It’s September - say trees!

For Arbor day this year Checkers had the creative idea to give away Spekbooms, a plant native to the Eastern Cape noted for its easy growing attributes, a source of elephant food and its contribution to reducing  carbon emission. We are well and truly getting through the month of trees, so if you missed out on the Spekbooms, this blog is all about how you can still get in on the Arbor action. 

For a start, go out and buy your own tree. This tree of the year for 2012 is the Water Berry - an evergreen tree mostly associated with the tropical areas of KZN and which is good for a whole range of things from its tasty fruit to its uses in respiratory ailments. But you don’t have to get that one if you don’t want to - there are dozens of excellent trees available. Go check out an awesome indigenous nursery like Random Harvest or the Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery who will be able to sort out all your greening needs.

Perhaps you don’t want a whole live tree though? Why not check out Grow-a-Tree which sells tree starter packs in bright hessian bags that can be given as a great present for anyone with a bit of a green bent. For those who are a tad lazy there are even easier methods to do this, for instance consider sending trees certificates to your staff as a “happy spring” gifts. These certificates guarantee that you get to plant an indigenous tree in a South African forest without even getting your hands dirty. Check out Greenworks to get one today, what could be easier?

On the other hand, maybe you don’t have any money but are prepared to do a bit of digging? My suggestion would be to go and look at some of our open spaces in Joburg. In the spring time trees are shedding their seeds all over the place and younger saplings can easily be transplanted in your favourite spot. A particularly good candidate in this regard is the Celtis Afrikaner or White Stinkwood. These are hardy, fast growers and make great garden trees. If you don’t know what a tree like this looks like then go out and get the super useful Sappi Tree spotting Guides from Jacana.

Trees are all very well but what about those of us who don’t have big spaces to grow plants in? A good tree substitute is your own vegetable patch. It’s easier than you think and means that you get access to cheap, tasty, healthy food right on your door step. Have a look at the Food and Trees for Africa website and order their growing booklet which is a must-have for all urban food growers in South Africa. Even if you don’t have a garden at all, you can grow vegetables in tyres, or pots or try herbs that are easily grown from seed on a handy window sill. If you are more of the aesthetic type, try the square forest - an amazing self-contained eco-system that makes for awesome green chic decor.

Whatever you choose there is there is no excuse for not making our world a greener one this year.


The original version of this article first appeared on


Icons © Green Map System, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. Green Map® is a registered trademark and used with permission.