flowers food indigenous

Queen of the Flowers

The Hibiscus or Queen of the Flowers is commonplace in KZN, so much so that part of our southern coast is named after this flower. But the most common species of Hibiscus in South Africa, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, otherwise known as Chinese Hibiscus, originates from South-East Asia.

Interestingly, the Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia where it was introduced in the 12th century. The use of Cape-Malay slaves in South Africa in the past gives an idea of how it arrived in South Africa. Trade routes have also had a great influence on plant distribution. The discovery of the passage around the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco de Gama in 1497, the subsequent establishment of Portuguese and Spanish trading centres in India and other Asian countries,  and the colonisation of Madagascar and the African East Coast are all thought to have contributed to the dispersion of the Hibiscus. Another possible origin of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is Lemuria, which is said to be an ancient, sunken continent of which the Malagasy claim only Madagascar remains emergent. See more detail here.

We have a Hibiscus bush in bloom, it is beautiful (see great photo courtesy of my mom, Helen). And apparently multi-purpose; Hibiscus flower preparations are used for hair care, they are used as ornamental plants in the tropics and subtropics, the flowers are edible and are used in salads in the Pacific Islands and are also used to shine shoes in parts of India. There are numerous varieties and colour variations. Do you know of other varieties that are common in KZN or South Africa?

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
food garden

Kitchen gardening course

An interesting course being held at the Durban Botanic Gardens, details below.

Why kitchen gardening? Kitchen Gardeners are food lovers and true gastronomes of the highest order. The enjoyment of food is a complete experience extending beyond the plate to the soil, taking in the natural processes and cycles responsible for the source of good food. Kitchen gardeners are in tune with the natural world, local weather, and seasons, working peacefully and harmoniously with, rather than fighting against Nature.

Become a true steward of the land whether your plot is a farm sized suburban garden or a humble window-box. Join experienced permaculturist Bharathi Tugh on a Saturday course that covers:

  • Permaculture & kitchen gardening principles
  • Soil conditioning techniques and ‘green teas’ for feeding
  • Making compost heaps and fertility beds
  • Designing & setting up a kitchen garden
  • Plant selection, companion plants & crop rotation
  • Pest and disease management (organic remedies)
  • Creative container gardening
food garden

Organic Gardening Workshops

At the moment I am not growing any food (apart from Spekboom I guess) but I would like to start a small vegetable/herb garden.  I am also interested in organic gardening but don’t really know much about it.

I came across these courses offered by Dovehouse Organic Farms and think I may attend one.  Has anyone gone to them?  Anyone want to come with me?

From their promotional material:

The aim of these courses is to introduce the learners to the subjects and to provide the learners with the necessary hands on skills to implement the techniques for themselves. Course manuals are supplied with each workshop.