28 December, 2012

Janus and December for Wildflower Wednesday

The Roman god Janus - for whom January is named – looks both at the past, and to the future. We have our new home on False Bay, and we are split between planning changes there, and preparing Elephant’s Eye for sale. On the verandah a purple Streptocarpus glows like a jewel.

Streptocarpus looking across to Rest and Be Thankful

14 December, 2012

The elusive Cape mountain leopard Spot

When I wrote on the 24th of November, the weatherman promised ‘very cold, wet and windy conditions are expected to set in over the north-western high ground’ in the Cederberg. Sutherland has had MINUS 2C in November! Jurg was hiking at Driehoek as October turned to November volunteering with the Cape Leopard Trust and helping to monitor the traps.

The Cape Leopard Trust

07 December, 2012

Dozen for Diana in December 2012

Beth in Wisconsin is looking back at Lessons Learnt. She writes –When life takes you in unexpected directions, particularly pleasant ones, don't lament the road you previously expected to take. Just enjoy the new path’. I’ll bring a simple practical lesson learnt. Agapanthus flowers for Christmas, need watering as the buds emerge. 

Simon's Town naval dockyard
looking across to Elsie's Peak then the Kalk Bay mountains
with the Fish Hoek valley going  across to the Atlantic Ocean

30 November, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday with ours and yours

The garden is quieter, and I am busier, so this Wildflower Wednesday instead of focusing only on South African wildflowers as I usually do – I bring you whatever is yelling ME ME in my garden. First our locals. The garden remains in a blue mood. Swathes of Plectranthus spires, on which the tiny flowers spiral around, keep on giving, defying the summer heat as it rolls in with warnings from the weatherman of Hot and Uncomfortable.

Plectranthus neochilus

09 November, 2012

Summer Southeaster swept into my garden

Our garden is in that dip, when the flowers and lush green of autumn winter and spring’s bulbs – are lying down in summer tans. Crumpled leaves are ready to be chopped and mulched for the next season’s flowers.

Agapanthus bud in morning sun at Ungardening Pond

03 November, 2012

Life is what happens

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans - John Lennon, and others before him. One day, we will move to a town house on False Bay. This garden has been about the roses. Ungardening Pond. The view to Elephant’s Eye. The two huge ash trees. The weaver birds in the giant/Spanish reeds.

Now I see the roses in Paradise AND Roses
Anna's Apricot, Duftwolke and Pearl of Bedfordview

26 October, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday for October

The roses are lovely, in our garden, in vases in our house, and scattered across the Cape Town family – but today I turn to South African glory for Wildflower Wednesday. Roughly sorted by colour, from purple, thru red and yellow, to green.  First choice is the citrus-scented Pelargonium citronellum, toothed leaves are always attractive (and smell yummy), when in bloom the flowers are delicately ornate.

citrus-scented Pelargonium citronellum

19 October, 2012

October’s choice

We are caught up in, what I hope is the last of the fierce winter rain. Port Alfred had 165 mm of rain by Thursday morning. That is six and a half inches. 

Blue sky feathered with clouds

12 October, 2012

Paradise and Roses

When I hand-water our roses, 2 five litre cans in hand,
I walk a meditative labyrinth
– circling back to the grey water tank.
All my roses come from Ludwig's Roses Winelands branch.

Edited in September 2014

1 Pushed out of Paradise
Anna in her fuchsia gown met the Black Prince (an Old Cape rose). He was first overwhelmed by her Perfume Passion, then introduced to little Apricot. A line of 3 Anna’s Red remind me how quickly three decades pass.

Pushed out of Paradise
1 Anna's Fuchsia
2 Black Prince
3 Perfume Passion
4 Anna's Apricot

04 October, 2012

Your point of view

It depends how you look at it, where you are coming from, your terms of reference. This morning young Chocolat climbed the whippy Trimeria, leapt to the gutter and onto the roof! Then managed to scramble down again, via the same tree. Later I watched him, at the base of the wall, looking up, calculating distance and trajectory. Allowing for that thorny branch between him and the top of the wall. And he sails effortlessly up, like water poured from a jug.  

