GARDEN JULY 2022

How blessed we are to have indigenous flowers blooming in our garden during the middle of winter! Even though the aloes are nearly over, they still attract interesting visitors such as Green Woodhoopoes:

The hedge of Crassula ovata at one end of the swimming pool is covered with flowers that are abuzz with bees and other insects:

I look forward to this time of the year when the scarlet blooms of the Erythrina caffra provide a beautiful contrast against the brilliant blue sky. Birds visiting them include Cape Weavers, Village Weavers, Southern Masked Weavers, Cape White-eyes, Common Starlings, Redwinged Starlings, Greyheaded Sparrows, African Hoopoes, African Green Pigeons, Black-headed Orioles, and even Cape Crows:

The Canary Creepers continue to provide the odd splash of bright yellow:

While the orange Cape Honeysuckle is beginning to make a show too:

MY JUNE 2022 GARDEN

It is at this time of the year that the Cape Honeysuckle puts on a fine show of cheerful bright orange flowers so beloved by sunbirds, weavers, Cape White-eyes, bees and butterflies.

Aloes vie for space among the crassulas plants edging our swimming pool. They too provide cheer and attract the Greater Double-collared sunbirds, weavers, Black-headed orioles, and Black-eyed Bulbuls as well as bees and ants.

The Spekboom growing in various places in the garden does not mind either the icy weather or the drought.

A large flock of Red-winged Starlings visit the fig tree daily and often perch in the top branches of the Erythrina caffra to catch the early morning sun. These trees are now devoid of all but the hardiest of leaves and are covered in clusters of black seed pods that have split open to reveal the scarlet ‘lucky beans’ inside. Flower buds are making their spiky appearance, so before long the trees will look resplendent in their scarlet blooms.

A Black-headed Oriole perches in one of the many Pompon trees that are rapidly losing their leaves. The formerly beautiful pink blossoms now look like miniature floor mops that have been hung out to dry.

A male Garden Inspector / Garden Commodore (Precis archesia archesia) sees what the Canary Creeper flowers have to offer. We have seen very few butterflies in our garden so far.

TECOMA CAPENSIS

While still on the subject of flowers, I want to draw attention again to the blaze of orange trumpet-like flowers that brighten the garden and the veld from the end of summer into spring, with autumn being the best time for flowers, which look particularly beautiful when highlighted by the bright sunshine.

Commonly known as the Cape Honeysuckle, Tecoma capensis is drought-resistant and – certainly in my area – enjoys rampant growth periods. So rampant in fact that I have to be vigilant about cutting it back or it would take over whole sections of our garden. In some gardens it has been trimmed to form dense hedges. Alas, I lack the ability to do that and so it grows ‘free-form’ in my garden – trimmed roughly to keep it in check – where it forms a screen from neighbours, from the road below, and provides ample nectar for birds and insects. One has to keep an eye on it though for over the years it forms a hard woody stem that is difficult to cut.

Tecoma capensis is indigenous to South Africa. It occurs naturally in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

EATING HONEYSUCKLE

I have mentioned before that weavers are notorious for biting off the tubular blossoms of the Cape Honeysuckle to get to the nectar. This time I have caught them in the act:

The one in the centre of the picture has firmly grasped the base of the flower and is about to pull it asunder. The female below is doing the same.

The flower tube is pulled from its base and then squeezed to release its nectar:

When a flock of weavers go to work like this, they do not leave much for the sunbirds, or bees or even the ants.

AN ORANGE THEME

The warmth of orange helps to keep the chill at bay and so I present to you some orange-themed photographs. The first is a bright morning sky as seen from my bedroom window:

Next come three flowers. The first is one of many more aloes likely to be shown here as the flowering season gets underway:

Deep orange Cape honeysuckle flowers are out already, brightening up gardens, hedges and the open veld:

The golden shower creepers are also showing buds and will soon provide cascades of orange too:

The colouring of the eyes of the Red-billed Oxpecker fits into this theme – just:

Lastly, here is a little boy’s dream: