08 February, 2013

Green around your ankles

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa


Dozen for Diana 2

What have you learnt to cherish because it thrives in your garden? I’m building a virtual version of our future garden in False Bay. That garden is green already, but I would prefer to have more indigenous/native to South Africa plants. Dozen for Diana began on my original blog with our garden at Porterville in the Swartland.

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine frutescens

My first choice for the new garden was structure to cover gaps where we see our neighbour’s windows or washing. Dune crow-berry Searsia/Rhus crenata is a dense shrub giving the little birds somewhere to shelter from our Chocolat. The False Bay Dozen will collect at Dozen for Diana on this new blog.

Bulbine in pots

Where I can open up some fresh gardening space in the new garden, I will promptly yearn for lush green groundcover. Something tough and waterwise. Fast and easy to grow. With flowers. Bulbine frutescens ticks all those boxes. And one more.

Bulbine with Nandina at front door

My mother grew the English cottage garden plants she knew. Lots of herbs, but as flowers for posies. She was a fan of Margaret Roberts – doyenne of herbs in South Africa, author of herb books, breeder of her own range of herbs. Traditional culinary and medicinal herbs, but Margaret also explored South African useful plants.

Bulbine leaves

Bulbine grows a rosette of long slender leaves. A succulent green version of a hedgehog or porcupine. Those rosettes very quickly grow into a clan which can be split into pieces. Already with new roots reaching for the earth!

Bulbine flowers

An obliging and appealing groundcover overlaid by a haze of dancing tangerine and yellow flowers intricately detailed. It gives better value while still growing as the spike of flowers continues to open. In the vase the spike sulks and sheds its flowers. The tangerine came from my mother, and I added the full yellow to my garden.

Yellow Bulbine

The bonus is that the leaves can be picked, split, and the gel used (like Aloe vera) on rashes or sun damage, insect bites, cold sores and cracked skin.

Bulbine summer dormant when it isn't watered 

Bulbine is in the asphodel family - with 15 genera and 800 species, including aloes and Kniphofia. It grows wild in the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape. Despite the Latin name, there are NO bulbs. The flowers attract bees. The Rastas use strained tea for coughs, colds and arthritis. Well drained soil. Full sun. Dead-head for more flowers – info from PlantZAfrica.

Bulbine growing happily in gravel

I am deliberately making my choices for this third Dozen from plants which grow in my Porterville garden and which will flourish on False Bay in turn. 

~~0~~0~~

Donna is in central NY State near Oneida Lake. This year her Dozen will be Simply the Best Herbs. Her first choice is lavender. For Donna – ‘Lavender can be tricky to grow as it requires full sun’. In Porterville any volunteers in the gravel path will be harvested for our new garden.

2013 Dozen for Diana with dune crow-berry and bulbinella

If you were to harvest Must Go With Mes from your current garden, what would you choose? For February, or you could use archived pictures. I'm happy to link to an older post if you have one that fits. 

Pictures and text by Diana Studer
(on Google Plus)
AKA Diana of Elephant's Eye (on False Bay)
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over teal blue text,
it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.)

42 comments:

  1. Hi Diana
    I have some bulbine that I have grown from seed that I got from South Africa. They are very small at the moment but I have high hopes especially is the flowers re as wonderful as yours.

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    1. The flowers are tiny, but generous and they are continually in flower (in our sunny climate). The yellow has a shorter season. Treasured because I grew them from seed are my pots of Freesia and Lachenalia, and all the green surprises that have lost their labels.

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  2. I think I would like the leaves when they are brown - and how useful to have a ready made medicine handy in the garden.

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    1. Lucy? That would be the third last photo. Sort of reddish and using crassulan acid metabolism, instead of the commonorgarden green version.

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  3. Hi Diana
    Thanks for your comment about my blogger profile - I didnt even realise I had one! I think I have updated it now and moved it over to Google + but its all a bit of a mystery to me!!

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  4. I was taken by some bulbine at our local garden center a year or two ago. What a wonderful plant! And I can see why you would choose this one as one of your dozen. Unfortunately, mine didn't make it through our winters. But, still, what a great potted plant it would make here.

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    1. and you'd have your First Aid ready to hand!

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  5. What tough decisions this must be for you. What to bring that will thrive and that you will have space for. When I moved across Canada not a single plant came with me. The climate change was too great and we had not the space in our luggage. Seeds instead came in my pockets. This year I planted some of that seed. Columbine flowers, both native and those English cottagey types are now growing in my new flower bed.

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    1. the climate for ours will be a little kinder, a little cooler - and I'll be taking lots of cuttings. How delightful that your newly planted columbines come with happy memories of a former garden.

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  6. Like Marguerite, I too brought columbine here from PA a long time ago, but the climates are similar with PA just a bit warmer. I am confused, did you move or are you just doing a new garden? New Blog too! I will look back at EE and see.

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    1. inspired by you, I'm experimenting with adding everyone who interacts on the new blog to the sidebar blogroll. Subscriptions that go via a Reader give me no ID, but I hope that those subscribers leave a comment, and I'll find them that way!

      It is confusing. We have a house waiting for us in False Bay. But first, we need to sell the Porterville home and garden. Meanwhile, a girl can dream ...

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    2. Dreams are always the best. They help us make them reality! Glad to have inspired you. Thanks for adding GWGT to your blogroll too. Comment links work great for me since I have limited time, yet like to keep up with readers. Those that come almost always get a visit. I say almost, because sometimes life gets in the way as you must well know selling one house to move to another.

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  7. I do not know bulbine but I love the flowers....thanks for the mention of my Dozen...next herb post is Monday!

