False Bay garden in December with carillon

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

Fireworks on the last day of the year. Maltese Cross. Sprekelia formosissima from Mexico. Bloomed in October for 2 years, then in February this year. Remembered to 'water in summer' and out popped the buds!

Maltese Cross
Maltese Cross

Sprekelia formosissima
Sprekelia formosissima

Wild asparagus fern blooms after fire to feed bees - pollen baskets laden in orange, the bees are blissed out and tumbling thru the flowers, with their 'back to school' wax crayon smell. Pollinator for Gail at Clay and Limestone in Tennessee for her Wildflower Wednesday

Blooming wild asparagus humming with bees
Blooming wild asparagus fern humming with bees

December flowers in our garden. Oxford and Cambridge blues Rotheca myricoides. Cluster of lemons. Yellow stars of Hypoxis hemerocallidea. First flower of blue Salvia africana (has sadly been renamed without its caerula for blue African skies). Spotted Alstroemeria. Deep dark nasturtium. For Through the Garden Gate with Sarah in Dorset.

December garden flowers
December garden flowers

Dutifully picking off and moving to any other plant little grey weevils each day ... and getting the exuberant tuberous begonia leaves I love. My mother's plant.

Tuberous begonia
Tuberous begonia

My garden is mostly green and leaves. But with colour and texture. Burgundy rimmed silver, and Rudolph's antlers - are both Cotyledon orbiculata. Pearly ostrich feathers Centaurea cineraria. Groundcover at the lemon tree, with matching flowers, Helichrysum cymosum. Christmas butterfly on potted lime. Fiddlewood is an orange torch. Then light. Coprosma repens, Cyperus albo-striatus and Plectranthus madagascariensis.

December leaves
December leaves

Advent wreath this year was simple with a few pink flowers. Cyperus flowers to fill the gaps as December passed. I lingered with an undressed white township tree - that minimal uncluttered look appeals. This year we moved the lights to the yacht that sails our bay window year round ... with a suggestion of a promenade on the shore.

Advent Wreath 2019
Advent Wreath 2019

But the bling calls. Straw stars and a crocheted snowflake in the window. Next year I will try for a Southern Cross. The decorations this time mostly echoing the pale sails and straw. With a choir of angels lined up to sing on deck!

Christmas 2019 with angel choir on the yacht
Christmas 2019 with angel choir on the yacht

I was delighted to hear our carillon at the City Hall. (After WW2 Capetonians donated to found the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital - next to flowers on Rondebosch Common). After the Great War 1914-1918 the Mayoress with the women of Cape Town chose a carillon to ring out peace and gratitude to all. Renaissance man Alexios Vicatos is a chemist. Interested in horology - while investigating the clock and its 5 immobilised bells, he was drawn to the carillon (which hasn't been heard for decades!) With his father he restored the mechanism then turned his organist talents to playing the console of the carillon. Despite those huge and heavy hammers, the keyboard is played gently with the side of his fists and wrist movements (with padding for the little fingers which take the impact). We heard 2 classical pieces, followed by our national anthem Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and My Lady Greensleeves - to get a feeling for familiar music on an unfamiliar instrument.

PS I am a word nerd with Squirrelbasket in Wales and Poetrypix (Laura in the comments below) in North England. I want to spell carillon with a second i, but the word comes from French quarregnon, a peal of four bells.

City Hall carillon with Alexios Vicatos
City Hall carillon with Alexios Vicatos

We climbed up from the grand entrance, marble stairs to lists of WW1 dead, then brown painted office stairs, with a single file flight to the console. Up ladders past the bells (and the Ungardener climbed to the hatch in the roof!) We left via Mandela's balcony where he proclaimed peace, democracy and freedom. I wish you those three with music in 2020!

Mandela Peace, democracy and freedom
Mandela
Peace, democracy and freedom

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Pictures by Diana Studer

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Comments

  1. Such a beautiful post, Happy new year to you my far away friend!

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    1. There is a link at the top of the second last paragraph - you can hear the bells ring out!

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  2. The Sprekelia formosissima is extraordinary. How beautiful! Peace, democracy, freedom and music... what more could anyone ask for? Thank you and a happy healthy 2020 for you and yours Diana.

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  3. Lovely post. That Sprekelia is amazing! Happy New Year! P.x

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  4. "'back to school' wax crayon smell." - such a memorable comment I shall think of it now everytime I see bees.The red of that Maltese Cross is the colour I love most in the garden - until I swing back to pastel shades! Thank you for all that information on the Carillon - my friend is an organ builder and I must ask him about this.Love your angel sailors - and I wish you a peaceful and not too dry 2020.

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  5. Your lighted yacht looks splendid dressed up for the holidays like that! And I can't think of a better way to enjoy the season than listening to music like that. Thanks for sharing your holiday with us, Diana. I share your hopes for the new year!

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  6. What a joy to read this tonight--the beauty of the flowers, the story of the carillon and the sound of the bells! Today I read The Year That Was from the Bitter Southerner and was struck by the opening sentence: "To learn a culture, three actions are required: 1) Listen to its music. 2) Read its writers. 3) Listen to the stories of its everyday people. Southern culture broadened and deepened this year, and we want to keep you informed." May we all continue to broaden and deepen our knowledge of others in the seeking of peace, democracy, and freedom--that which we all want no matter where we are.

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  7. The Sprekelia is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the information about the carillon--that must have been an inspiring performance. Your decorations are beautiful, too. Blessings for the New Year!

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  8. We saw and heard the carillon in Bruges a couple of years ago. Amazing the technology in days gone by. A lovely colourful peek into your garden. Have a very happy new year. B x

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  9. Dear Diana,
    what a wonderful post filled with the beauties in your garden. It's winter here as you know and I really love the warmth flouting out of your pictures and words. Happy happy New Year, all my best for you and your family
    Elisabeth

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  10. I love your neutral Christmas decorations. Now that Christmas is over I am ready for spring. We had a carillon tower in the small town I grew up in in Canada. I loved hearing the carols at Christmas. Happy New Year. xo Laura

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  11. Oh my! What an interesting performance. I always admire people who choose to keep the past alive.
    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

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  12. I always enjoy seeing your advent wreathes. I've never seen the mechanism for playing a carillon before. Fascinating! And what a great way to begin the new year. Happy New Year, Diana.

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  13. A happy new year to you! I love the ship in lights.

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  14. Fascinating post as always, with beautiful pictures - and interesting about the carillon.
    I must admit I would probably have said "carillion" if I hadn't checked, as we had a big British construction company called Carillion, which went bust in 2018. Interestingly the branding consultants who came up with the "clever" name made it an intentional corruption of carillon purely to give it a unique identity.
    All the best :)

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