MY JANUARY GARDEN 2021

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.

GLADIOLUS DALENII AGAIN

It is three years since I first wrote about the Gladioulus dalenii that I found blooming next to a road. Since then I have planted a few corms in my garden. I had one flower and then the heat and drought of the summer caused the next blooms to shrivel and die before they could open. Thanks to some rain in January and February, I have experienced the joy of seeing not one, but three, of these blooms and am thrilled to note from the increased number of fans of erect, grey-green leaves that the corms have already multiplied so I will be able to expect more blooms in the future. These bracts are so long that they fall over!

Take a closer look at the hooded, speckled flowers and one can appreciate why one of its common names is the Parrot Gladiolus.

It is not surprising that these striking flowers have been hybridised and grown in Europe for over two centuries. They are also very popular garden plants here, where they usually flower from around December to February. Gladiolus comes from the Latin word for a small sword – a reference to the narrow, sword-shaped leaves. Dalenii honours Cornelius Dalen, the Director of the Rotterdam Botanic Gardens, who introduced these plants species to Europe.