After the first flush of spring and some welcome rain followed by a long bout of hot, dry weather, apart from the beautiful hues of green there is not much colour in my garden bar the regrowth of (very short) snapdragons in a pot. Their reappearance has come as a happy surprise.
Conditions for the rosemary bush growing next to our front steps must be ideal for not only is it flowering more prolifically than it has for some time, but is taking over a section of the steps. The mess on the floor behind it consists of droppings from the White-rumped Swifts that usurped the mud nest built by a pair of Lesser-striped Swallows several years ago. They can be aggressive little birds that are not above dive-bombing anyone they regard as an intruder. Needless to say, we seldom use the front door during the breeding season.
I remedied the lack of colour this week by planting cheerful petunia and marigold seedlings in a pot near the swimming pool.
Over the years I have allowed a self-sown Ziziphus mucronata – commonly known as a buffalo thorn or blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie (shiny wait a bit) tree – to grow in front of our lounge window. I prune it from time to time and regard it as a natural barrier against possible intruders.
A close-up view of its thorns will illustrate why it is impenetrable – it was difficult enough pruning the branches away from the window without being torn to ribbons and those vicious thorns even penetrated my gardening gloves!
Lastly, having been well informed about the Queen Anne’s Lace that made itself at home in a corner of a pot, I have watched its progress with great interest. I now appreciate the various descriptions of the flower heads curling up to to form a bird’s nest like structure as they mature.
Whenever I scroll through my photographs I am surprised at the number of patterns that jump out at me. At the risk of boring readers with yet another lot, I have a few more to show. The first are raindrops on the grass. There is a great delight in these shining drops for we received some unexpected rain last week – enough to green up the grass on my unmown lawn and to give the flowers in the garden a ‘lift’:
After the rain comes sunshine and these patterns shining on the side of our swimming pool caught my eye. The pool was filled with grit and leaves after the rain:
Thanks to the ongoing drought, it is a while since I have been able to enjoy large marigolds in the garden. None of the many seeds planted this year have shown a sign of sprouting. Nonetheless, I enjoyed finding this picture in my archives:
I have shown several Eucalyptus trees of late; here is a closer look at the leaves of one of the trees growing around the corner from where I live:
Next is a picture regular readers may be familiar with. This is Bryan, the angulate tortoise that came to live in our garden for some time until eventually the desire to travel on overcame him. I love the pattern on his shell:
Lastly, I cannot resist adding this stained glass window:
Summer is over and, in spite of the continuing high temperatures during the day as well as uncomfortably warm temperatures at night, the sun rises much later now and sets far earlier than we would like. The oppressive heat and impressive build-up of clouds late this afternoon – which included a few very loud rumbles of thunder – yielded 1mm rain. So, autumn is here: far from being a “season of fruitfulness” in terms of harvesting vegetables [thank you drought] it is nonetheless a season of seeds. Here is a selection from my garden today:
These fluffy seeds come from a weed I have still to identify. This particular one grew over six feet tall – I was so awed by its height that I left it to grow in a crack outside the kitchen door.
The beautiful flowers of the Gladiolus dalenii have left these seed pods behind.
Then there are the Cape Gooseberries that have seeded themselves around the garden. Their sun-kissed golden fruit make a welcome addition to a fruit salad. Sadly, there have been so few of them so I wasn’t able to make jam this year.
A dwarf marigold has laid down its head, ready for the autumnal sleep. Its vibrantly coloured petals will continue to fade before falling off to reveal the short black seeds at its base. I hope they will fall on fertile ground next summer.
The pretty pink blossoms of the pompon trees shrivel to look like miniature paint brushes before they finally let go and drop to the ground. Many of these trees growing in our garden have grown from seed.
The scarlet seeds from the Erythrina caffra are beginning to litter our driveway – always showing up brightly against the piles of dry leaves swirling about in the breeze.
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!