27 August, 2014

A Swartland garden in August

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

As August unfolds, the aloes open on our Karoo Koppie. The weaver birds bicker over whose turn it is for the nectar. Aloe marlothii  buds are little yellow bananas on maroon stems with prickly leaves. Aloe speciosa has red buds, which fade to white as it opens, with blue leaves. For False Bay I will be looking at Worcester's Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden for smaller aloes. Succulents like Euphorbia, Crassula and Cotyledon - which I'm harvesting for cuttings.

Yellow and red Aloe marlothii
Red and white Aloe speciosa

Our garden formally welcomes spring by lighting up with delicate blossom on the Canadian plum. Prunus nigra is in Autumn Fire for its deep plum leaves.

Plum blossom Prunus nigra
Across Ungardening Pond on a grey winter day

With those bought at Ludwig's Roses we have four inherited with the garden. Black Prince is one of Gwen Fagan's Old Cape roses. The epitome of a true rose. A red so wine-dark sea that it shades to black velvet. So fragrant that a deep breath makes your head spin. I've taken cuttings for a glazed pot in False Bay - and they grow!

Black Prince
an Old Cape rose

Winter's cool and wet suits the roses. They've been fed with wood ash and certified organic fertiliser. In summer we try to keep leaf cover to shade the stems. The sun cooks the sap and the stems die, the leaves fall, the flowers are ratty. Then, once the roses are growing and flowering - I should prune in July or August?!

Masha of A rose is a rose taught me annual summer pruning in July 2011 - 'I know some eminent rosarians who live in South California with very mild winters, and summers on the hot side. Their roses tend to want to bloom all winter long, and because the weather is mild, the quality of blooms is high and they last a long time. In summer however, with heat and a lack of rain, they tend to go dormant, blooming much less and with inferior quality blooms (smaller, fewer petals, washed out color, less fragrant). It makes a lot of sense to prune them when they are at their worst (and semi-dormant to boot) and let them bloom when they like. 
Here in North California, we have colder winters and a bit less heat in the summer. My roses bloom into January, then stop. There is a lot of leaf loss due to high winds. It makes sense for me to prune them in winter for these two reasons'

Since our Western Cape roses are not cut down by frost, perhaps we need to learn to let them be cut down by Pam's Texas Death Star. I'm going to try pruning at the end of February. This August I pruned only Perfume Passion to reduce its height.

Pruned Perfume Passion, new leaves on Duftwolke
Tropical Sunset, Pearl of Bedfordview

Blooming among my potted bulbs are vlei lilies and freesias

Vlei lilies with wild orchid

Freesia alba, Oxalis pes-capreae
Merwillea plumbea,
bulbs potted to move 

Lemons and tiny figs carpeted with nasturtiums. Cuttings as an instant garden are for our former garden helper Pani of the Falls.

First fig, Tahiti lime potted to go
Good crop of lemons, lavender

Pani's instant garden, nasturtiums

For Wildflower Wednesday the ash and fruit trees, Canadian plum, roses and nasturtiums are my exotics today. Aloes, bulbs, daisies and pelargoniums are South African.

Dimorphotheca jucunda, knoffelbuchu, pelargonium
Dimorphotheca jucunda, bruinsalie
Euryops pectinatus, Melianthus major, Freylinia

The ash tree leafs out chartreuse within days, reflected by Euphorbia mauretanica. Potting up herbs and revelling in the spectrum of scent. I tried SAD cuttings in clay soil. Then remembered what I've learnt (for Beth at PlantPostings) - to combine compost, sand and garden soil.

Ash trees
Across Ungardening Pond to the mountains, potted herbs

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

(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. Those are my links.
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  1. We've had well below rain this winter - and are hoping for the 50mm+ predicted for tonight / tomorrow.

    Even the aloes aren't flowering much this year - I'm sure they're missing the manna from heaven too.

    I did prune my roses two weeks ago, and, as a reward, they have all burst into frantic leaf :)

    Here's hoping for some rain... (Late is better than none).

    1. hope that you too are getting some rain, from these cold fronts and snowfalls.

  2. Truly stunning pictures Diana, Its amazing to see the flowers I love in their native environment. No wonder they don't flower so well here - they're homesick!

    1. for me, some of it's a learning curve. Is it from our winter rain side of the country, or the NEEDS watering in summer on the other side?

  3. Such a lovely mix of flowers! I love how you've combined native and non-native plantings. :-)
    Wrenaissance Art

    1. the essential commonorgarden with our own less familiar indigenous plants.

  4. Diana,

    Thank you for the comment you left on my blog. I will also look into Google Friend a Connect.

    And, it's almost like one can smell the beautiful flowers from far and away.



  5. Really catching my eye are the banana like blooms of the Aloe marlothii. For a minute I thought you were growing bananas...and I really love the wild orchid...just beautiful.

    1. We do, have a banana plant! In a pot and still too small to bear fruit.

  6. Oh, it's springtime in your neighborhood! How lovely! Freesias have always been a favorite cut flower for me--you're lucky to have them native and growing happily in your area. The chartreuse color of the Ash tree is stunning! Thanks for joining in the meme, Diana!

    1. I grew the freesias from Kirstenbosch distribution of free seed to members. As I walk past, their fragrance catches me.

  7. Dear Diana,
    is it the same Prunus cerasifera nigra we have in Europe? So it switched to start blooming in autumn then.
    Have a nice day

    1. the same, but it's spring way down south here ;~)

  8. Diana, your garden has so many lovely blooms, and the aloes especially are gorgeous. Your roses look so fresh and beautiful, mine are all tired after a long hot summer. It is tough to grow roses in heat and drought...

  9. Diana, I enjoyed seeing your late winter/early spring garden. I am fascinated by your aloes! Your roses are also lovely. Most of my roses quite blooming in the summer heat, so now is a good time for me to prune them, as they will bloom again through the autumn. Happy birthday to Aargon!

    1. I would also get an enthusiastic autumn flush with my roses, if I pruned at the end of February!

  10. Your spring flowers are different then ours, but equally colorful. And so beautiful...my brain is still going, banana's yes, no...yes


  11. Lovely series of photos! :)

  12. I love everything!!!! Squee!
    *collapses in a fit of happy*

  13. I enjoy seeing your wonderful tropical flowers and spring flowers when we are all dried out and heading into hopefully a nice rainy fall. The nasturtiums look wonderful, mine are all gone.

    1. I'm looking hopefully for some seed - to give my sister who loves nasturtiums, and to scatter in the new garden for some vibrant colour.


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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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