Indigenous Gardening - South Africa
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Indigenous Gardening - South Africa Document Transcript

  • 1. P. O. Box 991 Ifafi 0260 +2782 801 1741 (cell) +2712 259 1423(fax) wildflowernursery@vodamail.co.za Indigenous gardening elements Indigenous gardening – what do we mean?In  this  article,  the  origin  of  indigenous  plants  suitable  for  gardening  purposes  in  the  Highveld  area  will  be  discussed.  The  idea  is  quite  simple  –  use  plants  in  your  garden  that  occurs  in  Southern  Africa  that  is  adapted  to  the  local  conditions.  Ideally,  one  should  use  endemic  plants,  that  is,  plants  that  occur  naturally  in  the  surrounding  areas.  In  this  regard,  we  really  live  in  an  extraordinary  and  exciting  environment.  To  understand  the  implications  from  a  gardening  perspective  more  clearly,  let  me  introduce  the  concept  of  Biomes.   Biomes in South AfricaA  biome  is  defined  as  an  area  where  the  vegetation  is  fairly  uniform  and  adapted  to  that  particular  environment.  Most  of  us  have  a  natural  “feeling”  for  this  –  we  talk  about  the  Bushveld,  the  Karoo  and  Fynbos  etc.  Let  us  look  briefly  at  some  of  these  plant  communities  or  biomes.  The  Grassland  Biome  is  found  chiefly  on  the  high  central  plateau  of  South  Africa,  and  the  inland  areas  of  KwaZuluNatal  and  the  Eastern  Cape.  The  topography  is  mainly  flat  and  rolling,  but  includes  the  escarpment  itself.  Altitude  varies  from  near  sea  level  to  2  850  m  above  sea  level.    In  the  grasslands,  trees  are  virtually  absent,  except  in  a  few  localized  habitats.  Bulbs  and  other  plants  with  an  underground  rootstock  are  often  abundant.  Frosts,  fire  and  grazing  maintain  the  grass  dominance  and  prevent  the  establishment  of  trees.    The  Grassland  Biome  is  considered  to  have  an  extremely  high  biodiversity,  second  only  to  the  Fynbos  Biome.  Rare  plants  are  often  found  in  the  grasslands,  especially  in  the  
  • 2. escarpment  area.  Most  of  these  plants  are  adapted  to  survive  grazing  and  fire  and  are  therefore  well  adapted  to  gardening  conditions    The  Savanna  Biome  is  the  largest  Biomes,  occupying  over  one-­‐third  the  area  of  South  Africa.  lt  is  well  developed  over  the  Lowveld  and  Kalahari  region  of  South  Africa  and  is  also  the  dominant  vegetation  in  Botswana,  Namibia  and  Zimbabwe.    It  is  characterized  by  a  grassy  ground  layer  with  disjunct  scattered  trees  or  shrubs.  The  local  vegetation  may  be  known  as  Shrubveld,  Woodland  or  Bushveld  depending  on  the  dominant  upper  layer.    Most  of  the  Savannah  plants  survive  fire,  drought  and  grazing  and  are  therefore  also  well  adapted  to  gardening  conditions.  In  our  area,  the  Grassland  Biome  and  the  Savannah  Biome  meet.  This  implies  that  many  plants  from  both  these  biomes  are  well  adapted  to  our  environment.  (In  practice,  it  has  also  been  found  that  plants  from  the  Thicket  Biome  from  the  Eastern  Cape  are  also  very  well  adapted  to  gardening  conditions).  Where  such  major  plant  types  meet,  other  interesting  phenomena  also  occur.  There  are  plants  that  only  occur  in  this  transitional  area  and  nowhere  else.  (In  our  case,  the  most  widely  known  is  Aloe  peglerae  that  is  endemic  to  the  Magaliesberg  region).  Obviously,  many  other  environmental  factors  should  be  considered  before  you  choose  plants  for  your  garden,  such  as  soil  type,  temperature,  aspect  and  so  on,  but  at  least  the  basket  is  enormous.   Plants suitable for the HighveldThere  are  many  plants  from  the  three  Biomes  that  can  be  grown  in  our  area.  In  later  articles,  this  will  be  discussed  in  more  detail.  What  must  be  borne  in  mind  is  that  local  climate  can  vary  considerably  and  must  be  taken  into  account  when  plants  are  selected.  For  instance,  in  the  central  valley  south  of  the  Magaliesberg  frost  can  be  severe  whereas  only  three  kilometers  away  at  the  slopes  of  the  mountain,  frost  is  a  rarity.  Endemic  plants  that  are  well  adapted  to  gardening  conditions  are  the  corkbush,  Mundulea  sericea,  common  hook  thorn,  Acacia  caffra  and  the  beauty  of  early  spring,  the  wild  pear  Dombeya  rotundifolia.  Plants  suitable  for  Highveld  conditions  will  be  discussed  in  greater  detail  in  later  articles.  Please  tell  us  some  of  your  experiences  or  indigenous  plants  that  you  have  grown  successfully  in  your  garden.    Dr  Johan  Wentzel  can  be  contacted  at  082  801  1741  or  wildflowernursery@vodamail.co.za.  
  • 3. Mundulea sericea in flower