04 August, 2010

In a Persian garden

The word paradise originally meant a hunting park, and it is still a Persian word for garden. Gardens of the Islamic world, 
an oasis. All round stretch bare hills in the burning sun. 
Within the garden, cool shade and the sight and sound of water. 
High surrounding wall, trees for shade and fruit, 
a pavilion, flowers in beds and pots. 
Native bulbs, followed by roses. Garden is divided in four
- slightly modified from Hugh Johnson’s The Principles of Gardening, 1979

This was my inspiration for the rose garden.

Magic-carpet-ride-Persian-gardens history and background

A sundial, a memory of my father. The house and a curved wall around two sides provide seclusion. A low informal hedge of Dusty Miller Centaurea cineraria plumes of velvety grey feathers. Two chairs, a small table, and a view up to the Olifantskop (Elephant’s Head) through the plum trees. We can see the pond, and hear the waterfall. Four paths, the four rivers of paradise – milk and honey, water and wine. 

Each bed has 6 or 7 roses, with a miniature towards the sundial in the centre. As a focus – there is a tree to provide dappled shade. The autumn flush is glorious, big lush deep coloured blooms. In summer by midday, they are TOAST! Because I hate roses just after they are pruned, there are also shrubs, herbaceous perennials, bulbs and an edging – with flowers or foliage to the colour theme. (2008 2009)

Winter Chill --- Pale flowers and silvery grey foliage
Think of a snow bank sparkling in the sun 
– all those subtle gentle colours.

Great North – a pillar rose. Oyster Pearl, just touched with a gentle flush of pink, large blooms. Silver Cloud small blooms in a gentle mauve. Spiced Coffee, lavender warmed with brown. Pearl of Bedfordview, white with pink edges to the petals. Nicole is similar, but larger blooms. The miniature is new, Tiny Tots.

Tree is Tarchonanthus camphoratus, indigenous, water wise, grey leaved, and fragrant, with flaky grey bark, and an attractive gnarled growth habit. Bauhinia natalensis, small shrub with butterfly leaves and white flowers. There is blousalie (wild blue sage), 2 Scabiosa. Coleonema and knoffel buchu (smells ferociously of garlic if you bump into it). A border of Santolina (cotton lavender from my mother) and Stachys (lamb’s ears, sulks in the summer!) White lavender still hasn’t flowered. White Dimorphotheca jucunda which trails happily all over the place. Some Narcissus – part of the love of bulbs I inherited from Anna, who gardened here before us. And as the Ungardener knows to his sorrow, I collect rocks and stones, so there are a few bits of granite (for the grey again). Pink-ribbon-1-Winter-Chill

Summer Gold --- yellow, gold or orange flowers. 
Cream/gold foliage. Missing lime green leaves.
Roses. Tropical Sunset for the stripes. Casanova (new house, how could I resist that) and it smells of apricots. Courvoisier graceful bunches of delightful yellow flowers. Peace, again a reminder of my father. Then Elizabeth of Glamis, a salmony pink. Germiston Gold towards the centre, couldn’t find a miniature I liked. In summer the flowers were sort of straw coloured, and I thought, gold? But in autumn, they are almost orange!

The tree is Trimeria rotundifolia (wild mulberry, just because of the leaves) Lends itself to pruning into a shrub, or small tree. Focal shrub is Strelitzia reginae Mandela’s Gold. Came with us from the Camps Bay garden in a pot. The first plant we bought for this garden was a Coprosma with lovely golden leaves. Later discovered they come from New Zealand, like my father. Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue), deep green and white striped leaves. Yellow Dimorphotheca jucunda Sunshine Classic. Then grass – Mare’s tail, gardener’s garters, Acorus and a Carex. Border is lots of Plectranthus madagascariensis (no it is not from Madagascar), green and white leaves. And Liriope from the last garden, where it bided its time, here it is flourishing. Bulbs are Hypoxis rooperii – which has long keeled leaves in three ranks, and small spires of starry yellow flowers. And a Dietes, sword shaped leaves, with small, mostly white, typical wild iris flowers. They say it blooms in anticipation of rain. Pink-ribbon-2-Summer-Gold

Autumn Fire --- Here we have dark dramatic colours. 
Into each life a little rain must fall.

Roses. Papa Meilland fragrant deep velvety red. Burnished Sky modern two tone rose in a flamboyant combination of lavender with ruby. Karoo Rose bunches of small raspberry/watermelon flowers. Alec’s Red. Duftwolke, similar to Karoo rose, but larger flowers and fragrant. Miniature is Maverick, red and white flowers.

My tree is Prunus nigra, for the deep dark leaves, and it is deciduous letting light in when the flowers need it, with blossom to herald the start of spring. Diospyros whyteana has dark glossy leaves. Halleria lucida, tree fuchsia which bears its flowers on the bark of the branches (with nectar for the sun-birds). Mackaya bella has large barely pink flowers and glossy leaves, likes shade so it is against the curve of the wall. At its feet is a Begonia with glossy almost hand-shaped leaves, the only non-symmetrical leaves I have. Focal shrub is Strelitzia reginae Bird of Paradise. Plectranthus zuluensis Oribi. Pennisetum rubra in POTS. A deep purple Dimorphotheca jucunda. Dark red Pelargonium from my neighbour Betty. Lavender with dark flowers. Border is Mondo grass, mostly dwarf and black. I have wild red Gladioli bulbs and Lachenalia rubra to add. Two Japanese maples which are also grateful to be tucked in the shady corner. Deep red and black lava, basalt columns from St. Helena and Ascension Island. Pink-Ribbon-3-Autumn-Fire

Spring Promise --- Any colour so long as its pink, 
set off by blue-grey glaucous foliage.

