13 January, 2016

New Zealand candle lights up the long green border

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Discovered Treasures 2

Marble Chips is light and sparkles against a long green shrubbery. The Southeaster howls vengeance in this our first summer of serious gardening on False Bay. My January choice is not here today and gone tomorrow fragile flowers, or the plants that sulk till March rains, but seriously tough, indestructible and happy Coprosma.

Coprosma repens Marble Chips in our garden

In summer a mediterranean garden rests thru the heat and wind and the Ungardener GRRRumbling Gartenzwerg says - it's brown, it's dead, it looks like a desert. Pissed Off Gardener replies - that would be the Karoo Koppie, I like it!

UGG - It'll never grow, it'll take 8 years, I'll be dead.
POG - looks back with quiet horror at how the plants have GROWN in only a year. 

We have made space for six more compromise trees.

(Fiddlewood and) Coprosma

Part of the green coffin which put me off the first time we saw this garden is two huge plain green Coprosma also called mirror leaf. One wraps around half of the table - making that a green and shady corner - lovely when the summer Southeaster isn't raging. The second gives a blank green view to the guest room.

Fiddlewood, Buddleja and Coprosma

Layers of green. Fresh green leaves on the fiddlewood, then some grey Buddleja, backed by a mass of Coprosma.

Mirror leaf from New Zealand

Coprosma repens comes from New Zealand, a reminder of my father, and was the very first plant I bought for our Porterville garden. There it sadly faded away, murmuring, hot, dry. On False Bay the plants are in their element enjoying the fresh sea breezes of home. In the Rubiaceae family with coffee, quinine plant, Gardenia, Ixora, Pentas and the South African tree Rothmannia globosa.

Future pond and carob tree
Coprosma on the right

Green hulk is the carob tree. Bit daunting. It needs some strategic thinning - by a team of arborists with chainsaws. I'd like the green privacy around our garden to be the sort of eave-height barrier that Coprosma offers, which I can prune for myself.

Coprosma Picturata leaves

But the one I cherish is the Marble Chips. Carefully rescued from the smothering effect of a couple of honking great bottlebrush we removed in our first December. It has a gracefully twisted trunk, hard to capture in a photo, but striking as you walk in the garden. At first the poor thing had hardly any leaves. Now it is lush enough to pick bits for my vases. Curiously my plant ranges in colour from really white with green speckles (Marble Queen too much of a good thing), to half and half - a green splodge with a wide cream border, to some which are mostly green with a gold heart (Picturata not good enough)

Coprosma repens Marble Chips

In False Bay Dozen for Diana I'm running two series in tandem. The first Discovered Treasure was the carob tree. Anyone got a January plant to share with us? (Northern gardeners are welcome to bring photos from a kinder month remembered in their garden)

Marble Chips

Beth at PlantPostings in Wisconsin has a mystery buckeye, five leaves spread out like a hand in welcome.
Pam's English Garden in Pennsylvania brings a weeping Norway spruce (luminous green leafy candles in spring)  
Donna of Gardens Eye View in Central NY State chooses horsetail rush, the stems twisting in a winter vase. 

Marble Chips
with camphorbush, Asparagus fern, ivy and Grewia


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

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20 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your dialogue with the ungardener (grin). Plenty of growth in one year--that's a good thing. A pond? That will be a fun project!

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    1. so long as you don't read between the lines of the dialogue ;~))

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  2. I understand why you chose green- and cream- speckled Marble Chips. I posted my January plant today. P. x

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  3. Marble Chips does have very attractive foliage, and it looks cool and crisp -- a perfect counterpoint to your hot summer winds. I had somehow missed this new meme. Maybe I'll join you next month! -Jean

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    1. the first, the carob tree, was in July 2014 so I also had to trawl back thru posts to pick up that thread. Each month I let the garden tell me if it's going to be an old found plant, or a new planted one.

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  4. That carob tree really is a green hulk! I love large trees but I agree that the nice thing about smaller trees and shrubs is that we can prune them ourselves. I am not so fond of chainsaws.

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    1. it's, complicated. We inherited the tree, which is really too large for a small garden. But I suspect it will remain a 'problem child' till we are forced to do something about it.

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  5. I will have a plant for you at the end of the month....I adore Coprosma repens Marble Chips...beautiful foliage and I love your description of it especially that you planted these as a reminder of your father....my roses are planted for the same reason!

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    1. Thanks, I'll add yours when your post comes up on my Feedly.

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  6. I love Coprosma in almost all of its incarnations. I've already bought 2 new varieties this year - 'Pacific Sunset' and 'Rainbow Surprise'. I'm mildly disappointed in 'Plum Hussey', which I bought 3 years ago for various areas of my garden, only to have it age to produce leaves in a muddy burgundy color rather than the pretty variegated tones the plants have in their youth.

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    1. I did buy one for my Summer Gold corner. Looked at it, didn't like it, and took it back to the nursery next day.

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  7. Coprosma looks like it is replaced by Euonymus fortunei in Europe.
    Also an evergreen shrub with variegated leaves in all sorts.

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  8. Marble Chips really brightens up your border, and the variegated foliage is quite eye-catching. I love the humor of this post, as well as hearing about your summer challenges. We Texans can relate to heat and drought!

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    1. I hear people grumbling about water restrictions - 'have to grow succulents and cacti now'. They forget that our fynbos is perfectly happy with winter rain, once the young plants have been watered thru a summer or two to get established.

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  9. What great bones your garden has! Marble chips is marvelous! I have a special love for tough, resilient plants that take whatever weather comes along. Yours have exceptional foliage.

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  10. I've got a Comprosma in the garden. It was here when we arrived and seems indestructible, as it would as its status here is serious weed. In spite of that, I'm quite fond of it. Your garden's looking great - lush, green and shady in parts.

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  11. Oh that photo of the Coprosma Picturata leaves has me swooning!

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