Cape Storm and a year of gardening

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Last Friday Cape Town had fierce wind. Traffic chaos. Flooding. Trees down.

Calm after the storm
Calm after the storm

And lessons about microclimates. Three Iceberg roses in our garden. The two at the gate were sheltered behind the wall and are lush and green. The inherited standard was blasted by salty spray on the wind and is shedding dead leaves, and yet popping out new flowers. Next to the street below us is a green belt with a row of large Brachylaena. One was pushed over and uprooted by the wind. Grateful that the garden has a green sheltered look which we chose in December 2012. My garden is geared to summer's prevailing Southeaster, but the winter storms and cold fronts roll in across the Atlantic from Antarctica. I choose and prune my trees for many trunks and branches up and down as well as across. Top heavy lollipop standards are Not A Good Idea.

Froggy Pond is settling in with murky green-brown water. We followed the barley straw advice. We didn't have a bundle to put at the bottom, so the Ungardener scattered scraps of oat straw on the surface. We thought we'd have to look at that disaster for weeks ... but it only took days to sink and the water is clearing steadily. I've seen one dragonfly larva hunting in the water, and a few water snails.

Iceberg roses Froggy Pond
Iceberg roses
Froggy Pond

Storm damage in the garden knocked bits off the Euphorbia - which I planted. Knocked back the enthusiasm of purple Hypoestes by half - which I harvested for two vases. Rearranged the carob tree. Every few weeks I prune to keep the paths wide open and the overhanging branches well clear of heads, but suddenly the carob was hugging our shoulders. I cut the low branches up, and can see something is torn raw wood up there. Watching to see if there is a dead branch? End of Month View

Carob tree
Carob tree

We had to wait till November 2014 (with tenants in the False Bay house) while we waited to sell the Porterville house in the country. In March 2013 we came to take pictures so the Ungardener had something to work his plans on. The front had a sloping lawn, access thru the garden gate, desperate window boxes - all battling the full day sun and summer wind. Builders terraced and paved. April 2015 I could finally begin gardening! I planted succulents on my Karoo Koppie.

Karoo Koppie
Karoo Koppie

Behind the house we would have morning sun if not for the neighbour's invasive hedge Glooming over. Brazilian pepper tree gone. Washing Pergola up. East patio and path relaid. Cornish Stripe garden planted in blues and white.

East Patio and Cornish Stripe
East Patio and Cornish Stripe

Look down Cornish Stripe to the lemon tree on show from the East patio.

Cornish Stripe and lemon tree
Cornish Stripe and lemon tree

At the bottom of the garden we found the obligatory Wendy House and a Twirldry with overgrown trees. We made space for Froggy Pond and a 'Woodland Walk'.

Froggy Pond and Woodland Walk
Froggy Pond and Woodland Walk

On the afternoon sun side Buddleja  Mexican sage, lavender and invasives are gone. We have a 'stone' circles and table beneath the carob. The garden is planted in Summer Gold and Spring Promise (pink and silver).

Summer Gold and Spring Promise
Summer Gold and Spring Promise

Texture and colour of succulent leaves on our Karoo Koppie.

Succulent leaves on the Karoo Koppie (South African except the Echevieria and Aeonium)
Succulent leaves on the Karoo Koppie
(South African except the Echevieria and Aeonium)

More April flowers to go with the Moody Blues a fortnight ago.

For Gail at Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday.

April flowers (South African except Salvia, Mexican sage, rose and hibiscus were in the garden)
April flowers
(South African except Salvia,
Mexican sage, rose and hibiscus were in the garden) 

I have two slipper orchids from my mother. King Arthur and this nameless green and white one opening for me today for the first time in YEARS!