Roses. Dainty Bess, single, true pink, like a dog rose. Chaim Soutine deep pink and white striped rose. Sheila’s Perfume a more vivid ‘Peace’. New Zealand - I read that Sam McGreedy chose this shell pink rose very carefully to earn its name. Helpkids, part of the proceeds goes to support children’s charities here in the Western Cape. The flowers are each unique, like children, striped in red, yellow, pink and white. L’Aimant, because my mother loves the perfume, soft salmon pink with graceful petals. And the miniature is Lavender Jade, a smaller ‘Burnished Sky’.

This tree is Dais cotonifolia Pompom tree which flowers around Christmas. For glorious foliage I have Melianthus honey-flower flower. Pink valerian, which makes me think of Cornwall. Plectranthus neochilus muishondblaar, which the Ungardener insists on calling lavender, lots of blue purple spires like lavender, but the smell of the leaves is definitely something ELSE! Artemisia afra wildeals smells deliciously of liquorice, and the desired blueish leaves. Pink Dimorphotheca jucunda. Pink (true) lavender. A fragrant Pelargonium which is citrus scented. Pink marguerite daisy, which we picked up as someone's garden refuse. Border is Festuca glauca. Echevaria Mexican roses, including one with pinkish leaves. Nutmeg geranium, small kidney shaped leaves, a Pelargonium sp. Chironia baccifera tortoise berry, pretty pink star flowers, then red berries. I need to add March-lilies Amaryllis belladonna. Variegated Tulbaghia wild garlic, which has pinky mauve flowers, with blue and cream striped leaves. Dianthus allwoodii, which has read the instructions, blue leaves, pink flowers. Large chunk of rose quartz from the Ungardener's days tour guiding in Namibia. Pink-Ribbon-4-Spring-Promise

Pushed out of Paradise - Inherited roses

They were half way down the driveway. The two-legged grey watering system got awful tired in summer temperatures pushing 40 C! So the Ungardener made a new planter near the front door. “Anna’s red” dark red, very fragrant flowers on 3 knee high bushes. Black Prince, very tall, fragrant, of a red so deep it is almost black. Lanky with deep lipstick fuchsia Schiaparelli pink blooms? Smaller with apricoty flowers? Bought something fresh - Perfume Passion, pink and fragrant. No colour theme here, will just add bits of the things I love from the rest of the garden. Nov 2010 Pushed-out-of-Paradise

Pictures by Jurg and Diana, words by Diana of Elephant's Eye


  1. Hello,
    I love roses, the smell and the colors.
    You put very beautiful pictures.

  2. What a plethora of plants and so many unfamiliar but alluring sounding. It is a little like taking up gardening all over again and being dead excited on recognition of a plant. Even most of the roses are new to me. Your rose garden sounds fab.

  3. What a paradise you have created in honor of your Dad, Diana! I love that your first plant for this garden was from the same country as your father. Beautiful photos and lovely design... I kept hoping to see the fuller garden shown... I love the way you began this post. I so enjoyed it! ;>)

  4. Carol - above the 2007 collage is a link to post with pictures in 2008.
    The bigger picture, is where I do battle with the camera. Macros and supermacros come right, but the garden as such ;-((
    Will try again for the garden walk around the 11th

  5. Diana, your roses are spectacular as is your beautifully planned garden. I'm taken with the spiced coffee bloom...so warm and creamy. Nicely done!

  6. Such incredible structure & flow. I love the plants for each season, and the sundial theme. Truly inspired!

  7. A stunning garden walk, Diana, and beautiful tribute to your father. Will be anxious to visit around the 11th!

  8. Dear Diana of EE, I love the simplicity of design of your Persian inspired garden and what a wonderful tribute to your father.

    I am amazed at the number of plants you list as having been planted and think that your colour combinations sound wonderful. I agree that roses can look rather sad after pruing so it is a wise idea to include other plants to offset those 'dead' times.

  9. Your flowers are beautiful! I really like your garden layout. I would like to do something like this for my herb garden, on a smaller scale. I will follow your blog for more inspiration.

  10. Aha! I did not realise your roses were grown 'formally'. Sounds (and looks!) lovely. My current thinking on my Rondel is to revive it as a rose garden, moving out only those that are too big.

  11. FROM Jean
    Blogger is having some trouble with Wordpress open id and wouldn't let me leave comment on your latest post: Oh my goodness, Diana, what a fabulous design and what gorgeous flowers! You're a genius. It must be spectacular "in person."

  12. I enjoyed this post immensely, partly because I was just adding some research on Persian garden history and design to my memoir. But boy, you made it come alive and by be presently relevant to any designer today.

  13. Your roses are so beautiful! I LOVE that we are offset in our seasons somewhat, so just when I think I may die of the heat here and never garden again, along comes Diana and EE with such a beautiful blog post to remind me that great things are possible. Lovely, lovely roses. Thank you.

  14. Your walled garden with all those roses really is a paradise! I loved all the photo collages. I can imagine what joy these wonderful plants must bring you.

  15. Benjamin - share your take on a Persian garden?

  16. Hi Diana, I love symmetrical gardens and your rose garden with the sundial sounds superb. As always it's fascinating to read about your plant varieties in the other hemisphere.


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.

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