Corrie brings nature home

Corrie Gunter's city centre apartment has many plants.

City centre resident Corrie Gunter has found a way to exercise his green fingers and turn his apartment into a flourishing garden in the middle of the concrete jungle.

In the days leading up to Garden Day, marked on Sunday October 20, Corrie showed residents in the city that it is possible to have a garden in your home, even if you live on the fifth floor in a block of flats.

Corrie grew up in the Free State, where, he said, he had a huge garden,so he was exposed to plants and gardening from an early age.

He moved to Cape Town to study biology, and now works as a science officer at UCT’s biopharming research unit.

However, it was only a few years ago that he got into gardening when he moved to an apartment in Rondebosch, and met friends who piqued his interest.

“When I was a student, I still thought that plants had to live outside in the sun, until I met some friends who took indoor planting to another level. They invited me to their apartments, and what they were doing inspired me. So, when I moved to the CBD five years ago, I started trying to grow plants inside.”

He started by trying to grow some herbs from the seeds, before moving on to more aesthetically beautiful plants and indoor plants.

He now has a diverse range of plants – creepers, hanging plants, and many with interesting leaf patterns. “I can’t really say how many of them I have because I’ve run out of space. There are 50 pots of plants, but some of them have more than one plant in them.”

Some of the plants he mentioned which grew well indoors include sweetheart vines, ferns, Japanese money plants, and strings of indigenous pearls – a succulent which makes beautiful hanging plants.

Corrie said he and his friends then started a “cuttings club”, where they met to share ideas and struggles about plants, planting, and also share cuttings of their plants.

He said he found that indoor plants are generally easier to maintain, however, each plant has its own challenges. “When you grow plants inside, you have to monitor the light and try not to move them around too much. Most of my plants require water once or twice a week. Once they are happy, they kind of just live, but you have to remember to water them regularly.”

He said repotting them from time to time, as well as picking off the dead leaves also makes a difference.

Asked about the concept of green fingers, Corrie said he believes it exists, but doesn’t think it’s inherited. “It’s more learnt behaviour. I think it’s like everything else people find interesting – they learn more about it. It comes with experience – it’s a matter of actually making your fingers green.

“I think with diligence and experimenting with light, soil and water, anyone can be successful at gardening.”

He said while people in Cape Town are often oblivious to the greenery around them because nature is everywhere around the city, it was still important to have plants and gardens in your home.

He said the indoor garden in his apartment in the city centre also shows people that you don’t have to move to the suburbs to have a garden.

Garden Day on Sunday October 20 is a chance for people to spend some time celebrating their gardens with neighbours, family or friends. People are encouraged to spend time in the garden on this day.

For ideas on how to join Garden Day and for more information, visit www.gardenday.co.za