Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Trends in Gardening - South Africa in 2015

As the new year starts, we all think of doing something new in our gardens... but often don't know where to start. While fashions may come and go, there are many inspiring, perennial ideas out there to get you going.

One of the most important gardening trends I noticed all through 2014 was the incorporation of edible gardens in designs - either within existing bedding - amongst the ornamental plants, or in separate raised beds. This trend is set to continue into the future, as we choose to grow more and buy less of our food.

Below are some very simple, but effective ideas for raised beds, courtesy of Doug Hall on the website:

Visit this great website for more info and inspiration.

Cinderblock Retainers

Sandbag Retainers

Woven Willow Retainers

Planks and Rebar Retainers
Photo credits (above): Paterick Montero

Stained Wood Retainers
Photo credit (above): Victoria Skoglund - from the website:

And if space is constrained, consider something like this Tiered Plank garden below, found on the website,

Tiered Plank Retainers - Small Spaces

Photo credit (above):

Thursday, 6 November 2014

How Sustainable is Your Space?

Design, and the implementation of design, should also be sustainable. This is the foundation Petrichor Studio in Port Elizabeth is built on. Sustainable design endeavours to use resources which are 100% renewable and/or reusable; it has a minimal impact on the environment, and it also unites people with natural environments.

All waste, such as discarded items, has an impact on the environment, no matter how eco-friendly. Therefore, our waste can be significantly reduced by using sustainable design principles, and changing the way activities are conducted. It doesn’t mean doing without, but rather doing it differently. For example, before you send that old, but well made couch to landfill, consider a different approach – recycle it and have it reupholstered instead.

These principles can and should be applied to all aspects of design, including the design of gardens and interiors. Good design of, and within, these spaces should always enhance the lives of those who dwell within them, be they people or wildlife. This can only really be achieved when a space is well designed, and the values of sustainable design are adhered to.

Michelle Hatherly of Petrichor Studio is especially experienced in sustainable design and implementation of sustainable design for gardens and interiors, using materials which are sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-effective. A well planned space, fit for its purpose, will be easier to maintain and hence will use fewer resources in doing so.

Many designers waste valuable resources by discarding perfectly good items instead of renovating them. This can often be the case when clients (and designers) are focused solely on impressing other people, by constantly replacing decor, furnishings and gardens unnecessarily - all at great cost financially, and to the earth’s dwindling resources. They misguidedly subscribe to the ‘all new’ philosophy when designing or renovating spaces, filling them with fashionable, characterless objects and furniture, which date quickly. All of us need to take more responsibility in using fewer resources in our daily lives.

Beautiful, well designed spaces can be enhanced by using items which have a history. Something which has been given a new life, often at a fraction of the cost of a new item, will add more value to a space; especially if it was a well-designed, well-made piece to begin with.

The primary goal of Petrichor Studio, therefore, is to help those who want great design, but also care about saving money, resources and our planet. Petrichor Studio is all about creating and encouraging the sustainable design and decoration of gardens and interiors - services which are unique in Port Elizabeth.

All blog Images: Copyright Michelle Hatherly, Petrichor Studio.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Inside the Petrichor Studio online Store this May...

Petrichor Studio recently opened an Online Store which "stocks" a selection of home and garden ware. All the items available in the Store are from local South African designers and artists, and they're all being stocked because they are eco-friendly and/or handmade and/or indigenous waterwise plants...

Click here to shop in the Store... 
Ordering is simple and payment is secure. 

Below are some pics and info showing a small sample of what's in Store for you...

Cape Town Cushion Cover - Handmade by Me

This black and white 'Cape Town' cushion cover, measuring 500mm x 500mm, was designed and made by Handmade by Me in Cape Town. It features an old South African etching from the 1800's. It's also made with eco-friendly dyes printed both sides onto lasting 100% cotton twill.
Other designs from Handmade by Me are also available in the Store...

Humming Bird Cushion Cover - Touchee Feelee

The pretty 'Humming Bird' cushion cover is also printed and handmade locally by designer Touchee Feelee. Using natural inks, it's heat cured for durability, and the ink penetrates the cotton/linen fabric fibres. It's dimensions are 500mm x 500mm.  See the website for more cushion cover designs by Touchee Feelee.

