by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
That minimalist garden, with twelve plants? Dozen for Diana. Pam in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania has risen to my challenge - her virtual garden, her dozen!
For me it must include a pond for the biodiversity we share our space with. We have five plants in our pond. An African blue water lily with a few leaves is not yet big enough to flower. An oxygenating plant, perhaps parrot feather? Tiny white scruffy flowers and spear shaped leaves give some different texture - Sagittaria? Eel grass Vallisneria aethiopica is flourishing on the shelf with Uncle George.
First choice is dwarf papyrus. Cyperus prolifer comes from the East coast of Africa, including South Africa's Kwazulu-Natal. In Camps Bay when we first began to garden we had a patio pool. L-shaped with a planter at the narrow end needed a tall accent plant. I wanted dwarf papyrus. The first plant didn't survive, and, as it happens, we battled to find another one. One day the Ungardener came home to my delight bearing a dwarf papyrus (he knows I don't appreciate cut flowers from the florist).
That learning to garden pool was a delight to sit next to. Aragon used to enjoy fishing there (no fish, just the fishING). He built that pool of the blocks we paved the patio with. Eye pleasing angles but I watched hot thirsty lizards battling to reach the water from the overhanging edge.
In Porterville he built Ungardening Pond huge with a beach which the birds loved. They would line up to take their turn to bath. Lizards could scuttle from the shelter of surrounding plants to the water, and bees would drink from perches on the edge of water lily leaves.
|Froggy Pond pebble beach|
How to pond from Green Point Urban Park
|How to pond|
Froggy Pond (established this March) has to be small again, but with a beach again. The sharp overhanging edge is gentled by the ramp of pebbles. It fits all sizes of creature from Thomas who LOVES fishing and the hadeda down to bees.
Having established that second plant I now have endless supplies. Bits went from Camps Bay to Porterville, and then to False Bay. Today I cut back hard. Another human reason for a pond is to reflect the sky, the deep blue, the drifting clouds, perhaps the sunset - and that means a chunk of water surface must be kept open of plants.
Dwarf papyrus will also grow in the garden, if given some water - it doesn't actually need wet feet. Those exploding firework green seedheads are also good textural material for a vase and to Pam @ Digging in Texas for her Foliage Followup.
As the seedhead gets larger and heavier, so the stem arches down to the water - where it makes roots, and sends up the next bunch of stalks. Left undisturbed it would cover the entire pond surface, thank you!
We have a gazillion water snails in all sizes. I swirled out garlands of green hair algae, but the water is clear. The carob drops leaves on the beach, and those must be cleared so we can see the white pebbles.
Uncle George is looking a bit weathered. That unglazed terracotta was never intended to live in the water.
The Ungardener walks on our beach. He is crossing the shark net with its line of yellow buoys.
Advent is flying past.
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