16 February, 2017

Blue African water lily

  by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea

As a child on holiday, I can remember seeing farm dams covered with blue African water lilies. Farming practice has changed (Farming in South Africa 1980) and sadly I no longer see wild water lilies. But I have always wanted one in our garden pond. This week we welcomed our very first flower!

African blue water lily

Ten days ago we saw it blooming in the pond at Harold Porter NBG and I wondered how long, how many years, we would have to wait. Only planted ours in March last year.

At Harold Porter NBG

Kirstenbosch has a dedicated pond for this blue water lily. While we waited, I was reassured when the leaves came thru with scalloped edges. It should, give me blue flowers. Found at Harry Goemans Garden Centre. The 'spiller' in our pond is green hair algae - we need barley straw please.

Scalloped leaf of blue water lily

April last year we were at Tokara and saw a prized and cherished plant to keep my longing alive.

Blue water lily at Tokara garden in April 2016

Our Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea is a tiny young plant with a handful of leaves.

In Egypt it is called the blue lotus. They will flower from September to February. 9 to 5 the flower I photographed this morning is neatly furled up (you missed one petal). Fragrant flowers attract bees - and I watched one yesterday. There are five African varieties.
Nymphaea  nouchali var. caerulea, which is widespread all over South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia as well as further north in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania Sudan, Egypt and west Africa, from sea level to 2700 m. Related to buttercups and magnolias. Kew's specimen notes that Noakhali is a district in Bangladesh, and caerula is of course sky blue. Dedicated to water maidens (nymphs) the flowers rise from the mud as a symbol of purity and immortality. The leaves are carefully designed both to lie flat on the water and to float. Any droplets roll across mopping away the dust. Full sun (but we have shade from the carob tree). Still water (but our frog spouts). Should be repotted in August each year. Info from PlantZAfrica at SANBI

First flower on our Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea

Keeping company with dwarf papyrus Cyperus prolifer  (as a 'filler' in Froggy Pond) and our hippo.

Lily with hippo

The 'thriller' of Froggy Pond. An early flower for Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Lily at Froggy Pond

Above the mountain beyond the lemon tree four neat puffs of cloud. A huge steam train, or 'Puff the magic dragon lives by the sea'. Photobombed by our neighbour's palm, which I defrond when it interferes with my slice of mountain. And that ivy ... sighs. My list when I get my gardening energy back!

Puff the magic dragon lives by the sea

In Camps Bay I made do with a pink water lily, a horticultural horror, which was all they had that year. Took a piece with us to Porterville.

Pink water lily at Porterville

Where Ungardening Pond acquired a huge colony. This blue water lily is my February Dozen for Diana.

Ungardening Pond
in Porterville November 2013

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09 February, 2017

Kogelberg Nature Reserve

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa


Kogelberg eco-cabin
looking up Oudebosch Gorge

Cape rock thrush. Elegant papa. Frazzled mama with 2 teenaged FEED mes. We stopped for a vegan lunch in Hermanus. Delicious spicy barbecue Buddha bowl with a rainbow of baby carrots and corncobs, broccoli and courgettes, beans and sugar snap peas, red bell peppers, roasted chickpeas, barley, falafel, humus.

Cape rock thrush

Living wing, bedroom wing, courtyard (home to three-striped mice) and covered verandah. We fell asleep to the frogs calling. As at Rocher Pan we had a waterless toilet. Saving water and avoiding contamination of the nearby wetland.

Kogelberg eco-cabin Erica
with Diana lost in a good book

I was wary of what we would find after January's fire on the Palmiet River Walk. Given Cape Town's drought and water restrictions it was wonderful to see green slopes rolling out on all sides and a healthy flow in the river. Intrigued by these billowing rocks which looked like a huge batch of yeasty bread dough rising.

Palmiet River Walk
Kogelberg
(top left hobbit houses)

As we walked back to our cottage, I paused, and held my breath, while he photographed the agama over my shoulder. We also saw a thumb length youngster.

Agama

Five eco-cabins share a swimming pool filtered by a generous wetland, reeds and gravel and frogs.

Kogelberg eco-swimming pool
(pool above, eco-filter bed below)

On the second day we walked up that long valley, which was our view as the light changed thru the day. Sun, and clouds, a little rain, a wonderful sunset. Oudebosch (old forest in Dutch) is deceptive from below. Green yes and it looks a fairly gentle climb. We followed and crossed the river. Halfway we reached that gash of rocks down the mountainside. Mother Nature showing her strength as the winter rain buckets down. Then the path surprised us as we folded in to deep forest. We were heading to that patch of light, thinking it was the crest. Not a chance, only a huge fallen tree opening a clearing. The path got steeper, and slippery with fallen leaves on last night's rain. We turned back. Next time ... we will take lunch with us.

Oudebosch Gorge and forest
Kogelberg

Again - summer - drought - and SO many flowers! Ericas. Proteas and yellow male and female Aulax, leucadendrons and Van Riebeeck's almond hedge Brabejum stellatifolium. Bulbs red Anapalina and Watsonia, blue Nivenia. Amongst the red and yellow swathes of leucadendrons a pink Pelargonium. Two blue Roella. Overwhelmed by the endless variety. Even the slope of white everlasting daisies was two different plants, one with long silvery leaves, the other with teensy crumpled leaves.

Red black and white trumpets is an endemic Retzia capensis, the lonely only member of the Retziaceae family. After fire they will return from the roots. Some individuals are hundreds of years old!

February flowers at Kogelberg

Serious hikers (we met a father and son) spend a full day hiking up then down Leopard's Gorge to Harold Porter NBG. We drove along the coast. Walked in the garden and up Disakloof where the boardwalk asks walkers to bow in respect to the gnarled old tree.

Harold Porter NB garden
with Erica

As I was photographing the red Erica I noticed the carpenter bee.

Carpenter bee on Erica

... I hadn't reckoned on how bare the bones would be. A marriage, a birth, a death. This wasn't a life. It was nothing like it. Life's what happens in between ... These tiny things that change the world, minute by minute, and for ever. These perishable moments, that are gone completely, if we don't take the trouble of their telling.

- from Jo Baker's The Telling.

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Pictures by Jürg and Diana Studer
(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
or click this post's title. If you are in email or a Reader, first click thru to the blog)