11 July, 2013

Pig’s ears Cotyledon orbiculata

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


We garden for biodiversity. It is winter in South Africa and our garden is in party mode, filled with flowers. The sunbirds aggressively defend their chosen patch from any intruders. We flower in carnival gaudy red and yellow. The Red Bishops and yellow Cape and Masked Weavers appropriately dressed for the festival. I will take cuttings from our aloes since I have proof at Scenic South that they will grow in our False Bay garden one day.

Cotyledon orbiculata leaves



Cotyledon orbiculata 'mielie leaf'

The minimalist garden I’m building in my mind as we wait to move to False Bay needs some drama. Big leaves making their statement, but the garden is small so I must choose something that will fit. Plakkies, pig’s ears, Cotyledon orbiculata. The leaves are rewarding year round. Cuttings harvested and planted in a line for Evening Rays, already blooming proudly. A chunky filler for a planter.

Evening Rays with a line of Cotyledon orbiculata

Grewia occidentalis, Bulbine frutescens, Searsia crenata, 
Plectranthus madagascariensis, Tecoma capensis
Agathosma apiculata, Cotyledon orbiculata

Info from Kumbula Nursery or PlantZAfrica. Cotyledon orbiculata is in the Crassula family. The leaves are a glowing slightly blue green with delicate red margins, or with a luminous grey shimmer on the surface. There are five varieties, including the finger aloe I once discussed with Town Mouse in California, and another with ‘reindeer antlers’. Found in the wild ‘on rocky outcrops in grassland fynbos and the Karoo’. Tolerates moderate frost. The species name orbiculata means round circle.

Masked Weaver, female clutching an Aloe flower

Malachite Sunbird, male on Aloe

The long tubular flowers suit the sunbirds. The weavers with their blunt seed-eating beaks are global warming denialists. I want it all, and I want it now! They rip off the flowers to get the nectar. I wonder, how that plays out in the ecology?

Cotyledon orbiculata with Euphorbia mauretanica foliage

Nothing has flowers in quite the same shade of burnt orange, tending to coral, lit with golden yellow, and a suggestion of bottle green from leaves and stems.

Cotyledon orbiculata flower detail
Cotyledon orbiculata flower

Donna in NY State brings us basil for her Simply the Best Herbs in July. ‘In Italy, basil symbolized love as sweethearts wore a sprig of basil in their hair to win their love’
Beth in Wisconsin is going wildly exotic, a cactus which grows from Texas, all the way north to the Arctic Circle! Opuntia fragilis

Plectranthus madagascariensis, Bulbine frutescens, Tecoma capensis 
Cotyledon orbiculata, Agathosma apiculata, Grewia occidentalis

Will you bring a July plant to share with us for the False Bay Dozen for Diana?

Pictures by Diana and Jurg
and text by Diana Studer (on Google Plus)
AKA Diana of Elephant's Eye (on False Bay)
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over teal blue text,
it turns seaweed red.Those are my links.)

25 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that Blotanical is almost ready. I am curious to see what improvements and changes Stuart has made. He is lucky to have you and others willing to test drive it.

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  2. It's so nice to learn that the new Blotanical is almost ready.

    Planning a garden is fun and I enjoyed seeing your selections which will work so well in the new location.

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  3. It's nice to know Blotanical isn't in the middle of death throws, thanks for informing us, love the cotyledon Orbiculata. I see something similar growing off the roadsides on the odd occasion.

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  4. Great news, indeed Diana. Thank you for sharing. I'm enjoying your thoughts and choices on your move. There's no doubt that your gardens on False Bay will be delightful.

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  5. Dear Diana, My mind cannot grasp the vision of a winter garden 'filled with flowers.' How very lovely -- Winter is so different here. Your sunbird is stunning! Great news about Blotanical. P. x

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  6. Exciting news....I hope we can see it soon as I miss Blotanical but just could not deal with the glitches that took so much time.

    I am smitten with your sunbirds and the flower they favor, Cotyledon orbiculata.

