29 March, 2013

From Kirstenbosch to Scarborough

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



We have a Botanical Society card which gives us free entry to South Africa’s 9 Botanical Gardens. But we NEVER get there. This week we did. I wandered slowly camera in hand. Sunny and warm, perfect weather for walking.

Fire heath Erica cerinthoides

Fire heath below Castle Rock at Kirstenbosch

The iconic mountain looking over Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is Castle Rock. We have 722 species of Ericaceae of which 700 are endemic. Flaming red beauty is Erica cerinthoides fire heath, because it blooms with particular enthusiasm after a mountain fire. While I watched the sunbirds were all over the plants – too lively for my camera.

Silver and gold everlasting

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

As you look across the garden, looming above the indigenous to South Africa plants which Kirstenbosch now curates – are remnant pines. The surviving exotics live out their span in peace. But once gone, the space is claimed by our own trees. The ones which Jan van Riebeeck would have found – then felled for ships and buildings.

Baobab in the Conservatory at Kirstenbosch
The Dell

We walked thru the Dell to Colonel Bird’s Bath – Jurg’s favourite route. Then to the Conservatory – my favourite bit – where Jurg greeted his baobab. This huge tree, which came to the new Conservatory loaded on a truck, was planted in winter 1996. We watch with concern as it loses its leaves each May and regains them at the end of November.

Cycads and Ginkgo leaf

200 million years ago there were 7 species of Ginkgo growing on Gondwana. Today’s Ginkgo biloba lives in Southeast Asia. Kirstenbosch also curates a collection of cycads, nicknamed living fossils.

Sunset at Scarborough - he walked down while I read

We had time as we stayed at a B’nB in Scarborough. Near the sea. In the evening, at the steps going up to the restaurant was a tall shrub – lavender star! My proof that it will grow happily in our next garden.


Among my reader’s queries on StatCounter – Can Grewia be used as a hedge? We have a small tree creeping up into our mountain view, which is on my pruning list. It IS recommended as a hedge. Grows into dense shelter for shy birds. Prune away!

Grewia occidentalis cross-berry or lavender star

Grewia occidentalis cross-berry or lavender star

In the Malvaceae with Hibiscus and cotton. Grewia occidentalis cross-berry to South Africans, lavender star to US gardeners. It will grow from the arid Karoo, to coastal dunes, to the shade of forest trees. Named after Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712), an English physician – according to PlantZAfrica. The berries (which I haven’t seen) are edible to both birds and us. The leaves attract butterflies.

Three plants for False Bay in 2013 Dozen for Diana

Joining me in choosing a plant this month are –

Donna of GardensEyeview in NY chose chives for February. I grow garlic chives but her lavender globes are calling my name. (With other bloggers I’m running late, so I’ll include her March choice). Yarrow or soldier's woundwort Each month I’m intrigued by the international and wide-ranging layers of information she gathers for her chosen plant. From Saxon warriors to starlings in their nest.

Beth of PlantPostings in Wisconsin turns to the common wood violet with ‘bright periwinkle blooms and lush heart-shaped leaves’. For March she reminds me of Easter in Switzerland with tete-a-tete daffodils!

Pictures by Diana and Jurg
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.)

33 comments:

  1. We grew a Grewia once; in fact, we grew two. Either side of the path, they were set to make an arch. And then they died. Both of them, about a year after planting out, though everything else in the newly planted under-storey forest thrived. They had been taken over by wasps, building great big nests at one stage, which we removed. However, it's a mystery, none of the close to 50 other shrubs or trees died, but these lost their leaves and that was that was that. :(

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    1. I've got a little list of plants that don't like me. Leonotis. Helichrysum. This garden is too hot for the fynbos I planted with optimistic determination. There is a Dodonea which flourished for years, and has suddenly said - bye I'm off.

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  2. Thank you for the Botanical Garden tour. The Grewia is a beauty and totally new to me. When I ever visit South Africa I surely shall visit Kirstenbosch, like everybody does from our country.

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    1. when we had lunch there we were surrounded by foreign visitors - German French English American Chinese ...

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  3. I know you are blogging about plants but I'm awed by your mountains.

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    1. Kirstenbosch and fynbos wouldn't have the same magic without our mountains. We chose the Porterville plot for the mountain view, and I dug my heels in for just a glimpse from the False Bay garden ;~)

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  4. I long to visit Kirstenbosch. I did laugh though when I read your B&B was in Scarborough as that is a northern sea-side resort here in the UK and aside from being by the sea I suspect the two couldnt be more different from each other.

    What is the idea of Dozen for Diana - do we post about our favourite plant for the month and is there a particular date?

