28 December, 2016

December in our False Bay garden

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

This is our third Christmas in False Bay. Between life happens and water restrictions the garden is 'marking time'. In March I will add the two more trees for which the gaps are patiently waiting. And work thru my wish lists.

Leonotis, Californian poppies

On the Karoo Koppie the Flanders poppies are polite annuals which have faded and gone. The Californian poppies have a second wave of smaller summer flowers - perhaps they aren't exactly annuals? I have a drift of seed pods - there will be MANY more plants. Red and coral pelargoniums bloom against the roadside wall. In the pots Haworthia is sending up tall spikes of orange.

The Leonotis grows at the bottom of the garden - but the colour fits here.

Bee and butterfly for Wildflower Wednesday
Inner and outer garden for Through the Garden Gate

Karoo Koppie

Cornish Stripe remains colourful - white pelargoniums, kingfisher blue from Felicia, azure from Anchusa, true blue from Rotheca, purples from Polygala and Scabiosa. If you look closely at the Scabiosa flower ... you will see a tiny white crab / flower spider.

Pelargonium, Anchusa
Polygala, Scabiosa 

Cornish Stripe

While the Ungardener was battling a raging temperature and pneumonia we had gale force wind. The trellis on the East Patio outside the kitchen was swaying like a flail. The base of its supporting leg had snapped - so I sawed the trellis free of its broken leg. Now I was menaced by a flail like a windmill sail - and had to quickly saw it free of its second and sound leg. Poor granadilla vine was coming on nicely and now lies in waiting on the ground.

Trellis blown down

The Woodland Walk at the bottom of the garden is overwhelmed by Plectranthus neochilus. I am steadily pruning back buckets to keep the path open, and rediscover the OTHER plants. Some green hair algae returning to Froggy Pond - we need a little barley straw.

Woodland Walk
and Froggy Pond

We have gone straight to New Year's resolution to try and walk an hour a day. Gasp. I need a day off, also to get into the garden. One of my silver grey fountains of Dusty Miller, as Thomas kindly points out, is dead. Again, in March, I will take cuttings from the other 3 and rejuvenate that sad corner.

Spring Promise and Summer Gold
with Thomas

Summer Gold I need to work on. There are some buttery yellow gazanias and a few golden Hibiscus flowers.

Spring Promise keeps the pink and white prettiness coming. Lots of pink pelargoniums. Inherited Oxalis and a dark Fuchsia. My tiny pink wild hibiscus. Slender white petals on Bowkeria - blink and you miss them.

and Oxalis 

We usually walk on the beach three times a week. Our route includes the stairs across the railway line. Delighted to see that the lifeguards are drawing new members from Masiphumelele, giving good role models to a marginalised township, and teaching swimming to a community otherwise at great risk from drowning (when they do enjoy a visit to the beach, especially now around Christmas) Life guards are paid, so a little extra employment.

Our path runs above and beside the rocks
where there is often a young seal resting

We were especially glad when we heard them politely but firmly telling swimmers to please be careful of that young seal resting on the rocks.

Long sandy beach on False Bay

As we walk the length of the beach we meet pairs of lifeguards patrolling the dangerous stretch - beyond - please swim between these flags!

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Pictures by Diana Studer
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  1. Your garden "rooms" are looking so impressive--knowing how much loving care you've put into designing and tending them. I enlarged the photos of the Karoo Koppie, Cornish Stripe, and Woodland Walk to see the details--very nice! I wish I was there now as winter is in full swing here in the northern U.S. until at least mid-March. Thanks for sharing your warmth. :)

    1. We are ordering firewood for winter. Had this year's first fire at the end of April. Hard to imagine as we are in hot and windy high summer.

  2. I'm sorry you hadn't had much chance to be in the garden this month. Hope all the exercise will help with Undergardener's Recovery. Your have a wonderful selection of Pelargoniums. It is good news to hear about the lifeguards,is the beach used by swimmers all year? Sarah x

    1. Our climate is kind and people do swim all year. But you need to be tough and determined in winter.

  3. Those one-hour walks may be physically taxing but the scenery is marvelous! I was surprised to see your Leonotis blooming in summer there when it's blooming in winter here. You garden looks wonderful despite the fact that circumstances had you side-lined for awhile. I'm sorry you lost your vine, though.

