30 December, 2015

Our False Bay garden in December

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

We needed more security at the palisade fence. But not barbed wire please. The Ungardener collected a flock of terracotta birds and they watch over us from the wall at the gate.

There was an old man with a beard
Who said - it is just as I feared
Three owls and ...
Have all made their nests in my beard!

Birds near the garden gate

On the Karoo Koppie is our volunteer tomato. If I'd had any idea how much fruit would come from that one plant I would have weighed our harvest. Having lived a full year here I know there are lemons year round. Lady finger edible banana pokes into the washing pergola and path, and sends up a new leaf every few days. One day ... we will harvest bananas!

Food from our garden

The East side with the Washing Pergola, herbs and lemon tree is filling in green and peaceful with blue and white flowers. The West side, planted first, needs some whupping back into shape. Certainly don't need to worry about planting to soften the paving stones. Brachylaena is cautiously trimmed to shape since it already waves over the wall.

Walking round the garden

Melianthus has gone to seed and I'm trimming back the branches that reach into the paving. Leonotis has faded but we had good flowers. Around the woodland planters in the blocks I've added the trailing ivy pelargoniums in pink and red we inherited with the garden. Added a new one with green and white leaves (for when there are no flowers). Still space for one more, when I find the right one.

with pelargoniums

Filling the woodland planters with bietou and Hypoestes seedlings from the garden. We bought 2 Searsia crenata (dense shrub against the prevailing wind) and 2 Searsia leptodictya (arches gracefully like a willow and crushed leaves smell of perfect citrus) and Kei Apple Dovyalis caffra. Variegated Hypericum and a few shrubby pelargoniums with the Alstroemeria I harvest out of the garden. For End of Year View.

Woodland planters

Gathering the blue flowers across the garden. Remnant of the Plumbago hedge has risen from being hacked back. Dietes is settling in. Herbs bloom in blue and white - borage, sage, lemon balm, and Thai basil. In the tall blue pot Felicia makes its first flowers. Solitary flower is the one Agapanthus I didn't transplant. Stoep jacaranda has deeper purple flowers than the camera sees. And the blue star is a Campanula volunteer.

Blue flowers in December

At the bottom of the garden, near the woodland planters the Ungardener is building his next pond. We have a beach for the birds to bathe (going to be tricky with Thomas!) A large frog from ItalCement to spout water. We needed something that wouldn't disappear once the plants fill in.

The pond and the frog

At the Karoo Koppie tomatoes graciously follow the orange and red colour scheme. Potted Haworthia sent up a tall spike. Still masses of Californian poppies from ivory to russet via all the yellows and oranges in between. My current favourite is the grey leaved Cotyledon orbiculata with flowers shimmering in bronze, copper and gold.

Karoo Koppie

It's complicated combining 18 year old GTF off my patch Aragon and young rescue cat Thomas. We have some 'happy salmon paste' from the vet which helps. Thomas let me stroke his head yesterday, purring softly, today he hit me again. Aragon is sleeping peacefully instead of being on HIGH alert.

Thomas after salmon paste

For Wildflower Wednesday a bee on Limonium perezii which comes from the Canary Islands.

Bee on Limonium perezii

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Pictures by Diana Studer
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  1. Can it be merely a year? All is looking lush and lovely and filling in nicely. The only blues around here are the moody blues brought on by the buckets of rain. Sun is shining today, making us all feel pretty spunky, Happy New Year!

  2. Lemons year-round! Now that would be spectacular! Good luck with the kitties. Mine have a true love-hate relationship: one minute cuddling and purring, and the next hissing and fighting. They are entertaining, anyway. Your summer garden gives me hope as mine rests. :)

    1. VERY hot here today, so tempers are a bit frayed!

  3. Wow, you've been there a year already. I can see that you've made forward progress with your gardens and now your pond.

    Have a wonderful 2016 ~ FlowerLady

  4. such beautiful gardens,, so much work too!
    You do such an amazing job keeping it al so beautiful, obviously a pure passion,,, best wishes to you and your family Happy New Year!