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    1. Promoting a meme is hard work on social media - I treasure each blogger who joins me!

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  8. Sounds like a great plant. I love the fuzzy yellow centers.

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    1. Jason, no blog? Come on in, the water's lovely. We are enjoying the first good rain after the summer. One happy Swartland garden!

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  9. I've never brought plants with me because I was always moving to different climates. I have a lot of plants in my garden that remind me of people and places I've lived but I always had to start fresh with every garden. I've never inherited a garden either when a new house was purchased. I'm so glad you're in a cooler spot. :o)

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    1. The autumn weather has arrived in Porterville. Still dreaming and waiting patiently to sell the Porterville house so we can move to False Bay.

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  10. The Bulbine foliage looks a lot like Daylily foliage. What a fabulous plant! It would be on my list if I lived in South Africa!

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    1. Daylilies would be green around your knees? My plant is smaller, cylindrical leaves, not a pleated midrib - but they make up for it by having LOTS of leaves.

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    2. Ha, oh I see they are more petite. By the way, I added a link and a mention of your "Dozens" meme to my Viola post. Thanks!

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  11. Diana, It all reminds me of seven years ago when we put down a retaining fee for a new build cottage in the countryside. The must take with us at the time was our Hostas, then I continued to split up almost every perennial in the garden, potted them all up in preparation for the move. It never came about, the house boss became to upset about it all. I have to say, I like the look of your new site even more than your original, the shade of green shows you have good taste, very similar to that which I had on my old theme for quite some time..

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    1. I'm playing with sea-glass green. What would you name your previous green?
      I can understand the 'house boss' wanting to stay with the garden you both cherish with such care. Very hard to leave a garden ...

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    2. With the theme I had a sort of slider was available to make the green lighter or darker so no name. I do like this shade you have.

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  12. I think I'm as excited as you about this new garden.

    Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I'm just wondering. You've commented on PE Daily Photo so I know you've seen it, but have you ever visited The Firefly Photo Files? Its my general travel and nature blog covering more of SA than just PE. Just wondering.

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    1. I have seen your other blog. My rule is, one blog from each person in my Reader/blogroll. Too many blogs, too little time ... and I chose the one which wasn't light on dark.

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  13. I inherited old and ignored gardens when I moved into my present home. A constant trial at times but the benefits are wonderful. Bulbine looks like a cheerful plant -probably easy to grow lots of them since they don't seem to take up too much garden space.

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    1. sometimes when I'm thinning them, I have to close my eyes and dump the regiment of volunteers in a quiet corner, and walk away. I do look forward to hunting for treasures in the new garden. I've already found a mid-sized pohutakawa, New Zealand Christmas tree, which reminds me of my father.

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  14. I grow the Bulbine in pots - mine is orange so I must keep a look out for the yellow one.
    I have never had to worry about taking plants when I move house as I have had the same garden for 35 years, and am not likely to move now :-)

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    1. perhaps you are the nice lady on the corner who passes on volunteers to the garden club?

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  15. Diana I do love the exotica of the plant world that you introduce me to......as for that dozen I shall begin compiling.

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    1. I am intrigued to see your plant choices.

      Norfolk Broads is a place I have to enjoy in words and pictures. Our brief holidays leave no time for that or Derek Jarman's garden near Dungeness.

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  16. You have so many interesting plants that I haven't ever heard of! I think this would be perfect for my dry sandy soil in summer, but a bit of research shows it's not quite hardy enough - though the fact that I don't know this plant at all is probably due to it not being widely available in Northern Europe. Thanks for putting me on your blogroll!

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    1. I wonder - a nursery further south that specialises in mediterranean plants? But then it wouldn't like your winter in Brittany?

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    2. Actually further west! I just had a thought and checked. In the far west of Brittany on the north coast where they have a much milder climate (although far less hot than inland like where I am), there is a well known garden open to the public, where they seem to be in a frost free zone and can grow exotic plants from all over the world (Jardin Exotique de Roscoff).

      On their website they have no fewer than 6 different kinds of Bulbine, all for sale in their nursery! However we have to allow here for temps as low as -10C and this is killed at -6C so isn't worth trying. We looked at all the plants for sale when we visited and I don't think there was anything worth buying to bring home :-( But at least I know that they are heard of here!

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  17. Reading this, I thought of these lines by American Poet Amy Lowell:

    Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
    They knew my mother,
    But who belonging to me will they know
    When I am gone.

    - "The Garden by Moonlight"

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    1. thank you, that fits perfectly in every way. Our Dusty Miller has been passed along and is now Diana's Plant in their garden.

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  18. Diana, Such a hard decision to decide which beloved plants to move from an old garden to a new -- especially if the climates are somewhat similar. When I started making a small garden at my rented Pennsylvania townhouse, I mostly moved divisions of plants that I loved from my Maine garden. Now that I'm looking toward moving away from this garden, I'm wondering why I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to grow plants that can't survive in the colder climate of Maine!? -Jean

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    1. perhaps that tells us both, that your heart is in your Main(e) garden!

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  19. Dropped by to see how things are at EE only to be caught up in all the excitement of your moving. I felt a pang of sadness at the thought of leaving your paradise roses and the ungardeners pond. How exiting though for pastures new - will pop in and visit False Bay in the near future. All good wishes, Diana, for your new house and garden. p.s. Bulbines have the kind of open faces that insects love?
    Laura

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    1. the moving will come in its own good time. Meanwhile I'm delighted to see that Patio Patch lives on in fine new clothes! She blogs again, with words again.

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