24 February, 2015

Our False Bay garden before the builders start

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

The jack hammer tears up the garage floor (for an entrance hall and front door) and the sledge hammer works on our bedroom and bathroom. Look in the giraffe's window at tendrils of Ceropegia woodii against a reflection of the garden. March brings building chaos.

Ceropegia woodii

An enthusiastic trio of volunteers at the bird bath are green pepper plants? Aphids on the roses and ladybirds are busy.

Ladybird and volunteer pepper plant?

February flowers are purple and yellow. Streptocarpus and Clerodendron came from Porterville. Septemberbossie and stoep jacaranda I found in the new garden.

Streptocarpus, Clerodendron
Septemberbossie, stoep jacaranda

Yellow Hypoxis and white chincherinchee came with us. Singing yellow Hibiscus with a crimson heart lurks in the shady corner - take cuttings to plant in the sun.

Three white roses are lost against the white wall. In Camps Bay our house was built of cement blocks in a deep dusky pink which echoed the cliffs of the Twelve Apostles. Porterville was face bricks to echo the surrounding wheat fields. We've never had a painted house, a white house. I would like the house to look as if it grew out of the earth. The paint colour is Karoo Lands (no, Ungardener, not Karoo LAMB). Neither too chilly for the Ungardener, nor too sh#t brown for me, nor too pink for both of us.

Hypoxis, Hibiscus
chincherinchee, white rose

First bud on Nerine sarniensis is a herald of autumn. The inherited Fuchsia is flourishing. Tuberous begonias are already knee high bunches of deep red leaves. Japanese maple is popping out bright red new leaves.

Nerine, Fuchsia
tuberous begonia, Japanese maple

We've an established garden, but I'd like to have space to plant what I choose. Since the house needs painting, the simplest was to rip out ALL the plants against the walls. I've kept the Agapanthus for the blue and white garden. The front garden will be walled, stripped of plants, terraced, then planted with the succulents in waiting for a new Karoo Koppie. Thru the garage and down the shady side will be a washing line cum pergola. At the bottom will be the pond and shelter and berries for birds. Up the sunny side I plan velvety silver foliage.

Front garden, shady side
bottom, sunny side

Most of those potted plants will go into the garden, and the chosen few will earn glazed pots in sea greens and blues.

Pots in waiting everywhere I turn

The Ungardener says I should tell the succulents that when I move them, for the THIRD time, it will be their furever home. Two of the cuttings of Nic's heart leaves Hibiscus tiliaceus are establishing. Following the Stellenberg advice, we tore out a huge Asparagus fern, harvested the best bits, and planted them at the new trellises.

Asparagus fern, succulents
Hibiscus tiliaceus, succulents

South Africa's power supply is buckling due to rising demand and lack of maintenance. We have load shedding and part of our daily routine is putting the solar lantern out in the sun to charge. I read when the schedule targets us, by bottled sunshine!

Solar lantern at the potted lime
Let there be light!

Lessons learned. About plant labels. I used plastic which turns brittle and crumbles in the sun. Wooden sucker sticks snap off at ground level. I've seen garden bloggers using plastic knives as labels. When I saw bamboo forks - I thought sustainable and effective! PS experimenting with 600 pixel photos (before I used 800 pixels)

Suddenly Diana came to a fork in the road!

For Wildflower Wednesday's FIFTH Anniversary the South African plants are Ceropegia, Streptocarpus, Clerodendron, Septemberbossie and stoep jacaranda, Hypoxis, chincherinchee, Nerine, Hibiscus tiliaceus, and Asparagus fern

My End of the Month View

Pictures by Diana Studer  
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay 

(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
or click this post's title)

48 comments:

  1. I also use my solar light to read with - when I get up in the wee hours of the morning, and don't want to shock my eyes into total wakefulness :)

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    1. or for a 'candlelit' bath late at night when I am falling asleep.

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  2. We used solar lights at our house on the lake, they are great! Such beautiful photos and I can just see you tenderly insuring the plants they are indeed home, lol,

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    1. off grid from Dani in South Africa to Laurie in Canada!

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  3. Oh, I'm so excited to see your progress. I knew you would work your magic with your hardscapes, plants, and designs. Late summer for you, late winter for me. That is a good thing. ;-) Very impressive work, Diana, and I'm looking forward to following the continued metamorphosis of your new place!

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    1. I'm torn when I see that scorched earth swathe along the house walls. Still it is just bare earth waiting, not blasted with herbicide. A Jekyll and Hyde garden for now!

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  4. I enjoy reading about your new home and gardens.

    I have been thinking about Ceropegia woodii lately, now want to find it for a friend and myself. She had this many, many years ago and gave me a piece of it. We were talking about it the other day, but couldn't remember the name of it. Thank you for posting about yours.

    Have a GREAT week ~ FlowerLady

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    1. I was thinking of you yesterday ... coming to catch up on your news. If you can just find a friendly gardener with chain of hearts, any little bit will grow for you.

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  5. You must be having great fun seeing what comes up in your new home. I was thrilled to see your ladybugs (that's what we call them here)—they are beautiful and look quite happy. Good discovery of the bamboo sticks for markers. It is what I use too. Bamboo is really a marvelous material. I'm amazed at the number of products I see made of bamboo these days including sheets and towels.

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  6. Lookin' good, Diana. Our plant nursery is not even shipping out tuberous begonias yet as it's late winter in southwest France. I went from marking everything in the garden to marking nothing because of all the hassles. So I will enter the land of compromising bamboo. :-)

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    1. We will see if the bamboo labels do last better, but they use bamboo for scaffolding in the East. It's the pots of bulbs I need to label. Without flowers, or leaves, who knows what or if is in that pot?!

