by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
The string of hearts is Ceropegia woodii a tiny succulent creeper I grow in pots. Before blogs and the internet when I still read gardening magazines, I once asked if anyone had a bit of this plant for me. They came from all over South Africa. By post, and even a young woman on holiday from Durban who brought me a tiny pot from her granny in Kloof near Durban. Now my pots are tucked in the hanging gardens of Babylon around the Folie de MIIX and I forget to look at them. The plant family is Apocynaceae (with frangipani and Carissa), formerly Asclepiadaceae (with Hoodia, Hoya and Stapelia). Found across South Africa, and to Tanzania and Madagascar. The bushman's pipe flowers are to catch insects, but only for pollination, not lunch.
|String of hearts with paired leaves|
Those tiny silver marbled leaves are a year round delight, the flowers fleeting. I've always loved the butterfly paired leaves of Bauhinia. We have street trees in Porterville, huge leaves and OTT pink flowers the size of my spread hand. The orchid tree from India and China. Still too large for my garden is Bauhinia galpinii with terracotta flowers deceptively like nasturtiums. Pride of de Kaap, but that isn't the Western Cape, it's south of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. What I can fit in my garden is tiny Bauhinia natalensis with ethereal white flowers dancing like butterflies among miniature leaves. Fabaceae with peas and beans. Zone denial, this plant is from the summer rainfall side of South Africa, but in Paradise and Roses it gets watered weekly in summer. Bauhinia was named by Linnaeus for the identical twin brothers Johan and Caspar Bauhin, both botanists and herbalists from the 16th century.
|Bauhinia natalensis flower|
Port St John's creeper Podranea ricasoliana comes from the Transkei, yet again the zone denial heavy rainfall side of South Africa. Since the Ungardener has been watering more, our plant is flowering. Many South African botanists suspect that this plant is a heritage of slave traders. Bignonaceae family with Jacaranda from Argentina and our Tecoma.
|Podranea ricasoliana flower|
|Port St John's creeper|
The roses appreciate the first rain and we have some flowers. Papa Meilland, Chaim Soutine, Duftwolke and Casanova, with buds coming on the others. Our neatly Swiss stacked firewood has morphed from 'decor object with tactile texture and clouded colours' to 'Last year we had our first fire on the 9th April'. Winter has reached her chilly fingers out.
with striped Chaim Soutine twice
The turning season also bring my posts of indigenous bulbs to life. Almost the 'Jersey' lily Nerine sarniensis has opened her gold-spangled scarlet flowers. Crassula leaves glowing like flames.
Nerine sarniensis, Duftwolke
The Ungardener has been busy 'spring' cleaning the pond and removing excess water weed. The resident lizard has learned to harvest his lunch, including don't bite the hand that feeds you, dragonfly larvae.
|hand-feeding the lizard|
Between his work and the rain Ungardening Pond is reflecting like a mirror, as it should!
|Ungardening Pond with Spirulino's|
This Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and Limestone in Tennessee, I turned to 3 treasured beauties that have missed their moment of fame on Elephant's Eye until now. Except the roses (and the Podranea?) all today's plants are South Africans. Background information on South African plants is from PlantZAfrica.
Pictures by Diana Studer of Elephant's Eye
(in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa)
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