Kirstenbosch Plant Fair 2015

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

Feast of Fynbos

When we first went to the Kirstenbosch annual plant sale in 1980 we spent R16. Our garden in Camps Bay was high up a few houses from the Table Mountain National Park on the slopes of the Twelve Apostles. This year we have an exciting fresh start. But with a careful Stick to the List as our False Bay garden doesn't have room except for the right plant.

On Sunday there was a huge ring around the sun!

Sunday's autumn ring around the sun
Sunday's autumn ring around the sun


Since the empty front garden is going to be our Karoo Koppie I began with carefully chosen succulents to become focal points. Kumara plicatilis (Aloe last time I looked!) is the fan aloe - the only aloe occurring naturally in our South-Western Cape fynbos. When we were at Worcester I lusted after a botterboom Tylecodon paniculatus - named for its large shiny apple green leaves. Flaming winter torches of red Aloe ferox flowers are essential. Aloe marlothii dug its claws in and came home with us - there will be large candelabras of flowers on maroon stalks.

Four statement succulents for the Karoo Koppie
Four statement succulents
for the Karoo Koppie

We garden for biodiversity and here in False Bay the sunbirds are the first prize. They miss the Australian bottlebrush trees we removed and I promised red trumpets of nectar for them. The aloes first. Then Erica. Erica cerinthoides fire heath is happy in a pot and will stand at the garden gate. Erica verticillata extinct in the wild - mine is rescued via the Belvedere Palace in Austria, where it has been cultivated as an exotic since 1790. Erica glandulosa. And proteas. Protea cynaroides for the Ungardener. Pincushion proteas Leucospermum tottum for me as I love that gentle dusky pink. Leucospermum cordifolium. Last one for the sunbirds is Salvia africana-lutea beach sage which flourished taller than me in Porterville. Agapanthus inapertus Graskop is unusual with pendulous navy blue flowers.

Ericas, restios and Salvia
Ericas, restios
and Salvia

Leucospermum, Anchusa  Protea  Agapanthus
Leucospermum, Anchusa
Protea
Agapanthus

Himself likes trees but the only one they had on my list was Dais cotonifolia. That struggled to make its Christmas flowers in the worst of Porterville's summer heat - but it should be happy here with much cooler temperatures and sea fog and cloud capped mountains. He also hopes for climbers on his trellis. Senecio macroglossus - at first glance an 'ivy' with lush succulent leaves, but yellow daisy flowers!

Senecio, Dais
Senecio, Dais

Proteas and ericas are joined by restios (and bulbs) to make up fynbos. Elegia capensis with its whorls of green, will be too large for our garden, but I love it. Restio festuciformis is a well behaved little one.

My bulb addiction has four more. Gladiolus alatus a shocking combination of electric orange and lime green. Gladiolus tristis a quiet yellow. Moraea tripetala a wild iris tiny delicate and sky blue. Sparaxis grandiflora in chrome yellow.

4 packets of dry bulbs
4 packets of dry bulbs

The easiest way to fill the gaps with satisfying colour is flowering shrubs with interesting foliage. Podalyria calyptrata sweet pea bush with silver velvet leaves. Bauhinia bowkeria has distinctive butterfly leaves. Euryops virgineus with strings of tiny yellow daisies.

Bauhinia, Podalyria Euryops
Bauhinia, Podalyria
Euryops

The little ones that caught my heart. Anchusa capensis Cape forget me not in deep blue. Plectranthus oertendahlii with silver and green leaves. Pelargonium cordifolium Valentine with heart shaped leaves and pink flowers.

Plectranthus, Pelargonium
Plectranthus, Pelargonium

Finally for the shady corner where I'd like yellow. Psychotria capensis 'lemon' bush. Crassula multicava with dancing little flowers.

Psychotria, Crassula
Psychotria, Crassula  

Today is my mother's birthday and I remember her in her flowers, her books, and the pictures of me she kept close by when I was in Switzerland, or Porterville.