  5. All Looking beautiful and fresh, the Woodland planters area looks great, I especially like the stone path. all the best in 2016, happy gardening!!

  6. happy new year Diana, also to poor Aragon who has such a challenge to cope with in his old age. We once got a puppy to keep an old dog company and every time she tried to sleep the puppy would pull her tail so she'd jump up. I like to think she had a very rich stimulating old age. It is wonderful to see your no longer so new garden take root. I also love that Cotyledon and may find a space for it in the garden. Keep cool as possible, summer here is very very hot too.

    1. Today we let Thomas out into the garden ... and he chooses to sleep at a careful distance from Aragon in the livingroom. Extreme summer heat and wildfires, difficult time of year for you and us.

  7. I love all your blue and orange flowers. The pond will help keep everything cool, especially with Mr Frog spouting water. Good luck with your new rescued cat.

    1. Grateful for the established shrubs, the green garden we chose. That makes a HUGE difference to how hot the house and garden are.

  8. You have done so much in just a year, well done both! So many lovely flowers for you to enjoy, but I'm afraid I wouldn't enjoy your heat! Love the owls, I have a collection here!

    1. In Porterville with big trees, we heard owls hoot and rarely even saw them.

  9. I love the birds on the wall! What a nice idea.

  10. Fabulous wildflower Diana....and I love the volunteer tomato harvesting its heart out for you! The pond area is coming along beautifully and I love the Woodland planters area too! So many pink and blue flowers...I miss them! Happy New Year to you my friend.

  11. Hi Diana,
    your summer garden is adorable. Love your new project!
    All my best to you and yours and happy happy happy New Year

  12. Your garden has come so far in such a short period of time! I love the flowers of the cotyledon. Fabulous! Happy New Year!

  13. We finally have snow here, so it is a special treat to see all your vibrant flowers. -Jean

  14. Lovely to see what can be achieved in a year, my pace is rather slow but I hope to pick it up a bit come spring. It is 7 months since I moved house and most of my plants are still in pots. Your selection of blue flowers are all lovely, wish I could grow jacaranda here in London, but I think perhaps that would be a stretch too far – would love to try though!
    Happy New Year!

    1. still rows of pots of bulbs here ;~)

  15. It is fascinating to contemplate your summer garden beds sitting here in the gray chill of winter in central Texas. Hopefully your kitties will find a peaceable coexistence with each other and with you (could I get some of that salmon paste for my grumpy husband who is suffering from a nasty cold? He needs to relax too!).

    Your plantings are so thoughtful - but I'll admit it is often the other thoughtful touches - the terra-cotta birds and/or spouting frogs - that draw my eye and gain my admiration in other people's garden spaces. During these crazy weather spells it is easier to rely upon such durable elements while the more vulnerable plantings work to become fully established.

    Happiest New Year! Looking forward to more beauty and inspiration yet to come.

    1. tryptophan for the husband? Try chocolate?

  16. It was fun to get a good look at your beautiful garden with this post. You get bananas! There are lots of banana plants around here (my next-door neighbor has some) but I've yet to see fruit on any of them. Thomas DOES look very relaxed - what do they put in that salmon paste? My Pipig could use some.

    1. Really?
      CalmEze gel for cats
      with tryptophan and Vitamin B 1, 3 and 6.

  17. I can feel the warm sunshine in your photos! But a tranquilizer paste for cats? It seems to work, at least temporarily! I enjoyed seeing all your summer flowers. And bananas and lemons! Our most prolific tomato this past year was a volunteer. It produced right up till the first hard frost in December.

    1. amino acids and vitamins.

      We need something to get us to the vet for the next set of innoculations.
      That, is going to be, difficult. Thomas still says don't TOUCH me. Wish he could tell us what went wrong earlier in his life.

  18. Wow! where to begin - what a great post. Your "security birds" are so wonderful! It's fun to see plants like Leonotus in their native place - they grow really well here too - maybe too well! Creating all those combo-photos must have taken some time - and it's a very effective way to display what's going on and all the beauty of your garden - thanks!