13 April, 2012

April showers bring us flowers 2012


The noise of long hot dry days, has been broken by the clear signal of autumn. We can garden in shorts and T-shirt without desperately seeking shade. An Easter weekend which brought us a grateful soaking of 34 millimetres of rain.

Our Southern hemisphere mediterranean autumn, walks hand in hand with Northern gardeners delighting in spring. The garden is stretching gracefully. When Chocolat has had dinner, as he walks away, he pauses for an arabesque, first the right, then the left. Point your toe, remember the LINE!

Lampranthus seedheads open in the rain

Walking on our Karoo Koppie I found flowers in a subtle range of colours. Wait, those should be a star-spangled lemon yellow in September! The vygie seedheads had opened in the rain.
Now the sun is out, they revert to tightly shuttered brown Lampranthus capsules.

Dew on Pelargonium tomentosum

My shade-loving Pelargonium tomentosum is planted along the South-facing wall of the house. In the mornings the velvety minty leaves are veiled with dew. 

Watsonia, Boophane
Veltheimia, Chasmanthe

Literally overnight the Watsonia bulbs push up a few inches of sharply speared leaves. Veltheimia works steadily on her couture opera coat. Boophane spirals its fan of leaves. Chasmanthe raises the first thumb of leaves, which will grow so tall that the plant keels over. Our garden year begins!

Nerine sarniensis, Oxalis
??,
vlei lilies and Kniphofia

I have been collecting indigenous bulbs for about 30 years, since I began gardening. The pots have grown confused, the labels lost. Each year is a guessing game – as I attempt to restore the labels, and sort thru the bulbs. There have been industrious little pink Oxalis. The first one I expect is Lachenalia rubida, not this year. We have buds shimmying on Nerine sarniensis the ‘Jersey’ lily.  Because I did, cut back Plum Creek, I can see the pots of vlei lilies sprouting!

Tecomaria for the sunbirds

For our sunbirds, April is bringing the first flush of Tecomaria. The yellow and the peachy-apricot. Big Red is not ready yet. Beyond the nectar flowers, the little birds hop happily thru the bushes on bug and spider patrol.

Jasmine, pelargonium
blue sage, Dimorphotheca jucunda

Jasmine, pelargonium, blue sage and the first vigorous flowers on the purple Dimorphotheca jucunda. I still need to find the Van Staden’s daisy, white flowers on tall stalks. And the yellow Buttermilk has left me in the lurch.

March lily

The March lilies Amaryllis belladonna are running a little late this year. Not as many flowers as last year, but I do still see buds coming thru.

Bietou

My bird-planted bietou, Chyrsanthemoides monilifera. A daisy bush that walks proudly, as tall as I am.

Aragon at Paradise and Roses
Chocolat at Elephant's Eye Light Railway
To each his/her own

Chocolat doing his low-rent sleeping on the railroad tracks act. Goes well with the new hairstyle he’s experimenting with. Next door ripped a patch of fur off his forehead and he now sports a ‘third eye’ and an unruly tuft of feathers. Aragon revelling in the first morning sun at Paradise and Roses.

This post was early for Bloom Day (15th). Foliage Followup on the 16th for  Pam @ Digging. And Wildflower-Wednesday  on the 25th.  Every plant on this post is indigenous to South Africa. Except the Nandina, Liriope and the Mexican feather grass in the last picture! What book inspires you for Earth Day this April?









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.) 

41 comments:

  1. I love this time of the year. Seeing the first bulbs starting to sprout and waiting impatiently for flowering time. My Chasmanthe are the first - leaves already quite tall, some Freesias popping tiny heads through, My Bietou planted recently so only waist high, but flowering profusely.

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  2. Hoorah for respite! 34 mm counts as some REAL rain. I'm impressed by the Lampranthus for opening its seed heads when you have moisture and locking them up tight again when you don't. Overall, New Mexican plants seem to buckle down more and endure, where South African ones seem to be incredibly wise opportunists. (Over-generalizing, I know.)