26 September, 2012

The garden at Elephant’s Eye in September

In Paradise and Roses, there are rosebuds showing colour, but that garden is focused on Paradise. Autumn Fire and Spring Promise, the dark and the Pink, are the two beds which are enchantingly filled with flowers. Taken yesterday.

Paradise and Roses yesterday

Just 10 days ago I cut the path free ….

31 August, 2012

Caracal at Driehoek for the Cape Leopard Trust

It’s been 3 months since Jurg last went to Driehoek volunteering to monitor traps for the Cape Leopard Trust. This time, the signal went off near Quinton’s base at Matjiesriver. 

Jurg with sedated caracal
Photo by Dawie Burger of Driehoek

The team met at the walk thru trap for caracal. Jurg wanted to take a picture of the caracal IN the trap – but Dr. Quinton Martins was adamant. ‘We have to get the caracal out of the cage, before he hurts himself!’ First the welfare of the caracal.

24 August, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday in August 2012

January 2015 edited back to Wildflower Wednesday (without the techie photo info)

Euryops, Chrysanthemoides monilifera, Felicia
Dimorphotheca jucunda
and pluvialis
South African daisies

17 August, 2012

03 August, 2012

Lughnasa flowers for Annie

Chinese winter-flowering jasmine fountains near our post-box. 
‘You’ve got a postcard from China!’ 
‘Ooh that’ll be from Annie Yim on G+ in Taiwan.’

Annie's postcard
Nimmt sich kein Blatt vor den Mund
- that would be both of us!

It’s a strange feeling to hold in my hand a postcard handwritten by a virtual friend.

27 July, 2012

Karoo wildflowers

Gathering up July’s wildflowers. Lime green flowers on Euphorbia mauretanica are lit up in Worcester, back home in our garden there is promise in the burgeoning leaf tips, but not even buds yet. After our walk, the nursery was closed for lunch. And the restaurant has closed altogether. Twice disappointed. They are busy reworking the garden in front of the nursery. We’ll try again in August.

Our Karoo Koppie is swathed in reddish flowers with an undercarpet of Oxalis pes-capreae on a mission to take over the world. This succulent garden is also surrounded by works in progress as he redesigns the Mediterranean Sun Circle so we’ll skip the wide view till he’s done.  This morning the leaves were sheened and dripping dew.

Cotyledon orbiculata, Aeonium
Quiver tree, succulent pelargonium

13 July, 2012

Gardening for wildlife in a Cape winter

We garden for wildlife. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? Between RL and gardening, rediscover your sense of wonder. Take time out, see what wildlife makes its home, or pauses, in your garden.

In Paradise and Roses both of our strelitzias have a flower open. I know our strelitzias are grown in California, I wonder if the hummingbirds use them as a nectar source? Strong stem and a bowl overflowing with nectar brings an impatient queue of  masked weavers and  Cape weavers.

Strelitzia reginae occurs naturally only in South Africa: eastern coast, from Humansdorp to northern KwaZulu-Natal in coastal bush and thicket. It grows along river banks in full sun, however sometimes it occurs and flowers on margins of forest in shade – from PlantZAfrica.

Weaver on Strelitzia

07 July, 2012

July garden catch up

I was. I was going to prune the figs this afternoon. He was. He was planning to work on his current Ungardening project, which is stuck at the nasty muddy chaos stage. But the next cold front rolled in from Antarctica direction, and it’s bucketing down. He is tucked up with TV and cat.

from Dasklip Pass to Witkranskop
with Leucadendron

29 June, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday in the Groot Winterhoek

As usual, when we hike in the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, we were the only people there. The only car parked. We did meet a group of young people being trained to maintain the trails.

