Lighten our darkness

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



I'm lightly tweaking my False Bay Dozen for Diana. My garden is, was, and will be, about foliage (then flowers). A leafy collage gives a truer year round impression (our deciduous plants use the fresh new leaves to kick off the old ones, and only Nandina does autumn colour). With a second seasonal collage for the passing flowers.

Plectranthus madagascariensis
Plectranthus madagascariensis

Plectranthus madagascariensis, Bulbine frutescens, Searsia crenata Tecoma capensis, Grewia occidentalis Five for False Bay in Dozen for Diana
Plectranthus madagascariensis, Bulbine frutescens, Searsia crenata
Tecoma capensis, Grewia occidentalis
Five for False Bay in Dozen for Diana

There are two foliage memes. Pam @ Digging in Texas on the 16th May
. Christina in Italy @ MyHesperides Garden on 22nd May.

Plectranthus madagascariensis
Plectranthus madagascariensis

Plectranthus madagascariensis
Plectranthus madagascariensis

Plectranthus madagascariensis
Plectranthus madagascariensis

My fleeting impression of our future garden, was dense green with predominantly white flowers, a huge column of star jasmine. High walls and shady trees, although there are patches of sun – the garden will appreciate ‘lighten our darkness’. Interesting blonde foliage and pale flowers. Now I go with lively ivory and apple green Plectranthus madagascariensis. There are very delicate spires of white flowers, but unless you are on your knees with a camera – those flowers blur into the creamy leaf bits. One of those tough rewarding grow anywhere and thrive from harvested bits plants.  It has always been on my favourites list, from when I began choosing plants for my first garden!

Can be picked, and the pieces will root in the vase. If you brush up against it, the leaves have a pleasant, fresh, green smell, not scented exactly but distinctive. That is the downside of a vigorous pioneer – but just what you want, when you are desperate to get a bare patch of earth to look like a garden.

Plectranthus is part of the mint family, hence the fragrant, but not edible, leaves! In autumn the shrubby members, which prefer cool and shady homes, produce masses of delicate spires of flowers (think mint again, but mint on steroids!) in white or pink or all the purply shades. There are about 44 species. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with Madagascar, but comes from the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu/Natal. There you will also find the scented pelargoniums and the spekboom Portulacaria afra. All plants which have adapted to – the elephants have knocked a chunk off. Instead of lying down and dying, the piece says I’ll grow into a new plant here!

Plectranthus madagascariensis
Plectranthus madagascariensis

Plectranthus madagascariensis
Plectranthus madagascariensis

Second choices include cream and green striped Liriope or Sansevieria. Later I’ll chose a silvery grey leaf – Dusty Miller or Santolina, Helichrysum or one of our trailing daisies Arctotis

Plectranthus madagascariensis, Tecoma capensis, Grewia occidentalis Bulbine frutescens (Searsia crenata has TINY flowers = Five) for False Bay in Dozen for Diana
Plectranthus madagascariensis, Tecoma capensis, Grewia occidentalis
Bulbine frutescens
(Searsia crenata
has TINY flowers = Five) for False Bay in Dozen for Diana

I wonder, whether that new life will mean more time in the garden in the evening? Altho I remember summer southeasters and the rare delight of a balmy, not windswept, summer evening when we lived in Camps Bay. Evenings in the garden revel in milky flowers that capture the dusk and moonlight. Arum lilies  wild freesiasDimorphotheca jucunda,  delicate knoffel buchu, white Pelargonium,  barely pink Crassula ovatabutter yellow Tecoma,  cotton boll seedheads on camphor bush or wild rosemary, softly gilded seed plumes on Mexican feather grass,  white or sky blue Plumbago, proud and tall Van Staden’s daisy, or powder blue wild sage

Plectranthus madagascariensis in a pot, and in our garden
Plectranthus madagascariensis
in a pot, and in our garden

From Donna in New York @ Garden'sEyeView 'During the Middle Ages, European women embroidered a sprig of thyme on tunics for knights or gave them thyme leaves as a token of courage'

Wild ginger from Canada via Beth @ PlantPostings in Wisconsin. She tells us 'Its roots taste similar to culinary Ginger, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, although I haven't tried it. I want every plant I have firmly in the soil'

Tecoma capensis looking at the leaves, not the flowers which are falling
Tecoma capensis looking at the leaves, not the flowers which are falling

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.)

Comments

  1. these photos prove green can be amazingly beautiful on its own, a bit white and cream, even more so,
    I have you book marked, you won't lose me!

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  2. I love a garden with different shaped / coloured / textured foliage - a reward more constant than flowers :)

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  3. The feed reader issue is a pain in the you know what. I suppose we'll all figure it out eventually. Meanwhile, I enjoyed your foliage post. Thanks for linking in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is focusing my mind on how many of my readers come either direct, or via Search.