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  3. We have much needed spring rain this week. I'm sure you are pleased hte heat of summer is fading and warm (second spring) autumn is arriving. Christina

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  4. I am so enjoying Spring this year as the weather has been fairly good for Ireland...dry and sunny. I hate when I lose labels as I'm not great for remembering names. One of our dogs also steals the labels and chews them so that adds to the problem. I still enjoy the plants as much even if I don't know it's name.

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  5. I never realised Lampranthus seedheads were so attractive. The more time I've spent on your blog, the more I buy indigeneous plants. You have (and are still) teaching me a lot about gardening.

    PS: Your cats are adorable. Sending kitty kisses for them ...

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  6. Autumn is a great time of year here too. After the wet and the summer, the garden starts looking more presentable. It's fantastic to hear you've had rain and there's a break in the heat for you. There's lots of things coming to life around your garden. The Amaryllis is beautiful, and I love the Bietou.

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  7. You know I adore your native plants...these are gorgeous and so many....the Tecomaria have me intrigued and wishing I could grow them here as a native...the cats have the right idea I think!! Enjoy the bit of respite and rain....

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  8. Thanks for the reminder that it's Bloom Day -- although it's pouring rain outside. Maybe my vintage wildflower pics will be my blooms today. Yours are lovely. I especially like the first picture.

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  9. I love learning about native plants from around the world. I really look forward to reading your posts.

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  10. Beautiful flowers, especially the March Lily with the water droplets on it - Stunning!
    Love to see cats in the garden, too.
    Have a blessed day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  11. I didn't realise it was dew on the Pelargonium on my first glance and thought it was natually on the leaf!.......very fuzzy indeed. I've lost so many labels that now when I buy a new plant or bulb I'm determined to include it in a blog post so that at least I'll have some record. The blue sage is a beautiful flower and I can't wait till our frosts go away as cape daisies/Dimorphotheca are always a favourite of mine for summer though I think the breeders have now done something to the plant dna so that they open more during dull days. Do your Dimorphotheca close on dull days?

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    1. The longer I blog, the more I understand why people say they use their blog as a garden journal. Digital and searchable!!

      If you were to come to Namaqualand for the spring flowers - you would be reminded, on cloudy or windy days the flowers close. Before 10 or after 4 (on a still clear day!) the flowers display. And they face into the sun, so if you look the wrong way, nothing to see. Eminently civilised!

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  12. Read the post on the broken apostrophe, bet you made some eyebrows jump when you left a comment...lol.

    Chocolat is well names, and I love "remember the line" they do resemble ballet dancers don't they..taking a master class.

    Now I am completely confused about the seasons where you live. I understand it's winter coming on, but shouldn't some plants be going dormant, instead of growing? Or does the cooler temps trigger something?

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. Our plants rest in the summer heat, aestivation not hibernation. The trigger for leaves and flowers and sprouts and growth, is not warmth, but blessed rain. We walk together, north and south, waiting then revelling. That is the California style mediterranean climate for you.

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  13. I find time and again, how I marvel at the exotic and unusual plants I see in all the foreign countries on GBBD, yet at the same time, they have similar qualities to every garden in the world, terra cotta pots not quite filled out, sleeping cats, sunny spots for sitting, etc. Thanks for a window on your garden world.

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  14. I guess rail activity is going to have to be curtailed for a while... Congrats on the real rainstorm. We got a nice end-of-the-season drenching recently to complement your start of your rainy season. It makes up a bit for the dwindling daylight and reduced time you can enjoy the garden (in daylight at least). I enjoy plants will wonderfully tactile foliage, and your pelargonium looks like a great example. I'm wishing you a little more genuine precipitation this season.

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    1. The train is always on the do next time list. Some assorted engineering awaits.

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  15. Wow, those are amazing blooms considering things are winding down for you. Interesting, my Tecomaria is blooming right now as well, and the hummingbirds like it. Happy Bloom Day!

    Oh, what book? Well, maybe "California Native Gardening - A Month By Month Guide". I know the author, and even if I didn't, I just love the writing.

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  16. There's railway tracks?! with tunnels even. how did I not know this? does the train run through every once in awhile? perhaps shocking unsuspecting cats from their naps...

