14 October, 2014

Veltheimia capensis to a Woodland Walk

 - gardening for biodiversity 
in Cape Town, South Africa

I favour flowers with off-key colours. Burgundy honey flower. Burnt orange wild sage. Mermaid Lachenalia. Dusky pink sand lily is from Darling to Nieuwoudtville region where we had a garden in Porterville. Today's pictures were taken in that garden.

In the winter a rosette of gorgeous glossy deep green leaves appears. A glorious focal point before the flowers. The wavy margins ripple like a couture designed collar, worn once, and a nightmare to ever get it to lie right again.

Veltheimia leaves October 2009

The flowers stand tall and proud. This obliging and welcome plant spreads itself around. I started with two plants, dug up and brought with us from Camps Bay first to Porterville, then to False Bay.

Veltheimia September 2007

Planted under trees.

Veltheimia October 2008 under the ash trees with Lachenalia

The flower colour is pink. A hint of salmon or coral is muted by the green tips. Softened, as you will realise if you get up close and personal, by the “pink” being speckled over a soft taupe under layer – trout spots!

Veltheimia October 2009

Two clumps remain in the planters beneath the ash trees in Porterville.

Veltheimia September 2010

I potted up the beginning of an indigenous to South Africa forest garden, a little Woodland Walk, forest margin with dappled shade, for our new False Bay home.

To be joined by - 2 Mackaya bella with gentle mauve lines on white bell flowers which light up the shade - Clerodendron Oxford and Cambridge blues - Jan Krui se ment - Cyperus albostriatus striped forest sedge - Asparagus fern which has exploded its pot and longs for room to grow! - Streptocarpus deep purple flowers - Yellow Clivia - Drimiopsis with succulent dark spotted leaves - Hibiscus pedunculatus from my sister and Knysna - fans of Dietes.

From - Robert Goddard - Caught in the light
Iceland was a place like no other I'd ever been.
I filled film after film with hallucinatory images
of glacial white
and sulphurous yellow
and deep drowning blue.
(this I love in Japanese iris, white, yellow and dark blue. Or our more delicate Dietes)

Wish list - Diospyros whyteana - Halleria lucida tree fuchsia (snapdragon family) - Hypoestes aristata ribbon bush - Lots of ferns now we have the microclimate, Rumohra adiantiformis - Crassula multicava - Dombeya forest pear - Dais cotonifolia pink pompom tree needs plenty of water - Nuxia floribunda caterpillars for the birds - Pavetta lanceolata nectar for sunbirds - Psychotria capensis red berries for birds - Senecio tamoides canary creeper 'ivy' leaves and yellow daisy flowers

Plectranthus oertendallii Swedish ivy, November lights, silverleaf spurflower - By 1924, plants were described in Sweden and named after Ivan Anders Oertendahl, the head gardener of Uppsala University Botanical Garden. When, where and by whom these plants were collected and how they got to Sweden, nobody knows - PlantZAfrica.

Veltheimia September 2014

Large three-lobed green seed-pods on Veltheimia capensis (picture from December 2008).

Veltheimia seeds December 2008

My bulb is related to the North’s hyacinth and Muscari, with Eucomis (pineapple lily), Lachenalia and Ornithogallum in South Africa. The genus is named [for] Graf von Veltheim. Info on sister Veltheimia bracteata – the forest lily – at PlantZAfrica

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

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  1. its a lovely color combination soft and pretty, it looks a bit like a lupin we have here but much bigger, even the seed pods are amazing! It is amazing how plants travel, maybe in pockets, or birds bellies?

  2. Strange lovely flowers. I see the resemblance to Muscari and pineapple lily. I also like lots of ferns. Is the weather in False Bay very different from Porterville?

    1. Moderated by the sea, still in our south-western Cape mediterranean climate, it'll be not as hot in summer, nor as cold in winter, perhaps a little more rain. The snowcapped mountains will be a little further away, and in summer the southeaster prevails with a vengeance.

      In our garden, the microclimate is protected and green and there are already ferns flourishing.

  3. I'm a fan of off-beat colors too. Love your couture comparison.

  4. Such lovely bulbs, with beautiful, subtle colours! I see you refer now to Porterville in the past tense.. do you see False Bay as your HQ for this summer?

    1. We move thru November, and then False Bay will be our new home!

  5. Diana I really like the look of this flower in color and form...I thought Veltheimia looked like pineapple lily and now I see it is related.

  6. I have Siberian Iris and like you I love the yellows and deep purpley blues in these flowers. How exciting to see a wish list. A new garden microclimate to try and new plants with it.

  7. I know what you mean--the colors that are slightly unique, or unusual variegations and combinations, really attract me, too. Those Veltheimia blooms are very attractive--especially as you have them planted under the Ash trees.

  8. A lovely soft coloured flower, looking wonderful in groups under the tree.

  9. I understand why you like this plant. The leaves are beautiful, and the flower colors are unique. I look forward to seeing your new Woodland Walk. How exciting to be planning a whole new garden. P. x

  10. What a beautiful flower. I love the way you have moved it with you from garden to garden. Familiar garden plants are a wonderful way to make a new home a home. -Jean