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

We are still locked in the throes of house-hunting and spent a night in Simon’s Town. Overlooking the naval dockyard. We chose the day of a howling gale, and in our attic room I spent the night wondering if we would land in the sea far below. It did mean that we saw our future garden in the most challenging weather. Aragon greeted the returning Ungardener with a hiss of anger – you left me, alone!

Artemisia afra

Artemisia afra is my final choice for 2012’s Dozen for Diana. Ephemeral ferny leaves, silvery blue-grey. Smells of liquorice or anise seed when you brush against it. 

Artemisa afra

From PlantZAfrica
Wild wormwood or wildeals is in the daisy family Asteraceae. Named after the Greek goddess Artemis (Diana of the Ephesians), afra means from Africa. Grows wild all the way from our Cederberg, north to Ethiopia. Damp slopes and forest margins. Ours is just one among 400 species worldwide used medicinally. Coughs, colds, fever, loss of appetite, colic, headache, earache, intestinal worms to malaria, for painkilling and relaxing. Natural insecticidal spray, and as a moth repellent. Full sun and heavy pruning in winter. It should be able to take quite low temperatures during the winter months.

Crabronites equestris beetle on wild wormwood

Since I garden for wildlife, I went out to take the pictures wondering WHAT wildlife. And found these Crabronites equestris beetles dressed in Christmas baubles. Their attitude to the camera is - NO, don't put that on FB, I'll never live it down! They kept ducking away under the leaves, behind the stem. In life they sparkle with rainbows, set off with scarlet piping like the Nutcracker Prince.

2012 Dozen for Diana for Porterville garden

When I look at the Dozen collage, I am inspired to actually plant a part of this garden with just those 12 plants. The orange, pink and purple flowers are resting. We have blue sage and purple Plectranthus giving cool blues against high summer heat. The weather has been kind and the flowers are happy. If I were to use this as a cutting garden – I would have lots of textured, colourful, fragrant foliage with a bunch of blue sage spires. Next year I will build the third Dozen in anticipation of a False Bay garden one day.


'It makes me wonder if cacti kept as house-plants are evolving even further to attract human pollinators' says b_a_g in London who has his turned his focus on succulents this December. Gathering his full Dozen into a pink bouquet sparked by lime green Nicotiana and sunny golden marigolds.

Beth of PlantPostings in Wisconsin says 'Hollyhocks of all varieties are towering extroverts in the garden. You can't ignore them, but why would you want to?'

From viburnum to 'cranberries' and honeysuckle with Donna of GardensEyeView in central NY State. 

Pam in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania is nurturing her winter birds and dreaming of hellebores in spring

Kathy at the Violet Fern in Upstate NY has a Nelly Moser clematis that I've been admiring in English gardening books for years. And sedums, I've never met in RL yet.

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. such amazing photos, gardening for wild life, thats a beautiful thing.Your gardens are beautiful and your future gardens sound amazing as well, such a lovely kitty, so relaxed,
    The silver and white is beautiful together, happy house hunting!

  2. Thanks Diana for joining in to Seasonal Celebrations....I love your last plant for the Dozen...I will have mine for you on the 26th...I have ideas for another series and more plants for next year already ...can you tell i really love your meme.

  3. Diana - Your Adventskranz is stunning - very chic - just love it :)

  4. Your post is a sensory delight... wild Jasmine, anise seed... I can smell them from here!

  5. I love your Adventskrantz - the combination of the Jasmine and Dusty Miller is beautiful ... hmm, I think I should plant some Dusty Miller near my Jasmine - should look lovely.

  6. Thank you for the shot of the dockyard...my Dad was based there in the 1950s. He and Mum lived in Fish Hoek.

    Jane x

  7. Love the restrained colours in your advent wreath, very classical, understated and chic!!

  8. I love the silver foliage with the white balls on your Advent wreath. And that touch of jasmine! Perfect! I have some artemisia in my garden that tries to take over everything. Still, I love its airy foliage and that lovely gray that goes so well with different colors.

  9. Thanks for joining in the memes, Diana. Looking forward with joy sometimes is challenging, isn't it? Your wreath is beautiful, I'm imagining the sweet scent of Jasmine... I've always liked Artemisia. Your "dozens" picks are always fascinating.

  10. An incredible vista in Simon's Town, Diana. I hope your move there is easy.
    Me too, I'm a big fan of Dusty Miller.
    Nice to see someone else in the southern hemisphere not having a snowy Christmas!

  11. I like all Artimesia but I don't know Artemisia afra, the foliage looks perfect. I find they all respond very differently to drought and cold so it is good to know about this one. I'm inspired to use some less traditional foliage for my Christmas decorations, silver foliage with jasmine, or whatever I can find flowering now id a great idea. You said "It did mean that we saw our future garden in the most challenging weather", does that mean you have found the house you intend buying? Christina

    1. I write a lot between the lines ... still negotiating, but close!

  12. A third dozen! Dozens into infinity - till you have a twelve times botanic garden.

  13. The colors you choose are so peaceful and soothing...I love what you have created.

    Best of luck in finding a new home.


  14. Artemesia is a great choice. I am becoming increasingly interested in SA medicinal and edible plants and this one is definitely on my "must have" list. Have a wonderful Christmas. Looking forward to your False Bay dozen.

  15. I love your Advent wreath, so beautiful.

  16. The final dozen has everything to make a beautiful garden. Colour, texture and structure all appear there. Wonderful choices. Did I hear you say you saw your future garden?

  17. I envy your Peninsula house hunting. Not the search but the fact that you may go and live there.

    I finally started with the cleanup after the building of the home office is (nearly) done and the palm trees have been removed. There are still lots to be planned and done though.

  18. Love the sweet addition of the jasmine to your wreath. You've created a beautiful wreath to celebrate the season.

  19. Your advent wreath is truly wonderful, what a refreshing change from the evergreen wreaths often seen here with the purple and white candles!

  20. I'm trying to imagine what the scent of christmas would be like with an additional waft of jasmine.

  21. Like others, I love your wreath,and it is heartening to read of other gardeners preparing for Christmas in warm sunshine. I was on my little balcony yesterday morning, here in Delhi, hanging snowmen baubles on my Christmas tree - and checking how the fruit was doing on my aubergine plants! It felt a very strange combination for me as a Brit, where we struggle with aubergines outdoors, even in July, even in a good summer...

  22. Lovely wreath, though since jasmine is a houseplant around here I suspect it would be quite pricey to use in a wreath in Denmark...

    I love that you have artemisia; we don't have it in the garden, but it grows wild down by the fjord and some of our friends use it for flavouring their home-made snaps. Pretty AND tasty is always a good combination in my book...

  23. Diana, I'm very late getting to this, but I love the clever way that you've used your mid-summer plants to create this very wintry-looking advent wreath. It's beautiful, and I'm sure Jurg has been appreciating the illusion of snow for Christmas. -Jean

  24. Beautiful! Your Christmas decorations are so elegant. Found you on Donna's link :)


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.