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

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Comments

  1. The gardens will be wonderful when you are all finished Diana. The greens and textures you have chosen are lovely.

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    1. I'm enjoying a second chance to collect the plants I loved (and lost).

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  2. Your new 'home to the aloe' will be lovely, Diana. Succulents are becoming very popular landscape plants in the US now, especially with the drought in California. No drought here yet, but I love succulents and have several.
    It is a year this month since my mother passed. Together we can remember our mothers. Beautiful memories. P. x

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    1. for you and your mother, the cherry blossom I see celebrated across the web now.

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  3. Good variety, so exciting having a new garden. It must be lovely to remember your mother with flowers. My mother is still going, 102.

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    1. My mother was proud to celebrate 100 Christmases, then she slipped away.

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  4. I love the description of "chrome yellow" for the Sparaxis. You have truly created a palate of interesting colors and shapes. We were just in California for a week and saw many gardens moving to the direction of succulents as Pam writes above. I had the care of them for a few days, which amounted to nothing more but enjoying their interest and beauty. Your home must be coming along well. I'm happy for you.

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    Replies
    1. I'm tempted by the Californian? succulent gardens I've seen - echoing an undersea landscape.

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  5. What a wonderful way to keep your mom's memory close by in your garden...this was fun to see all you are planting. I especially love the succulents and that little blue iris....

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    1. That little blue iris reminds me of one I found in our Camps Bay garden. A gift from the mountain. Sorry I didn't pot it up as it disappeared.

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  6. Ah, yes, plant sales! They ARE dangerous, aren't they?! Looks like you have some great new plants, and I can't wait to see how they all come together.

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    Replies
    1. been rearranging the pots today to see how it works.

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  7. How exciting to be working on your new False Bay garden, and to have it underway in time to take advantage of the plant sales. I look forward to seeing your new garden develop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. after tearing my hair out while I waited, now I can see the garden unfolding.

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  8. Diana,
    all of them are looking so very exotic to me! As you know we grow them in our houses - small and poor :)! That's why I love what I see and I'm sure they'll grow grow grow!
    All my best
    Elisabeth

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    Replies
    1. as I in turn grow exotic snowflakes and bluebells and a Japanese maple ...

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  9. It is always so rewarding to have a look here, all these wonderful exotic plants.
    I hope the sunbirds are back soon!
    Elke

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. our sunbirds are happy in next door's bottlebrush while we wait for our new flowers.

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  10. I've never seen or heard of a halo around the sun before - so cool! All the new plants look so nice. There is such a great variety of textures in the foliage!

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    Replies
    1. I have an utter weakness for beautiful leaves!

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  11. Sometimes I wish for the discipline a small garden would demand, but Diana, your garden will be so full of color. Gladiolus alatus with its lime green and electric orange sounds delightful. I believe that a garden designed for biodiversity is always more interesting and inherently beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. yes, not a window display or a museum piece, but alive with creatures. Heard a lonely bokmakierie singing this evening, waiting in vain for his partner to duet back.

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  12. The Kirstenbosch Plant Fair must really be a must visit if you are setting up a garden. To think of it, its been ages since I've been to Kirstenbosch.

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    Replies
    1. when you do go again, the Boomslang is waiting. Walking thru the treetops is a whole new way to see Kirstenbosch!

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  13. Diana, I'm wondering if that ring around the sun is called a sun dog? I think Connie shows photos but I can't remember if there is a ring or not.

    You have the most diverse collection of beauties for your garden, it's going to be gorgeous. And you are very forward thinking in planting natives, and those who will embrace your new spot. I know how hard it is to keep to the list, to rein in your love of plants, and only choose those who will endure and prosper.

    Jen

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    Replies
    1. I think, sun dogs come in pairs either side of the sun?
      My list - so I'm allowed to add foreigners like lemon verbena from South America. I am so looking forward to being able to grow proteas again!

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