THE FINER DETAILS

From the magnificence of the trees around us to a closer look in the garden. Cosmos flowers have been delighting us for months. They keep re-seeding themselves and so the bed has been a mass of pink, white and a combination of these colours. The flowers are so prolific that one actually has to look closely to see the seed heads.

The Pompon trees were among the first to put out leaves at the start of spring and it has been delightful to watch their skeletal branches getting lost in the thick foliage, leaving only the dried reminders of the flowers from last season.

Recent rain has encouraged the buds to swell, to allow glimpses of pink to show, and now these trees are covered with beautiful pink blossoms that will need to be showcased on their own. Pink is cheerful – and we are enjoying a lot of it at the moment. Pale blue is also welcome and so are the plumbago flowers that are starting to make their presence felt next to our pool and along the garden path.

A GLIMPSE OF MY GARDEN

Walk up the front garden path with me for a glimpse of our recently greened-up garden.

Next to the front door is a self-sown Zizyphus mucronata or Buffalo Thorn, known in Afrikaans as the blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie (literally translated as a shining leaf wait-a-bit) tree because of their pattern of two thorns at the nodes, one of which faces backward.  Behind it is an Aloe ferox.

Dahlias – which come up only when the conditions are favourable – brighten one end of the front garden. They didn’t show themselves at all last summer.

Also self-sown are the cosmos that have bloomed for months now. The only difference since the first rain arrived is that the plants are growing taller!

This is one of several self-sown indigenous Senecio spp. which, I have discovered, make long lasting cut flowers – they look pretty in a vase mixed with cosmos.

Lastly, here is a colourful corner in the back garden – an indigenous mix other than a surviving nasturtium that must have grown from seeds dropped two summers ago. None grew last year for it was far too hot and dry for anything to survive.

SEPTEMBER 2020 GARDEN

The postage stamp size garden I am endeavouring to maintain with far too little water has yielded great pleasure in terms of colour. Especially pleasing are the Namaqualand / African daisies. I planted a packet of out-of-date seeds in the bare, dry ground with great faith and have watched them anxiously from the first tiny shoots to the orange and yellow flowers that open with the sun and wave merrily in the breezes.

Growing plants from seeds in a drought is a risky affair and so I caved in once our local nursery opened and bought calendula seedlings. These have survived being chomped by several locusts to produce pretty blooms, such as this one.

The miniature marigolds were also purchased as seedlings, but very few have survived the onslaught of snails.

This Van Stadens River Daisy (Dimorphotheca ecklonis) originates from plants my late mother grew on our farm in the now Mpumalanga.

To my considerable joy, several self-sown cosmos have grown up from last year’s crop.

A very strange thing I have discovered since the COVID-19 lockdown began is that there are no flower seeds for sale in the supermarkets. At first they weren’t allowed to sell any seeds (don’t ask) and now only have vegetable seeds on offer!

NO BEES

Bees have been very scarce in our garden for a while now. I am thus concerned that the few flowers we have enjoyed this winter have fallen foul of the lack of pollinators.

BUT WE HAVE THESE:

While looking at the stunted, yet very pretty, self-sown cosmos I noticed it being visited by this insect:

A much closer view reveals it to look like this:

It moved to the next flower and was joined by this one:

Both have a long proboscis. There are a lot of ordinary flies about too, so I realise I need to stop thinking about bees, butterflies, moths and beetles being the only pollinators – nature makes sure there is a variety.

WINTER GARDEN 2020

The winter cold is associated with the end of a vibrant life cycle and a period of dormancy as shown by these leaves and the dead dahlia head:

Leaf litter

Dahlia head

Most of our trees are evergreen, as are the euphorbias and aloes:

Euphorbia

Aloe leaf

The aloe flowers are both beautiful and provide important nutrition during this harsh season.

Aloe flowers

Blackjack seeds abound, just waiting to be dispersed.

Blackjack seeds

While self-sown cosmos make a brave start.

Cosmos seedling