09 November, 2016

Blue cat's whiskers

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Ours was bought as indigenous at the Kirstenbosch Plant Sale in 2008. I was doubtful about 'ugandense' tropical Africa, but was assured it also grows in South Africa. Originally described from Kenya - says the University of Florida. Horticultural info from Missouri Botanical Garden. Clerondendron ugandense became Rotheca myricoides 'Ugandense'. Easy to remember as Oxford and Cambridge for the distinctive two blues.

Blue and white inspiration from the sky

Our little plant battled to survive in Porterville, to keep a few leaves, and produce the odd flower. It needed a kinder, cooler, moister, shadier home. Dug it up and put it in a much too small pot - sink or swim - and moved it with us to False Bay.

Blue flowers against a blue sky

Rotheca myricoides

Planted against the afternoon shade side of the house. With cool damp sea breezes and the potted Septemberbossie to break the force of the Southeaster. It lives on the East Patio just outside the glazed kitchen door where the open flowers look me in the eye. This is one of my favourites among the 'blue' flowers and my November Dozen for Diana.

Oxford and Cambridge flower

Rotheca myricoides

The leaves whorl out in three ranks, making the leafy plant interesting. For Pam @ Digging's Foliage Followup. Plenty of exuberance to trim for my vases, when it reaches IN to the kitchen. Or up to the window, didn't expect it to GET that high. Flowers for carpenter bees, then fruit for birds.

Cornish Stripe with blue tuxedo cat

My Cornish Stripe garden was inspired by the broad blue and white stripes on my tea mug. Or wisps of cloud against a deep blue sky. I'm learning that is quite hard to achieve blue flowers. Most of mine have slid over to purple, mauve, lavender side of blues.

'Blue' flowers in November

As I step out of the kitchen door, that East side of the garden is filled with purple flowers. Scabiosa entertains Thomas, tappy tappy, biff biff, and another one bites the dust. As a focal point on the table I have a potted Streptocarpus. Also wonderful for tappy biff and shred. Sigh, it was nice while it lasted and there are buds furling up ... Plectranthus neochilus is flowering its way to our current signature plant along the North, East and South sides.

Dark foliage

The blue and white high contrast I also emphasise with dark and light foliage. Japanese maple and Prunus nigra have leafed out nicely, but I need to work them into more appealing shapes. An errant magenta Pelargonium reminds me of an earlier gardener, but the magenta picks up on the very dark leaves.

Light foliage

For some light sparkles beneath their glooming hedge I am now happy to achieve the repetition of luminous white pelargonium flowers along the boundary wall. Cyperus albostriatus comes from our indigenous forests in Knysna and is flourishing. Variegated Felicia gives me creamy leaves and blue flowers. Plectranthus madagascariensis and variegated mint both give me endless cuttings to fill the gaps.

Lemon yellow for Cornish Stripe

The lemon tree was a grateful given and I added the climbing Senecio, whose large flat yellow daisies are kindly just that echo of the ripe lemons.

Hoping that the inherited and my potted Agapanthus will bring me Christmas flowers now they have had a chance to settle in.

PS I can find this plant among the trees and shrubs at Plant Portraits and I can see when I planted it at East Patio. Jean is surveying how we keep garden records. So far - [my] computer-only records are a distant third to handwritten or a mixture.

I invite you to join us at Elephant's Eye on False Bay. Please subscribe as you prefer
via Feedly,
or Bloglovin,
or Facebook

Pictures by Diana Studer
(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. If you are in email or a Reader, first click thru to the blog)


  1. Beautiful - blue cat's whiskers looks just like a delicate blue butterfly 😀

  2. Your garden is looking spectacular, Diana. I love that Clerodendrum/Rotheca, which I grew successfully once when we lived in cooler Santa Monica well before the drought descended. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make a go of growing it since.

  3. Your photographic garden color palettes are great!

    The Rotheca is grown here as well, though as Kris said, not so much since the drought took hold.

  4. Congrats on keeping your Rotheca myricoides not only alive but blooming so beautifully.

  5. Your spring colours are looking lovely. Rotheca obviously love the damper conditions where you are now. Tap water is never as welcome as rain water I think!

  6. Your Rotheca is beautiful, as are the rest of your blue flowers, my favourite colour! I haven't seen it here, even as a pot plant.

  7. That's a beautiful plant Diana and great that it likes your new garden's environment. True blue in flowers is difficult, you're right but I love the blues you have found. I find my spreadsheet invaluable for knowing what is where and I'm even better now with recording sowing and germination times which really helps.

  8. That Rotheca is really pretty--I love that shade of blue. All your flowers and plants seem to be settling in so comfortably into your new garden.

  9. I love your coloured theme garden ideas, wonderful to take the inspiraton from your Cornish mug! Sarah x

  10. I used to have a Rotheca as a houseplant. Oh to be able to grow it outside!

  11. Blue is one of my favorite colors in the garden, and your blue flowers are wonderful! I also like your blue pots. All the other colors look better with some blue companions.

  12. I must have blue flowers and aim for some in each of my gardens. Love your collage with the blue sky in the center. P. x

  13. You have so many plants in your Plant Portraits! Made me realize that I have to update my own plant portraits. Time flies and plants come and go. The butterfly bush is beautiful. Do you eat the fruit?

    1. Oh! I have never seen fruit. Actually have never had a proper display of flowers before.

      Is the fruit edible? Tasty?

    2. I read It bears edible fruits. Hopefully you will get them this year after the flowers have gone. Then you can tell us what they taste like. If the birds allow it.

  14. Beautiful flowers ! I first thought you would talk about white cat whiskers (I mean real once, lol)

  15. A beautiful plant. Love the name.

  16. Love the clouds and sky of the first photo - and the other photos are great too, but I am "in love" with clouds so I like seeing them! Jack

  17. Such beautiful blues. At this time of the year, the low angle of the sun as we approach the winter solstice means that our blue skies are a soft aqua. -Jean