23 January, 2014

A Swartland garden in January

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa

A Swartland garden in January

As I look back thru January posts and pictures how our garden has grown and changed and developed. Ideas that didn't sit well and had to be redesigned. The garden has taught us about micro-climate, which bits grow with abandon, and which corners are problem children. 2012 reminds me of the disaster zones around and beyond the ash trees, where I have now filled the planters with a satisfying succulent geometry.

2011 driveway olives and Pride of India

This year I missed my chance to capture the shocking pink Pride of India, but 2011 was a good year. That photo also reminds me how the olives on the grateful shady side have grown in 3 years. We've lost a couple on the embattled full sun side.

From 2012 the Streptocarpus still flourishes in royal purple flowers on the shady verandah. Joined by the Clerodendron which gave up in the ash planter and is roaring up in its verandah pot!

Blue sage



Quiet gentle colours. White, soft blues, and misty mauves. Blue sage my signature plant at Elephant's Eye. Dietes blooming continuously, light against deep green leaves. Plumbago in that gentle blue of the sky on a perfect summer day, when it's not TOO hot.

Hibiscus tiliaceus, pelargonium in pink
and white, early March lily

The March lilies that came with us from Camps Bay, have bloomed here for the first time. In January, after good rain. The leaves are different to the plants I inherited in the garden. Different species? Pelargoniums in shell pink (grown from Kirstenbosch members seed), and in white (a cutting brought by my mother for our new garden). Hibiscus tiliaceus having remembered how to flower is kindly keeping the display going.

Tecoma capensis

Sunny yellow was the colour my mother choose, when asked what flowers she would like. Buttery yellow Tecoma capensis was once a cutting from Camps Bay - now the plant is taller than me, and about 3 times my bulk.

Foreign flowers
lavender, Tropical Sunset bud
ripe figs, Paradise and Roses

Like my London-born mother there are foreign flowers in our garden. Mediterranean lavender for summer fragrance. With the luscious scent of ripe figs. There are roses still to pick, but I have to be quick, once the sun catches the opening bud, it's too late. 2010's collage reminds me of the flaming pink Salvia greggei my mother delighted in.

Weird colours between sunset and an approaching thunderstorm 

We had a cool week in January with 30 mm of rain, very grateful after a December with no rain at all.

Joining Gail at Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday as I do each month.

Pictures by Diana Studer
of Elephant's Eye

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  1. Diana, What a lovely tribute to your mother~Her writing was delightful and her taste in flowers was excellent. She would have made a wonderful blogger! Isn't it wonderful to sit in your garden and celebrate her and the many gifts she gave you. Peace to you my dear.

  2. We had 125mm last week... very, very gratefully received.

    Anniversaries like this are always hard. Although ny mother died when I was 16 that anniversary always brings a lump to my throat.

    A posy for remeberance this Wildflower Wednesday?

    Take care.

  3. Obviously, you learned much from your mum. She was a beautiful person. I'm glad to hear that you received some needed rain. My favorite of your photos here is the collage featuring the walkway with the lovely garden seats at the end--I would spend hours there if they were in my garden.

    1. as he asks me - would you like your tea served at Paradise and Roses?

  4. The plants that are gifts always have such a special place in our memories, more so when they thrive and it feels like the spread of love from a treasured friend. My own mother had no interest in the garden what-so-ever, my love of gardening come from my father.

    1. to my father gardening was hard work. He seemed to spend days at a time cutting back the inherited overgrown hedge.

  5. December and January has been hot and dry down here in Port Elizabeth. We seriously need a bit of rain as I can hear gardens and lawns cry out for it every day.

  6. So lovely to see all those South African wildflowers. So nice to have still cuttings of plants from your mother. In my unheated greenhouse I have grown the Dietes from seed from Madeira. Until now it has survived the wet and sometimes cold winters and flowers in summer very nicely.

  7. Beautifully written and reminder of what is important in this life. There is nothing better than a garden to express our love for the people most dear.

  8. Diana, your Mom must have been a special, and loving person, you have always written about her with love. I'm glad that you have great flower memories of her to continue on in her absence.

    Your garden is so beautiful...it always makes me think, yes, I can do this...if Diana can in her hot climate, then so can I.


  9. I think you got your lovely Mum's sense of the importance of nature, what a sweet photo of her. I'm way behind I suspect but are you leaving your house and garden? What an adventure......

    1. ... still hustling while we wait, patiently for the right person/people to come along ...

  10. I loved looking through your photos and could sense what a lovely person your mom was through your beautiful tribute.


  11. What a nice photo of your mother and a lovely way to remember her!

  12. The colors of your garden as the storm approaches in that last photo are breathtaking. I love to watch the different ways light plays upon a garden to create diverse moods. The photo of your mother is dear. I can tell from your loving tribute that she was a nature lover and a giving person. I wish I could say every visitor to my garden left with a nosegay. This is something I need to work on!

  13. Love your choices Diana...a beautiful nosegay for your mother.


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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