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  7. What a treat to see all these lovely blooms while we are still in the throes of winter here! Interesting to see the Streptocarus as native plants in your garden. We grew some this past year in the garden where I volunteer, and here they are considered exotic plants:) I'm interested to see how your bamboo markers hold up.

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    1. We were on the border between Wales and England and visited a greenhouse filled with a variety of Streptocarpus. That taught me to appreciate them.

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  8. The nicest thing about a new garden is new plans and you sound as if you have thought yours through very well. All that time waiting to move wasn't wasted at all. I love reading about plans coming to fruition. The work inside may be necessary but I gather it is the outside that excites you.

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    1. SO tantalising to go to a nursery and remind myself to wait! Inside, we discovered that our bathroom has an enchanting view of the mountain.

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  9. Wonderful blooms and lots of plans I will enjoy seeing completed. I have been looking for sustainable plant markers too. Plastic does not keep the letters after the summer even using a permanent marker.

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    1. At least when the plastic crumbles to bits, I can piece together the information. But if the words have faded, I know only that I WANTed to remember what this is called!

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  10. Dear Diana,
    very interesting! I have never heard of Hibiscus tiliaceus, but the leaves look just like that: A Tilia!
    I use the wooden stickers from ice cream. Pencil is useless as the names will vanish when the wood gets wet (which it does inevitably).
    Elke

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    1. now I need to find out who the leaves imitate. Tilia I don't know.
      Ah, lime tree, but 'Unter den Linden', not citrus.

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  11. Lots of upheaval, but in the end it will be a total new beginning and that's going to be such a great feeling.

    Love the shots of your garden, and I can't wait to see it when it's all done.

    Jen

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    1. bit sad, walking around the neglected garden, and LONGing to get going!

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  12. I hate the mess and noise from remodeling, Dianna. We have hammering and sanding in one of our bathrooms right now, and I can't wait for it to be finished. And what a headache deciding on colors, flooring, and fittings -- I would much rather plan a garden! Still haven't found a good plant marker though, and never saw a bamboo fork here. Love the markings on your sweet ladybug. You have some lovely blooms in your new garden and it will be great when you have added your touch to it. P. x

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    1. I agree, choosing ... for the house is work, but let me loose at the Kirstenbosch plant sale and I'll be blissed out!

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  13. Its all happening isn't it, you just be excited to see your plans starting to be put into action. Looking forward to seeing how it develops

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    1. that bud on the Nerine has opened since I wrote the post

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  14. This time last year we were pretty much in the same situation Diana. Builders and tradesmen on the go for months, and garden pots all over the place. Ah, its good to be settled again, mind you I am almost ready to lift the remaining grass from the back garden as the boss struggles to get her washing out in the boggy conditions at this time of year..

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    1. I've been happily surprised by how quickly we could start and look forward to the work being done in weeks. For us it's not boggy, but sandy. I see lots of groundcover as we will be lifting the lawn.

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  15. How exciting, to begin making this place truly your home and garden! I look forward to seeing your progress. I would have wanted Karoo Lands, if only for the name!

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    1. I'm a sucker for an enticing name. Ivory Parchment not Rhapsody. What colour might rhapsody be (a greyer cooler taupe actually)

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  16. It's good that you took some "before" photos of your garden, so that you can see the changes after the builders are done. It's great that you have a mix of old friends that you brought with you from Porterville and plants that you found already growing in your False Bay garden.
    Wishing you a speedy building process. -Jean

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    1. They are roaring ahead. Today our new bathroom was tiled.

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  17. Diana - I pray the fire has no been in you area!? Please reply and let us know you're safe.

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    1. it was on the mountain on the other side of the valley. We are fine, hoping to see fire lilies once the trails are open again.

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    2. Thanks for contacting me - I was so pleased that it was only your internet. Given that Porterville also experienced wild fires, is your old house OK?

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    3. for Porterville I only know that the fire is on the mountain and the farms beyond the town itself. We do have a helicopter and a Working on Fire team based in Porterville.

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  18. Plants and builders...usually not a good combination. How long before the garden will be a safe place again?

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    1. they say ... another 4 weeks. Just right for the Kirstenbosch plant sale!

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  19. What a fantastic and huge undertaking! Very best of luck with it.

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    1. I remember looking at a swathe of our Porterville garden with a sinking heart. What will we do here?! Karoo Koppie, Apple Creek and Elephant's Eye Light Railway.

      Here we have a garden on a 'two old toffees' scale, where we can enjoy both the planning AND the doing. I miss the longer walk around the garden, but yet, there are still plant reasons to pause and enjoy.

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  20. Looking forward to seeing you gradually make the garden your own. Even though it is 'established', it wasn't established by you.

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    1. I have a few more building weeks and the Kirstenbosch plant sale catalogue to track down. Then, we will begin!

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  21. There must be such a mixture of emotions faced with a mammoth task such as yours ! It must be exciting to have a clean slate and start afresh.

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    1. A little bit, I miss our Porterville garden where we had huge blank spaces.
      Now I am compromising around the shrubs and trees, which we've mostly retained.
      The mammoth task is exciting because this time it's an area the two of us can garden with.

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    2. this sounds exciting. A bit daunting as well maybe but overall a positive conclusion. A house and garden much better suited to your needs. I've had the same issues with plant markers. Wood rots and breaks , plastic fades in the sun and becomes brittle. I've seen painted rocks on pinterest which seemed a more long lasting solution but have not tried them yet. thus far my best solution has been my memory!

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    3. or the virtual digital option of a photo of the flower bed, and write on the photo which is who. Our winter rain polishes paint off rocks, and in your climate?

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  22. How wonderful to see your beautiful flowers this time of year, Diana. xo Laura

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    1. I look forward to our autumn bulbs, with almost as much enthusiasm as Northern gardeners with snowdrops and crocus and daffodils!

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