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Zantedeschia aethiopica

(White Arum Lily, Pig's Lily)

Commonly called 'Pig's Lily' as the tubers were boiled and fed to the pigs. The leaves are also cooked as a pot herb, then braised with onions and chilli. A much loved evergreen groundcover which is fast growing in the shade or semi-shade. The large white flowers occur in spring and they attract birds and butterflies. There’s a multitude of uses for this much loved flower, either in wetlands, near water features or in containers. It has medicinal uses as the warmed leaves are used on sores, boils, insect bites, for gout and rheumatism. Leaf, root and stem extracts show antibiotic properties.The leaves produce a yellow dye.

Veltheimia bracteata

(Bush Lily)

These beautiful flowers look a bit like an Aloe. They stand about 50cm tall and are a striking pink-red in colour. They are deciduous during mid-summer. These are shade loving bulbs growing naturally in the coastal forests of the Eastern Cape. They are happy growing in a pot on a patio.

Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Green Goddess'

(Green Arum)

This is a deciduous Arum that grows to about 1 m tall. It has dark green lance shaped leaves and the flowers are also large and open in spring. They are streaked with green and are very graceful in a flower arrangement. They grow in moist conditions in semi shade and will thrive on the water’s edge or even submerged in the water. The sap may cause skin irritations. The flowers are suitable for the vase.

Thunbergia natalensis

(Natal Bluebell)

A deciduous shrub that grows to 1,2m x 90cm. This fast growing shrub prefers a lightly shaded position under trees and forms an attractive and dense shrub. The slightly hairy leaves of the Natal Bluebell shelter attractive tubular blue to blue mauve flowers, each with a white to yellow throat. Brides traditionally take a remedy prepared from this plant to guarantee a happy marriage. The stems of the plant are eaten by the long tailed tree mouse. It prefers moist conditions, so water well in summer or plant alongside a dam or water feature where its roots can reach some of the excess moisture. It attracts butterflies.

Schotia brachypetala

(Weeping Boerbean)

This large, handsome deciduous tree is drought resistant and relatively frost resistant. In warm areas it is evergreen. It is found in riverine forests. It is water wise and grows in the sun, shade or semi-shade. The stunning rich, deep red flowers open in spring and summer and they attract birds, the insect, fruit and nectar eaters. It is also used for nesting sites and attracts butterflies. The bark is traditionally used to make sangoma's red dye and the seeds are roasted and eaten. It’s a magical tree and is used to ward off evil. It’s a show stopper when in flower but do remember that it drops nectar on parked cars, hence the common name!

Tecoma capensis

(Cape Honeysuckle)

Fast growing, evergreen shrub that copes well with drought conditions. It can grow to 2m and responds well to pruning. There are many colours available now from yellow, orange, salmon, pink and red and they flower from spring through summer. It also attracts the sunbirds, insect eaters and butterflies. I’ve seen it pruned into a formal hedge. You may need to cut it back slightly in spring if the frost has caught the tips during the winter. It also has medicinal uses and the bark infusions are used for fever, pain and sleeplessness. The nursing mothers wear a necklace of pieces of stem. Eve Palmer said in A Gardener's Year "...it doesn't care a button for heat, cold or drought, and is beautiful and fast".

Rotheca myricoides (was Clerodendrum myricoides)

(Blue Cats Whiskers)

This is an evergreen to deciduous small tree/shrub depending on the environment. Ours in our cold garden are deciduous. It is not fussy requiring full sun, shade or semi-shade. It produces blue to purple flowers in Spring and Summer, which are very beautiful. It is a lovely, shrubby tree for an informal border and is also an ideal plant for containers as it can be pruned to any shape of choice. It attracts birds and butterflies. The dark purple variety is called Clerodendrum Ugandens.

Scadoxus puniceus

(Paintbrush)

This deciduous bulb is rare and worth trying to track down. It has huge orange flowers that last for about 4 months during summer. The bright red seeds then fill the space and are quite eye-catching. As it is deciduous one doesn't have to worry about it during a frosty winter. It prefers a very shady garden and even does well indoors.

Pteris dentata

(Toothed Brake)

A very attractive fern which forms a clump of bright green fronds that are finely dissected and lacy. It is an evergreen groundcover that grows about 1m x 1m and it is a very fast growing. It is suitable for a moist wetland garden and it thrives in shade or semi-shade. An ideal plant for containers provided they are in the shade and kept well watered.

Rumohra adiantiformis

(Knysna Fern)

The glossy, light green, leathery fronds of the Knysna fern are coarsely toothed and roughly triangular in shape. The attractive foliage lasts well in a vase and is often used in flower arrangements. It is also exported for this purpose. This striking and beautiful fern is perfect for that shady spot in the water garden, near a water feature or a stream. It an ideal plant for a container on a patio but do water it regularly if not planted in a wetland garden in order to have a happy fern.

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