01 October, 2014

October at Paradise and Roses

 by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

In a Persian garden

“The word paradise originally meant a hunting park,
and it is still a Persian word for garden. Gardens of the Islamic world,
an oasis. All round stretch bare hills in the burning sun.
Within the garden, cool shade and the sight and sound of water.
High surrounding wall, trees for shade and fruit,
a pavilion, flowers in beds and pots.
Native bulbs, followed by roses. Garden is divided in four"
- slightly modified from Hugh Johnson’s The Principles of Gardening, 1979
This was my inspiration for the rose garden.

Magic-carpet-ride-Persian-gardens history and background

The house and a wall curved around two sides provide seclusion. A low informal hedge of Dusty Miller Centaurea cineraria plumes of velvety grey feathers. A view up to the Olifantskop (Elephant’s Head). We can hear the waterfall. Four paths, the four rivers of paradise – milk and honey, water and wine. An octagon in the centre. As focal points – there are four trees providing dappled shade. Years ago when we saw the White Garden at Sissinghurst, I realised that instead of a random collection of pretty plants – you can compose a living picture.

Preparation for the roses in 2007

Winter Chill

Pale flowers and silvery grey velvety foliage. A snow bank sparkling in the sun – subtle gentle colours. Great North – a pillar rose. Pearl of Bedfordview, white with pink edges to the petals.

Pearl of Bedfordview October 2010

Great North August 2013

Tree is Tarchonanthus littoralis, indigenous, water wise, grey leaved, with flaky grey bark. One of those shrubs/small trees I favour which can be pruned to taste. It is gnarled and twisted. Camphor scented leaves. A daisy tree with tiny white thistle flowers, which turn to fluff birds like for nest lining. Bauhinia natalensis, small shrub with tiny butterfly leaves and white flowers. Blousalie (wild blue sage), Scabiosa africana and incanum. Knoffel buchu (smells of garlic if you bump into it). Border of Santolina, cotton lavender from the Mediterranean, started as a few gnarled elderly cuttings from my mother. My mother's white pelargonium. White Dimorphotheca jucunda  trails happily. Narcissus and Eucomis – bulbs I inherited from Anna, who gardened here before us.

Summer Gold

Yellow, gold or orange flowers. Cream/gold foliage. Tropical Sunset for the stripes. Casanova (new house, how could I resist that rose) smells of apricots.

Tropical Sunset October 2010

Casanova October 2010

Trimeria rotundifolia lends itself to pruning into a shrub, or small tree. Focal shrub is Strelitzia reginae Mandela’s Gold. Came with us from the Camps Bay garden in a pot. Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue), deep green and white striped leaves. Grasses – Mare’s tails, gardener’s garters. Border is Plectranthus madagascariensis (no it is not from Madagascar), green and white leaves. Liriope from the last garden, where it bided its time, here it is flourishing. Dietes, sword shaped leaves, with small, mostly white, typical wild iris flowers. Orange Chasmanthe taking over. Tiny yellow daisies and needle leaves on Euryops linearis.

Autumn Fire, The Dark Side

Dark dramatic colours. Into each life a little rain must fall. Papa Meilland fragrant deep velvety red. Burnished Sky two tone rose in a flamboyant combination of lavender with ruby. Karoo Rose bunches of small raspberry/watermelon flowers. Alec’s Red. Duftwolke, similar to Karoo rose, but larger flowers and fragrant.

Burning Sky October 2010

In October 2011
Papa Meilland, Alec's Red
Duftwolke, Karoo Rose

My tree is Prunus nigra, for the deep dark leaves. It is deciduous letting light in when the flowers need it, with blossom to herald the start of spring. Diospyros whyteana has dark glossy leaves. Halleria lucida, tree fuchsia which bears its flowers on the bark of the branches (with nectar for the sun-birds). Mackaya bella has large pale flowers, deep mauve lines lightly inked on the petals, glossy leaves, and likes shade so it is against the curve of the wall. At its feet is a Begonia with glossy almost hand-shaped leaves. Fierce pink flowers give me Autumn fireworks. Focal shrub is Strelitzia reginae Bird of Paradise. Deep purple Dimorphotheca jucunda. Dark red Pelargonium from my neighbour Betty. Lavender with dark flowers.

Spring Promise

Pink, set off by blue-grey glaucous foliage. Chaim Soutine deep pink and white striped rose.

Chaim Soutine October 2010 

Melianthus major May 2011

Dais cotonifolia pompom tree which flowers thirstily around Christmas. For dramatic foliage I have Melianthus honey-flower. Artemisia afra wildeals smells deliciously of liquorice. Pink Dimorphotheca jucunda. Pink Pelargonium. Border is Festuca glauca. Echeveria Mexican roses. March-lilies Amaryllis belladonna. Dianthus allwoodii, which has blue leaves and pink flowers.

