26 February, 2014

A Swartland garden in February with summer swallows

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

Our first nesting swallows. In October we have TWO BABIES! Greater striped swallow has white earmuffs. 'Common summer visitor and breeding endemic'. On summer evenings we have always seen and heard them swooping over Ungardening Pond hawking for flying beastlies.

Greater striped swallow

Greater striped swallow

One beakful of mud for the nest over the front entrance, and 'one for the road' dropped at our front door. Such slow progress, there's now a fist-sized lump of mud and miles to fly before they are done.

Greater striped swallow with a beakful of mud
waiting outside the kitchen window for those PEOPLE to go away!

We have seen our bat. Just one. And only half the size of my palm when he's tucked up asleep. Deeply grateful for all the mosquitoes and flying irritations he eats.

Paradise and Roses in February

February flowers for Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and Limestone. A bit meh after a long hot summer. No rain promised except a Sunday shower, and flirting with forty till then. Not inspired to pick for the vase, but the camera got a good haul - tomorrow we'll 'stage the house' for the next maybe this time? I have been picking Aeonium, Moroccan rose. Tight red leaf buds open to emerald and burgundy tipped splendour. Waiting patiently for March lilies to rise up.

Australian brush cherry, Kei apple
guava, olives

Altho we don't deliberately set out to grow our own it is a year for fruit. We had a few plums. A good crop of figs, now done. Generous harvest of indigenous Kei apples, despite me realising that the patter of little feet as I pruned, was the new crop falling. The guavas we tried to remove have sprouted again from the roots, and they are starting to produce. Australian brush cherry has pendulous bunches of glossy long fruit, with the fallen fruit carpeting the gravel driveway. The olives are coming.

Pearl of Bedfordview, Hibiscus tiliaceus
Tecoma capensis,

I have the gentle buttery yellows I love in Hibiscus tiliaceus against a vibrant blue sky, and yellow trumpets of Tecoma capensis with nectar for the sunbirds. Pearl of Bedfordview with an attendant butterfly and steady flowers from the pelargoniums. Three South Africans with an exotic rose.

blue Plumbago

Another colour I love, and really hard to capture with camera, is gentle sky blue Plumbago (again indigenous). With the buds precisely furled, as if designed by an architect. Tiggers hate Plumbago; it has little sticky velcro teeth and Chocolat HATES being tidied.

Karoo Rose, Alec's Red
pelargonium, pineapple sage

Karoo Rose and Alec's Red are gently beginning the autumn flush. I'll feed the roses once we have autumn temperatures. There are pink, salmon and red pelargoniums too. Today I noticed the pineapple sage is flowering, another for the happy sunbirds. Our Pelargonium with three foreigners.

Tangerine Bulbine frutescens

And a last glimpse at the South African Bulbine frutescens I've planted outside the garage, dancing tangerine plumes against the brick wall.

Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer of Elephant's Eye 
(in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa)

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  1. "'stage the house' for the next maybe this time" - oh, I remember that so very well... I hope the heat allows for serious "visitors", I really, really do.

    1. by Friday it should be low thirties - which we would appreciate!

  2. What a magnificent photograph of the Greater Striped Swallow. He looks as though he is posing: "I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille..."

    1. (we cheat, he sits on the wall just outside the kitchen window. We could, almost, touch him)

  3. That garden is looking good......but that nesting swallow....well that is pretty awesome:)

  4. Oh to eat a guava freshly plucked again... and Hibsicus Tiliaceus... my father's (RIP) favourite ♥♥♥♥

  5. I've seen one or two bats fly around by us but I have no isea where they go and where they sleep during the day. Would be interesting to find out

  6. So early for your swallows always signals something - in England the harbinger of summer (end of May or June), in Italy one swallow does not make a spring (usually early April) perhaps in SA you say it is the beginning of winter??

  7. Diana, how lovely to see that birds that fly in your garden. I would love a bat house to be put up here, one day maybe my Dad can build us one. We could use it.

    Still catching up, very deep in delete mode...it's almost done.


  8. Diana, Facebook has not been notifying me of your new posts! I was coming to check on your silence, after my own... I have now let FB know that I do in fact most definitely want to get notifications.
    Dazzled by the neon red of your brush cherry, though maybe those with it in their gravel driveways are less so... I hope your "staging" was successful.

    1. not enamoured of FB. I use Feedly to follow blogs, and I have a few email subscribers.
      Staging performance will now be on Tuesday.

  9. The Bulbine frutescens is wonderful, and your photo is perfect. I can imagine it framed or printed on greeting cards. Sigh ... all your photos are so refreshing as we long for gardening weather here in the north/center of the U.S. Thank you for sharing these wonderful, warm thoughts and photos!

  10. Everything looks so warm and summery. We just got another 8 inches of snow. We have swallows here, too, but they look a bit different. I'd love to pop right through the computer to walk through your garden. :o)

  11. Ah, the swallows returning to our barn -- don't want to wish my life away, but I can't wait. Yours is speckled, not ours. I wonder if they have the same distinctive flying pattern. Beautiful flowers.

  12. Always so much beauty and interest in your garden, it's just perfection! xxx

  13. Lovely birds and blooms for summer...and olives on the way! All white and snow here for a while longer it appears.


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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