27 December, 2013

A Swartland garden in December

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa

Hypoxis hemerocallidea with its spikes of Christmas cheer yellow star flowers came with us from Camps Bay. 

Hypoxis hemerocallidea

13 December, 2013

The policeman and the prima donna

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa


We have no manicured lawn. We've learnt to adjust to a hotter summer, but still in the Western Cape’s familiar mediterranean climate. They say build it and they will come – and indeed they have!

The Story of Elephant’s Eye

Chapter 7
Gardening for biodiversity

We live in a small country town, our garden behind a wall. We have a few diamond panels at the base of the wall – for frogs and snakes and lizards and striped mice. Our wildlife is birds and smalls.

Rosyfaced lovebird dining out at Spirulino's

Most exciting was the endangered Black Stork for which we named the little island in Ungardening Pond. Porterville lies in a dip which was once a vlei, and I wonder how many generations back the frogs remember coming here. These summer nights towards Christmas the frog and cricket oompah band is in fine form.

05 December, 2013

Rocher Pan with beached seals

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa


My Ungardener’s Swiss pension is getting closer. To celebrate we went to RocherPan Nature Reserve to walk by the sea on a long, long sandy beach. (We've walked there before in Summer March 2011 and winter this August). Our WildCard permit was first collected from the office.

Rocher Pan and its office building

We walked along the road, covered in fine shell gravel, to the gate which I remember as  -  locked years ago. The end of the road. We walked on to the lookout picnic site on the crest of the dune.

29 November, 2013

A Swartland garden in November

by Diana Studer
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa

The Ungardener has removed his excess DIY supplies from around Folie de MMIX, and I rearranged my MANY pots of bulbs. Then he did his Ungardening Pond. Oxygenating waterweeds massively thinned out. Dwarf Papyrus and reeds and invasive yellow iris hacked back.

View from Elephant's Eye to our mountains

I pruned trees; he gets to shred the evidence to mulch later. Started with the two Kei apples at garage, sadly realised too late there is fruit coming.

15 November, 2013

Sun kissed at Paradise and Roses

by Diana Studer
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa


Duftwolke has convinced my camera that its petals are burnished with gold leaf where the sun catches them.

The Story of Elephant’s Eye

Chapter 6
Paradise and Roses

While we waited in our rented house, he planned the new house and the Ungardening. I thought about plants, choosing roses, and companion plants but indigenous to South Africa not commonorgarden.

We began Paradise and Roses as a blank slate in 2007

05 November, 2013

Vondeling and the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative

At the end of October we went to Vondeling near Wellington for the WESSA (once was WWF South Africa) Annual Regional Meeting. We have been members for years but work and life happens meant that this was the first meeting we’ve ever been to. Vondeling is a member of BWI, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.

Watsonia on a granite outcrop

25 October, 2013

A Swartland garden in October

We had a good wet winter and the garden sings in October flowers.

Plectranthus neochilus with Dimorphotheca jucunda

This poem can be read in 2 languages without any translation.
Simply focus a bilingual mind on either language.
Indigenous/native or foreign/exotic.

11 October, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

It may come true. We wanted a large space to make a garden. Our panhandle is a long driveway with a large square in which our house is roughly centred.

The Story of Elephant’s Eye

Chapter 5
Karoo Koppie and friends

Under the ash trees

Two ash trees thirty years old decided where the house was built. He wanted Ungardening Pond. I wanted formal walled Paradise and Roses.

26 September, 2013

Honey for tea

A Swartland garden in September

Mindfully weeding, I harvest treasure from our gravel paths. Salvia with sky blue, or burnt orange flowers, inch high lavender, are carefully tucked in pots to migrate to our False Bay garden. I follow my delighted nose to – Is there honey still for tea? Buddleja salviifolia has burst into bloom with honey you can both taste, and smell.

Buddleja salviifolia Sagewood

13 September, 2013

Cape mountain leopard cub at Mied Se Berg

At the end of August as the Western Cape battled thru fierce winter weather, my husband returned to Driehoek. Dr Quinton Martins of the Cape Leopard Trust and Jurg were still hoping to catch the wary Spot and replace the battery in her GPS collar.

Nieuwoudt Pass between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam

06 September, 2013

Rain gardening

Once upon a time we walked down the panhandle, past the ash trees to the reed bed and the weaver’s nests. We were smitten.

Giant or Spanish reeds

The Story of Elephant’s Eye

Chapter 4
Rain Gardening against Winter Floods

23 August, 2013

August Wildflower Wednesday looks to spring

A Swartland garden in August

When I pruned the roses, there were four flowers I left, to be cut down when the flowers faded. One was this Great North. Now I watch and wait, as the new season’s buds plump up and the fresh red leaves unfurl.

Great North


24 July, 2013

Winter sun and Japanese flowering quince

In July, our garden greets us with an explosion of Japanese flowering quince. The inherited shrubs are halfway down our driveway and turn passing heads. Time to harvest cuttings for False Bay? September?

