April and our False Bay garden with bonsais


by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa


Step out of our back door to this. In autumn my Cornish Stripe lives up to its blue (mauvish) and white intentions.


Moody mauves in April
Moody mauves in April

Looking back for Through the Garden Gate Down by the Sea in Dorset with Sarah.


Mauve and white in April
Mauve and white in April

Perfect blue Felicia. Barleria obtusa - New Zealand cousin called them April Violets <3. Hypoestes aristata in mauve and pure white.


Purple garden flowers in April
Purple garden flowers in April

Lavender always blooming. Sky blue Plumbago auriculata. Iceberg rose a constant companion. Plectranthus saccatus performs for our Adirondacks.


With Plumbago blue in April
With Plumbago blue in April

Lift that purple gloom (with white and) yellow flowers for bees. Ivy-leaved climbing daisy Senecio macroglossus. Oxalis pes-caprae. Lush petalled dandelion. More teeth on Hypochaeris radicata petals.


Yellow garden flowers for bees in April
Yellow garden flowers for bees in April

Garden birds as my contribution to Cape Town for our CNC23.

Southern laughing dove and Southern speckled pigeon.


Dove and pigeon Both Southern
Dove and pigeon
Both Southern 

My Swiss Ungardener taught my family to eat dyed hard boiled actual eggs for Easter.


Real Easter eggs Dyed by the Swiss
Real Easter eggs
Dyed by the Swiss

Bonsai show at Kirstenbosch


Like a conductor of a symphony the bonsai people sit, consider, then prune ... eye to eye with their tree where they can gaze into its heart. Lesson one, dip down - so you can look into the forest, sit in the shade on a hot day, on the rocky outcrop the tree is scrambling over.


I have 2 bonsais. About 20 years old, 2000 is an easy random date to remember. Broad leaved Cotoneaster, which will have tiny flowers and fruit one day. A copse of 5 conifers, one day cones like peas with corners on.


Cotoneaster bonsai Before and after nipping off outer leaves
Cotoneaster bonsai
Before and after nipping off outer leaves

Cotoneaster. Can I do bonsai without wire, prune to shape? Yes. Lesson two, nip off the leaf with your fingernails to encourage that bud to make a new, smaller branch with smaller? leaves, there. I took off about 24 leaves hoping for a denser canopy, but not factory perfect umbrella. Tucked in a leopard, waiting alertly in dappled shade among the rocks ... Lesson three, look down onto the tree and open up the canopy to let the light into the lower branches.


Chinese arborvitae bonsai Before and after trimming for bark view
Chinese arborvitae bonsai
Before and after trimming for bark view

Conifer - Chinese arborvitae (tree of life) cypress family. How do I prune a conifer? Lesson four, for the conifer you want to see the structure, trunk, branch, bark - delicately trim away - Michelangelo sculpting his statue, you just trim away what's not angel.


Trimmed with my middlest sister's tiny bonsai shears. I think, it must have been Margie who took me to a bonsai show when I was still at school. Still have some pots from then. Now fed little, and watered carefully. Will repot again later this year, and try to get the roots and stones better coordinated. The cotoneaster's exposed roots (cowboy who lost his horse) I have to nurture over a rock. Conifer might work along an 'exposed ridge'? Will investigate how the two might grow in their own wild nature.


Must dash! Back to identifying for the City Nature Challenge hosted at iNaturalist.


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  1. You've done a beautiful job with the bonsai specimens, Diana! That's a skill I admire but have yet to develop. In a departure from your hiking posts, I actually recognize and even cultivate many of the flowering plants you showed off in this post ;)

  2. How fun! I really enjoy all your seasons--so many amazing plants and blooms at all times of year. I would love to visit S. Africa some day.

  3. Apologies for not visiting you before now - have been busy just like you! Thank you for still participating Through the Garden Gate, it is always wonderful to see the many flowers you always have blooming in your garden. Your bonsai trees are amazing you must have given them so much care to last that long. Had to smile at your Real Easter Eggs reminds me of my childhood in Germany where that was a common sight!

  4. Goodness, you have such a wide variety of colors in your autumn garden! We’re quickly approaching summer, so our gardens are bursting forth. It’s delightful!