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Aloe arborescens

(Krantz Aloe, Kransaalwyn)

This evergreen shrub is frost resistant and fast growing. It grows happily in the sun, shade or semi-shade. The lovely orange flowers open in winter and they attract birds and butterflies. This aloe makes a good thorny barrier and will thrive in a container. It is a wonderful medicinal plant and I’ve used the leaf sap successfully for an allergic reaction to Ornithogallum leaf sap. I cut the leaves in half, lengthwise and made them into bandages and they certainly did the trick. They are also used to treat Xray burns, burns and sunburn. Leaf decoctions are used during childbirth. It is also used by the Zulu as a sprinkling charm to protect against storms. The leaf sap is used to promote wound healing as it is anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and hypoglycaemic. The are numerous cancer cures using this leaf sap. Decoctions of the leaves are used in childbirth and to treat sick calves. In the Transkei it is used for stomach ache and given to prevent chickens from getting sick. One of our staff puts slices of the leaves in the birdbaths that our chickens drink from and her granny taught her that when she was little. This is the Aloe that was used in the Orient to treat irradiation burn victims of Hiroshima. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel.

Anisodontea classic cerise

(Pink Mallow)

This shrub flowered splendidly during one of our black frosts. It did not flinch, so I consider it top of my list of hardy plants. It is evergreen, very fast growing and fills a big space of at least 1m x 1m x 1m. Such an economical plant! It flowers all year and copes well in a drought. Plant it in the sun or semi shade and watch as it attracts butterflies and birds. The name originates from the Latin 'aniso'=unequal and 'odontos'=toothed which refers to the irregularly toothed leaves.

Barleria obtusa

(Bush Violet)

This evergreen shrub is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing in the sun, shade or semi-shade. The pale mauve trumpet shaped flowers occur in summer and autumn. They attract birds, the insect eaters as well as butterflies as it is the larval host plant for the Yellow, Brown and Blue Pansy butterfly. It is great for containers and it’s a low maintenance plant, other than an annual pruning at the end of winter. It is ideal for small gardens, but needs to be kept as a bush as I’ve seen ours scampering up the trees when left to their own devises!

Brillantaisia subulugurica

(Giant Salvia)

This large evergreen shrub grows to 2m x 2m and is very fast growing. It thrives in the semi-shade and produces beautiful and unusual purple flowers in Summer and is a show stopper when in flower. This shrub attracts butterflies and is perfect for frost free gardens. If it is hit by frost in winter it will need to be pruned after Winter. Named for Louis-Marie Brillantais-Marion, a 19th century French timber merchant who helped researchers and botanists get to Africa.

Elegia tectorum (Chondropetalum tectorum)

(Cape Thatching Reed)

This evergreen shrub is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. It gets a bit “leggie” if there is not enough sun. The dark brown flowers occur in summer. It is useful for wetlands and attractive if planted in a container. It is used for making brooms and for thatching roofs. It is ideal for small gardens but do make sure that you plant it with as little root disturbance as possible. I’ve seen it planted in front of a garden wall and the shadows it casts are quite enchanting.

Chrysanthemoides monilifera

(Bush Tick Berry)

This evergreen shrub is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. The leaves are browsed by game like the blue duiker and other antelope. The yellow flowers open in autumn and attract insect and fruit eating birds. It is the larval host to several moth and butterfly species like the Beaufort, Mooi River, Natal, Water and Common Opals and the delightfully named Jitterbug Daisy Copper. It is useful for informal hedging, screening and windbreaks. Withstands salt laden winds at the coast so is perfect to stabilize the dunes and to plant in a coastal garden.The fruits have a juicy, nutty flavour and are eaten by children, monkeys and birds and the juice of the fruit is used medicinally to strengthen the blood, for impotence, intestinal ailments, pimples and to treat fevers. The fruit is also added to porridge to give strength. The berries can be made into a jam or a cordial. The leaves are used as an enema for fevers. Leaves are considered to be toxic to stock. The leaves were also burnt and the ash was used to make soap. The ash is also added to water and left to steep over night, this is then splashed onto mildew, daily for 4 days. It was introduced to Australia where it has spread like wild fire and has now become one of their worst weeds.

Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora

(Purple Bells)

Purple Bells is an evergreen shrub which is fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. It grows to about 1.7m tall and has a spread of 1.5 meters. The beautiful violet flowers occur in summer and whenever I see them I wish that I could paint them accurately. The flowers are trumpet shaped and have purple blotches in the throat. They attract butterflies and it is the larval host plant for the Marbled Elf, Small Marbled Elf and the Gaika Blue butterflies. It would be pretty in a container or planted next to a water feature or pond. They are drought tolerant. We have used it successfully as a screen, a very beautiful one when it is in flower. Keep cutting the top few leaves and this will force the plant to send out new branches. I've seen it hedged and it responds well to pruning. It looks lovely at the back of a mixed bed and is pretty planted in the shade along with the Pistol Bush Duvernoia adhatodoides and the Forest Bell Bush Mackaya bella which has now been renamed Asystasia bella. The name is derived from the Greek dys=poorly and khoristos= separated. The stigma is only weakly bilobed.

Felicia amelloides variegata

(Variegated Felicia)

Evergreen groundcover that grows to 0.5 x 0.5. It has small ovate green leaves with cream margins and in summer it produces light blue flowers with yellow centres. This care free, dependable, evergreen, small shrub is well worth planting, especially in a townhouse garden. It grows to approximately 0.5 x 0.5 and spreads quickly. Flowering starts in spring and continues on and off all year. It is drought, frost and wind tolerant. An excellent groundcover for small gardens and it an ideal plant for hanging basket or containers. It attracts bees and butterflies. The name is derived from the Latin felix=happy which probably refers to the cheerful flowers.

Freylinia tropica

(Blue Honeybell Bush)

This low maintenance, highly versatile shrub always delivers. It is frost hardy and even survives a black frost. Water wise, evergreen, fast growing and accommodating as it does well in the full sun or semi shade. They are perfect for planting in the sun under newly planted trees that will grow and provide semi shade when they are fully grown. A wonderful choice for a wildlife friendly garden as they attract birds, insects and butterflies like the Brown Veined White and Eyed Pansy. It flowers blue or white all year and is therefore perfect for pots. A perfect choice for a townhouse garden as it doesn't get too big but does well as a screen to hide the neighbours. It responds well to pruning and forms a neat formal hedge which naturally grows to about 1.5 meters. You can happily cut it much shorter if you’d like a short hedge to edge your garden bed or demarcate an area. It grows naturally in high altitude, misty forest margins and river banks of the Waterberg and Limpopo mountains where it is a pioneer specie. Although it is Red Listed as rare it is not threatened.

Hypericum revolutum

(Curry Bush)

This multi-stemmed shrub or small tree is fast-growing, evergreen and grows to 3 m high and spreads about the same width. The stems have reddish brown, scaly bark and drooping branches. The evergreen plant's leaves release a curry-like smell when crushed and after rain. The fresh, green foliage and bright yellow flowers are reasons to have this delightful plant in your garden. Flowers are single and bright yellow, up to 50 mm in diameter. Flowering time is in summer and autumn. The fruit are reddish brown capsules enclosing the seeds. The wood of this plant is used as timber and for building material in some African countries. Medicinally, it is used to treat stomach ache and the leaves are cooked and strained to heal sores and VD, backache from kidney infections. It is said to be ‘nature's firebreak’, as it does not burn well and therefore protects forests. It can be planted in the full sun to semi shade, in well-drained soil and needs to be watered regularly. It would do well along a stream or near a water feature. A regular light pruning will to keep it neat. It can be used in containers, for mass planting as an informal hedge and as a pioneer plant. It deserves a place in any fragrant garden and it attract birds and bees. The name is derived from the Greek hyper=above, eikon= a figure, icon, image. From the ancient practice of placing flowers above an image to ward off evil spirits.

