Four favourite garden books and our tiny urban forest
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
My 2015 post about garden books still draws readers, but these four are what I use. Mary Maytham Kidd - Wild Flowers of the Table Mountain National Park - new edition 2006 - 2 editions have accompanied mountain hikes and all 3 of my gardens. Indigenous is what I aim for, with the familiar and loved commonorgarden plants in 2 Reader's Digest books. A South African Garden for All Seasons - 1993. And. Care-free Plants - for a Beautiful South African Garden - 2006. But botanists are always at work on taxonomy and especially for our Fynbos Rambles in 2018 I added John Manning - Field Guide to Fynbos (not an affiliate link!)
We chose our Porterville garden for the borrowed mountain scenery and 2 thirty year old ash trees. This False Bay garden was again chosen for green and trees (the house was also promising) the tall carob in the corner, and a long Coprosma repens x2 hedge were here. Tiny urban forest now with ... 44 trees!
|Tiny urban forest in our False Bay garden|
Bauhinia, Dombeya, carob, Hibiscus, Coprosma, Tarchonanthus
Every evening Ceratonia siliqua is filled with birds who roost in the carob overnight. One of VERY few neighbourhood choices for them! A male tree with funky flowers for bees, no pods. Two more gifts - vibrant orange leaves from fiddlewood Citharexylum spinosum, and of course the lemon tree.
My own choices are to support biodiversity. For birds, red trumpet flowers for sunbirds, then berries on Halleria lucida (laughing Lucy) x3. Feeding garden Acraea caterpillars on Kiggelaria africana (wild peach)
I love grey leaves. Flashing between shiny bottle green above and grey velvet below Brachylaena discolor x2 is cut back frequently. In our tapestry hedge on our verge Buddleja saligna x2. Flowers and fragrant leaves from Tarchonanthus camphorbush.
In a mostly green garden, glossy leaves light up the gloom. My first choice is Diospyros whyteana x2. Small lemon yellow flowers on Psychotria capensis lemoenbos x2. Kei apple Dovyalis caffra. Inherited hedge of Coprosma repens.
Green needs appealing leaves. Left Hibiscus tiliaceus x2 heart leaves, autumn colours (if it is cold enough!) and yellow buds fading thru orange to russet flowers. Centre and above right Bauhinia bowkeri small butterfly leaves and white flowers. Below right Dombeya burgessiae large graceful leaves with hanging bells of pink cupped flowers.
Indigofera trusses of mauvy pink. Pappea capensis bushveld cherry is related to litchi. Nuxia floribunda forest elder with whorls of 3 leaves. Pavetta lanceolata forest bride's bush.
Searsia leptodictya x2 long pale leaves. Searsia crenata x7 small dark leaves, scalloped edge. Olea x2 wild olives.
Not technically a tree, but fitting the gardener's definition of 'a tree is something you can sit under' Strelitzia nicolai. Also the bietou volunteers in our tapestry hedge Osteospermum moniliferum x2
Filling out the corners Ficus benjamina x2 and Searsia glauca. Battling along Calpurnia aurea and Dais cotonifolia.
And my bookshelf. Trees of Southern Africa - Keith Coates Palgrave. Field Guide to Insects of South Africa - Mike Picker. Birds of the South Western Cape - Joy Frandsen. Birds of Southern Africa - Ian Sinclair. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. South Africa's Proteaceae - Marie Vogts. With PlantZAfrica and iNaturalist keeping up with changing taxonomy.
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