False Bay garden and water in December

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

When my camera agrees to see low evening rays catching the lemon tree's twisty branches and the great fronds of Strelitzia nicolai. I can't pin down why THIS corner of the garden works so well - it has the same issues of gaps need filling and monsters need pruning. In December 2014 we had been here a month.

Lemon tree very pretty
Lemon tree very pretty

Beneath the lemon tree in May I planted four Helichrysum cymosum.

Helichrysum cymosum groundcover at lemon tree
Helichrysum cymosum
groundcover at lemon tree

Moved my mother's Hoya to climb up inside the Coprosma hedge. I saw 3 flowers. Clivia gardenii which got chewed to a stump by Porterville snails is behind the Frog.

Planted Hoya and Clivia
Planted Hoya and Clivia

Having admired foxtail fern on USA garden blogs - I have bought 4 cat's tail fern Asparagus densiflorus Meyersii. Planted around the shaded curve of our paved circle next to Froggy Pond. Around the table was a messy drift of fallen leaves from the carob.

Cat's tail fern Asparagus densiflorus Meyersii
Cat's tail fern
Asparagus densiflorus Meyersii

Froggy Pond has appreciated topping up from rain. The Ungardener built the pond in 2015.

Froggy Pond
Froggy Pond

Thomas likes to drink buckets of fresh rain water, but he was early and had to catch the drops. December 2016 was about the Ungardener's pneumonia.

Thirsty Thomas
Thirsty Thomas

Blue indigenous flowers for Wildflower Wednesday with Gail in Tennessee this December. Sky blue Plumbago has returned from buried roots to fill a chunk of the front garden. Happy blue stars of Felicia. Deep blues doubled for Rotheca. Blue and purple trumpets of Streptocarpus. Azure Cape forget me not Anchusa. Stoep jacaranda the buds opening to a soft mauve flower Plectranthus.

Blue flowers in December
Blue flowers in December

Step Through the Garden Gate with Sarah in Dorset for December. Exotic Fuchsia, Alstroemeria and commonorgarden Forget Me Not came with the garden. Helichrysum cymosum pairs silver leaves with gold flowers. Butterfly (common Hottentot skipper?) on Plectranthus. Orange spike on Haworthia. Pelargonium in pink, raspberry and crimson.

December flowers
December flowers

Zoë posing with Pickwick our first cat. In 2017 we had our own bananas!

Zoë with Pickwick
Zoë with Pickwick

From our December municipal accounts in litres per person per day.

250 litres in 2015
215 litres in 2016
37 litres in 2017 (using raintanks to make up the difference to 72 litres)
2018 on our latest account 74 litres.

This December we have used 81 litres (80 lets us live comfortably with washing machine, showers and even a weekly bath!) Without our rain tanks it is 67 litres of municipal water. Only 6 days were off-grid using our rain water.



Our Christmas decorations stay till Twelfth Night. Turquoise glass pine cone is about as old as I am. Cat from Liberty's cross-stitched for me by my sister. Snowflake a breath of coolth from a Swiss friend! We left the yacht with the straw stars and I added a choir of angels.  

Christmas 2018
Christmas 2018

2018 was the year of living gratefully with water. In 2019 my monthly garden posts will be 'finishing' the bits that still / again need work.

Happy New Year to each of you as you read!

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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Comments

  1. That's a beautiful view of the lemon tree area of the garden. I have found felicia to flower in abundance throughout the summer, does it flower all year around with you?

    Congratulations on your water saving throughout the last year.

    I love your Christmas descorations, wishing you a Healthy, Happy, Good gardening New Year! Thanks for joining in withe me all through last year
    Sarah x.

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    Replies
    1. I have to remember their dark blue glazed pots get HOT. If I water them I get flowers.

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  2. What a beautiful skipper butterfly! I wish you a happy new year 2019 und lots of rain for all of us!

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  3. It's always wonderful to see what's flowering in your garden. I've been thinking of finding myself a Streptocarpus, which I grew as a houseplant many years ago, to put in my lath house and your blue beauty has pushed me closer to action on that plan. I love the cross-stitch your sister made for you (and of course always enjoy seeing your feline companions). And I've tremendous admiration for your success in managing your water use. So far, our winter is NOT shaping up to be anything close to a drought-buster.

    Best wishes for a very happy new year, Diana!

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  4. Diana, you have so many beautiful flowers in your garden! mine is quite lackluster at the moment, roses are having a hard time with the heat and blazing sun but my water lilies are happy. I wish you a new year full of happiness and prosperity!