      Delete
  4. I love the variegated leaf of this plant, Plectranthus madagascariensis!

    You know I will send you anything that is legal to send to South Africa....just name it. My May wildflower will be Mayapple a most unique plant and my May herb will be thyme.

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    Replies
    1. thank you - but no plants or seeds by post. Can't wait to read your thyme story.

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  5. I use mainly Blotanical and a couple other gardening sites for readership, most of the other traffic comes from google search. I never really gave feeds that much importance, not sure why, perhaps I should have. As for foliage, I love flowers myself but in Winter foliage can be very rewarding. I would try to find plants which offer both :)

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  6. There's a real sense of affection here for your new garden - of accepting it and anticipating the pleasure of gently adjusting it. I hope, for all it's newness, it will also be a sort of home-coming.

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  7. I recently started with Feedly. It was a super easy transition, however it means opening another page when I have grown accustomed to doing it all on GR.

    The variegated plecanthrus are all beautiful. I like the idea of a night garden.

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  8. I love all these greens. the pink and orange look quite shocking by way of contrast.

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  9. Thank you Diana for bringing the end of feedburner to my attention. I've known for awhile it was coming down the pipeline but still hadn't done anything about it. I am anticipating opening a Facebook page as many people seem to get their posts that way but I wonder about another alternative for those who don't use facebook. Mailchimp is a possibility but more work for me.

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    Replies
    1. I don't feed my FB page, just a link dump for the few who prefer that route.

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  10. Plectranthus is one of my favorites. This year I have two kinds, a new one to me that is pink and purple multicolored, but I still prefer the green and white variegated one. I still use Blotanical, though sadly it seems to be slipping further.

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    Replies
    1. I keep hoping it'll bounce back, like that plant that looked done for (Gra's Maltese Plumbago) - but defies us with leaves and flowers!

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  11. The Plectranthus is a stunning plant--foliage and flowers. I plan to post about Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense). Hopefully, I'll have enough time to post about it in the next couple of days. It's flowering now, but the foliage is also fascinating. I enjoy seeing your collages of plant picks as the months pass!

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  12. I've been wanting to tweek my blogs as well and jack up my blogging and social networking a little bit. Need to do it as badly as I need to get into my garden

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  13. Foliage is indeed so very important to the overall view of the garden. I do admire the Plectranthus madagascariensis. I am not sure about all this feeds and stuff. However the recent problem which screwed up my blotanical has forced me to get in touch with all of my gardening friends who now all! have a place on my own blog list. It saves so much time, I will always be grateful to blotanical for putting me in touch with so many of you. Also any new visitor that I am taken with who gets in touch with me will also find a place on my blog list. (Finally after seven years spell checker is recognising blog and blogger).

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  14. These posts are so helpful to me for plant ID. I think I had Plectranthus madagascariensis in Niger. Do the leaves have a scent?

    Regarding internet services that come to an end: I have been hit by Clipboard (a Pinterest-type site) closing. Annoying -- I had saved so many images there. I saved a PDF, but it's not the same.

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    Replies
    1. yes - fresh, green, herbal, slightly medicinal, pleasant. Hard to describe.
      Evernote seems popular.

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  15. I've never seen the plectranthus bloom here, but then it's probably not hot enough.

    Bloglovin all the way for me...I have Feedly, not too sure about it yet.

    Loving all the green and white, beautiful gardens are not always full of blossoms...foliage is finally coming into it's own.

    Jen

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  16. Thanks for linking me in, Diana. I'm catching up again, as I had no Internet access for a couple of days. I love this meme. Thanks!

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  17. Great post about so many beautiful foliage colors. I only have a few shades in my own garden.

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  18. Hello there! I've been wondering the same thing, but first thank you for the well wishes. It is truly exciting to be alive. Really. I love plants and always will and my garden that I planned several years ago keep changing and shaping into a haven for wildlife. Just as you imagined your garden was how I imagined my own, but it certainly has a mind of its own. That's the beauty of gardening.....it's always changing just as your new'ish one will:)

    As for this google/blogger thing going on. It's not facebook easy, but I can navigate around it. I'm in the same boat. We earned readers for the years of hard work to have it taken away. Thanks for adding the google+ on your site. Now when you update I'll get those blog updates. So while we may not see our subscribers via the reader, we'll be able to follow one another on this google plus thing. As my grandmother eloquently puts it....same crap different pile:) "See you" when I get back:) Chris

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    1. Google Plus is luring me into a whole different pile of reading, away from the garden bloggers. But Feedly is holding my garden and other blogs for my reading pleasure.

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  19. So nice to see a focus on foliage. Beautiful in their own right. Thanks for the reminder for google reader... still haven't made a decision. Seems I'm running out of time. Sometimes I strongly dislike change. This is one of those times.

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