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    1. One of our neighbouring towns is Wellington, as in the Duke of.

      I collect links and publish them when I get to the next monthly post. No fixed date, life is too unpredictable. There's a Dozen for Diana tab at the top. My first Dozen was plants I loved. The second was the ones that showed their love for our garden. This third is planning for the future False Bay garden. Archived photos are welcome, but I do want a plant that grows in YOUR garden. Leave a link in a comment and I'd love to add you - here or in April - no stress.

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  5. That fire heath is quite an eye catcher. I do enjoy visiting botanic gardens wherever I go and this one looks fascinating.

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  6. Enjoyed walking with you through these beautiful gardens!

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  7. The fire heath is beautiful, and aptly named. I imagine a mass planting of this would look as if the land was on fire! I also love the lavender star. A hedge of this would be gorgeous!

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  8. Diana, can't stand, computer would be around my knees...I'm tall lol.

    Wishing you a Happy Easter.

    Jen

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    1. a standing desk, adjusted to your height? I've cleared the wide top shelf on my Ikea bookshelf.

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  9. I adore that sunset...and the grewia bloom is a beautiful color of purply pink...love seeing your wildflowers. Thanks for the mention of my posts. I do enjoy writing them and linking in with you!

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  10. That sunset photo is spectacular. What a view! The botanical garden is quite fantastic too, looks so natural just merging into the mountains behind it. Not overly groomed which is a wonderful thing to see.

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    1. As a visitor you can choose to stay on the paths in the garden with the busloads of tourists. Or you can walk thru the garden and hike on the mountain almost alone.

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  11. We never did get around to planting Ginkgo biloba which we always intended doing. Perhaps its just as well given my history with trees. Mind you I expect the Ginkgo would have been very slow to make growth here.

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  12. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend... walking through nature... surely solace for the soul. Do I remember correctly that your sunbirds are similar to our hummingbirds?

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    1. Our sunbirds don't have to hover like your hummers. The fynbos mostly offers them a perch to eat in comfort. Now they are enjoying the electric red flowers on pineapple sage, and the yellow Tecoma.

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  13. There are botanical gardens near here as well, and I get to them from time to time but not often enough. It is always a treat. Thanks for sharing your visit.

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  14. The Lavender Star is quite beautiful and I'm glad it will grow in your new garden. I can understand why you never get around to visiting the Botanical Gardens, so easy to put it off for another day when they are just 'there', but great that you did. If I ever got to SA, Kirstenbosch would be first on my list of places to see!

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  15. "dense shelter for shy birds" - I get as much buzz from your narrative as the words and pictures.
    So used to its washed tones here that I never imagine Erica could be red hot.
    Your Grewia looks exactly like what it is - part mallow, part hibiscus and the name alone makes it a star plant for the future dozen

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  16. Kirstenbosch is my favourite Cape Town venue - birds and flowers all around, fresh air, one forgets one is in a city! And they have done a great job in saving some endangered (and extinct in the wild) species.

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    1. I garden for wildlife, Alan studies it!

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  17. I've never visited Kirstenbosch, let alone your fine country or even hemisphere, but that park would be one of my first stops. I read about it frequently, and it's great to see some photos from that icon. And that Erica cerinthoides is such a wonderful plant!

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  18. Dear Diana,
    that garden definitely is a must-see. Again I saw plants on your pictures I had never seen before.
    My cat also had a go at my muslie, with and without milk, when she was younger. No wonder they like bird food...
    Have a nice evening!
    Elke

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  19. My aunt and uncle lived in Joberg for 6 years but I was never able to visit them. Flying a family of 4 to SA was just too expensive. Your country is beautiful and I wished I'd made the trip.

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  20. I was in Cape Town over the weekend on a bloggers tour. Unfortunately they didn't include Kirstenbosch on the itinerary although I was hoping we'd stop there.

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    1. what DID you get instead of K'bosch? Table Mountain, Cape Point, Boulders and the penguins, the Aquarium?

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  21. Gosh, that Grewia is incredible--I can see why it's a favorite. Diana, I need to add your new blog as a favorite on Blotanical. Sorry for the tardy comment. I'm glad I caught this post--that botanical garden will be on my list for destinations if I ever make it to South Africa!

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  22. Very beautiful pictures. It looks so wonderfully tropical down there. I hope you've been adjusting to your new home and having a blast. I love all the leaves on several of these plants. Definitely looking into plants that will always attract the critters:)

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    1. ah, still waiting in limbo, but enjoying both halves.

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  23. I agree with many the other folks commenting on your posts -- you make me want to visit South Africa!

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