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    Replies
    1. A few flowers on my indefatigable Icebergs. The water lily is there, a few leaves, but waiting for it to flower again one day. Kirstenbosch has blue flowers, so the time is right.

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  5. Congratulations on your water use, and indeed the people of the SW cape are to be congratulated too. It is always heartening when a community works together.
    Your garden is looking very colourful and thriving on the amount of water you have to give. Is the jacaranda a smaller plant than the ones I have seen in Africa and Australia? I love your Christmas decorations, especially the snowflake. Happy New Year!

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    Replies
    1. Stoep (= verandah) jacaranda is simply the common name, for that particular colour in its buds. But the plant is a shady lowish Plectranthus.

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  6. Wishing you both a Happy and Healthy New Year with enough rain to keep you happy! Love all your flowers, you always have such a wonderful variety.

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  7. Wishing you and yours a happy healthy New Year with lots of rain Diana.

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  8. I find the determination that people of your region brought to the water crisis inspiring, and I'm especially impressed that people have continued to conserve once the immediate crisis was past. Your cross-stitched cat is charming (almost as charming as the real cats, Thomas and Zoe). Those December blue flowers made my heart sing. Happy New Year, Diana.

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  9. Wow your garden looks amazing, that lemon tree, wow. Love the images here.

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  10. Hi Diana, I remember so well when you moved, but it hardly seems four years! You have successfully worked with the challenges of your climate to create a peaceful, lush garden. I love your paved circle next to Froggy Pond. I could hardly believe it - your turquoise pine cone ornament looks almost exactly like one I have, though mine is much younger. I enjoy decorating the tree each year as I pull ornaments out of the box and relive the memories they carry. I hope you had a very merry Christmas, and may you have a blessed and joyful 2019. Deb

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  11. Oh how pretty your garden looks and a nice sight for my winter eyes. It's been unusually cold and wet in Texas. Congratulations on your water use levels, that is quite low and even your recommended level is low compared to ours.

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  12. The stone path is looking fabulous, and I love the view with the lemon tree. You are a waterwise inspiration, Diana. We haven't had restrictions here for a few years, and I think people are getting a bit smug about it. Although prices keep getting higher, so that is a disincentive.

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  13. Happy New Year Diana, your garden looks really nice, specially when here everything is looking dull right now. I love your blue flowers, the sky blue Plumbago and Felicia are always special...and the Anchusa ..Myosotis. I miss the blues!

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  14. Happy New Year Diana. I like the way you show the blooms as well as the vistas in your garden. The frog pond must be an oasis to insects seeking a drink.

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  15. Love your Hotentot skipper and Zoe of course. Your garden is so green and lush. Lovely to see while we linger in Winter. B x

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  16. Wonderful that a large part of the community is working together to be responsible water users. Thoughtful people like you are leading the way.

    Always delightful to see the wealth of SA flora, surely the greatest on the planet.

    I have that same little Fuchsia! It's blooming here, even in winter.

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  17. Your garden looks like an oasis Diana. How beautiful is that light streaming through the strelitzia, just hinting at a beautiful retreat behind the lemon tree. Up here in Gauteng we've been trying real hard to save water but our reality is probably way different to yours down there. I don't think we ever truly appreciate something until we have to do without it. I hope 2019 brings the rain that we all so desperately need

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  18. Hard to believe you have been in your new house four years, Diana. But you have achieved much and your new old garden is beautiful. Congrats. on the water conservation -- great achievement! Happy new gardening year! P. x

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  19. I love the branches of your lemon tree. It really does look beautiful with those fronds! Your garden has really grown. I am so impressed with how much water you and your community has saved. Hoping you get more rain in 2019!

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  20. slightly jealous of all that colour in your garden, but I know our time will come around again, eventually. The work you both have put into the landscaping is so impressive, I'm so happy to watch is all mature with you x

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  21. Just one enjoyment of your posts is the nostalgic look backs - the garden always in progress. The pond is a real highlight and once again am reminded not to waste water though here it runs eternally through the tap without the cry of 'conserve at all costs'.

    I am due to move from London shortly and will have a garden at last - albeit not my own at fist but this year I want to grow Alstroemerias - probably white though am tempted by yours with its warmer tones

    A very belated Happy New Year to you and yours Diana - and many thanks for your continued support through all these years.

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    Replies
    1. Wonderful to have a garden again in your future!
      My (flesh-eating pink) Alstroemeria are a legacy from previous gardeners. Go for the colour that makes your heart sing, SO many to choose from.

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