20 March, 2013

Our garden year begins in March

Once when Ernst van Jaarsveld was asked about Mandela’s Gold, he gently told us the shiny new varieties are always less vigorous than the true species. So our sky blue and white Plumbago are covered with a best ever display of flowers, while the Royal Cape is different, both in colour and exuberance. The yellow Tecoma is lovely, while Big Red is always thirsty and then a bit miserly with his flowers - and I don’t see our sunbirds nectaring on him.

Plumbago in sky blue and white

The original red Pelargonium among the Autumn Fire red roses needs hard pruning. But the cuttings I harvested and planted last August across Indian Summer are providing eye-popping colour.

Red pelargoniums

The roses turn their faces from summer’s semi-dormancy to bunches of wine-red let’s do it leaves and proper flowers. I’m deadheading to keep them tidy, and encourage those flowers. A few have slipped away. I will fill the gaps with the indigenous plants which are changing the maturing character of Paradise (and Roses).

Pearl of Bedfordview, Papa Meilland, Alec's Red
Anna's Red
Perfume Passion, Chaim Soutine

The Kei apples Dovyalis caffra keep on giving. At the Harvest Festival last Sunday a fruit farmer explained that winter was cold – as they need it, spring brought enough rain – not the too much of the previous 2 years. (November and December we had the farm labourer strikes). It has been a good harvest.

Melianthus seedhead, pink Pelargonium
Tecoma, Kei apple

Phyllis van Heerden X Ruttyruspolia

For Wildflower Wednesday I focus the camera on the flowers and colour, but our garden is predominantly about green leaves, structure and texture. The velvety grey of camphor bush Tarchonanthus camphoratus leaves against the clear apple green of Tecoma, lit by its yellow flowers.

Camphor bush with Tecoma

It is a bitter-sweet pleasure to groom the garden towards its future owners. To rediscover and whittle free the design we planned. We had planted 6 granadillas around the verandah. There is an exterior light at each corner of the house. That corner, where it matters most, was always enveloped in a (whining from me) mat of excess leaves. So I pruned hard. Very hard! The look of shock horror what have you done on his face, matched mine when he cut down all the tall wild oats. It is the way it should be now.

Looking across Ungardening Pond before
looking out from the living room after
Our verandah at Elephant's Eye 

I have gathered the posts about our garden, month by month, under the tab Garden Year. It is not a detailed or comprehensive record – I aim at what you might notice if we walked thru my garden together.

Amaryllis belladonna March lilies in 2014

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer
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. Diana, it must be very hard to leave such a relaxed space, where've you've made your mark.
    Like you, I've had March Lilies and Plumbago going mental, I mean, showing themselves in full bloom! I don't know how much you're NEEDING autumn this year, but we are, very much. I'm glad there's someone else out there who's aware of the equinox, just now, more or less upon us, the real time of change in the world around us.

  2. I just adore the names you have chosen for your feline pals, what beautiful images, so much work, so much satisfaction from your work.Its a treat for my winter weary eyes coming here.I hope you are well,

  3. Dear Diana,
    always interesting visiting your blog.
    Lots of plants I had no idea existes at all.
    Here in the North we hoped for spring, but it its still winter in March...
    Have a nice evening

  4. Diana again you delight with these amazing plants and flowers....those lilies are beautiful. I also love the plumbago that resembles our phlox. That view from the verandah is beautiful and so lush. I know that your gardens will continue to thrive as you move plants to the new gardens.

  5. The colors in my garden will soon be like yours, I specialy love Plumbago´s blue flowers...and I dind´t know about the white ones. Beautiful!:)

  6. I love your Amaryllis belladonna, I planted some hugebulbs ages ago and nothing came of them but this spring I believe the foliage is there which means I might just have flowers in September, but I don't want to think of autumn just now. Christina

  7. Diana - I've nominated you for the "Liebster Award". Please visit my blog at: http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2013/03/liebster.html for more info :)

  8. I am sitting here in a cold, wet Ireland where spring is yet to truly burst upon us - your blog and photos are a real feast for my winter worn eyes - a treat of beauty and colour and a reminder of what will soon be here (although not quite the splendour of your photos);

    Thanks so much for adding a lovely bit of light and cheer to a dull morning,

    Naomi (Science Wows)

    1. All my commenters are from the chilly North, except Dani with me in the Cape, and Gardener in the Distance in Australia! We wait for that mirage of a little rain the weatherman keeps taunting us with.

  9. I can imagine its sad to leave all the hard work you put into the garden for somebody else to continue to enjoy. Specially not knowing what they would do with it. But its your passion and I'm really looking forward to see what will happen in the False Bay garden.

  10. So very excited to read this post again. First I have to tell, you have a lovely verandah with the prolific granadillas. It is such fun to recognize your African plants for many of them I had or have in my greenhouse. The yellow Tecoma I had years in my greenhouse, I have grown it from seed I brought from Madeira and it did very well. In a very cold winter it died. The pink Amaryllis belladonna I have in my garden and is still protected by a heap of leaves, this beauty will flower again in September I hope. The white one with huge flowers I have in a big tub in the greenhouse. Also the white and blue Plumbagos I had for years, we call it 'Mannentrouw'.
    When I see all your wild flowers, I get the idea to make some day a post about all 'exotics' I ever had and still have.
    Your Chocolat and Aragon are enjoying their good life. Wish you all the best with leaving such beautiful place, but there will be a new garden, a new house and a new life.

  11. I hope the new owners will love and care for your garden as you do. I love the interior and exterior views of your veranda. I would buy your house!

    1. That's what I hope to hear - but not just yet. Today we shredded the granadilla prunings. All tidy now.

  12. Diana, I find it interesting that both our gardens begin their new year in March, but for different reasons. My garden is waking up from months of dormancy induced by winter's cold, while yours wakes up from the dormancy that provides protection from summer's heat. I love your March lilies. -Jean

    1. it means we walk hand in hand. Shall I prune, or wait and see if it will sprout again, if it yet lives?

  13. Diana, How fortunate the new owners of your fabulous garden! All the love, care and hard work you have put into it must be appreciated. Love your roses -- does Perfume Passion smell as wonderful as it sounds and looks? P. x

    1. 'as we speak' it carries flowers just at nose and eye level - and she smells delicious!

  14. What a pretty view from your veranda, Diana! And it looks like your kitties are very contented--I wonder how they'll react to the move? Probably with the characteristic cat's curiosity. ;-) Sorry for the delay in commenting lately--I was out of town last week. Happy autumn to you!

    1. Chocolat will hate us, and the sedated journey. There's an epidemic of Can't Keep Up among my bloggers. I am still clearing older posts from my Google Reader.

  15. So wonderful to visit your beautiful Autumn garden while we are trying to get rid of cold, cold Winter and move into Spring.
    Happy Easter!
    Lea's Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

  16. Good Luck and Good Gardening wherever you go and *furryhugs* to Chocolat and Aragon from Flying Cat/Kingdomcat and Marmers.

  17. Diana I very much like the way you take us by the elbow and steer us past these exotic lovelies. When we first visited E Africa we thought we had discovered blue jasmine. I would like to invite you to join in with #Terrifying Tuesday next week. For this post a garden related image that can take any shape or form that is vaguely disquieting.

  18. I should never type late at night above comment SHOULD say #Terrified Tuesday


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.