His grass, backlit with bokeh

Our fynbos is threatened by global warming. Proteas, ericas, bulbs and daisies. The plants could retreat up the mountain slopes, but they are used to paddling their toes in the mountain streams. Those mountain streams flow down to the Voelvlei Dam and supply Cape Town with tap water. Or not! If global warming bites.

22 June, 2012

In the pond grows, with June's winter flowers

If I was a minimalist, if I had to accept the tiniest courtyard garden, these six plants would satisfy me. A tree for structure. A shrub for shelter. A pioneer to nurse its companions along. A groundcover to carpet the bare earth. A pelargonium to flute in PINK, accompanied by mellow blues on shrub and groundcover.

Kingfisher and reeds

In this tiniest of gardens, as I sit under the tree, there will be water.

18 May, 2012

The Fifth in Dozen for Diana - shocking pink Pelargonium

In 2015 my pelargoniums at False Bay sadly no longer include this pickable shocking pink.

Looking back after five years of gardening at Elephant’s Eye, I am choosing my way to 12 plants. Building a virtual garden in a Picasa collage using the plants I have learnt to treasure. Not the must have, shiny new, love at first sight. But the enduring contentment of same old same old. Stays green or at least hangs in there thru the summer.  Returns each year, if it goes dormant. Blooms reliably for me each year.

Five in Dozen for Diana's virtual garden

11 May, 2012

May around our garden

Tucking Saxon Holt’s advice into my camera, I try to capture something deliberate.  Weaning myself off macros for today.

Looking from the front door

As we step out of the front door, we see once a polka dot effect, now the plants elbow and shoulder us.

04 May, 2012

Patch the Cape leopard and his collar at work

Jurg has been to Driehoek once more with the Cape Leopard Trust. Back in February he saw this klipspringer family.

Male klipspringer

Mother and baby klipspringer

13 April, 2012

April showers bring us flowers 2012

The noise of long hot dry days, has been broken by the clear signal of autumn. We can garden in shorts and T-shirt without desperately seeking shade. An Easter weekend which brought us a grateful soaking of 34 millimetres of rain.

Our Southern hemisphere mediterranean autumn, walks hand in hand with Northern gardeners delighting in spring. The garden is stretching gracefully. 

Lampranthus seedheads open in the rain

Walking on our Karoo Koppie I found flowers in a subtle range of colours. Wait, those should be a star-spangled lemon yellow in September! The vygie seedheads had opened in the rain.

30 March, 2012

Caught a Cape mountain leopard

After midnight the phone rings. My heart sinks. But it is Quinton – Tell Jurg, we've caught A LEOPARD!! Jurg falls out of bed and in one and a half hours he has joined the others at Driehoek. Driving carefully to avoid two grysbok, a duiker, and rabbits who run along the road.

Waiting with the Cape Leopard Trust at Driehoek

The young Cape mountain leopard is in good hands – Dr Quinton Martins researcher at the Cape Leopard Trust, Dr Marc Walton the on-call vet (that’s animal not war) from Ceres,

23 March, 2012

March wildflowers for birds

Altho I do garden for wildlife, it is not as a trained ecologist, this plant for that butterfly. We have a pond full of frogs for the visiting kingfisher. We have a smorgasbord of assorted bugs for the fiscal flycatcher. But the regular residents who delight me are the sunbirds. (Our equivalent to North America’s humming-birds). I think of red or yellow flowers, whose trumpets are filled with nectar. This Wildflower Wednesday post will be my place to record which garden flowers I see sunbirds on each month. And a nudge to find plants to fill the gaps in the diary!

Yellow Bietou, pond bulbs, fiscal flycatcher, salmon pelargonium
Yellow Bietou, pond bulbs
fiscal flycatcher, salmon pelargonium

16 March, 2012

My pioneer plant - spekboom or Portulacaria afra

Dozen for Diana 3

As a gardener something I learnt about years after it was too late, was pioneer plants or nurse trees.

