NOVEMBER 2021 GARDEN

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.

A PINK BEAUTY

An immediate attraction on our arrival at the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park was this showy member of the Hibiscus family growing on a bank separating the camping area from the chalets on a level above it.

The Anisodonta cabrosis grows along the coast of the south-western Cape as far as KwaZulu-Natal.

The bush was covered with these beautiful pink flowers.

A true ‘pink beauty’, it is also known as an African Mallow.

FOREST PINK HIBISCUS

My cell phone camera does not do justice to pink. This is a pity for it was what I had in hand when I came across the Forest Pink Hibiscus (Hibiscus pendunculatus) blooming in the shady part of the garden during one of the first showers of rain we enjoyed. Here you can see how slender the stems of this plant are.

I am particularly fond of this plant as it grew from seed obtained from the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden at least twenty years ago. I simply sowed the seeds into the bare ground that we had at the time – there being few other trees of any significance in our garden then – and hoped for the best. To my amazement and joy one took root and we have enjoyed a few flowers on and off since then.

Since it was planted, other trees and shrubs have grown up around it so that it now grows in the semi-shade conditions that have been created. It does not flower as prolifically as it used to though, so perhaps it would prefer more sun – although it is meant to be self-seeding, there is little evidence of that in the garden, again this might be because it is not necessarily enjoying the ideal conditions where it is, or because of the long drought. The lovely pink flowers are borne on long dainty stalks and tend to droop. As it grows near our path, they peep out between the other plants. The flowers only last for about a day – hence me photographing them in the rain!

BLADDER HIBISCUS

So many cattle graze on the open field below our house so often that I am surprised that anything survives – the indigenous trees that were planted there after the enormous Eucalyptus trees were removed haven’t! What a pleasure it was then to find the area brightened by a myriad of cream coloured flowers with a dark eye – I had to take a closer look and walked there, camera in hand.

They turned out to be Hibiscus trionum, also known as the Bladder Hibiscus, which grow in grasslands and in disturbed areas – which fits the bill for this piece of land. The solitary, creamy-white flowers with a dark purple centre have a calyx with conspicuous purple veins.

It is interesting to contrast this annual herb with the enormous flower blooming on the Hibiscus tree in our garden.

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