Hypoestes aristata

(Ribbon Bush)

An evergreen shrub which is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing. It will thrive in the sun, shade, or semi-shade. The white, pink or mauve flowers occur in autumn and attract birds, the insect eaters, as well as butterflies. It flowers profusely when nothing else is in flower and yet it is undemanding other than an annual pruning at the end of Winter. It is lovely for small gardens, especially if you get Hypoestes Little Pink. This fast-growing evergreen shrub grows to 1.5 m high. It produces soft, hairy leaves, and has attractive pink flowers borne in spike-like inflorescence. It requires very little attention. Ribbon bush is eaten as spinach in some areas, while traditionally the crushed leaves are used as a poultice for sore eyes. Roots are chewed for flu, coughs, colds, sore throats and breast diseases. The root bark is used to treat malaria. It also makes a good cut flower because it lasts well in water and it is an ideal plant for the containers. Bees, flies and other small insects visit the flowers in search of nectar or pollen, thus becoming a food source for insectivorous birds. This is one of the best nectar plants for the Swallowtail butterflies and it is the larval host to the Forest Beauty, Yellow, Brown and Blue Pansy butterflies and 1 moth specie. The name is derived from the Greek hypo= beneath and estia= house; referring to the way the bracts cover the calyx.

Jasminum multipartitum

(Starry Wild Jasmine)

This evergreen scrambler is water wise and is happy planted in the sun or semi shade. The fragrant white/pink flowers occur in spring and attract butterflies. This plant attracts birds - insect and nectar eaters and is also used for nesting sites. Plant it against a trellis on the patio where you will enjoy the fragrant flowers. It is ideal for small gardens to create a screen and is happy to be in a pot, but do provide lots of compost. It is used magically as a love charm. Mystically the dried flowers are used in love sachets, to attract wealth and encourage prophetic dreams. Fresh flowers are smelled to induce sleep. It is a larval host to the Cambridge Blue butterfly and 6 species of moths. The Hawk moths pollinate the flowers. Margaret Roberts suggested planting it up a twirley dryer to create a shady, sweetly scented spot to sit. She also suggested that the dried flowers make an excellent digestive tea. The flowers are also used in a vinegar bath. They are pushed into a bottle of vinegar and left in the sun for a week. It is then strained and 1 cup is added to bath water or used as a hair rinse. They also make a lovely pot-pourri. The name is derived from the Persian yasmin = a fragrant shrub.

Juncus krausii

(Matting Rush)

This perennial herb grows to a height of 1.5 m and grows in large colonies where it occurs naturally. Its leaves are tough, round and spine-tipped, and the sheath is shiny black. The purplish brown flowers appear between October and February and are topped by spine-tipped bracts. It can grow in many soil types ranging from sandy soils to clay provided there is enough water. It is also used to make traditional mats. The name is derived from the Latin jungere=to tie together, bind; referring to the ancient practice of using rushes to bind into ropes.

Justicia capensis

(Businessmans Bush)

An evergreen shrub that grows to about 1m high and 1m wide. It is very fast growing. Plant it in the sun or semi-shade. It produces marvelous mauve flowers in Summer and they attracts butterflies. It is traditionally used to attract business, or as a wash to improve one's chances of gaining employment and as a love charm. Named for James Justice ( 1698-1763) a horticulturist and writer. He introduced many new plants to Scotland and spent vast sums importing roots, seeds and trees. His passion was collecting tulips. His buying of plants brought him financial ruin and he had to sell his house and his garden. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Justicia petiolaris

(Blue Justcia)

This is a relatively fast-growing soft shrublet, growing to between 800 mm and 1 m high. Although each stem only bears a few flowers at a time, the total number is large and it gives a very attractive overall impression from December to April. In cultivation and good conditions this can last almost throughout the year. Flowers are mostly pink-purple, but may also be more blue-mauve in colour and they are followed by small capsules bearing seeds. The leaves are soft, oval-shaped and hairy and differ greatly in size on the same shrub. The plants tolerate a wide range of rainfall and climatic temperatures, and they grow better in full sun and look so much better if protected from wind. It prefers a semi-shaded spot. It will flourish if regularly watered. It also attracts butterflies and birds. Named for James Justice ( 1698-1763) a horticulturist and writer. He introduced many new plants to Scotland and spent vast sums importing roots, seeds and trees. His passion was collecting tulips. His buying of plants brought him financial ruin and he had to sell his house and his garden. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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