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

In the ‘shade’ beneath the ash, who are shedding leaves cooked by the summer sun, Mackaya bella blooms. Feeding a tiny bee. Plumbago flowers hitch a ride on cats and gardeners, sticky little hooks. Tiggers HATE Plumbago! My white pelargoniums stand hip and even shoulder high, keeling over, top heavy. 

Left Mackaya bella, 
Right plumbago and pelargonium

What lights the garden now are sparkling salmon Pelargonium flames. The really deep red has only a few scattered blooms. Nerine sarniensis, Jersey lily, but only because our bulb was shipwrecked there – has already faded that lonely flower.

Salmon and red pelargoniums
Nerine sarniensis

On the verandah the Streptocarpus sings on, while I remember to keep its saucer filled with water. Each independent leaf bears its own pair of flowers. Agapanthus from Christmas have faded away. Plumbago, blue sage and Plectranthus neochilus blaze on thru the summer heat. My Clerodendron ugandense is African, but would prefer more humidity.

Streptocarpus, Plectranthus neochilus 
Blue sage
Plumbago, Agapanthus, Clerodendron

Aptenia cordifolia is an obliging groundcover, lush succulent leaves, many tiny pink/red fluffy flowers. (Heartleaf, Hearts and Flowers -- brakvygie will return for Valentine’s Day!) Phyllis van Heerden Ruttyruspolia also battles without summer rain. Sugar pink Pelargonium and the more enticing species with delicately marked petals.

Aptenia, two pink pelargoniums
Phyllis van Heerden Ruttyruspolia

A succulent pelargonium is careful not to waste its effort and water on OTT flowers. Planted for its fiery orange/red leaves a Crassula, with the J and D rocks we harvested in the Karoo on a distant wedding anniversary.

Crassula, succulent pelargonium

Aller guten Dinge sind drei. In German optimistic, in English plodding. Things come in threes. But also, third time lucky! The sedge has a triangular stem, and flowers are in triplicate. Bullrush peacefully taking over Apple Creek. At the end of summer we need to cut back, and rediscover some open water for the reed frogs to click over. Bulbinella in pots in blistering sun, or leaning over the path to trip up the unwary.

Sedge, Bulbinella, bullrush

My favourite grasses are the ones gifted by nature. The sedge growing in the pond or the creeks, where its feet reach water. The Briza quaking grass, we used to chew green as children. Tall golden wild oats (introduced = foreign!). And the spiky cousin who burrows thru our socks, clothes, inside our garden boots – and chews us up!

Briza,  sedge in Ungardening Pond, 'burrowing' grass
Wild oats

I have an ongoing battle with my Swiss husband, who cannot bear to see a plant with leaves hanging. Water, water! Trying to convince him, it would be like going out into a Swiss garden with a hairdryer to defrost. Wish me luck!

In January 2010.  A year ago. As catmint in Melbourne wrote of levels-of-garden – to see the garden that IS there, not the vision in my mind. 

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. The top photo is stunning! The contrast of the white against the chartreuse background is absolutely beautiful.
    Jane x

  2. I love how you grouped the plants by color...all so beautiful...your bullrushes are called cattails here and I have to keep them in check even thought they are a native or they will take over the pond here too..I too struggle with trying to see what is instead of what I think it should be...right now the lower third is under water as we have too much water here..

  3. Donna - those are the bullrushes that were exiled from Ungardening Pond, after they chewed a large fist sized hole thru the concrete lining. Apple Creek is seasonal, with the natural clay soil. We had 2 years of floods, and two years NOT flooded.

  4. Beautiful post for Wildflower Wednesday!

  5. Hi Diana, I can just smell that glorious jasmine. Can't wait for mine to flower, it's beneath my bedroom window and smells out of this world in the evenings.

  6. Dear Diana, My garden is so muddy and DRAB now, it is a joy to see your beautiful blooms. I can't pick a favorite -- love them all! P x

  7. So sorry to hear Tigger doesn't like Plumbago. I love your white one!

  8. It's been ages since I have seen Plumbago...yours is beautiful.

    And you grow streps? My most favourite ever plant. Hope that I can get some started here in a sunny windowsill.

    Beautiful to see photos of happily growing plants. And I love your pathways lined with bricks, and that beautiful gravel.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  9. I followed the link, love the idea of levels of the garden. Indeed the garden I see in my head looks nothing like what is outside my door right now. and the blog different still.

  10. What? Plumbago is South African as well? Pretty amazing, I had no idea.

    Happy WFW, and congratulations for not forgetting.
    (And are you saying 40 C? I don't think I've ever been that hot, and I lived in Arizona for 2 years.)

  11. Hi Diana, plumbago is sticky and attracted to cats, dogs and gardeners. In my case, plus anyone who innocently passes through the gate. thank you for the compliment of citing my post, and I am so pleased Margeurite liked it too. cheers, catmint

  12. Diana, it's great to see all your flowers in bloom and so vivid, despite the heat and your encouragement to hubby not to water! We have just sown lots of things on our little Delhi balcony and I am already worrying how anything survives 40 degree heat!

  13. Gosh Diana, the light and the colour are astonishing. Here it is soft grey and green and sometimes white when it is not brown, or grey brown, or just mud! Amazing that we are all under the same sky.

  14. How kind to see our garden thru fresh eyes! I was thinking, summer, dry, hot, brown and gold, grey baked clay soil.

  15. I can just smell that Jasmine, beautiful. Gid luck with getting hubby to come round to your way of thinking

  16. So many beautiful native flowers. I always love seeing your plumbago and agapanthus.

    I don't know if you've seen the Versatile Blogger award going around (or perhaps have already been so honored). Anyway, I've named you as one of my "versatile bloggers." You can learn more here: http://jeansgarden.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/versatility/

    No Pressure on this; I am not offended at all if people choose to ignore these awards. -Jean

  17. From my own experience it is difficult to teach one's husband a new way once his mind has fixed on something. Good luck!

  18. I've been thinking of planting more grasses and something like bullrush in my garden. Mmmm, perhaps I should.

  19. Dear Diana, Such a lovely breath of sunshine and beautiful flowers~The witch hazels might be blooming in my garden, but, it's still brown. In case I haven't said this before~I love that you are a part of Wildflower Wednesday and I love my new name. gail!

  20. Deb - just wishful thinking 'out loud' ;~)

    Firefly - remember the bullrush needs wet feet, and will chew thru a concrete lining. Once happy, it will take over!

  21. I too love grasses, I don't have many in the garden but love to admire the wild hedgerow ones. Such variety there.

  22. Ohhh I can feel that lovely warm sunshine in your photos almost coming through my computer screen. Winter has finally arrived here in Wales. It is very cold with an icy blast coming across the country from Siberia. We haven't had any real snow so far just hard frosts. Your photos have warmed me up a little. I love streptocarpus. I have one on my window do they grow outside all year there or do they need protecting over winter? Wellywoman (I need to use the anonymous profile because there is a problem between blogger and wordpress which means I can't post comments on blogger blogs!!!!)

  23. Those grasses are interesting...they add so much to the landscape. I am lucky my husband does not usually have many opinions about the garden...he lets me take that part over. I am glad...

  24. So the hubby and I aren't the only ones to give rocks as anniversary gifts? He chose one a few years ago that was really more of a boulder and nearly killed himself when it rolled onto him in a ditch as he was trying to lift it. He eventually extricated himself and managed to load it for me.

    His current rock offerings are of a more humble dimension.

    Christine B. in Alaska

  25. This blog leads an exotic life. From Siberian winds in Wales, via Alaska and Hawaii in the USA!

    http://wellywoman.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/winter-at-last/ (Link to Wellywoman's latest post, which using Anonymous has denied her).

    If you are battling to leave comments from a WP blog, try using the Name/URL option please?

    Christine in Alaska - we're too 'old and frail' for murderous boulders. Plus they usually have to bounce home over rough roads!

    Oh and the Streptocarpus lives on the verandah, we don't battle frost (no frost here!) but we do duck and dive to avoid direct sunlight. Briskly chewing its way thru my orange Clivias!

  26. OK, at least the link works. If you copy and past a link to your blog ... but no avatar. But the link is what matters more, not so?

  27. Your sweet blooms are eye candy to this gardener who has been seeking joy in brown for the past many moons. So nice to know that somewhere on this blessed earth there are blossoms blooming.

  28. I agree with you. What I envision in the garden and what is are two different things....but that's okay. We have a blue plumago here that I really love. Several of the plants featured do really well in our Sonoran desert. Hope you have a good weekend. Chris

  29. I like the Nerine sarniensis, I think I will give it a try in my garden (trying to find more indigeneous bulbs to grow this year).


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.