January with Peers Hill fire and retrieving our garden landscape

  

by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa

 

When I flip back to old pictures, from 2014 the first time we had unwanted trees removed, I set to work to retrieve that carefully planned landscaping. 'Broad' concrete slab paths, pond to 'reflect' sky. 'Long' diagonal views. All still there, but Sleeping Beauty hidden down the years. Heavily fragrant Amaryllis belladonna, came with us from Porterville.

 

Amaryllis belladonna
Amaryllis belladonna

Blue flowers for January. Azure Anchusa capensis. Sky blue Plumbago auriculata. Soft mauve Plectranthus saccatus. Purple Streptocarpus.

 

Blue January flowers
Blue January flowers

Tangerine Bulbine frutescens with bee. Dragonfly. Rosebud on South Africa. Pink pelargonium with herby fragrant dark-veined leaves.

 

January flowers and dragonfly
January flowers and dragonfly

Visiting Kirstenbosch where we meet a sleepy owl among the cycads, and visitors from India and Oxford and South America and Fred Olsen cruises. Newly installed solar panels, but not yet connected.

 

Kirstenbosch owl
Kirstenbosch owl

January has been an appalling month of fires. This one I could see thru the window while at my laptop. Not quite as close at it looks, and the burn scar looks so harmless. Fire near Tulbagh has been burning for a week, with teams of firefighters working shifts around the 24/7 and coming from many municipalities.

 

Peers Hill fire
Peers Hill fire

Last night a neon double rainbow arched across our valley.

 

Neon rainbow
Neon rainbow

I like to breakfast looking at Ungardening Pond. But the frog and the hippo, and half the paved edge were hidden. Cut back a mountain of dwarf papyrus, and found a tiny frog and a hopeful little leaf from the blue water lily.

 

Ungardening Pond before and after
Ungardening Pond before and after

Our neighbour has asked us to cut back overhanging branches. I do what I can reach. But - so hard to get my camera to record what the gardener knows as - branch number 342 must go ... too big and heavy, if I cut it, it will fall next door! Tree service has been to assess - work will be done later this week? 342 blocks my view of the (burnt) mountain ridge - basically everything to the left of the crossed branches.

 

Searsia crenata
Searsia crenata

What will be hours of work is the carob tree. Reaching towards our house, shading the pond, and shedding leaves which don't rot down, they pile up and up. In 2016 the wind tore the top half of the tree, like wringing a chicken's neck. The branch came down, but didn't tear free - cut back hard then it lives still.

 

Carob reaching across pond to poke house
Carob reaching across pond to poke house

From our sky-light the carob rises above Brakkloofrant.

 

Carob from sky-light
Carob from sky-light

Again, standing on the front steps, it blocks my view of the mountain.

 

Carob from front steps
Carob from front steps

With my breakfast table for scale. Too much for two old toffees to tackle! But we hope to keep that green swathe just above the boundary wall. I have cut free paths, and paving slabs, and strategic access. (Next door wants the ivy trimmed back too)

 

Carob with table for scale
Carob with table for scale

Another carload for composting (or chipping) each week, and we are retrieving our garden. For Through the Garden Gate Down by the Sea in Dorset with Sarah.

 

Garden year month by month here, back to November 2014.

 

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Comments

  1. I'm sorry to hear about the fires, Diana. I know from personal experience how frightening and distressing they can be. Best wishes with your garden refresh!

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  2. You have been busy with all the cutting back! Sorry to hear about all the fires you are having, a worrying development.

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  3. Goodness, you have been there much longer than I had imagined - how time flies! And how trees grow. I had a look at the older post you linked to where the garden was really overgrown when you bought the house, though it is exciting discovering what is in a new garden. The flowers are lovely as usual.

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  4. The pond looks great, both in the before and after. Busy, busy. Don't work too hard. ;-)

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  5. Ah, you have lovely distant views! I like in a subdivision, with only houses to see. Although from my upstairs window I can see the nearby Chestnut Ridge, a foothill to the Appalachians. And I see lovely sunsets and sunrises out those same windows, since our home is in a small rise, and the high spot of the neighborhood.

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  6. Sorry to hear about the fires. The pond is wonderful!

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  7. It's hard to believe you've already been in False Bay for ten years. It's amazing how those sneaky trees keep growing little by little, so you barely notice until they become a problem. This year I noticed that big limbs from both an oak tree and a pine tree now overhang my driveway; since I don't have a garage, it's been hard to figure out where to put the car during high wind events (which we are having much more often due to climate change). It's probably time to bring in the tree professionals to do some cutting back.

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