21 November, 2013

Purple spires around the pond

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


One day we will look back and remember Ungardening Pond. We’ll remember when we stepped onto the verandah and looked across the pond to the mountains.

Ungardening Pond with Chocolat


‘Who lingers within you? Have you ever felt an ancestral presence? The inescapable tie of family: hundreds of individuals, yesterday and today, here and gone’ from Elena @ Vision and Verb – with her ‘Blood and vapor'

Ungardening Pond with Black Stork Island

I battled to find suitable plants for the pond margin. My initial mistake was to choose plants too tender to be next to the concreted edge. Too hot and dry. Today the marginal planting has settled comfortably into swathes of succulent Plectranthus neochilus. With a flourish of purple architectural spires echoing from shore to shore, from the top of Pani’s Falls to Black Stork Island, along both sides of the jetty, edging Rest and Be Thankful and repeating the colour we use on our garden furniture.

Ungardening Pond with Pani's Falls

Ungardening Pond with waterlily

The garden has mellowed from winter’s flamboyant red and yellow, to a gentler quieter palette of blues and mauves with hints of yellow.

Ungardening Pond with beach for birds to bath

Ungardening Pond looking along the jetty

Dozen for Diana 

My November plant in Dozen for Diana can only be the purple flowers of Plectranthus neochilus as they rule the garden with joy. With my Dozen for Diana I am building a virtual garden. Gathering from among the plants I nurture in Porterville those who will flourish in turn in the False Bay garden. Limiting my choices particularly because the next garden will be a much smaller suburban garden, but I still wish to echo the magic of the original Elephant’s Eye.

Plectranthus neochilus leaves

Dozen for Diana leaves for 2013

The eleventh plant is a tough groundcover providing colour in season. Its common name in Afrikaans is muishondblaar - the leaves have a strong medicinal smell which lingers on a careless gardener’s fingers. Not UNpleasant, but not something you would choose to pick and bring inside, despite the utter perfection of the flowers. Such a tough succulent, unless its high summer, I can always harvest bits to cover a last bare patch. Once established the plant rolls on creating a kinder microclimate for itself as it progresses.

Plectranthus neochilus flowers

Dozen for Diana flowers in 2013

From PlantZAfrica - Plectranthus is in the mint family Lamiaceae. Flowering from September to April (later the dead flower stalks will need grooming away). It grows wild in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, as well as South Africa. ‘The leaves reflect the sun's rays, keeping the plant cool’.

Donna in central NY State has joined me each month this year GardensEyeView  Simply the best herbs. She comes to us with sage and wisdom. I too love that smell and have a pot of sage on the back verandah outside the kitchen.

Pictures by Diana Studer 
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay

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

  1. 36C is very hot. It is 3C over here at the moment. No pretty purple flowers here. Only autumn colours. Maybe I can join you next time and do a post about the most hardy plant in my garden. That will probably be my favourite plant in december.

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    1. I'd love to have your perfect photos joining my December Dozen!

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  2. Oh my, hearing that 97F is making me jealous. I really do think I will have to leave my northern climate during the winters when I retire. So much energy is required just to go outside when it's colder than 0C/32F. In any case, your pond has never looked lovelier. I don't know if the pictures of it here are recent or not, but that is one lovely garden oasis! I'm dreaming of a location like that as we face more snow during the next few days. My next post is "plant of the month" and I will link in when it's completed. I sense the wistfulness in your "voice." Best wishes, Diana.

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    1. the pond pictures were taken this week. Yes, wistful, both looking forward and 'back'.

      Perhaps you will become a 'swallow'? South Africa has many people from England and Germany especially,who live in summer year round.

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  3. The plecanthus is a beauty, I love the deep colored tips. No flowers left in my hemisphere, just leaves coming down like raindrops. I would welcome some of your heat too as today is overcast, rainy and 6C.

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  4. Your pond area looks magnificent. What memories you'll take with you. The plantings around there are fabulous. I love the colouring on Plectranthus neochilus and those spires make a brilliant spectacle.

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  5. As I grow older I dislike the cold of winter more and more; I'm not over fond of very hot weather either but given a choice between the two I would choose hot now! Today feels very cold, the coldest so far this autumn. My link is to an old post to a try that does well for me here but that I know you would remove for its self seeding. http://myhesperidesgarden.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/melia-azedarach/

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    1. My Persian lilac is quietly growing HUGE in its fragrant corner. Still solitary, we'll see ...

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  6. These photos should easily lure the right kind of buyer to your property. Changes...such a mixed blessing.

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  7. Your pond looks really pretty... must be so serene just to sit by and soak in the fragrance of your flowers...

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  8. I honestly believe that your green fingers could turn the balcony of an inner city apartment into an oasis of tranquility. How i'd love to jaunt back to the "Motherland" to sit on the jetty with a cool gin & tonic and marvel at the stunning beauty that is SA.

    I have to ask... do yo have turtle doves visiting? This sound is woven deep within the psyche of my my childhood & I am eternally grateful that Perth has her fair share of these cooing sweeties.

    Have a lovely week! XX

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    1. yes, Angy, there are doves. We always hear birds in our garden. When it suddenly goes quiet, we notice!

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  9. One of my favourite November plants is the mock orange Philadelphus coronarius. I have it in a spot where it is protected from afternoon sun. I hardly ever water it as my hose does not fully reach the spot. Glorious scent and covered in beautiful white flowers all of November.

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    1. Zola? New reader- do you have a blog?

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    2. No I don't have a blog, sorry. I love reading yours though.

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  10. I love it that your garden pond has both a beach and a jetty!

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  11. I know you will sorely miss this garden but I am sure your new garden will take your mind off the present one.

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  12. Diana, I love this months choice...the foliage is wonderful and then the flower reminds me of our hyssop. I enjoyed seeing the many views of your stunning pond. Glad you enjoyed my November plant, sage!

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  13. Diana, I love the views of your Ungardening Pond! The purple spires repeated along the edge draw one into a magical realm. I am surprised your place hasn't sold yet. It must be frustrating to remain in limbo. I hope your cats will enjoy the new garden as much as they seem to relish the present one! I am just discovering the joys of plectranthus. This year I planted two varieties, and they both exceeded my expectations. There will be more plectranthus next year!

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    1. Oh yes, your shady woodland garden, our Plectranthus will be in heaven! Especially the shrubby ones that left me in the lurch as our garden is too hot in the summer for them.

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  14. Our weatherman is offering 36 F for this coming Sunday -- and that will be a warm-up ;-). How are you doing with your limbo status. Are you savoring the unexpected time at Porterville or eager to get on with it at False Bay? -Jean

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    1. We would like to get to work on the False Bay house, and garden! But this is a lovely place to hustle while we wait.

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  15. I love Plectanthrus, but have never seen it look perfect tame in a garden. It must be magnificent growing wild. Creating that pond was a fantastic achievement, it's superb.

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    1. for 'perfect' I deadhead the tall brown stalks, once the blue flowers have faded and fallen.

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