False Bay garden in May


by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa


We have had our first reports of snow on the mountains. Winter has landed. They say you can tell the temperature by the length of the cat. The Ungardener made Zöe's nest smaller, so she could tuck herself in. As baleful Thomas demonstrates, despite being at least twice as big, and with a thick fur coat too. The Princess however much prefers to recline on a double mattress, thank you.


Chilly cats
Chilly cats 

Lesson 2 from Thomas. How To Soak Up Winter Sun!


Thomas Soaking Up Winter Sun
Soaking Up Winter Sun

Our garden is knee deep in wet debris. Carloads of ivy. Maid of the Forest has another 2 panels behind her, and another one across the gap at the bottom of the garden.


Maid of the Forest and higher walls
Maid of the Forest and higher walls

Previous owner liked to see the mountain, but I have lost that option as our garden grew in.


Her stepped wall now levelled off
Her stepped wall now levelled off

We prefer not to see - windows, doors, washing lines, bright orange Wendy houses. To pretend that we are surrounded by green gardens on all sides (not lawns and parked cars)


Bye bye Wendy
Bye bye Wendy

Camera is a good reality check. That flash of white from the neighbour's wall was so obvious to the human eye, but nothing my camera could capture for me.


That irritating white flash above the previous wall Invisible on a photo till I added a dotted red line
That irritating white flash above the previous wall
Invisible on a photo till I added a dotted red line

I have squatters on my hiking jacket. Preying mantis eggcase. Now I must wait to rescue the babies when they hatch.


Mantis eggcase Another month to wait
Mantis eggcase
Another month to wait

Fuelling my iNaturalist addiction I have started a garden project there. First off the biggest, which is carob tree, then working along getting the names right. Tree of life taxonomy too. 79 actual species, with some broader IDs making 94 so far.


Including velvety grey back of camphor leaves. Heart leaf of Hibiscus tiliaceus. Huge leaves of Strelitzia nicolai. Thorns of Kei apple. Beautiful bark on Brachylaena discolor. An eye on the carob trunk, tree is perhaps twenty years old.


Our trees for iNat garden project
Our trees for iNat garden project

Purple leopard spots on Hypoestes aristata, the white underwhelming by comparison. Iceberg welcoming winter. Pink pelargonium also happy. For Through the Garden Gate. With Sarah in Dorset


Pink and white flowers in May
Pink and white flowers in May

Mostly green here. First Lachenalia bulbifera are open. My colour of happiness blue Felicia daisies. That Euryops must be delicious all the flowers are nibbled. Neighbouring Euryops pectinatus with grey leaves is NOT so tasty. Thru my window I see I missed two more. Orange Tecomaria capensis and sky blue Plumbago auriculata.


May flowers in bright colours
May flowers in bright colours

We have so much pruning ahead of us. Then I can give our seven year old garden some fresh lowland fynbos plants to fill the opening gaps.


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  1. Cats will always find a way to stay warm and comfortable. My Pipig lets us know when it's time to get out "her" electric heating pad ;) On the brink of summer here, that won't be necessary for quite awhile but she still looks for spots in morning sun. Best wishes with the garden cleanup and enjoy the planting process afterwards.

  2. I prefer your view surrounded by greenery without the view of the mountain! It's amazing how much garden waste we generate too from cutting back and dead heading! That preying mantis egg case is amazing!

  3. Best wishes for an excellent rainy season, as much as possible without being too much.

    I too prefer to hide all the neighboring homes behind much-more-attractive-than-roofs-and-walls foliage. Still working on it. Hard to get it just big enough, and dense enough.

    Good luck with the pruning, and hooray for more fynbos plants!

  4. I think Thomas knows how to enjoy life.

  5. I always enjoy my visits to your garden, looks like Thomas does as well.