    1. The vine is down, but not out.
      We will coax it up again, once the trellis is returned.

  4. I enjoy reading about your garden areas, seeing the photos of all the beauty you have growing there. I recently got a Leonotis and it has bloomed for the first time. I got it to draw more butterflies to my gardens.

    I hope the Ungardener will soon be well.

    Happy gardening ~ FlowerLady

    1. Our Leonotis draws sunbirds - I planted it for them.
      So your hummers?

  5. A beautiful walk through your garden and around the beach...warm light shining on all those blooms and colors. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Diana!

    1. Thank you. I hope your shoulder is soon back to full strength!

  6. Interesting to see what is going on in your garden this time of year. Just read in the NYT that short (5 minute) very frequent (once an hour) walks can provide excellent health benefits--if there is no time for the hour-longs.

    Yes, technically California poppies are indeed perennials and will return from the thick carrot-like tap root when the rainy season begins--however the first year from seed is by far the best, and they reseed so easily, keeping the old plants is never worth the space.

    If it is available in your country, the Mexican Tulip Poppy, Hummannia fumarifolia, a relative of the California version, takes the dry season heat very well and has a much longer blooming period than the California poppy.

    1. Oh good, then I'll continue to pull the long leggy poppies. Trim back about half of the others. And keep some small flowers coming, while making space for fresh good ones!

  7. Lovely to see your colourful pelargoniums ... Especially the blues in the Cornish Strip always my favourites. Enjoy your walks the scenery is wonderful!

  8. So much beauty; a happy balm to my eyes.The whole place looks lush and vibrant.Thank you.
    I am sorry your under gardener has had pneumonia, what an awful illness and such a hindrance to your manly muscle needs out in the garden (oh I am cheeky). I hope he his well again!
    Your walks by the beach will do you the world of good. An hour a day is perfect and we did the same a few years ago and toned up in no time and had better energy levels and sleep xxx

  9. Oh my dear Diana, I always love your posts from the other side of the world. Summer!!! What a big promise to me.
    All my best and a very happy new year to you and yours

  10. Happy to hear your husband is recovering. You have such a beautiful route to walk. I've had to suspend my walks now that the ground is ice and snow covered so enjoyed strolling with you vicariously. Happy New Year, Diana. P. x

    1. That - walking on ice - was the bit I LOATHED about living in Switzerland.

  11. Very interesting about the California poppies. Mine were certainly the longest-blooming of my annuals last spring/summer. Then they entirely disappeared and I am only now seeing a few self-seeded plants showing up in damp spots in the East Border. I've been sowing a deep red version in the North Border - since autumn, as I read they could be started then. Nothing doing... a few finally germinated, but they are clearly waiting to grow till we turn the other side of winter!
    Happy New Ye

    1. Mine are a mix from ivory to russet, via yellow and orange - inherited from the previous gardener and very happy here.

  12. Oops, somehow I hit publish before I completed my wishes ;-) Happy New Year, Diana!

  13. Happy new year!
    The garden is becoming more beautiful every time and looks like a haven for wildlife. I like the Karoo Koppie best.

    1. Karoo Koppie looks so much better, since I took Hoover Boo's advice and weeded out the trails of Californian poppy. Now I can see the succulents I planted.

  14. Lovely to see so much colour in a garden. It's at this stage of the year that I have to look back at my summer photos. Well done with the walking. I always feel better when I get to have a daily walk. B x

  15. Diana, It is such a tonic to see your beautiful garden abloom when in my hemisphere, all is brown or snow-covered, dormant for the season. Thanks for the glimpse into your space, and the species who share your days!

  16. Happy New year, Diana! Sorry to hear Ungardener has been ill; I hope he is much better by now! I think walking on the beach must be one of the best forms of exercise there is: good for both body and spirit! Best wishes for your garden in 2017; it has come a long way in three years!

  17. So nice to see your flowers during my snowy white season. I think if I had that beach to walk on, I would walk miles every day. -Jean