Green and white slipper orchid
Green and white slipper orchid

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Pictures by Diana Studer
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Comments

  1. I enjoyed seeing the progress over the years!
    Beautiful orchid!

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  2. Oh, wind storms are always unsettling! I'm glad you didn't have too much damage. We use the barley straw for our pond, too--it really works! Thanks for sharing the changes in your garden. Your adjustments make so much sense for your climate, and the garden looks classy! I posted my "dozens" plant today. :)

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    Replies
    1. Any idea how or why the barley straw does work? Feels like alchemy and magic.

      Thank you for your plant - now we are 5!

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  3. So nice to see the "before and after" photos. Such a lot of improvement (and hard work)!

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  4. Even the orchid is happy living in the FB house :) Wonderful pics of "before" and "after".

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    1. Drizzling gently now - happy garden weather!!

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  5. I hadn't heard of using barley straw before, interesting! I wonder if the pond needs more aeration too.

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    1. We have the frog water spout running for hours - that draws water from the depths of the pool, then cascades back. Oxygenating plants are bulking up slowly.

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  6. It's such a delight having photographs to look back on. And what a difference you've made. A real transformation for the better!

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  7. I like the froggy pond a lot. Just no mosquitoes!:) Once you have the balance just right, everything will come together. My mother has had the same issue in the past. Aeration/movement is important with these features. Once the plants establish all will be good:)

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  8. You captured an interesting cloud formation in that first photo, Diana! It may be my imagination but it seems a lot of areas world-wide are experiencing unusually ferocious winds right now. We've had a plague of high wind ourselves for more than a week now.

    You done a beautiful job with your garden. I like each and every change you've made. The house has taken on a whole new character with the changes. Congratulations!

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    Replies
    1. We are into the next storm tonight, wind, rain, snow on the Eastern Cape mountains!

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  9. It was great fun seeing the photos of your place in different years. You've really made lots of improvements! I love it! I hope you don't have any bad storms coming up.

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  10. You have done great in such a short time. It looks lovely and I know you two are enjoying your new home and gardens.

    FlowerLady

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  11. You've made so many wonderful changes! How exciting to have your orchid finally bloom. :o) What is a Wendy House? It looks like a garden shed.

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    Replies
    1. It is, a garden shed.
      Also used for informal housing.

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  12. We think it's bad here when Canada leaves the back door open, but having the storms coming directly from Antarctica but be a whole new thing. It's good some of the plants were sheltered. I like your paving stones, and greener look, Diana, and it's interesting to find that the barley straw does really clear up a pond.

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    Replies
    1. At least by the time the weather has crossed the ocean we get wind and rain - but not frost and snow.

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  13. its really frightening what strong winds can isn't it,

    I never knew straw could be used to clean a pond but it makes perfect sense now that I read it!!

    The slipper Orchid is so lovely and even more special because it was your Mum's.

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  14. Wow, really enjoyed your story. It's fascinating to see the changes in your gardens, glad you took pictures. I'm wondering what the speed of the winds were and how common these storms are this time of year.

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    1. It was worth Storm Warnings, with emergency services on standby to clear fallen trees and flooded roads, to try and keep the traffic flowing.

      Last autumn we also had one day with extremely stormy wind when our neighbours lost their patio canopy!

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    2. So I'm guessing 50 plus mph...we don't get that on a yearly bases. Flooding closer to bay( one mile away) and the islands get it all the time.

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    3. Wind speeds have been recorded at Cape Town International Airport of 50km/h to 80km/h
      from
      http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/trees-uproot-power-lines-collapse-and-homes-flood-in-cape-storm-20160422

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  15. Lovely progress and very inspiring. Makes me want to tear out more turf of my own, Diana.

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    Replies
    1. (Our neighbours have methodically added more lawn to lawn - weird)

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  16. It was interesting to see the garden grow. A great post, Diana.
    Amalia
    xo

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  17. Congratulations on having completed a year of gardening at False Bay. I'm very impressed by how much you've accomplished in just one year. -Jean

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  18. The wind and rain is bad enough, as you suggest its much worse when combined with frost and snow. Love the changes in the garden in the course of one year.

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