Pushed out of Paradise

Inherited roses were half way down the driveway. When the two-legged grey watering system got awful tired in summer temperatures pushing 40 C, the Ungardener made a new planter near the front door. “Anna’s red” dark, very fragrant flowers on 3 knee high bushes. Black Prince, very tall, fragrant, of a red so deep it is almost black. Lanky with deep fuchsia pink blooms? Smaller with apricoty flowers? Bought something fresh - Perfume Passion, pink and fragrant.

Newly planted May-June 2009

Black Prince July 2010


Roses need to be watered in each week with less than 15 to 20 mm of rain. Hand watering 10 litres of grey water to each bush; you can see which one needs more attention. No poison has ever been used in this garden, but otherwise I take my advice from Ludwig's Roses monthly newsletter.


I usually prune my roses late July. The happy ones I will simply harvest the flowers as they come, on LONG stalks. As I pick flowers, I leave an imaginary table top. A taller branch takes the water, and the short straw, dies.


Roses picked in October 2010

Put a Vita Sackville-West posy, a flower in a tiny vase. On the kitchen window-sill, at the dinner table, by your bed, where you read in the evening. 

Where in the garden is that rose? What is the name of that rose?

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.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
or click this post's title)


  1. Diana, I love the way you have highlighted these roses, showing them in different phases of development. And this Chaim Soutine! I've never seen a rose like it. If someone knows where it comes from, I'd be pleased to know. In the meantime, I'm moved to go back and re-read your post with more care, AND get out my Vita Sackville-West vase. Brilliant. I actually do keep one perfect rose by my bedside as often as I can, but I've never had a display like your final riot of color and fragrance.

    1. Chaim Soutine reminds me of Rosa mundi. I'm drawn to striped roses!

      DELstricyla(N) perhaps it's available in America under a different name?
      Rose grower is Delbard from France

  2. I so enjoy seeing the before, during, and after photos. Your Roses are stunning, and I'm so jealous--my Roses are long gone for the year. Happy spring to you!

    1. as we look to revamping an established garden in False Bay, those before pictures remind and encourage me. We CAN do it again, smaller, but just as Paradise!

  3. such amazing paradise, beautiful breath taking, I'm so glad I saw this today, it made my day,

    1. sun, birdsong and flowers - today is a good day, among the packing chaos!

  4. Your determination to make those beauties bloom is amazing, and they have rewarded you fully. The colors shine, the blossoms are stunning.

    What a gorgeous garden to be a gardener in.


    1. now it's all coming together as we once planned, it's hard to leave ...

  5. What a wonderful post. Oh gardens can be like paradise! Have a happy happy spring, my friend!

  6. Diana, your rose garden reminded me of the garden designed by Cleve West this year at Chelsea. It was based on Persian design principles too. You can view it at:
    http://www.clevewest.com/gardens/ Helen

    1. never been to Chelsea Flower Show, but we did catch Hampton Court one year.
      I count on my UK garden bloggers to bring Chelsea to me!
      Thank you.

  7. "You can compose a living picture." A wonderful description of the art of gardening. Your rose garden is fabulous. I am especially drawn to Chaim Soutine.

    1. Chaim Soutine and Burning Sky are the two that are still in bud. The red ones I pick as they open. Today is toasted dark petals hot!

  8. Reading the above comment made me smile, Cleve didn't really 'get' the Persian garden, you have captured the feeling beautifully. It is hard to have to do it again but also exciting. I will enjoy reading the progress in the new garden. Christina

    1. It was fun to start with a formal framework, then interpret it in my own way with many South African plants.

  9. Gorgeous, Diana. I especially love the mixed bouquets. There's something so in-your-face about them.

    1. that was my haul ahead of heavy rain!
      Left in the garden the petals would be smacked off.

  10. Will you be bale to take many roses with you to the new garden...I love all the colors of your roses and those gathered on the table make a splendid display. I also noticed the table that they are arranged on...I have a similar patio table now and love it.

    1. False Bay is sandy soil, so any roses must be grown in pots. I tried to strike cuttings from Black Prince, which is an Old Cape heritage rose, but the snails cancelled that.
      Time to make a fresh start, after the renovations. I'll choose 3 or 4 - suitable for pots, for cutting, fragrant, and beautiful!!
      Tables, chairs, bench - all our garden furniture is verdiblue and goes with us.

  11. Stunning blooms, Diana! I love before-and-after pictures. Now we look forward to before-and-after photographs of your new garden. P. x

    1. poring over plans and lists, as we speak ;~)


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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