13 April, 2016

Autumn in moody blues

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town gardens in autumn are washed in 'When I am an old lady I shall wear purple' (Read by Jenny Joseph herself) and (Jenny Joseph on the popularity of her poem "Warning"). Thru our bay window across the road is a mound of Barleria, April violets, covered in flowers. My new little plant has a brave handful. Two doors down are taller plants, reaching for the eaves (if they are not given the Kirstenbosch chop after flowering) Hypoestes, ribbon bush - the petals delicately marked if you come a little closer. We have inherited two Discovered Treasures. Plectranthus, spurflower. A low spreading gently greyed out blue like lavender and a tall shrub with vibrant spikes of flowers singing like true violets. Both are succulent and easy to grow from cuttings.

Moody blues in April

Moody blues. Tall Plectranthus. Scabiosa. Limonium perezii. Chain of hearts. Echevieria. Stoep jacaranda. Mexican sage Salvia leucantha. Septemberbossie. Oxford and Cambridge. Nutmeg pelargonium. Northern true violets. Blue grass. Spotted leaves on Drimiopsis. Kingfisher daisy. April violets. Ribbon bush.

To these moody blues I could add leaves in darker angrier plums and burgundies - Aeonium Schwarzkopf, bronze fennel and Prunus nigra, and large asymmetric leaves on tuberous begonia. Mellowed out blues from lavender softened by its grey leaves, with sky blue Plumbago. Some pinker lavender stars on Grewia and spires of true purple on Plectranthus neochilus. Polygala and Indigofera. Tulbaghia. Then the wish list ... deepest purple and blue Dimorphotheca jucunda, a trailing daisy groundcover. Wild rosemary. Wild blue sages. Waiting in pots are bulbs, Babiana, Merwillea, some Lachenalia and bluebells.

Stoep jacaranda
Plectranthus saccatus

Stoep jacaranda flower

Leaves of Plectranthus saccatus

Stoep jacaranda, Plectranthus saccatus has diamond shaped small leaves, with soft teeth. 'Jacaranda' blue flowers, yet somehow not the shard of ice in the heart colour I LOATHE on the trees.

Tall shrubby Plectranthus ecklonii

Plectranthus ecklonii flower

Leaf of tall Plectranthus

Tall shrubby Plectranthus ecklonii has long pointed leaves with tiny teeth. The camera is not quite willing to capture the shout of colour. My Discovered Treasure in Dozen for Diana this April. Which flower lights up your garden this month? Fresh treasure in June is our lemon tree.
Pam in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania has a magnificent weeping cherry, a fountain of white flowers filled with happy memories and attracting butterflies and hummingbirds!
Donna in upstate New York is blue with me. Hers is an unusual softly silver bluestar Amsonia.
Denise in the Netherlands chooses Paris quadrifolia unusual in every way! 
Beth in Wisconsin has been gifted by her garden with Smooth Solomon's Seal
Felicia amelloides
Kingfisher daisy

Felicia amelloides My first choice among blue flowers is the kingfisher daisy. Felicia the colour of happiness!

Polygala myrtifolia
Septemberbossie flower

Polygala myrtifolia Septemberbossie flaunts bizarre unlikely flowers as weird as a passionflower.

Specious tiger moth

Turn my back from too much blue for a mustard orange specious tiger moth. This one I think is newly emerged and hasn't yet opened his wings. They eat fig leaves and Acokanthera (used for poisoned arrows). Clever little animals bite thru the midrib to drain the latex, so they can dine in peace!

I'm still battling with camera skills. Sometimes we are on the same page in the same book. And then the camera flips to - I'm sorry, did you say something? Sigh.

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Pictures by Diana Studer
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  1. What great blues in your gardens. I love the Septemberbossie. A new one for me.

    Great photo of the moth.


  2. What a beautiful collection of blue and violet flowers. -Jean

  3. we have so few blue hued flowers here that grow naturally so I added chosen ones to my garden,, I love the soft addition of blue t a garden,, that moth is amazing,,
    no flowers blooming here yet,, still snow,

  4. Love blue flowers, and all the blues in your garden look lovely...I think blue looks especially nice in warmer climates. My favourite is Jacaranda, it reminds me always of Africa.
    Great photo of the tiger moth too.

    1. I know Pretoria is the city of jacarandas, but the trees come from Argentina and are now on our invasive aliens list (with an exemption for Pretoria)


  5. Blue is my favorite color in the garden, Diana. You have many more blues than me, but I don't think you can have too many! Your camera skills are awesome. P. x

  6. A lovely poem and lovely flowers. A great post, Diana.

  7. Your Kingfisher daisy has sparked my interest. Have to see if it can do well in my zone.

    1. Can you grow Californian plants? We share the mediterranean climate, but Cape Town is free of frost (unless you go up into the high mountains)

  8. Oh, I like the Moody Blues--especially the Jacaranda! And that moth...beautiful!

  9. I had to call Lou to come see your tiger moth! Truly amazing! I had to remind myself you are in autumn, rather than spring as we are. I love all your moody blues, not only the flowers but also those plants with bluish foliage, which I always adore.

    1. yes, I could revel in masses of glaucous blue-grey leaves. Starting with Melianthus!

  10. Hi Diana, i haven't been here for a while, but i realized i missed a lot of lovely photos and happenings at Elephant's Eye. I love those colors, and mostly blues. Being in a hot country, our colors are mostly hot too, so we seldom see violets most specially the blues in this country. Sometimes, our colors get boring to me: reds, oranges, bright yellows, combinations of these, all of them are like that. I hope you agree. I want to see the blues and violets for a change.

    1. A once was Blotanical friend!

      My sister likes blue flowers, and that made me realise how many blue and purple indigenous flowers we have.

  11. Great selection of blooms for autumn; love the image of the moth, great capture.

  12. What a wonderful collection of blues you have! What's even more surprising is just how many of these plants also grow here in coastal southern California. What you call "Oxford and Cambridge" is one of my sentimental favorites - I grew it successfully in my old garden but managed to kill it when I planted it after moving here. Perhaps I'll try again as it's a gorgeous thing. Although I grow an assortment of Plectranthus, that P. saccatus is new to me so I'll be on the look-out for it.

    The moth is a lovely creature and it was kind of him (or her) to allow you time to take such a great photo.

    1. My Oxford and Cambridge battled SO to survive in Porterville's heat that I decided yanking it up and into a pot to take its chances was kindest.

      Today that scrawny handful of twigs billows around my shoulders. We like it here!

  13. Lovely moody blues! And that moth, wow.

  14. What a gorgeous moth....and oh the purples remind me of our spring purples especially the violets we have now too!

  15. Gorgeous tiger moth. I love all those mauvy-purply-blues, amongst my favourite garden colours, and as you say they go perfectly with deep plummy purples. Yummy.