27 April, 2016

Cape Storm and a year of gardening

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Last Friday Cape Town had fierce wind. Traffic chaos. Flooding. Trees down.

Calm after the storm

And lessons about microclimates. Three Iceberg roses in our garden. The two at the gate were sheltered behind the wall and are lush and green. The inherited standard was blasted by salty spray on the wind and is shedding dead leaves, and yet popping out new flowers. Next to the street below us is a green belt with a row of large Brachylaena. One was pushed over and uprooted by the wind. Grateful that the garden has a green sheltered look which we chose in December 2012. My garden is geared to summer's prevailing Southeaster, but the winter storms and cold fronts roll in across the Atlantic from Antarctica. I choose and prune my trees for many trunks and branches up and down as well as across. Top heavy lollipop standards are Not A Good Idea.

Froggy Pond is settling in with murky green-brown water. We followed the barley straw advice. We didn't have a bundle to put at the bottom, so the Ungardener scattered scraps of oat straw on the surface. We thought we'd have to look at that disaster for weeks ... but it only took days to sink and the water is clearing steadily. I've seen one dragonfly larva hunting in the water, and a few water snails.

Iceberg roses
Froggy Pond

Storm damage in the garden knocked bits off the Euphorbia - which I planted. Knocked back the enthusiasm of purple Hypoestes by half - which I harvested for two vases. Rearranged the carob tree. Every few weeks I prune to keep the paths wide open and the overhanging branches well clear of heads, but suddenly the carob was hugging our shoulders. I cut the low branches up, and can see something is torn raw wood up there. Watching to see if there is a dead branch? End of Month View

Carob tree

We had to wait till November 2014 (with tenants in the False Bay house) while we waited to sell the Porterville house in the country. In March 2013 we came to take pictures so the Ungardener had something to work his plans on. The front had a sloping lawn, access thru the garden gate, desperate window boxes - all battling the full day sun and summer wind. Builders terraced and paved. April 2015 I could finally begin gardening! I planted succulents on my Karoo Koppie.

Karoo Koppie

Behind the house we would have morning sun if not for the neighbour's invasive hedge Glooming over. Brazilian pepper tree gone. Washing Pergola up. East patio and path relaid. Cornish Stripe garden planted in blues and white.

East Patio and Cornish Stripe

Look down Cornish Stripe to the lemon tree on show from the East patio.

Cornish Stripe and lemon tree

At the bottom of the garden we found the obligatory Wendy House and a Twirldry with overgrown trees. We made space for Froggy Pond and a 'Woodland Walk'.

Froggy Pond and Woodland Walk

On the afternoon sun side Buddleja, lavender and invasives are gone. We have a 'stone' circles and table beneath the carob. The garden is planted in Summer Gold and Spring Promise (pink and silver).

Summer Gold and Spring Promise

Texture and colour of succulent leaves on our Karoo Koppie.

Succulent leaves on the Karoo Koppie
(South African except the Echevieria and Aeonium)

More April flowers to go with the Moody Blues a fortnight ago.

For Gail at Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday.

April flowers
(South African except Salvia,
Buddleja, rose and hibiscus were in the garden) 

I have two slipper orchids from my mother. King Arthur and this nameless green and white one opening for me today for the first time in YEARS!

Green and white slipper orchid

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Pictures by Diana Studer
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