Pop Decor Screen - Sunset Beach Studio

Sunset Beach Studio in Gordon's Bay, produces many different genres of art and design and undertakes commissions. These stunning decor screens are handmade and hand painted to order and there are 6 different designs available on the website, all either double or single sided. The dimensions are 3 panels each of 600mm x 1800mm, giving a finished screen of 1800mm x 1800mm. See them in Store.

Striking Strelizias Wallpaper - Handmade by Me

Handmade by Me also make a lovely range of wallpapers which are sold per m², or custom sizes, on application. The paper is textured-finished and is easy to apply to walls. Other finishes available include vinyl and special splash back finish for wet areas. Quotes are requested for special finishes. More designs can be viewed here.

Mellow Out Soy Body Massage Candle - In Time Promotions

This Soy body massage candle handmade by In Time Promotions, is presented in a frosted glass tumbler. 100% all natural, biodegradable soybean wax has been combined with 100% pure essential oils. Carrier Oils  are Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Avocado Oil. This massage candle contains no lead, dyes or added chemicals, and the wick is 100% cotton. No waxy film is left on the skin when used. Essential oils used are: Lavender, Geranium, Lemongrass & Pine, to Restore Balance & Harmony. Go on spoil yourself... there are 3 other 'flavours' in the store, too.

Clivia miniata - Petrichor Studio

Indigenous bulbs available in the Petrichor Studio Store have been grown from seed by me at Petrichor Studio. These bulbs are popular world-wide, and are waterwise, growing into clump-forming perennial plants. Flowering in spring, Clivias are wonderful mass planted in dappled shade or deep shade. Keep them well mulched. They also grow well in large containers if maintained. The inflorescence is orange or red. The fruit remain green for many months before turning red.

Clivia miniata fruit

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Why planting in the autumn months is often more beneficial to plants...

Ever wondered when’s the best time of year to plant indigenous trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials in South Africa? Many gardeners will say spring...

However, as a gardener, designer and horticulturalist with many years of practical experience, I have found that the cooler autumn months are generally far superior to springtime when planting out many types of indigenous plant. This also applies to relocating most existing indigenous trees and shrubs in the garden. If left to plant out in spring, these plants often don’t become established until the end of summer. This is especially so now with climate change a reality - summers are generally just getting hotter.

By autumn, the extreme heat of summer is normally over, as the days begin to shorten and the nights become longer and cooler. Newly planted or relocated plants will usually thrive if they are planted in the autumn months, as they will have plenty of time to establish their root systems before the onset of summer again. Autumn rain will also benefit these new or relocated plantings.

Dietes bicolor - Yellow wild iris

Obviously, there are some basics which should be followed, when planting and relocating during autumn: 

New plants 
  •  If there is little chance of frost in winter, such as in the coastal areas, most new plants can be put in the ground during autumn. 
  •  In areas which experience some frost, frost-sensitive autumn plantings should be protected if frost is looming. 
  •  Frost-sensitive plants should not be planted out in autumn if they don’t normally grow in very cold, frosty climates.
Relocating existing plants 
  •  If the plant is very large and well-established, some trenching around the plant (in its original position) during the previous spring and summer months will need to be done to minimise the root ball. This helps prevent the plant from experiencing any unnecessary stress when being transplanted.
  • If the plant normally flowers in autumn or winter, rather wait until spring to move it.
  • The notes about frost-hardiness given above also apply to relocating existing plants. 
  • Prune back about 15% to 20% of existing leaf/branch material on shrubs and herbaceous perennials only, so that the plant’s energy goes into new root formation. Trees should not be pruned back unless absolutely necessary.

Plumbago auriculata - Cape leadwort
If all goes to plan, autumn plantings will be well established and growing new shoots and leaves when the sap starts to rise at the end of winter.

You may have noticed that many nurseries really only ‘stock up’ with trees and shrubs in the spring and summer months, which sometimes makes it difficult to find plants for autumn planting. If they don’t mind staying in bags for about six months, keep your spring-bought trees and shrubs until the autumn months, then plant them out and see the difference.

Scadoxus puniceus - Paintbrush lily