16 April, 2014

A Mermaid with A Hat, or mushrooms and brooms with Monty Don

- gardening for biodiversity

November 2008 there were open gardens in Franschhoek. One of those lovely Western Cape town's awash in wine estates and tourists. Also beautiful gardens, as we discovered. I have heard of Monty Don. Deborah of Kilbourne Grove loves him. We haven't seen the TV programme, or read the book. But, I did look up his 'Around the World in 80 Gardens'. Any gardener who comes to South Africa goes to Kirstenbosch. One of the world's greatest botanical gardens. Fynbos (proteas, ericas, restios and bulbs) with the back of the Table Mountain chain as borrowed scenery.

Mushrooms in Henk Scholtz garden

This one of Monty Don's 80, is the home of garden designer Henk Scholtz. A medium sized town garden, with the most wonderful quirky sense of humour. And handcrafted art works, which give you pause. Why? Are there mushrooms growing out of the very top of that topiaried bush?! (Remember. It is sunny and hot. WHY are there Mushrooms?!) Then we get chatting to another visitor. First thing SHE saw, was the mushrooms. Her husband is a mushroom farmer, in Natal. Who explained that mushroom farming is as hard as dairy farming. So I politely say, I can understand milking cows. But mushrooms? Ah, he explained. First you have to harvest them every day. And then. You have to market them. (Look closely - those mushrooms are limpet shells, on sticks!)

Helichrysum hedge in Franschhoek

Beautiful topiary hedge is Helichrysum. Disparagingly referred to as something the First People used as bedding. It does smell delicious (a mild aromatic curry, Tatyana), like Heidi sleeping on her hay bed of flowers in the Alps. Every one I plant, dies on me. And look how spectacularly, over the top, luscious this is. I could sleep most beautifully on that bed! A burgundy (Echevieria?) succulent planted in a rusty old colander, with the metal table painted in a singing harmonious violet. Two plain white chairs. Some brick paving. And I stand there open mouthed, in wonder, at simple perfection.

Mermaid at Henk Scholtz

Meet the mermaid with the Hat. A discarded shop window model. Dressed in an Ascot - Met - Durban July hat. A tail whose scales are overlapping, quite rusted, tin can lids, with those circular rings making the scales come to life. She's got a long way to 'swim' to the sea from Franschhoek.

Garden brooms otherwise

Features. Focal points. Sculpture. Garden art. South Africans use our restios, with a wooden handle, to make garden brooms. Collect a few. Turn them upside down. Plant a group in the garden, just inside the front gate - to see what the neighbours say?!

Fan aloe Aloe plicatilis in Henk Scholtz garden

In the centre of the spiral within a mosaic square against a singing Majorelle Marrakech Moroccan blue wall, pride of place goes to Aloe plicatilis the fan aloe, the only aloe which occurs in the mediterranean fynbos climate. On my list to try again, one day on False Bay. To the side the very simplest cheapest garden gate made magic with beach churned shells.

Many more pictures in 2011 from Driftwood Ramblings.

(This is Monty Don's choice, mine is Mont Pellier)

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer of Elephant's Eye 
(in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa)

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Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
His Panasonic Lumix FZ100 (info from Panasonic)
My Canon PowerShot A490 (info from Canon)

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.


Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
For real time, click on the map.