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    1. Chocolat will tell you - in his entire LIFE - there has only been one train. He doesn't even remember it. But we live in hope. It is all on display after 6 weeks of steady cutting back in the Apple Creek.

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  17. Hi Di, that first flower is unusual with its brown blooms. I wonder what the color signifies for its pollination!

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    1. Andrea - not really 'flowers', just the seedheads. When they bloom in spring, it will be yellow or pink.

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  18. Lovely blooms. I'd love to see the Sunbirds go at them. I also noticed you have a birdhouse in the background. Looks really wonderful in your garden. We have similiar types of plants...they're just different enough to be their own plants but many of the blossoms are similiar to what you'd find here in Tucson. Catmint in Australia has similiar conditions and more the same yet different warm xeric plants for her climate. The only thing different about your area is that you get dew in the morning which probably makes a huge difference for a lot of your plants. Here it's just dry:) Have a good start to your week. Chris

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    1. In Camps Bay we also had the moderating influence of the sea, mist, fog, cloud on the mountain. This has been a learning curve.

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    2. It sounds like a real challenge. Too much moisture and you rot desert type plants...not enough moisture, other plants dry up. I imagine there are a lot of plants that have that silver grey leaf that can handle both like Texas Ranger:)

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    3. hmmm sage with masses of purple flowers! I have blue, burnt orange and a soft lilac wild sage in my garden.

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  19. I was going to say that you look ensconed in spring with all that color in your garden only to realized belatedly that you mentioned autumn. I'll have to look back and try to remember how much more colorful your spring is/was. I try to keep labels as much as I can but there seems to be some sort of label spook that goes around the garden from time to time plucking the labels off my plants. Haha!

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  20. An utter delight, as always xxx

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  21. I have to giggle at Chocolat on the railroad tracks. Cats will find the oddest places to take a nap, won't they?

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

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  22. The photograph of Chocolat on the tracks with the Nandina on the foreground is wonderful!

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  23. Beautiful! Your fall reminds me a lot of our spring! I have the hardest time remembering plant names. I always think that I would NEVER forget a particular plant's name, but in a year or so it slips me. Perhaps a sign of old age! I do keep labels, but then I forget which ones go with which plants. Chocolat on the railroad tracks looks like a giant in some sci-fi movie!

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  24. I have such a sense of M. Chocolat's personality (or is that felinality??) from your blog; I love his antics -- although I would imagine that a tendency to sleep on railroad tracks is a behavior that gets weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection pretty quickly!
    Nice to see your flowers responding to the rain. It's been dry here, and people are actually hoping for rain -- 2011's record rainfall and flooding seemingly already forgotten. -Jean

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    1. It is alarming to see the rivers dry, in desperate need of our winter rain.

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  25. More and more, I see bits of your garden and how they fit together...so beautiful. All of your blooms and buds and foliage are lovely! I love the photo of the dew-soaked pelargonium leaf. And the cats are so adorable. And thank you, Diana, for including a link to the Earth Day Reading Project.

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  26. I love your descriptions, Diana: "Veltheimia works steadily on her couture opera coat" -- so great. Thanks for joining in with pretty foliage for Foliage Follow-Up!

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  27. Dear Diana, Love the jasmine - I bet its perfume is delicious! I'm early with my signature plant this month -- I picked Creeping Phlox. Thanks for hosting the meme. P. x

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  28. We've had a lot of rain lately and this are wet, wet, wet which means that we go into winter nice and green

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  29. I had been looking for your blog since you left a comment about native gardening but no address..so happy I found you.. One of my longest on-line friendships has been with someone from SA..over 10 years now. It is such a beautiful area and I am happy that you have been collecting bulbs and that you garden for wildlife...Michelle

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    1. Thanks for prompting me, went to Gravatar and sorted the link back to my blog.

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  30. I love pelargoniums and have all sorts of scented ones in my greenhouse but the leaf on yours is just stunning. It is rather overwhelming somehow, how exotic your garden feels to me, so different when so much is the same.

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    1. (in life you would be underwhelmed by the brown bits, and the green bits) The camera always lies - as Saxon Holt says.

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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.


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