False Bay garden in January

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

When this couch potato is reading that is my view. A glimpse of mountain. Brick paving outside the palisade fence for parking, and inside for the garden path, exposes me to passing traffic.

My view thru the window
My view thru the window 

We have two Searsia crenata. I rescued the one outside the front door from smothering by exuberant Plectranthus neochilus. Fed and watered it has revived. In a new terracotta 'egg' pot, that one has visibly grown since I planted it!

Pots planted for privacy Searsia crenata
Pots planted for privacy Searsia crenata

The first garden blog advice I remember, is to concentrate on ONE part of the garden, so you can see a difference from your hard work. In January my camera never saw the garden. We spent many days on our front verge, I prune, he chips, I spread the mulch.

Across our verge
Across our verge 

Thomas inspecting the Osteospermum moniliferum. Volunteer seedling with delusions of eating our neighbour's parked car. Cut back hard, down to ugly wooden twigs. Thomas shows how MANY more days the garden staff needs to work. Sob.

Along our verge
Along our verge 

Parchment flowers on Metalasia muricata shrub, another enthusiastic volunteer, which adds colour and texture to my planned tapestry hedge. Groundcover is succulent Plectranthus neochilus. Funky smell and spires of elaborate purple flowers. Hacked back bietou shrub is rewarding me with yellow daisy flowers.

Verge flowers for January
Verge flowers for January

For Through the Garden Gate with Sarah in Dorset. My Karoo Koppie is themed on Autumn Fire and succulents. Flowers in orange and red. Red Pelargonium blooms year round, but I should cut it back now. Golden orange Californian poppies and orange Tecomaria from earlier gardeners. Red foliage from Crassula and firesticks Euphorbia tirucalli.

Karoo Koppie for January
Karoo Koppie for January

I will let the Tecomaria and sky blue Plumbago grow to the top of the fence for strategic privacy from passing traffic and neighbours.

Karoo Koppie for January
Karoo Koppie for January 

First yellow Natal laburnum Calpurnia aurea compound leaves, pea family, small tree growing in afternoon shade. I battle with the glazed cobalt pots which get VERY hot. Now using the empty pot for the blue focus, and have rescued the Liriope to join the others in the shade at the Japanese maple. Turning gratefully green simply from roots in cool ground.

Natal laburnum Blue pot and Liriope
Natal laburnum
Blue pot and Liriope

Pale pink Crinum opened while I was collecting photos. Hoya is blooming happily since I rescued it from its pot. Yellow Hibiscus would like the carob tree to let in more sun - that needs men with chainsaws.

January flowers
January flowers

The Ungardener kindly removed the flap from cat-door on the gate. Sitting listening at the vet I realised it is not good for Thomas to have steps up the inside ... then leap down the wall outside. Two cats can come and go as they choose. The pond was sad but bonus rain filled it up again. Spekboom hedge on the kitchen patio is reaching its target height. Graciously hidden behind Bauhinia is a rain tank.

January garden
January garden

(Minus the Hoya, Hibiscus and Californian poppies) for Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and Limestone in Tennessee.

Three years since we watched the Peers Hill fire through our bay window. In January we had three awful fires. Betty's Bay started with an emergency flare fired at the mountain - for fun on New Year's Eve. One woman died, 31 houses destroyed, 13K hectares (half) of the nature reserve around Harold Porter Botanical Garden burnt. Firefighter's account (click translate to English). Then Groenlandberg near Elgin. Third Lion's Head along the suburban edges of Cape Town.

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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Comments

  1. That is very sound advice concentrating on one part of the garden at one time! You all worked hard in the front especially with the cat's help, they must appreciate that open cat flap! It must be lovely to look out on the mountains. I love that funky purple flower!. Sarah x

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    1. The purple flowers are drop dead gorgeous, gorgeous to the eyes, and drop dead to the nose!

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  2. Sorry to hear you have to deal with the horror of regional fires! In the US state of California, I understand homeowners take special precautions with their landscaping and choice of building materials for their homes. If you have done so, too, I'd love to see some of the selections you've made.

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    1. We are three to five houses, one or two streets from the urban edge and Table Mountain National Park. Some of the houses lost to fire have thatched roofs, or are built of wood - most are sadly unfortunate. Tiled roof and brick walls for us. Before we moved in, we had the invasive alien trees removed, and replaced them with indigenous which is adapted to fire (and doesn't blaze up like a torch ... Eucalyptus, pines, palms)

      One neighbour has a palm planted in her corner - graciously shared with her 3 immediate neighbours - that I don't like, but it is still low young and green.

