One of the joys of living in the Eastern Cape is the abundance of plumbago blooming in gardens and all over the veld:
I am pleased to report that my garden today is wet. Yes, really: it is wet, wet, wet and although the rain has made way for the sun, leaves are dripping – some are even weighing down the branches with the weight of rain. This is a sight for sore eyes – 28mm of rain!
Rain means mud and mud means that the Lesser-striped Swallows can proceed with their urgent task of constructing their mud nest under the eaves.
A Hadeda Ibis chick balances on the edge of the precarious nest in the back garden.
While a beautiful nest woven by an excited Southern Masked Weaver bobs up and down with no tenants – it was obviously not deemed to be good enough when the female inspected it!
My teeny weeny patch of flowers has got a new lease of life – just when I thought it was soon going to revert to being a bare patch of ground.
A very old hibiscus has come into bloom.
So has the indigenous Plumbago.
A matter of weeks ago I thought I would have to remove the Christ thorns lining the front path.
All over the garden the Crossberries are coming into bloom.
As is the very beautiful Cape Chestnut tree.
The heat of summer is scorchingly upon us – along with the absence of much-needed rain. Bird baths require filling more than once a day and current restrictions prevent the garden from receiving the watering it needs to flourish, yet most plants are surviving. I have already shown the beautiful blossoms of the Cape Chestnut and the Pompon trees, so will look much lower.
Field Bindweed – so difficult to eradicate owing to their long underground runners – twists its way between the lavender bushes and climbs up the Spekboom. It has a beauty of its own.
The small clump of Gladiolus dalenii has increased over the years and is now providing beautiful colour outside the kitchen.
Numerous butterflies are flitting about – most are too high for me to photograph. Many of them are (I think) Acara Acraea.
All over the garden self-sown Crossberries are blooming.
As are scented pelargoniums.
Lastly, the Plumbago blossoms are looking particularly beautiful right now.
Having waited months for rain and watched the dams dry up, the grass shrivel and die, leaves fall off trees to expose bare branches, and to live under relentless blue skies so beautiful it hurt to look up in the intense heat day after day, after day … it rained. Not enough to ease our water situation – our town still has no running water available several days in the week – but enough for nature to take the gap and do what it should have been able to do in the spring. To quote from Keats, we had to ask Where are the songs of Spring? / Ay, where are they? Now, as summer barrels towards autumn, we are experiencing a spring-like growth in the garden. Not only are the trees that were so bare a matter of weeks ago able to cast deep shade, but the Pompon trees (Dais cotinifolia) are sporting tiny flower buds.
Cosmos seeds planted with enthusiasm at the end of winter have blossomed at last.
The Van Staden’s River Daisy (Dimorphotheca ecklonis) is putting out a few blossoms that are attracting insects.
Crossberry (Grewia occidentalis) flowers are out.
So are the Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).
Soon the garden will be brightened when the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) comes out in full bloom.
Don’t for a moment think my garden is awash with flowers. These are the few, very few, that have made it through a scorching summer. The important thing is that they have survived and are doing their best to ensure the survival of their species.
The name Knysna Loerie trips off the tongue and I suppose the new moniker Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) will too – in time – after all, Shakespeare told us long ago that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. This truly beautiful bird is found only in South Africa and parts of Swaziland. It regularly appears on my monthly list of birds seen in our garden, yet I seldom show pictures of it as they flit through the treetops so silently and ‘disappear’ into the foliage in the wink of an eye. We mainly see them hopping about from branch to branch in the canopy of the Natal Fig and are always thrilled to see the red wing flashes when they fly across the garden from one tree to another.
Apart from the figs, there is plenty of other food for them in our garden including the fruits of the White Stinkwood (Celtis africana), Cotoneaster berries,
Crossberry, (Grewia occidentalis),
Wild Plum (Harpephyllum caffrum) and the Wild Peach (Kiggelaria africana). Although they cannot always be seen in the dense foliage, we can generally hear their rasping kow-kow-kow calls.
This week I was treated to a wonderful view of one preening itself after a light shower of rain.