18 January, 2013

Naming of parts at Elephant’s Eye

UPDATE: In November Ungardening Pond is circled with purple spires as I've solved the marginal planting problem.

We are in January looking thru the eyes of the Roman god Janus both towards and back.  Last week I looked towards and chose my first tree for the False Bay garden which waits for us. 

The Story of Elephant’s Eye
Chapter 1

Today I look back at Elephant's Eye. I choose Summer Gold at Paradise and Roses - adding a little bling to your ‘yellow border’. Since I love words and my garden, I am recalling Naming of Parts.

In December 2006 work begins on Pani's Falls

by April 2007 the house is making progress

Pani’s Falls

The Ungardener’s first big project, after laying out the driveway so we and the builders had access to our panhandle plot, was building Pani's Falls. In our green, eco-friendly, sustainable, tread lightly way – he used urbanite to build the waterfall. Chunks of concrete from the floor of the farmer’s co-op, demolished after the fire. At first the waterfall looked like something dumped from a UFO. But once the pond was dug, and first graciously filled with rain – it appeared and remains the focal point of our garden.

December 2007 we have water in Ungardening Pond

Pani's Falls in January 2013

They collected one Land Rover load at a time, just a few pieces, to build each layer of the waterfall. The heavy labour was done by Pani, Rasta man, whose Sanskrit name means hand, so Pani’s Falls – hand made, fait de main (it sounds better in French!) Pani’s Falls is today framed by four Searsia/Rhus trees.

Ungardening Pond

My husband is the Ungardener. No, it’s not an insult, just my preferred term for hard landscaping. Without his Ungardening, our garden would be just another like any other. 

Ungardening Pond is filled with wildlife. In April 2011 we refilled the pond, after relining it. How immediately life returned. The frogs have been with us, their lives lived out hunting crickets in the mulch layer we try to cover the garden in. A blur of movement, and a frog emerges as the watering can shower disturbs him. We heard reed frogs clicking in the afternoon, frogs croaking and raucous toads bellowing at night. Now there are tadpoles, drawing back our kingfishers.

Water lilies and yellow water iris, but the rest are mostly indigenous/native to South Africa. Dwarf papyrus a graceful thug. In the pond grows Juncus, eel-grass, truckloads of oxygenating plant. There was the bulrush which chewed thru the lining. The damper hollows on fields are covered with wild Arum or calla lilies like a flock of sheep. 

November 2006 we dig Ungardening Pond

Ungardening Pond is large. Return to May 2010 and walk the long and the short view with me. We began construction in November 2006. In December 2007 we had WATER!

The hole the bulrush chewed
in Ungardening Pond August 2010

Repairs in January 2011

Then sadly, infuriatingly our pond sprung a leak, had to be drained completely and resealed. Awful hard work in brutal summer heat, nearly finished off the Ungardener – but Ungardening Pond is now well-behaved. Today’s battle is reining in exuberant plants.

Ungardening Pond first water December 2007

Ungardening Pond in January 2013

I will unravel our story. For us to remember how we were, and so future owners could read back. 

Chapter 2. Well earned names. Black Stork Island and Rest and Be Thankful.

Pictures by Jurg and Diana 
text by Diana Studer
AKA 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. Hi Diana, i think i've started visiting you in 2008 because the Ungardener is still doing the pond by then. Look at it now already very stable, it's really been a long time! I feel like I am also a part of the development.

  2. one day, oh one day maybe I too will have a pond. I'd even settle for a rill, lol. I remember when you first wrote about this, it seems so long ago!! Wow how far you have come and am so enjoying it :)

  3. It was fascinating to see the pond change over the years - this is where photographs are really worth their weight in gold (as is the Ungardener!).
    I think your idea of making the development of your garden available to new owners via your blog is a lovely idea.

  4. Amazing! Thats proof that a bit of hard work and little passing time is all a garden needs. Showed this post to my wife and I'm afrain she looked like she suddenly had an idea in her head.

    My blog's name. About 8 years ago I decided to have a business registered as a CC in case I ever decided to do something myself. After much thinking I decided on FireflyAfrica (which is a long story on its own). I then started going as Firefly online as a name for forums and other websites, so when I started to comment on people's blogs I went as Firefly as well. When I decided I wanted to blog myself the name The Firefly Photo Files kinda just presented itself. The blog as evolved from the original idea of just being a photo blog to being more of a photo and travel blog, but its still all about the visial side of it.

  5. Lovely pond, Diana, and so natural-looking. I know that's something that isn't easy to achieve. Kudos to you and of course to the Ungardener.

  6. I love seeing the history of your amazing gardens and what a great idea to leave the stories and legacy...

  7. What a wonderful pond! I love how much life it has. My "pond" consists of two teeny buckets sunk into the ground. I had a frog last summer but I think the thuggish plants that took over scared him off. I removed the plants so I hope it comes back or another takes its place.

    None of the areas of my garden have special names. Instead they're named for the part of the yard they're in, such as the dogwood garden which is under the dogwood tree.

  8. Hi - I came over to say congratulations on making number one on Blotanical. You deserve it because you've worked very hard on there and stuck with it.

    I see from this post you've worked very hard in the garden too :)

  9. Well my recent comment seems to have gone west east or north. Just wanted to say how much I like the concept of the ungarden ungardener ungardened - man subservient to nature is implicit. Here starts a discourse which needs to be developed.

  10. How fun to see the befores and afters! It must be bittersweet to be in this phase of slowly saying goodbye. I'm going to miss Elephant's Eye, but I'm sure looking forward to your new blog, too!

  11. Fascinating! And thanks for reminding me of the poem, which I vividly remember studying at school, decades ago, now you mention it...
    Have a great January :)

  12. Well it seems to me all that effort was MORE than worth it. The result: an Oasis. Our garden is partly inherited and partly improved. I cannot admit to designing anything but I can take credit for loving it with all my heart.
    Thank you for all the lovely comments you leave on my blog - as well as the tip about captcha :-)
    Enjoy this Summer weather whilst it's here. I'll be dipping my toes in the pool this evening for sure. xx

  13. Very nice work. Love the history behind it. It is similar to our fountain although it does goes slow. Hopefully by the beginning of this summer, we will have it finished.....hopefully:) It's nice to see all your work pay off for not only you but the wildlife as well. Kingfishers would be a real treat:)

    1. Ta da - came home today to the news that our kingfisher is back!

  14. Wow! I really enjoyed seeing how your pond developed. So much hard work had great rewards! In your photos I can see what an important part the pond plays in your garden. I am looking forward to future posts on the development of Elephant's Eye, as well as to someday seeing the unfolding of your new garden.


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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