Purple spires around the pond
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Update June 2020 renamed Coleus neochilus
One day we will look back and remember Ungardening Pond. We’ll remember when we stepped onto the verandah and looked across the pond to the mountains.
|Ungardening Pond with Chocolat|
‘Who lingers within you? Have you ever felt an ancestral presence? The inescapable tie of family: hundreds of individuals, yesterday and today, here and gone’ from Elena @ Vision and Verb – with her ‘Blood and vapor'
|Ungardening Pond with Black Stork Island|
I battled to find suitable plants for the pond margin. My initial mistake was to choose plants too tender to be next to the concreted edge. Too hot and dry. Today the marginal planting has settled comfortably into swathes of succulent Plectranthus neochilus. With a flourish of purple architectural spires echoing from shore to shore, from the top of Pani’s Falls to Black Stork Island, along both sides of the jetty, edging Rest and Be Thankful and repeating the colour we use on our garden furniture.
|Ungardening Pond with Pani's Falls|
|Ungardening Pond with waterlily|
The garden has mellowed from winter’s flamboyant red and yellow, to a gentler quieter palette of blues and mauves with hints of yellow.
|Ungardening Pond with beach for birds to bath|
|Ungardening Pond looking along the jetty|
Dozen for Diana
My November plant in Dozen for Diana can only be the purple flowers of Plectranthus neochilus as they rule the garden with joy. With my Dozen for Diana I am building a virtual garden. Gathering from among the plants I nurture in Porterville those who will flourish in turn in the False Bay garden. Limiting my choices particularly because the next garden will be a much smaller suburban garden, but I still wish to echo the magic of the original Elephant’s Eye.
|Plectranthus neochilus leaves|
|Dozen for Diana leaves for 2013|
The eleventh plant is a tough groundcover providing colour in season. Its common name in Afrikaans is muishondblaar - the leaves have a strong medicinal smell which lingers on a careless gardener’s fingers. Not UNpleasant, but not something you would choose to pick and bring inside, despite the utter perfection of the flowers. Such a tough succulent, unless its high summer, I can always harvest bits to cover a last bare patch. Once established the plant rolls on creating a kinder microclimate for itself as it progresses.
|Plectranthus neochilus flowers|
|Dozen for Diana flowers in 2013|
From PlantZAfrica - Plectranthus is in the mint family Lamiaceae. Flowering from September to April (later the dead flower stalks will need grooming away). It grows wild in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, as well as South Africa. ‘The leaves reflect the sun's rays, keeping the plant cool’.
Donna in central NY State has joined me each month this year GardensEyeView Simply the best herbs. She comes to us with sage and wisdom. I too love that smell and have a pot of sage on the back verandah outside the kitchen.
(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red. Those are my links.
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