Donna asks us to celebrate the season, as my garden muddles into autumn. In our mediterranean climate, without frost, we don’t expect fiery autumn colours. Nandina in Camps Bay barely managed a few red leaves. In Porterville we have a poster girl – For Autumn Colour in Your Garden!
|Nandina for autumn colour|
|Nandina's fire against Plumbago's cool sky blue|
Beth asks about lessons learnt in our garden. We chose this plot for the two 30 year old mountain ash trees. The Ungardener built me two concrete block planters, raised above the tree roots, away from the trunks. He is cross because he expected them to be filled with lush green, I’m disappointed because that was what I expected too. Big trees, plant for shade, right?
But it is dappled shade, OK for seedlings and cuttings to harden off. The hot afternoon breeze whips thru and char grills the leaves. I had planted lots of orange Clivia, brought from Camps Bay in happy pots. Discover much too late, that if the sun catches its leaves, they die. Somewhere in this garden I need serious shade for ferns and fragiles. The Streptocarpus is happy on the verandah.
As my carefully chosen for shade plants murmur off into the sunset – it’s HOT in Porterville, I suddenly realised I’d have to admit defeat and plant succulents. Amazing that those huge waterfilled leaves, which get too hot to touch when the temperature is pushing 40C (104F) can survive. They must have the heat equivalent of anti-freeze! I have planted blocks and rows of South African Crassula ovata, Cotyledon orbiculata, Portulacaria afra, Plectranthus neochilus and Bulbinella. Plenty of flourishing mother plants to harvest cuttings from!
|Ash planters with kei apples hardening off|
Next lesson. Don’t wait almost five years, and whine that the Kniphofia doesn’t bloom. Then notice that the creeks are desperately overgrown. Should have been cut back each year. Now it is a LOT of hard work. First Plum Creek, which is smaller and easier. Did that in 2 days.
|Plum Creek with Kniphofia and olifantsriet|
Overgrown, then tidied up
Apple Creek and Elephant's Eye Light Railway is huge to work on. I feel like a mouse nibbling away at a piece of cheese. Or Alice in Wonderland – if seven maids with seven mops … do you suppose? Another week. Or two. The very fine green is kweek grass. Papyrus, Cyperus and bulrushes we planted. Then nature brought volunteer thugs. Water, the gang’s all here!
I remember geography lessons about the eutrophication of lakes. Silt and leaves. Reeds and grasses. Then the trees come and the standing open water is a memory. The shears snag on tree seedlings and the Gardener says tomorrow …
Plumbago and tree seedlings
Overgrown and clipped 'lawn'
I cut back each bucketful and dump on the fig trees as mulch. There the bright green grass we battle is kikuyu. Long tough runners which keep coming back.
|Fig trees mulched with grass and reed clippings|
This is my foreign flowers slot, early for Bloom-Day-March and seepferds-garten ich-bin-uberfallen-worden! Blogger-Bluten-im-Marz. We have a smattering of roses, buds coming, but not an autumn flush. And none to pick for my mother yesterday, so I fall back on high summer roses – Aeonium from Morocco and Mexican Echeveria.
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.)