15 February, 2010

Dozen for Diana 11 - Phyllis van Heerden

This garden has over 30 rose bushes. The first garden was on a mountain slope above Camps Bay - west facing into the sun, prevailing South-Easter which once tore the roof off our neighbour's house. Now we have heavy clay, summer heat, and in winter it Rains. The next garden will be sand, salt sea breezes - not suitable for roses. We will concentrate on the endangered indigenous plants.

I am imagining that townhouse/courtyard garden. No lawn! Somewhere to sit with a tiny pond. And we welcome birds, bugs and all.

COLLAGE First 11 of Dozen for Diana

Since this is a virtual garden I can and will, keep tweaking my choice of only 12 plants. For now we have a focal point/informal hedge (Dusty Miller), a small tree (Trimeria), a variegated groundcover (Plectranthus madagascariensis), colourful groundcover daisies (Dimorhpotheca jucunda), white arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), a scented pelargonium (name unknown, from my mother’s garden), one of our restios (Thamnochortus sp.), a flowering, succulent groundcover (Bulbine), a blue sage bush and finally dwarf papyrus in the wildlife pond. They are all happy with the long hot summer and wet winter of a Mediterranean climate. Double points if they are from South Africa. Third, got to have something special – beautiful foliage, flowers to pick, fragrance, wildlife friendly, edible, pioneer. These plants are all now growing in this, our second garden.

What did I dig up, or take cuttings, when we left the first garden for this one? What will I take when we move to the third garden? Since it is my list, first, the plants must appeal to me. Earn their place in my garden. And I will water worthy plants through the summer, but the plant has really got to earn my sweat and exhaustion.

I would like to be able to pick a posy for the house. Meet Mrs. Van Heerden, Phyllis to her friends, who get close enough to see her enchanting freckles. This is a natural hybrid between two of our indigenous shrubs, Ruttya and Ruspolia, so the Latin is X Ruttyruspolia. It was originally found in the wild by Mrs v H. Acanthaceae family, with Barleria, Hypoestes and Mackaya also in our garden. (Ah so, Acanthus mollis, Bear's Breeches, on my wish list, grows in our neighbour's garden!)

When we left Camps Bay I took cuttings of everything on principle. I did once choose it, with much deliberation, for good reason. Although this plant was a sad little straggly knee high bush, from which I could barely harvest four tiny cuttings with a few ratty leaves. Once we planted the pink roses, four ratty little cuttings went into the ground. Waiting hopefully for the promised pink flowers.

But with the benefit of the food and water the roses got, Phyllis said happily - I like it here, and began to G-R-O-W. Oh er?! Check the book. For Teza, who doesn't like flowers, unless they are blue. The luminous green leaves, with ruffled edges, have their own charm. She promises to be a huge shrub, covered with spikes of flowers. (Think azalea bush …) 3 of the 4 were moved across to the raised 'Woodland Walk' around and behind the waterfall. And the fourth is with the roses at the front door.

The flowering shrub you LOVE, happy in your soil and climate?

Photos by Jurg and Diana and written by Diana of  Elephant's Eye 


  1. Dear Diana, I have very much enjoyed reading this, a stream of consciousness, in which you reflect on the past, the present and speculate about the future. It is good at any point to take stock of where one is with the garden but is difficult to be really ruthless about those plants which, if one is honest, do not fully repay one's efforts.

  2. Edith - someone once said 'This is a garden, not a hospital' As in, if it is struggling, it's out! Can't quite do that, but one day in a smaller space, I will have to learn to.

  3. I think I would choose to grow sea oats if I could. They grow near the water in Florida where I grew up - a beautiful grass!

    Hard to know what to dig up and take (if anything) to a new garden. So hard to say goodbye after investing so much time!

  4. Ah, nearly complete! All are such fine choices. Those pond plants can really get out of hand though, we have had several near disasters with additions that grew much too quickly. But the first plant in this pond is the one remaining, the dwarf yellow waterlily, Nymphaea 'Helvola'. Thanks for the mention and answering my question about the plantings. :-)

  5. Diana, I don't have a pond (there is no shortage of water for wildlife in this part of the world!). I do have a dry streambed that runs through my property, and a fairly large vernal pool in the woods to the northeast of my garden. I sometimes think about extending the garden to include the vernal pool area just so I could grow some plants that would love that wet environment. I think my first choice would be Ilex verticillata, the deciduous native holly that goes by the common name 'winterberry." I would love to have some of its bright red berries to add vivid color to the winter landscape. -Jean

  6. How I love papyrus as well! The fishpond that came with the house also came with a pot of papyrus, and papyrus being what it is quickly outgrew its confines. It is a bit of a maintenance issue, but well worth it.

  7. JGH - sea oats sound good. We have wild oats, standing golden, but they are not 'wet' plants.

    Frances - Remember our Battle of the Bulrush?

    Jean - I sometimes wish we had had the courage and the confidence, to let our pond, in clay soil, be a natural, seasonal pond.

    James - at least the dwarf papyrus is a battle we can try to win!

  8. Argh! Sorry - these comments were attached to my Papyrus post. Now overwritten by the Phyllis van Heerden post. Will have to try and 'rewrite' papyrus.


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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