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

Australian brush cherry
Commonorgarden apples come from?

The lesson is, prune hard. 'Cut back down to the ground' makes me shriek silently. But I do the lavender and roses style, remove one third, the oldest woodiest stuff. Then pile the trimmings up, run them thru the shredder, and apply as a well-groomed mulch carpet. Focus on COMPLETING one section at a time. I worked my way along the path outside the garage to the front door, where I began planting this garden in 2007. Now I can stroll, head tall - I don’t need to duck overarching branches, arms flung wide – I don’t have to zig zag along evading intruders, seeing my plants go to autumn – instead of tripping over sprawlers. Garden lessons are never learnt once and for all. That path – the Plumbago still grows too near my shoulders.

Royal Cape Plumbago

Clerodendron blue cat's whiskers, Plumbago sky blue
Blue sage, Royal Cape Plumbago

Anna's Red, Perfume Passion
Karoo Rose, Burning Sky
commonorgarden roses from China?

Our pelargoniums
with lavender from the Mediterranean

Tecoma capensis (thanks Janneke), Ruttyruspolia
Streptocarpus,
wild jasmine

Pride of India, comes from (India and) China
Lagerstroemia
Crepe myrtle 

Gail at Clay and Limestone hosts Wildflower Wednesday. In my captions today, any flower that doesn’t bear a country tag, is Proudly South African!

March lily bud in just 3 days

Pictures and text by Diana Studer
(also on Google Plus)
AKA 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.)

35 comments:

  1. such a wonderful relationship with Chocolat! Beautiful photos as always, wonderful words and on that topic, two words never used together here in Northern Canada, February flowers, no such thing here, lol, well except in a green house, your blog is a treat for my winter weary eyes,

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  2. Of course you aren't talking to yourself when you are talking to the cat. You are talking to the cat. And the cat listens.

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    1. and answers ... Chocolat sometimes come in of an evening with a LONG story!

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  3. Wait, you said the plumbago is too near your shoulders? How tall does it grow? Here it is a groundcover a few inches high.

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    1. be afraid, be very afraid. Give Plumbago a tree and it will climb up and UP. Where they grow wild in the Eastern Cape I saw them growing 3 or 4 storeys high. Those unmistakeable blue flowers waving jauntily in the treetops!
      PS is there a North American species?

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  4. So lovely to be met and escorted to the door by someone who knows you know the way but just can't resist. You commented on one of my nervous posts about pruning that elephants trample plants, and they still grow back. Around here the plants are probably still expecting bison--but that definitely puts "prune hard" into perspective.

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    1. then there's fire. But only Federal Twist literally burns his garden each year!

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  5. Beautiful post, Diana! As we both have comfortable, moderate seasons ahead, there's a comfort in the knowing. We just received five more inches of snow here, but the songbirds were chirping away while I shoveled it--they must know something! Pruning is painful, isn't it? I need to do likewise around here for some of my shrubs. Take care, and thanks for joining in with "Lessons Learned." That will be my next post and I'll link you in!

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  6. Good luck with Google Analytics. Are you of a scientific bent?

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    1. I have looked at Analytics a few times and retreated in horror. Now, I'm trying it. Not yet convinced that I have more and useful info there.

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  7. So wonderful to see all those flowering plants, love the Tecoma stans and the Lagerstroemia. This year it takes long before spring arrives, have still frosted soil and only flowering snowdrops. Must feel pleasant to have a walk and social talk with your cat Chocolat. When we had cats in the past on the farm sometimes three of them accompanied our parents for a walk on the dike.

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    1. Tecoma stans is 'native to the Americas'. Ours is Tecoma capensis - and I see the name changed (from Tecomaria) in 2008!

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  8. Diana - Would you know where I could find a book on the plants of the Overberg region. RMan has expressed an interest on learning more about them, but I am battling to find anything in hard copy form - he's not into electronic reading...

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    1. http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/plants/SA_regional_guides.htm
      Mustart, P., Cowling, R. & Albertyn, J. 1997. Southern Overberg. South African Wild Flower Guide 8. Botanical Society of Southern Africa, Kirstenbosch.
      I would look at the bookshops at Kirstenbosch, or any good bookshop.

