!

We would really love to share your gardening stories, whether it’s only a few pots on a balcony that supplies a wealth of flavour to your cooking, or perhaps a beautiful inner-city haven. No matter how short or long your story might be, share it by contacting us at

Follow along with the hashtag #GardenStories

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