Spekboom against a blue, still summer, sky

In Ernst van Jaarsveld’s Wonderful Waterwise Gardening I find a list of pioneer species for a fynbos or renosterveld garden. Euryops pectinatus and virgineus (yellow daisy bushes), Metalasia (honeybush, tiny fragrant white flowers), Chrysanthemoides monilifera (bushtick berry or bietou donated by our birds), Pelargonium capitatum, Carpobrotus (sour fig, a groundcover with thick succulent leaves), Podalyria sericea (silver sweetpea bush, Cape satin bush) and our annual daisies Dimorphotheca, Ursinia and Arctotis.

09 March, 2012

Walk in my garden

As my garden muddles into autumn, in our mediterranean climate, without frost, we don’t expect fiery autumn colours. Nandina in Camps Bay barely managed a few red leaves. In Porterville we have a poster girl – For Autumn Colour in Your Garden!

Nandina for autumn colour

02 March, 2012

Wilderness camps with the Cape Leopard Trust

Drive away from our home in Porterville, North towards Clanwilliam and up into the Cederberg mountains, where endangered Cape leopards live. Since September last year Jurg has been volunteering with the Cape Leopard Trust. In January he went to help refresh the Toktokkie Camp before this year’s children arrived for their wilderness camps.

Klipbokberg on the road to Ceres

24 February, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday as February turns to Autumn

My contribution to Gail at Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesdays aim around the 25th, since I wrote my first one for Christmas Day. The garden is blooming in considered and thoughtful blues. A wash of blue sage. A scattered carpet of Plectranthus spurs. Drifts of blue and white Plumbago. Sparked by pelargoniums in pure white, gentle pinks and salmon sprinkled with gold dust where the sun catches it.

Plectranthus neochilus

17 February, 2012

Commonorgarden walk

Mid-February, high summer although we have had a few cooler days. Commonorgarden and summer rainfall plants are hunkered down for the duration. Some have faded off into the sunset murmuring – It’s hot in Porterville … The roses have been fed and given a handful of wood ash, dutifully watered, every 5 days, 10 litres of grey water to each bush. New sprouts are coming for the autumn flush, but only Lavender Jade has good flowers today. 

Lavender Jade

03 February, 2012

Seven steps built by a mud wasp

When I look across to our mountain, to the clouds that come and go, sometimes I see seven steps to heaven  (Miles Davis). That first step is unattainable, and even if I could reach it, insubstantial. My foot would simply pass thru the water vapour. Earth-bound my mind turns to the legendary Seven Steps in District 6. Again, insubstantial, demolished during apartheid, living on in memory and music. In my living memory, that part of Cape Town has always been a green slope below the mountain, at the far edge of the city.

Seven Steps to Heaven

27 January, 2012

January in South Africa for Wildflower Wednesday

Outside our bedroom, festooning the evil green plastic rain water tank, I have a wild jasmine Jasminum angulare. For Gailforce at Clay and Limestone’s Wildflower Wednesday. The computer reveals a white crab/flower spider, front legs raised in an eager invitation to Lunch.

White crab/flower spider on wild jasmine

20 January, 2012

My new signature plant

Dozen for Diana 1

I would like you to imagine a new empty small garden.
1. An enclosed courtyard? The view from a window? That new garden bed?
2. Choose (12) plants that DO grow happily in your climate and soil! Make a list tailored for YOUR garden. 
3. I favour indigenous/native for wildlife. I also have roses.
4. Colour scent texture interest - so we see A Garden.

Blue sage flowers
macro in a Mason jar for the portrait

My garden, mediterranean in climate, is in the bottom left corner of Africa. Beyond the mountains lies the Karoo semi-desert, and the east of our country gets summer rainfall.

13 January, 2012

January garden walk 2012

Last January I walked you round our garden, aiming at the wide view for Nell Jean. How large is our garden? The Ungardener’s photo essay, from the roof. We cheat twice, borrowed scenery of trees and the distant mountain, and the longest line in your garden is the diagonal.

Driveway from olives to roses

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.