Don’t expect miracles. Mine has become a forested garden over the years with very few sunny spots. Add to that a prolonged drought that has led me to try ‘container’ gardening and you will appreciate that I do not grow flowers in abundance. Nonetheless, here are seven bright blooms that bring me considerable joy after a summer of no flowers at all.

What we colloquially call Wild Garlic. I have planted these all over the garden, but there are only two blooming at the moment – in the sunniest spot.

The only Geranium to survive the summer – when it should have been blooming.

Tiny Marigolds blooming in a pot.

Alyssum, which I hope will seed itself and regenerate in other parts of the garden – also growing in a pot.

A robust Aloe Tenoir, which has not grown any larger in eight years. I give it top marks for tenacity.

Canary Creeper. These bright yellow flowers are draped all over our garden and swathes of them cover trees and bushes in the suburb, attracting all sorts of insects.

A variety of Lavender which I grew from a slip taken from a friend’s garden a few years ago.

NOTE: Click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger view.


Come for a walk around our garden that is coming alive after the first spring rain. Firstly, there is the plum blossom on an offshoot of the already very old plum tree when we arrived thirty years ago. It eventually collapsed, became overgrown and we forgot about it until off shoots like these began poking through the ‘jungle’ a couple of years ago. If we are lucky, we may get a handful of plums that the birds have not devoured first!

The indigenous Cape Honeysuckle grows unchecked all over the garden. This plant is partially covering the homemade canoe we used for a trip to the Okavango Delta in Botswana long before our children were born!

A previous occupant planted this clambering rose on the bottom terrace of the garden. It was tiny and completely overgrown so that I only discovered it about two years after our arrival. During the intervening years of drought I was sure it had died – until it began clambering all over the Dais cotinifolia last year, covering it with white blossoms.

Having cut back a section of the encroaching jungle during winter, I purchased two varieties of Osteospermum to provide some colour in the bare spot.

Two plants with a long family history are blooming now too. Both originally come from slips taken from my mother’s garden on our family farm in Mpumalanga to be planted in our fledgling garden in Mafikeng in the North West Province and were replanted here in the Eastern Cape! The first is the indigenous Van Stadens River Daisy.

The second is a Marguerite Daisy.

Last summer I scattered a packet of mixed flower seeds in my sunniest spot – not much came up – but since our first spring rain two self-sown varieties delight my soul. One are the Californian Poppies, which are robust and seem to have multiplied.

The other is a single Cosmos plant – the flower of which I do not recall seeing before. Last summer the flowers were all pink!

Encouraged by all this brightness, I purchased these scarlet petunias from the nursery.


Look up poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) on Google and you will be inundated with advice on how to care for your ‘Christmas plant’ or how to keep it alive through winter until the next Christmas. They don’t have to be ‘throw away’ plants say some sites; and it is ‘wasteful to throw them out now’ say others. I remember being startled at all the potted poinsettia plants for sale in the shops the first time I visited Norway one December: I had never seen such tiny plants!

Here is one taken of the poinsettia tree (note, ‘tree’) growing in my neighbour’s garden, which always blooms during May and June (shortly before our winter truly sets in):

My garden is too shady, for poinsettias do best in a sunny position. They are commonly grown in gardens all over South Africa, which is why the tiny potted versions caught me by surprise.


There are no swathes of lush lawns or beds of budding flowers in my garden. To get anything to grow in this drought and water restrictions is nigh impossible. A fine example of what I mean is that from two packets of sunflower seeds, this is what I have:

These daisies are hanging on bravely, their flowers much smaller than usual and they do not last as long.

Thankfully, the indigenous Plumbago provides showy flowers regardless of the drought.

My first dahlia!

The coreopsis are providing a cheerful patch of yellow – they too shrivel quickly in the heat, but have benefited from the water from the washing machine.

Self-sown nasturtiums are climbing up the frangipani, creating a cascade of cheerfulness next to the garden steps.

I am thankful for any colour in the garden and am grateful for the shade from our many trees that help to make sitting outdoors a pleasure during the summer months.


Daily temperatures fluctuate up and down, with more ups than downs; we have been blessed with some rain at last; there are birds aplenty in the garden … all signs that summer is moving into its seasonal space:

The promise of a feast of plums


The Pompon trees are coming into bloom


Nasturtiums brighten the dullest of places


As does the odd Californian poppy


Bold marigolds make a show


Swimming time


And we need to keep an eye out for Puffadders


The sun is shining, the sky is clear and it is a wonderful morning to walk through my garden to see what is blooming. Here are eight of the flowers that caught my eye:

The first are the self-sown marguerite daisies that I transplanted to next to our swimming pool about three years ago. They have rewarded me ever since with a showy cover of white blossoms. Once the flowering season is over, I prune them right back and wait for the next show:

Marguerite daisy

These primulas were purchased from our local nursery to brighten up a shady spot next to the bird bath. Although they are past their prime, they still provide a cheerful sparkle of colour:


This Aloe ciliaris came from a slip I collected in a friend’s garden and is proving to be an exceptionally hardy plant:

Aloe ciliaris

Marigolds are good companion plants for vegetables:


I first planted nasturtium seeds years ago and now am never without them. Their jewel-like colours never fail to please. They actually bloom best with a minimum amount of watering too:


This lonely snapdragon seeded itself from who knows where. I am delighted that it has:


The indigenous crossberry attracts bees and other insects as well as the sunbirds:


I always enjoy the blooms of the Black-eyed Susan creeper peering out of the tangle of ivy and plum leaves:



Having inherited a rather bare, neglected garden featuring a collection of thorny cacti growing in gravel-covered beds, I now rejoice that our garden has grown into a forest of indigenous trees, shrubs and creepers. I would like to share some of the splashes of colour that are brightening it up at the moment.

My style of gardening lends itself to allowing plants to grow where they feel most comfortable – they literally have to seek their own patches of sunshine. Thus I have a self-sown lemon tree pushing its way through the tangle of pompon trees in the front garden; self-sown carrots and parsley all over the back garden; and nasturtiums peeping out wherever there is sun.

nasturtiumThere is even a climbing rose, which a previous owner must have planted years ago, now adorning the trees that shield us from much of the sound of passing traffic.

roseThe masses of white Marguerite daisies (Argyranthemum frutescens) blloming abundantly at the moment. They originally came as slips from my parents’ farm in Mpumulanga.

marguerite daisyAt first I would carefully pot slips to keep them going and now I find so many self-sown seedlings that I leave them where they are.

marguerite daisyA Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) popped up unexpectedly – from seeds blown in from a neighbouring garden perhaps?

Sweet WilliamThe same happened with a Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) which is threading its way around the stump of a tree which came down several years ago.

black-eyed susanWarm evenings are not as heavily scented now that the Brunsfelsia pauciflora – commonly known as the Yesterday, today and tomorrow flower – is nearing the end of its blooming period.

Brunsfelsia paucifloraSeveral varieties of lavender make a brave show at different times of the year. They have all arrived as slips from the gardens of friends.

lavenderThis pink geranium is the sole survivor of many I once brought from the farm garden I left behind so long ago now.

geraniumThe Cross-berries (Grewia occidentalis) are blooming now.

Grewia occidentalisSo is the Plumbago auriculata.

Plumbago auriculataI cannot resist leaving you with an image of one of the many strawberries ripe for the picking outside my kitchen. I was given four plants and now the number keeps growing!