23 February, 2011

February’s wildflowers

When I woke there was autumn’s morning mist, burnt off a few hours later. The summer is still hot, but mid thirties rather than pushing 40 C. This year I will be using Gail at ClayandLimestone's Wildflower-Wednesday meme for  indigenous/native/wild flowers  blooming this month in our garden. For me that means indigenous to South Africa, and working on avoiding the summer rainfall plants from the far side of our country. The ones that hang their heads and whisper, it is h o t here … and need as much watering in summer as any commonorgarden exotic foreign plant!  Somewhat intimidated by Californian discussions about planting the right cultivar for My Watershed. In this First/Third world country … I’d be certified insane if I asked the nursery, but is it from Porterville, adapted to the Swartland summer?

Mid-month I will round up the exotics, especially the roses, which are beginning to sprout for their autumn flush. What is most visible in the garden now is blue. Blue sage and Plumbago in drifts.

Blue sage

If you want to join, in the spirit of Gail’s meme, she would like a plant portrait of one wildflower in your garden. Or one you met on a walk. Your weeds, the Ungardener’s freespirited plants. Dwarf Papyrus and restio are planted, the others are spontaneous gifts from nature.

Wild grasses
Bottom right dwarf Papyrus


Bauhinia is one of those kind, unmistakeable plants, easy to ID by their butterfly leaves.

Bauhinia natalensis

Remember Deborah of KilbourneGrove, now in Barbados? Her Bauhinia is a tree, as planted along the streets of our town. A popular garden plant is the huge sprawling shrub, Pride of De Kaap. Not the Cape, as in Cape Town, but from up north, south of Nelspruit. My Bauhinia natalensis is from Natal, surprisingly able to withstand our heat. Tiny butterfly leaves, and quiet white flowers, not the orange nasturtium monstrosities of De Kaap.

Bauhinia natalensis

Pink, purple and red. Cheating with macros and collages makes the garden appear very different to the predominantly green and brown impression it makes as a whole.

Wild flax, Ruttyruspolia Phyllis van Heerden
Pelargonium, Oxalis

Freylinia, Jasminum angulare
Dimorphotheca jucunda
(formerly Osteospermum), Tulbaghia

Bulbinella, brakvygie
(from Madagascar, in that country called Africa), Pelargonium

This wild olive began life as a seedling, planted by birds in our Camps Bay garden. Tiny olives. Drove me mad yesterday, trying to photograph them, the breeze, blurred every shot. Then I remembered the macro in a Mason jar technique. No breeze, the olives lie quietly instead of dancing gaily, and the camera, resting on the rim of the jar, doesn't move with me …

Wild olive

Mandela’s Gold Strelitzia is preparing the next bud. Look at these wondrous stripes.

Strelitzia Mandela's Gold

If I want to pick, it must be the odd rose, caught precisely, between tight bud, and toasted and chewed. Or playing with the varied foliage which I enjoy collecting!

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. so many beautiful flowers! and the olive looks great! is so cool the birds plant it.

  2. Diana~Lovely...and the olives in the jar macro shots were perfect. I've been both loving and feeling frustrated by the spring breezes. Just when the smallest bulbs are blooming and begging to be photographed the wind has them fluttering. I love Bauhinia natalensis with its butterfly foliage and the grasses call to me. What a marvelous and magical world we live in that gives us beautiful flowers like you've shown us. gail

  3. So many flowers!

    Specially like the last photo.


  4. Diana your flowers are just gorgeous. I think I love the olives and wild flax the most....so similar to many of our flowers. Of course a popular flower here is the one formerly known as Osteospermum ...very much an annual for many of us..it does not like my wet, humid summers.

  5. Donna - the ex-Osteo is getting a bit ticked off with hot and dry too! That, was the single, blogworthy flower ;~) When is that autumn rain coming??

  6. Glad it's starting to cool down for you (a little). Your selection of flowers is wonderful and thanks for letting us know about the meme.