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  7. I agree with Pam! A winter garden filled with flowers ... sigh. The only flowers I see in winter are in a vase on my mantle (occasionally), on blogs, and in my imagination. Lucky you! Thanks for the new about Blotanical 2! That makes my day. I love Blotanical and want to see it thrive! I hope to have a "Plant of the Month" post ready soon -- after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Cheers!

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    1. My "dozens" post is up and ready at http://bit.ly/15QjjiD. I hope you're having a nice time away. Thanks!

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  8. Ooh, I am a fan of the Malachite sunbird!

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  9. good old Stuart, I must admit I was beginning to doubt it would ever happen ... Diana, I adore your photo of the sunbird. Absolutely brilliant.

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  10. I followed your blog during a short stint on Blotanical and now I'm back via Blooming Blogs, which works much better for me. It seems intuitive in a way that Blotanical never was (for me, at least). There are glitches, of course, as it is relatively new.
    I had forgotten how much fun it is to see plants from your part of the world: so different from the Pacific Northwest.

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    1. I wonder when you were at Blotanical - during this glitchy waiting for 2 time?

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    2. PS unfortunately Andrew has banned me from Blooming Blogs. Because I mentioned Blotanical 2?

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  11. Bright orange flowers and Malachite Sunbirds - Your winter is indeed a time to party! I am really happy to hear that Blotanical 2 is coming soon. My blog got its start on Blotanical, and I wish it nothing but success.

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  12. Your garden in Porterville really is suited for all seasons and makes everybody happy. That being you and your bird / animal / insect visitors. I'm really looking forward to see how your new smaller garden develops once you get down there.

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  13. It's not very nice of the birds to rip off the flowers. Do they rip them all of or just the old ones?

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    1. the flowers with nectar. There are a few bald stalks among the aloes, but despite our flock of little birds - still many flowers, and huge buds in waiting on the next species.

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  14. what a statement those Cotyledons make and the coral flowers are the icing on the cake for eye candy and nectar loving birds alike (you are amassing hues of orange/terracotta and lilac/purple so far I see)

    p.s. I miss Blotanical and all the lovely people as much as I miss toiling in my communal garden (though I have next door as compensation).Can only keep up with a few these days.

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  15. Winter in the Cape and the coral colours of aloes.....I find a lot of joy from a climbing aloe( of which I do not know the name). Give it a picket fence,old piece of steel or a bush, and upwards it grows. I started with a piece two years ago and can now supply cuts to anyone who wants some.

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  16. That's great to hear about Blotanical, thanks for the link Diana. I must confess I gave up on Blotanical ages ago as nothing seemed to be working for me and I was getting no response. thrilled there will be a new version as there was such a great community there and it would be great to pull more people into garden blogging.

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  17. Love the pigs' ears, and those gorgeous birds. I am enjoying the peak of our ruby throated hummingbird season right now. They make me happy.

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  18. Thank you for showing us those beautiful birds. Incredible incredible incredible! I'm been on the road over the past month and a half and FINALLY I'm able to sit down and do some serious reading.

    I'm glad there is some movement in Blotanical. It was just trying to utilize the program. There are a lot of gardeners out there and hopefully this next program will be better and much more successful for others. As for the Sunbird and Weaver.......wow. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Great news about Blotanical. I kept going back even though it wasn't working properly but was about to give up when the picks stopped working.

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  20. I'm pretty sure that I have one of the Pig's Ears succulent or the Cotyledon orbiculata 'mielie leaf' at any rate. It's night here but I'll go check tomorrow. Also, I put some flowers up a while back on my blog vary similar to your Cotyledon orbiculata flowers.

    I wish I had never stopped collection. All of them are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your gardens.

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  21. Diana, I was drawn to this post by the juxtaposition in the title of Blotanical and pigs' ears, and feared you were about to say that version 2 was woeful (on the principle that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear). But I am pleased that is not the case - and got to see your beautiful photos into the bargain!

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