26 January, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday, South Africa in January

I started last Christmas, to record what is blooming in my garden each month. Not an exhaustive record. More a strolling around the garden, what catches my eye. As a garden resolution for this year, I’ll join Gail at Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday, and this year I will only record indigenous/South African flowers. (Leaving the roses and other exotics to shine on my mid-month garden walk).   

This January has been perhaps not as hot as usual, but it is as dry as usual. The level in the town dam is sinking to muddy summer water.  The garden shows itself in summer’s drab greens and browns. I need to take Town Mouse’s advice and cut back perennials and shrubs hard this autumn, so we will get fresh green.

Cyperus and bulrush
Restio and wild grasses

There is some colour in the garden, apart from a few beleaguered summer roses. An ankle-high drift of orange and yellow Bulbinella spreads across the garden. The wild Jasmine we planted outside the bedroom to cover a rainwater tank. Vibrant pink Phyllis van Heerden Ruttyruspolia (a hybrid whose parents come from Tropical and East Africa, gets thirsty!) And a gentle bluey mauve Freylinia, with long trumpets, supposed to attract moths and butterflies.

Freylinia, jasmine
Bulbinella, Ruttyruspolia

There are spots of colour scattered around from a variety of wild pelargoniums. Species, rather than horticultural, this year’s, must have, NEW!

species pelargoniums

Salmon Pelargonium

In Paradise, our rose garden, the blue sage has claimed the white/winter/pale bed. But our Mandela’s Gold Strelitzia, having moved with us from the Camps Bay garden, is coming into bloom. Butter yellow, with a soft blue tongue, unlike the intense colours of the original species. Whose leaves you see beyond and to the right.

Mandela's Gold Strelitzia

Between that sage and lots of Plumbago the garden shows itself in a blue mood. We have Plumbago in the original white and faded sky blue. And also the new, more intense blue, of Royal Cape.

Plumbago, Royal Cape below

Looking for flowers today, I was trying to capture these tiny yellow paintbrush daisy flowers. Where I found Gail’s tiny bees. I did! The camera didn’t. And these harvester ants hard at work.

Harvester ant

Trying to find a way to show you just how tiny these flowers are, I used the macro in a Mason jar technique. Using the rim of the jar/bowl/vase as a tiny tripod to sharpen the focus. The garden is blue, but neither the sage nor the Plumbago survives in captivity. Once picked, they sulk and shed flowers. This is my January garden bouquet for Noelle. (I  do have tiny vases with roses here, almost every month).

January flowers

Behold, the ghost of blue sage. Like a homeopathic remedy. The flower is out of sight, leaving a shimmer of vibrant green from the calyx, which looks more purple in life. And a wash of sea green enhanced turquoise, from flowers which are a much quieter faded blue to my own eye.

Ghost of blue sage

Pictures and words 
by 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)


  1. There seems to be a soft, warm light over things.

    The Strelitzia has ambitions to be a toucan.

    I don't understand the ghost of sage but I do think that picture is specially beautiful.


  2. Diana, It seems warm and wonderful in South Africa in January, and the natives are lovely. I'm especially drawn to the native pelargoniums - so sweet.

  3. Diana, I am so glad you are joining the wildflower celebration~The species pelargoniums are incredibly charming. Oh to have them available here~They would be my special exotics! The Harvester Ant capture is fantastic! gail

  4. Very beautiful blooms! It must be great enjoying them. I also try to record how my garden does, hopefully it will help me make some planing

  5. Diana, I've never heard of photographing flowers in a jar but now that I've seen it I'm captivated. Your photographs are beautiful.

  6. Bird of paradise always reminds me of my grandfather who went to great pains to grow them in his greenhouse. It's nice to see the golden variety.

  7. Beautiful photographs. The Gold Strelizia is very special!

  8. ooh to live in a tropical climate zone, I envy you. Nice photos.

  9. Nothing like a Wildflower Wednesday to brighten up a January week. Dear little pelargoniums, love them!

  10. Marguerite - macro in a mason jar was January's GGW photo competition. I was too late.


  11. Dear Diana, isn't it wonderful that so many bloggers promote the concept of country gardens? Thank you for giving me that link to the Town Mouse/Country Mouse blog in California, I have a lot of reading to do there! Your Spring garden photos are lovely!

    It is sad that farming puts an end to valuable veld. Fynbos can withstand grazing and fire, but not ploughing!

  12. Always a pleasure Diana to visit your blog...especially loving your pelargoniums - beautiful!

  13. You have some truly spectacular native plants (they all look foreign to me). :) I think it must be lovely to have native pelargoniums.

  14. Especially since our wild pelargoniums are the ones horticulture tweaks then sells around the world!

  15. The gold strelitzia does look like an exotic bird! All of your native wildflowers are lovely. I am particularly fond of plumbago. I have a lovely blue variety in my garden.

  16. Hi Diana, great to see the latest flowerings in your garden. I especially love the last one, like abstract art. And the wonderful photo of the ant ... and the rest ... cheers, cm


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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