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    2. Many, many thanks Diana. Really appreciate your help :)

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  9. I love this blog! Thanks so much for all you do! I will be coming back often! just followed you on google +! xo

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  10. Diana I still cannot get over all the natives that are so beautiful in your garden...ones I try to grow as annuals here in summer. I have no watch cat, but the der raid the garden at dusk, late at night and early in the morning. They are becoming too bold and even my talking to them does not deter them. I look forward to learning more about your new blogging info

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  11. Diana, you were one of the first blogs I ever read and I was so impressed by your knowledge and confidence! Thank you for all your support over the years, it is still a mind boggling experience visiting your blog and catching up on all you manage to achieve!! How do you do it! Good luck with Analytics!!

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  12. Diana, I always love seeing all your blooms when we're still in winter's grip. And I always love hearing about M. Chocolat's exploits -- as a cat person without a cat, I am smitten. -Jean

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    1. there are cats waiting in your future?

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  13. I am wondering, Diana, if wild jasmine is more fragrant that those plants we buy in nurseries... Do you know?

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  14. I spoyyed some March Lilies flowering in Settlers Park here in PE yesterday. Darn, now that I think of it I should have stopped for a picture.

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  15. Your flowers are beautiful! You may remember that we are new to owning a cat. Own? Excuse me, she has chosen to share our home and garden with us. And she definitely understands English. Not only do we talk to her, but she talks back. We don't understand cat language as well as she understands ours, but we try.

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  16. I like the idea of returning the trimmings to fertilise the same plant.

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  17. Wow, your photographs are just exquisite! Makes me long for SA! My cat is definitely a guard cat. He sits on the window sill and surveys his whole kingdom, straightening indignantly if another cat dares to enter his territory. Then he sends his three-legged sister colonel out to beat them to a pulp. She might have lost her leg, but she is the fiercest thing on the block.

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  18. Lovely photo of your cat! My Mr. can't stand em so we don't any now. I also get nervous outside at night! Even walking between our door and my dad's. Few mountain lions here, but there are sightings, and goats have been killed in the past. Plumbago is another plant popular in our Mediterranean climate, and deer don't like it, they say. I have enough native shrubs I think, without introducing any others especially any with height. I just did add a couple low growing Australians to my dad's garden - he and my mom lived there for many years. I thought about looking into google analytics but have not yet done so. I'm allergic to tech since I retired from a tech job!

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    1. My Analytics are challenging me, and my networked advisers on G+. (I still prefer StatCounter but I'm learning, slowly)

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  19. Diana, I enjoyed your comments on pruning. It does seem counterintuitive sometimes to cut something back hard. I tend to go with my instinct and treat each plant and shrub as an individual. That way I can attempt to bring out its best. This takes longer, but I quite enjoy the process. It's sort of creative and artsy - in a meditative way.

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    1. dead link from dirtynailz, here's a live one
      http://diggingri.com/2013/02/21/the-constructiondestruction-continues/

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  20. I find it hard to prune hard even when I know they'll be better for it. I don't really understand the reluctance, it doesn't make sense. Your mother's quite right - I have long conversations with Potter and she understands every word, she is a perfect listener. Except when she goes to sleep or wanders away.

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  21. I've been looking out my window at the bare naked trees and bushes, exposed by the melting of the snow... almost gone. Excited and hoping for a warm day and out I will go to prune. I love to prune... as long as someone else bundles the sticks. I sense a bit of melancholy in your post. But only because it will be far too soon when I will say my long goodbyes to my gardens. I also sense peace here and that is a very good thing. Enjoy the changing of the seasons!

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    1. Melancholy? I'll add you to my reader, need to keep a friendly eye on you.

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  22. Lots of great information here and your photos are amazing, too!

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  23. Your garden is absolutely filled with so much beauty, Diana. I love that lily bud emerging and your cat waiting. This was a beautiful post.

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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.


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