February in our False Bay garden
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
High summer, blue skies. Reisiger sculpture by Jaco Sieberhagen on the Hermanus beach prom Fynarts.
We have a family of hadeda ibis who call this garden home. The bane of the Ungardener's life as he clears their cowpats from the steppingstones. They do eat snails. Mama glaring at me from the trellis, while junior is ON the table.
For Through the Garden Gate start on the green verge and the Karoo Koppie which deal with sun and wind. A bit concerned about our view of Chapman's Peak. Inside the gate, the garden is greener - our view from the Adirondacks.
Walk down from Spring Promise to Summer Gold. As soon as the plant list is available I shall choose gap fillers from the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair on 18 and 19 March. Themed on Amazing Aromatics there will be indigenous pot pourri with dried Dombeya flowers.
We have a paved circle beside Froggy Pond. Today it is breezy, but on a still day it is a green corner far from suburbia. Hibiscus tiliaceus came from Porterville as two small cuttings and now looks me in the eye!
Wind along the Woodland Walk past the lemon tree. Up Cornish Stripe on the far side, where the edible banana and Strelitzia nicolai are The Jungle. Granadilla and Senecio are winding across the trellis outside the kitchen window. It is a small garden, but we have aimed to use every corner, and invite a walk around the garden.
I don't do seeds or annuals. I prefer the generous seasonal display from blooming trees and shrubs. In Summer Gold Calpurnia aurea is blooming for the first time. A heart leaf on Hibiscus tiliaceus. Potted lime tree is happy on its new diet of grey water. Plumbago, Abelia and Indigofera colour their patches.
For a small posy plenty of pelargoniums and autumn's Plectranthus.
I <3 dandelions. The first Alstroemeria. Burnt orange Kalanchoe in a protected shady corner. California dreaming poppies.
Cape Town's dams would hold enough water to supply us for two years. But for the last two years the winter rains failed. Theewaterskloof dam (beach) is our main source of water and emptying as you look. 62% of our water goes straight to agricultural irrigation - unfortunately still on a spray into the wind and sun mindset. Within the city 20 000 accounts are abusing two thirds of our water supply - they are being carrot and stick, warned then fined, supply throttled and to be named and shamed.
Each household gets 6 kilolitres free, and we are working back towards that level of usage. Harvesting grey water (bath water via a newly fitted grey water tap for the garden) (shower in a baby bath and use that to flush the loo) (60 litres from a load of washing still to sort)
Our water will last another 100 days, till the winter rain, if we can reduce the daily demand from the current 800 to 700 million litres. Each person to use 20 litres less a day - seems little enough to ask! Desalination would require an expensive plant, much energy, and then produce costly water. Tapping into the aquifer needs to be sustainable.
Sadly many gardeners still whine for a green lawn, using wellpoints and boreholes as if they 'produce their own water!!'
Waiting for petrichor, and autumn and winter rain.
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