In South Africa the Christmas garden flower – what is picked in great bundles to arrange around the baby in a manger in our churches – is Agapanthus. Somewhat looked down on as commonorgarden, easy maintenance around office buildings. I love that colour and that the stalks stand high and Proudly South African. My version of the blue globes of Allium flowerheads.
Christmas-flowers-in-our-garden 2009. Sadly the Chironia has gone.
The abiding impression in the garden now is blue or purple. The blue sage is a haze of flowers, echoing the colour of the sky, a vivid or a stormy blue depending on the falling light.
My pompom tree Dais cotonifolia is an odd shape, but it has been touch and go. This is the first Christmas that it is living up to its promise of covered in pink pompoms. The thirsty in summer tree is revelling in the autumnal La Nina weather this December.
Diminutive architectural blue spires around the pond are Plectranthus neochilus a tough aromatic groundcover. Easy to spread with cuttings in autumn (March to May). The other sweep of blue is Plumbago in a range of very soft sky blues which fade on camera.
Dietes wild iris with bedhead this morning as it promised the afternoon’s rain. Filigree burgundy marking in the throat of Mackaya bella, its trumpet flowers arranged as one arm of a candelabra.
|Mackaya bella, Dietes|
Amongst the long since faded lime yellow Oxalis, this pink with easy to recognise large leaves, appeared in my pots. The scabious begins to bloom again. Purple Dimorphotheca jucunda has the first, slightly bedraggled flowers. We have aloes and pelargoniums which dance to a different colour theme, but they are scattered and less visible amongst all the blue.
Dimorphotheca jucunda, unknown succulent species
On the verandah in the shade, perched on the hub of an old wooden wheel (memories of Voortrekker women crossing the mountains barefoot) is my deeply purple Streptocarpus. The camera sees blue, and the Ungardener says – take the photos in the sun, as he always prompts me.
|Streptocarpus in shade|
Grumble. I take the pot to Paradise and Roses and park it next to the golden Mare’s Tail grass for a temporary photo op. Now the colour sings true to life, even on the camera.
|Streptocarpus in sun|
Yesterday the summer solstice. We would expect to be grateful for days getting shorter to help us thru the brutal heat of January and February. But it is chilly, quite grey and gently raining. Tomorrow the sun will shine. We live in an era called Anthropocene. Global weirding. And a frustrating end to COP17. Youth delegate Anjali Appadurai says - Stand with Africa. Get it done!
I was asked how I ID our wild flowers. If I have a rough idea, I’ll use PlantZAfrica for the species. Kristo Pienaar's book is my second choice. Then I have a row of wild flower guides from the Botanical Society of South Africa.
I wish you, my readers, a happy Christmas. Enjoy a break from work and time with your friends and family. May our New Year be peaceful and green.
Pictures and words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa
(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. Those are my links.)