12 February, 2010

I want to start gardening, she wails!

(Broken links for photos restored October 2021)

Lots of plants.Waiting impatiently in pots. Been there for more than a year, while the house was built. The Ungardener did most of the Ungardening (read hard landscaping) himself, and that takes time. Months of time.

Remember we had floods, on heavy clay soil, with no paths. You can imagine the mess, inside and out! The driveway was functional to give the builders access to our panhandle plot. But we needed four single steps built, to get to the outside doors. And washing lines (we are allowed to dry our washing in the sun and the breeze). Everywhere I try to dig there are gobbets and sheets of concrete, broken bricks, broken glass, bits of plastic and metal rubbish.

2007 planted in June, bulbs in July, by November it was green,and the bricks for the edging

Got to start somewhere. So we made the first flower bed alongside the garage, towards the front door. Lots of weeds - wildflowers - free spirited plants as the Ungardener says. First of the Dusty Millers - my signature plant. One of the reasons we chose this plot was the mass of giant Spanish reeds with an established colony of Cape weaver birds. After we built the wall, with the back garden gate, we also had one fig tree on this, public side. Right. Step. Brick edging. Gravel path. Someone else, with a pick axe, removed the worst concrete. Drainage organised from this side of the roof, to go into the reeds.

           2008 January Nandina and Pennisetum, May bulbs - top AND bottom left, 
August with remnant of sluice gate, and Dietes in November 

At last I can start. This was a nursery bed for the cuttings. A pair of Nandina either side of the front door. Lots of Dusty Miller. Two clumps of Pennisetum - fountain grass - beautiful - oh dear vehement invasive alien, OUT - and now I am religiously clearing the seedlings as they come up. Bulbine which is now marching in a long line at the far edge of the 'forecourt'. The white Pelargonium from my mother. Two bits of Strelitzia, which I thought were regina (smallish) but now look as if they might be nicolai (H-U-G-E, oh er). A bunch of lavender seedlings. A clump of Cyperus at the overflow from the pressure relief valve for the mains water.


2009 Dusty Miller debauched in August, and behaving in October, 
Spanish reeds in October and December's Agapanthus

Then I moved clumps of Agapanthus, Dietes and Watsonia from the driveway. Also passalong Eucomis, Amazon lily. A bietou, tree sized daisy bush, planted by birds in the last garden, has edible black berries. Bought in from the nursery, two Abelia bushes (not really so happy in the heat, but I love those delicate white trumpets), blue, and white plumbago, and 3 Hypoestes, ribbon bush. A bit of unhappy ivy. Lots of self sown Nasturtiums.

2009 roses, in May and June newly transplanted, fig tree and rose blooms in October

Later I found that watering the roses, by hand, with watering cans, in the summer heat, down the driveway was Too Much. So we made one bed larger, did some rearranging, and transplanted the inherited roses. Bought one new one - Perfume Passion. The roses are green, but I am hoping the autumn flush will provide the fragrant welcome I was planning. 

And the moral of this story is, that with all those vigorous pioneers, as soon as it turns to autumn, I will be doing some serious pruning, shredding for mulch, and transplanting of the oh ers!

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


  1. Dear Diana, How exciting all of this sounds and how well organised you are. I can so clearly believe that you are a real plantswoman and are filling your new garden with no end of interesting and unusual treasures.

    Clay soil, I do know, is such a devil to work. I have friends in the country who garden on clay but it does, in the end, repay one's efforts. Roses particularly enjoy a heavy soil.

  2. Looking great right now. Do post the pics after pruning and transplantation, am sure will look better.

  3. I'm of mixed minds, Diana. I want to start gardening BUT (and it's a big but) I have a manuscript due on 1 July so it's a bit tricky because i have to do my other writing, and speaking, and all that good stuff along with writing the book. However...another two months and i'll be itching to get my hands in the dirt, other deadlines be damned. I can feel that.
    Can't wait to see how things unfold for you as the season stretches on.

  4. I read your post with a sigh. I'm so ready to start gardening again, after several years of being a gardener without a garden. In 2 years your bed next to the garage became lush and full. That means in just 2 years perhaps the flower bed I'm revamping this year will look as lush. I can only hope.

  5. Edith - well organised is one of the delightful illusions of blogging in this virtual reality.

    Teresa - if you start it, at the right time of year, with the right plants, it is almost frightening how you can watch it GROW! From those first little 'acorns' we are greening the rest, bit by bit.

  6. Hi Diana - thanks for picking my recent posting - you live in a beautiful part of the world - we nearly came to S.Africa on holiday last year but in the end the cost was just going to be too much - hope to visit one day... your garden looks a picture! Have a good weekend... Miranda

  7. Oh, don't I know that feeling. Why is the garden always an afterthought? I can't understand why I can't pay some money on plants, after 10 times that has gone for hardscaping...

    But I digress. It does look green and wonderful, and nothing ever goes according to plan!

  8. I loved your comment that a blog can make a garden look more organized than it is. In fact I look at my blog as an *attempt* to get things organized. You look like you've already achieved a lot in that department! Barbara

  9. Barbara - if I were to present a wide view, the whole truth as at Faire Garden - we'd all be disappointed. The details are sound, but the general impression is still very much a work in progress. A true garden, you know, you should have seen it ...

  10. It looks like a nice plan to me! It never fails to amaze me how many favorites here in the states are from South Africa. Blood lily, agapanthus, eucomis, dietes, plumbago, etc. I can't wait to see it progress!

  11. Rainforest Gardener - you've got me wondering what I call a blood lily? Wachendorfia, which has red roots? The rest are all present and correct in my garden.


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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