Japanese flowering quince


29 June, 2013

Strawberry moon for Wildflower Wednesday

That supermoon was a ‘Strawberry Moon – This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. In Europe they called it the Rose Moon. The relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year in June’ – from Farmer's Almanac.

Supermoon, rising, slowly 


21 June, 2013

From the snow-capped Groot Winterhoek

- gardening for biodiversity

Edited in August 2014, when we returned for sunshine and firelight from the Leucadendrons.

Whether it’s our hiking boots following the trail. Or the hooves of the grysbok following its path thru the wilderness. Or the water from the winter rain, and melting snow – in the boggy bits a shallow skin of water, which is, barely perceptibly, moving. We three along the line of least resistance, erode the paths in the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area.

Groot Winterhoek with snow


07 June, 2013

Cape mountain leopard 3 hours later

As I write Cape Town is locked in the fourth glacial cold front bringing sub-polar air from Antarctica, with freaky hail storms. Inspiring a Chip Snaddon cartoon about bi-polar bears off Cape Town. While Europe is immersed in floods. In Switzerland young birds are battling the cold and wet. There are not enough insects to feed the fledglings and it will be a few good years before the bird population recovers.

Uitkyk Pass looking towards Algeria Forestry Station


31 May, 2013

Flower year in our Porterville garden

A map with the mediterranean areas of the world is now on my sidebar. That’s deliberately small m mediterranean. Quite implausible how widely scattered we are, and yet each scatter is sharply focused. Chile, California, Australian coast, the namesake Mediterranean Basin, and we are way down in the bottom corner of Africa. 

MARCH
March lily 2010, with his Panasonic Lumix


18 May, 2013

Almost colours for Wildflower Wednesday

Shimmering by moonlight in my mind, with Lighten our darkness, were the contemplative almost coloured flowers in my garden.

The Ungardener's moon rising


12 April, 2013

Succulent dividend returns on our hedge fund

We live in a temperate mediterranean climate. No garden down time, although in summer some plants go dormant. But now it is comfortable, we've had some rain. As I prune lightly along the paths, I harvest cuttings and in they go and grow!

Red dragonfly


20 March, 2013

Our garden year begins in March

Once when Ernst van Jaarsveld was asked about Mandela’s Gold, he gently told us the shiny new varieties are always less vigorous than the true species. So our sky blue and white Plumbago are covered with a best ever display of flowers, while the Royal Cape is different, both in colour and exuberance. The yellow Tecoma is lovely, while Big Red is always thirsty and then a bit miserly with his flowers - and I don’t see our sunbirds nectaring on him.

Plumbago in sky blue and white


22 February, 2013

Lessons Learned among February’s Wildflowers

The loudest lesson my South African garden has taught me, is in February ahead of Beth’s March meme Lessons Learned. As the seasons turn, the garden goes from hanging in there, even the succulents turning red and furling their leaves away from the 'Texas Death Star'. When I see the first March lily bud  nosing thru, it is time to prune. I love pruning, but I HATE the plants to look as if someone with no sense or sensibility has been at them with an electric hedge trimmer. I nibble away carefully, somewhere between topiary and green sculpture, lost in thought. I chop the pieces and return them as mulch for the plant they came from.

Kei apple
Dovyalis caffra 
Edible. Grows wild along the Eastern shore of South Africa

15 February, 2013

Well earned names


Wistfully looking back at how our garden grew. We garden for wildlife. The most spectacular wildlife in our walled small town garden flies in. The jewelled Malachite Kingfisher has returned to take lunch with us. No, I’ll pass on the frog’s legs thanks.

Malachite Kingfisher, visiting our garden
Thanks to my niece Claire - this young bird has a black bill,
which will turn red when he grows up

The Story of Elephant’s Eye
Chapter 2

Black Stork Island

25 January, 2013

Flowers for my mother

Gathering the January flowers from my garden for Wildflower Wednesday.

Many of the flowers in my garden came from my mother’s Camps Bay garden. White Pelargonium, electric pink Salvia greggeiSantolina in the little hedge, tuberous begonia with its interesting leaves and tangerine Bulbine.

Pelargoniums, the white and salmon from my mother

18 January, 2013

Naming of parts at Elephant’s Eye

UPDATE: In November Ungardening Pond is circled with purple spires as I've solved the marginal planting problem.

We are in January looking thru the eyes of the Roman god Janus both towards and back.  Last week I looked towards and chose my first tree for the False Bay garden which waits for us. 

The Story of Elephant’s Eye
Chapter 1

Today I look back at Elephant's Eye. I choose Summer Gold at Paradise and Roses - adding a little bling to your ‘yellow border’. Since I love words and my garden, I am recalling Naming of Parts.

In December 2006 work begins on Pani's Falls

Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

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.