      We have a large force of professional and volunteer firefighters since the devastating fires in 2000.

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  3. I'm sorry to learn that you're dealing with catastrophic fires too, Diana. Your garden looks wonderful despite what I'm sure are challenging summer conditions. I have a good-sized clump of Plectranthus neochilus in my own garden - it's too bad such a resilient and flowerful plants is so very stinky, isn't it?

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    1. It requires its personal space, stay at a respectful distance - and we are both happy. When I am pruning it, the smell becomes medicinal and herbal, not UNpleasant. Bashed on windowsills, it is supposed to deter flies (but I couldn't live with that much in your face pong)

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  4. Your hedge certainly has more colour and texture than ours. Your garden is flourishing, despite the fact that you must still be on water restrictions. Did you have three fires this year? Dreadful at any time.

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    1. I have been comparing mediterranean gardens - the Californians with their marine layer and strategic watering, and the Filippi nursery's show garden in France which is NOT irrigated. Mine falls somewhere between, neither lush nor embattled.
      We are still not allowed to water with a hose - but I never have.

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  5. Glad Thomas is keeping you on your toes. Always so much to do in an ever expanding garden. It’s looking beautiful tho. Good you had some rain for your pond. B x

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  6. The sailboat floating past the window, just so beautiful. (Is it suspended from the ceiling?)

    A verge garden is a wonderful idea; we don't have that in our part of France as sidewalks often are used for parking since narrow streets don't afford much space for cars.

    Long live empty pots!

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    1. Yacht is suspended from nylon thread - our Flying Dutchman.

      We do have cars parking with 2 tyres on our brick paving. We have parking in the garage and for 2 visitors.

      Since we are responsible for maintaining our own verge, many people garden right to the edge. Pedestrians? Who walks?!

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  7. That is great advice to concentrate on one part of the garden at a time! It is so easy to focus on all the work that we have to do in the garden instead of realizing how much we've done. And you have done so much! That is so sad about the wildfires.

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  8. Fires everywhere in the world seem to be so much worse. Perhaps one of the most terrifying consequences of climate change. Your garden has matured so quickly, you must be so pleased.

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  9. That pink Crinum is really delicate. I need to follow that advice, too, to show the changes through the seasons in a specific area of the garden. Those are fun observations. Looks like Thomas is living in paradise. :)

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  10. Your January garden is gorgeous, Diana. I envy your view of the mountains. I live in the Pocono Mountains but no such view. P. x

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    1. Tantalising! Not even a glimpse thru the trees?

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  11. So much progress since you moved to Fall Bay! Thomas looks like he owns the place. I especially love your shot of Karoo Koppie. Your comment about the January fires is sobering. How tragic that a woman died and so much sorrow resulted from a careless flare shot in celebration.

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  12. I hope that you are all safe from the fires, Diana. We had an enormous bush fire near my home a couple of years ago and I well remember the horror and devastation.
    Amalia
    xo

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  13. Your verge is very much like what we here call the "hellstrip", the planted area by the street that must survive reflected heat from pavement, as well as passersby and their pets. Tough plants for a difficult area. They look good.

    Nice you got bonus rain to fill your pond. Enjoyed your survey of your summer gardening activities.

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    1. Ours doesn't have the hell of salt and snowploughs. But we are anticipating fibre optic cables digging up the pavement. Everything outside the palisade fence is Council land, which we maintain.

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  14. So sorry to hear about all the fires Diana. Bloody idjuts for letting off an emergency flare when they should know better. I hope they caught the culprits and smacked some sense into them. On a side note, have you tried double potting in your glazed cobalt pots? We have a few that I inherited from my gran and we've used bubble wrap and polystyrene to create a barrier between the glazed pot and a smaller, normal plastic pot. It works for us. The pots are up against a white wall and get hammered by the mid day sun and our aloes doing well. Having the aloes in the plastic pots inside the glazed pots also makes it easier to transplant when they get pot bound.

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    1. I am watering the Felicia (much) more often and they seem OK. Japanese maple is against an afternoon shade wall.
      But that slanted pot ... will try a small inner pot in the not summer months.
      Purple sage is in a tall pot and very happy.

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  15. Thomas looks as though he considers it his rightful place to be out inspecting the work of mere humans. I love seeing all the exuberant color of your garden during our long season of white, and I'm particularly enchanted by the pink of that crinum.
    What are people thinking when they fire off flares (or in my part of the world, fireworks) for fun in a fire-prone area? Or are they thinking at all?

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    Replies
    1. It is fun! Stop whining about balloons killing wildlife - is another sore point.

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