  7. I absolutely love that Bauhinia and need to learn more about it. Your photos are incredible and an inspiration while we are still roughing winter here.

  8. Fantastic post with gorgeous photos, Diana. Your collages alone are beautiful. You sure do have a huge variety of natives there. Just lovely. Plumbago is a favorite perennial here and does well during the summer.

  9. You are inspiring me to plant a few more indigenous plants in my garden!

    PS thanks for making me feel "proudly South African" whilst reading this.

  10. So pretty and so many.

  11. I have some of the same plants in my garden, but definitely want to add some blue sage this year. Hurry up Autumn!

  12. Your first line is scary. Summer is slowly starting to come to an end...

  13. Mid-30's?!!? We're still in the high 20's now so I would probably join your exotics in whispering about the heat. I only tolerate the heat when I'm on the beach and refreshing water is steps away.

    I especially like your olives and that's a neat trick with the mason jar. Thanks!

  14. A delightful post Diana! Beautiful photos and your text is as usual spiced with your wit and wisdom. I love " tiny butterfly leaves, and quiet white flowers" . . . not the orange. . . monstrosities." True about how our photos only show the most beautiful and leave off the whole that is sometimes not as stunning. Still I know yours is a lovely landscape.

  15. Guten Morgen Diana,
    it is about time to comment back on your site! Herzlichen Dank for your all friendly comments on my blog and all those picks :-)
    What the 'Brandenburger Schlange' is good for, I haven't found out yet. Even my husband didn't know, I'll find out and let you know! Water buffalos and koniks are part of landscape maintenance started ten years ago in Germany.Here in my corner they started two years ago to keep horses and buffalos in an area where they had fish ponds in GDR times.
    I am always impressed by all these (sub)tropical beauties I find on your photos! I am especially keen to see more about native pelargoniums!
    Liebe Grüße
    aus einem eiskalten Fließtal

  16. Cheating or not, the macro collages are so pretty and also satisfying when there's not much color in the garden.

  17. Diana, 30c is hot but 40 phew only ever experienced this on a trip to Spain. I would also plant more indigenous plants, but you can only have so much of Heather. Great plants in your garden, we very often have the Osteospermum and the Pelargoniums.

  18. Alistair - 30C is kind, quite pleasant. When it drops a few more degrees we start looking for sleeves ... If your heather, were our Erica, then you would have a HUGE selection ... I think Scotland has only a few species? I have managed to coax two SA plants to survive our heat ;~(

  19. The macro/Mason jar technique worked beautifully for the olives - really captured the shine on the fruit and the delicate fuzz on the leaves. And at least when they come up wild you know they're suited for your Watershed... ;)

  20. So true about the California viewpoint. Sometimes I have thought that when I have posted such incorrect posts about things like 'green lawn' which has sprinklers. I almost expect to get told off for those 'bad things'

  21. Dear Diana, How I love 'spontaneous gifts from nature' - often more perfect than anything I try to grow. Your collages are stunning as usual - I haven't mastered them yet. P x

  22. It is so good, to see so beautiful flowers. Here we have snow, so it's like spring to me, to visit your blog.

  23. Diana, I responded to your comment on my blog but don't know if you check on replies so thought I'd post this here, too. If you're interested, here's a link to a short video someone took at Bosque del Apache - "dqtaz" really captured the cranes well.

  24. Wonderful wildflowers you have over there. I love them. I'm glad you cheated too. I'm sure you would have noticed I do that too.

    You seem very knowledgeable as you know the names to all those flowers. I find beautiful flowers during my walk but have no clue of their names which is why I have never participated in this meme.

  25. I'm about to declare Southern California a South African outpost--We've got huge numbers of your plants all around here, including several that you showed!

  26. One - I do try to name the flowers, but I gloss over the difficult ones. 'Grasses' for instance!


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.

Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
For real time, click on the map.