On this beautifully bright, sunny day let me share some of the things which bring me cheer:
Today has been darkly overcast and dull with a very light shower clearing the air a short while ago. Having already looked at various hues of green on St. Patrick’s Day (interestingly the dead snake elicited the most responses!), as I walked around my garden this afternoon I was reminded of the various shapes of leaves we get in nature. First up is the Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) which grows outside the side door leading to our swimming pool. The colour of the stalkless, succulent leaves tend to vary from bright green to pale grey. I planted this small tree as a broken off twig several years ago and it has already reached a height of nearly 4m. I prune it periodically and plant the cuttings elsewhere in the garden.
This Aloe ferox growing near our front door is well over thirty years old – well suited to this dry part of the Eastern Cape. Its beautiful flowers will appear sometime in May and continue through to the end of August. These broad leaves are showings signs of age yet still look attractive to me.
This Ziziphus mucronata, commonly known as buffalo thorn or blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie, seeded itself outside our lounge window. I enjoy the glossy green leaves, although remain wary of the thorns – one hooked and the other straight – that are difficult to extract oneself from. Despite the thorns, trees growing in the wild are browsed by both game and stock animals.
Gardens are all the sadder, I think, without nasturtiums growing somewhere. Not only do they produce blooms in a variety of colours, but their blossoms, leaves and immature green seed pods are edible.
According to the Agricultural Research Council “Sword fern is a category 1b declared invader in Limpopo, Mupumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, and a category 3 invader in Gauteng, Free State, North-West, and Northern Cape. It must be controlled or eradicated where possible, and may not be sold or distributed through commercial outlets.” Try as I might, I simply cannot get rid of these plants which grow faster than I can attack them!
Another exotic is the Cape gooseberry (Physalis edulis) which originates in South America. All the plants (the number of them wax or wane according to the weather) growing in my garden have seeded themselves – probably courtesy of the birds which adore the golden berries as much as I do. I generally leave them to grow wherever they please, unless they are really in the way.
FLOWERS UP CLOSE
Every now and then I get the feeling that my blog posts have become dull and need a bit of cheering up. What better way of doing this than taking a close look at some flowers?
The potato bush is covered in these beautiful flowers that brighten up the area next to the pool pump.
These indigenous pelargoniums have a way that make one pause before walking past. They thrive with little help from me.
The number of Gladiolus dalenii have increased significantly in the bed outside our kitchen and so I am looking forward to enjoying ever more of their blooms.
I find it difficult to resist taking a closer look at the hibiscus flowers next to our swimming pool.
This day lily was a part of a bouquet of flowers I received a while ago.
Then there are the nasturtiums that always manage to look cheerful.
ROUNDING OFF 2022 IN THE GARDEN
A quick walk around the garden on this very hot last-day-of-the-year revealed that the forest pink hibiscus (Hibiscus pendunculatus) is providing some delicate colour in the deep shade:
Growing in a pot is a mystery plant that at first looked and (the leaves) smelled akin to a carrot. Within days it had shot up and produced a variety of blooms:
The red salvia (Salvia splendens) planted last summer are still doing well, having bloomed almost continuously since then:
Adding some colour near our front door are these nasturtiums:
Also lasting well are these pansies:
In another pot are some very stunted – yet pretty – snapdragons:
These little patches of colour bring joy and with them come my wishes for a good year ahead for all of you.
MY GARDEN TODAY
Today felt warm even before the sunrise began colouring the horizon shortly before five o’clock. The air has felt thick and unmoving all day. At first the sky was a brilliant blue that gave way to a steely grey before lunch … then there were raindrops! Fat drops of rain that made large wet patches on the hot cement outside the kitchen door – not even 30 seconds of joy before the rain disappeared and the sky became an uncompromising white with hardly a breath of wind to lift the leaves of the trees. At least the drought-stricken nasturtiums growing in pots near our front steps provide some bright colour.
So do the red poppies (Papaver rhoeas) in the bed near our swimming pool. This is the first time I have successfully grown them from seed, so I feel very proud of them.
In the back garden are mostly the seed heads only of the unexpected opium poppies (Papaver somniferm) which miraculously appeared after a six year absence.
More colour is provided by the yellow blooms of what used to be called Aloe tenuoir but is now known as Aloiampelos tenuior – commonly called a fence aloe, or climbing aloes, among other names. These are growing in a very dry spot below the window of our lounge.
The early spring rains (perhaps more accurately described as sprinkles) have provided the impetus for a plethora of wild flowers to bloom and greened the wild grasses – a condition known here as the ‘green drought’ – even though our dams remain dry. To give you an idea of the severity of this drought, look at my front lawn.
Then, to end on a cheery note, here is a photograph of the very patient Hadeda Ibis still diligently sitting on her nest. More news on that score when I see either broken eggshells on the ground or catch sight of a chick or two.