Review: Tarlton Flower Palace & Garden Centre

by Lala

Earlier this week I was driving between Krugersdorp and Magaliesberg, through an area called Tarlton, in the West Rand. Being a plant nut, I immediately pulled off the main road when I saw the bright signage for Tarlton Flower Palace & Garden Centre. I’m always looking for interesting, edible plants to add to my garden. Who knows when I would find myself in that area again, so I figured it was worth a stop for a few minutes.

Tarlton Flower Palace entrance

The nursery very neatly laid out and well organised. The plants are labelled well and it is very easy to make your way around and find what you need. If you can’t just ask for some help. The place is really lovely and while I was there a couple came in and enquired about coming there some weeks later to shoot their wedding photos.

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I asked whether they had fruit trees and unfortunately they did not. After speaking for a while with Marinda, who runs the fanily business with her husband, she showed me some amazing edibles that blew my mind. Firstly, I got three strawberry plants that looked very healthy. Marinda chose them for me and she made sure to pick out plants that were already putting out lots of runners. She said one has to shop smart. She said these make very delicious, large strawberries. I certainly hope so. I’ve never had the best of luck with strawberries. I manage to keep the plants alive and multiplying, but never enough to give me more than 2 or three very bland fruit all season. I’ve never planted this large leaf variety, so hopefully they are a generally more vigorous plant and producer.

Secondly, I picked out two passionfruit aka granadilla plants, to replace the granadilla I bought at the the Irene Market, which I left behind at our previous house. The saddest thing for me about that granadilla is that I planted it and nurtured it for a year, then got some incredible flowers but I never got to eat the fruit. We moved out that same summer before the fruit had set. The strawberries and the granadillas are going to be planted in our front yard, in the “hazelnut kraal” away from the thundering feet of our German Shepherd Dogs.

Those two plants are not that striking, well not yet anyway. What blew my mind are the chillies! I’ve gone chilli mad recently. My uyababa chilli, as I posted about earlier, is still going strong (looking even better than the pics in this post from the begining of the month) and I love growing peppers in general. I think it was a post from Lisa Raleigh on Twitter that put a seed in my mind earlier this week. Yes, it was Lisa. She found some multicoloured chillies at Woolworths:

Anyway, so I did have colourful chillies on my mind when I saw the ornamental, edible, hot peppers. Marinda assured me that these are not only ornamental both also edible and very hot. I had to make sure because I bought colurful capsicum Medusa chillies last year that looked really pretty but tasted like carrots! One also has to make sure that these ornamentals are not a different similar looking plant also from the nightshade / solanum family that is very poisonous. Those ones are usually perfectly round, and don’t look like peppers at all to me. The poisonous ones are Solanum Pseudocapsicum, also known as Jerusalem or Christmas Cherry. Anyway, these ones were all labelled Capsicum, which are all of the edible chillies and sweet peppers.

Here they are at home. These are a trio of capsicum annuum chilies. These ones all start out green and purple, then ripen to either yellow, red or orange. I had to get them all & I also got one as a gift for my in-laws. I do have a tiny pepper that came back from the dead, which goes through all of those colours, but I like these ones too.

tri of ornamental edible capsicum peppers

You can see the immature green and purple ones much better at the top of this orange one:

orange capsicum annuum hot pepper

This absolute most amazing one that I had never heard of before is is this chilli plant with a not only deep purple chillies that mature to red, but also has dark purple leaves and stems, with flashes of white and a little bit of green.

purple black capsicum

If you google purple leaf chillies or purple leaf hot peppers, you will get results for a variety called purple flash. This is not it. Purple flash has small, round fruit that grows upwards like the colourful ones above. Mine has bullet shaped fruit that grow downwards.

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It was labeled in the nursery as capsicum Black Magic, but it looks to me like the Count Dracula variety:

Pic taken in the U.S. National Arboretum by user CulturaVore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Pic taken in the U.S. National Arboretum by user CulturaVore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One I repot it and fertilise well, we will see how it did and whether it does indeed look more like the count. Thats what I will call it for now. I think it was looking a bit battered because it is so little and its really the tail end of the season. I also got one of these for my inlaws.

So that was the result of my unplanned detour. I got to see this great little place and buy some fantastic plants and pots. Besides the edibles I also bought a bag of freesi bulbs. Freesias are indegenous to South Africa, which I didn’t know. I havent grown bulbs before, and I’m really excited to see these coming up in the spring. I wish I could grow things in Peonies & Tulips, which Marinda also likes, but we just don;t have the climate to grow them successfully in South Africa (too warm).

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