False Bay garden in December

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

From Porterville we brought an edible banana in a pot. Barely a few leaves. Should produce lady finger bananas. Just one or two bites each. Planted in our sandy garden, the summer Southeaster rips the soft leaves to shreds.

Our first banana
Our first banana

Before Christmas a stubby red bud emerged. As it grew it drooped. Then a lush tropical fragrance drifted from the burgundy bracts. And TA DA as each bract opens a tiny bunch of bananas emerges!

Edible bananas
Edible bananas

The flowers drip nectar which I hope our sunbirds are discovering. For Through the Garden Gate with Sarah in Dorset.

Banana nectar
Banana nectar

This year's compost volunteer tomato has plum-sized fruit.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes

We are in the difficult early stages of minimalism. Either stuff finds a good home and serves a purpose. Or. We move it on, mostly to TEARS gift / book shops. Malachite cherub came from my middle sister when she moved to Devon. Metal kingfisher used to live on Ungardening Pond but we have all downsized at False Bay. Wooden hornbill is from the Ungardener's final tour guide group.

Kingfisher, cherub and hornbill
Kingfisher, cherub and hornbill

My Cornish Stripe garden with blue and white flowers is the perfect home for our enamelled Welsh butterfly. Memories of whitewashed slate roofed cottages garnished with creatures. The first Agapanthus will be followed by the buds around the garden. Blue 'butterflies' of Rotheca.

Blue Welsh butterfly and flowers
Blue Welsh butterfly and flowers

My dreams of a new bench to sit under the lemon tree must wait.

Lemon tree
Lemon tree

We have a hole (waiting for the concrete foundation for the third tank) and a heap on the paving at the lemon tree. Uncle George has been beached as we dutifully follow Cape Town's drought guidelines - no tap water for pools! He does get the cleanish water from the kitchen sink. Next week we will get more white pebbles to cover the exposed plastic (and protect it from the sun). In front of the palisade fence the sleep creep leap Halleria is coming up at last.

December work in progress
December work in progress

Keeping the birdbath topped up with rainwater, and first to drink is Zoë. She has a rock and a tree for evening chases. Muffled squawks from Thomas when one of the teddy bears ATTACKS him.

Zoë admired by Thomas
Zoë admired by Thomas

Small succulent Haworthia? in the sunny front garden, with silver and orange bells of Cotyledon orbiculata. Succulent pelargonium is usually fleshy bare stems but has delicate white flowers on tall stems. Tangerine Bulbine. Volunteer to cut for the Advent wreath is Alstroemeria. Deep purple Streptocarpus tucked in a carefully shaded corner. Sky blue Plumbago. Raspberry and Barbie pink pelargoniums have scarlet, salmon, white and some pink companions. Mauve Scabiosa dances in the path. Out front Buddleja saligna (false olive) has panicles of tiny white flowers for bees and moths. All but Alstroemeria for Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and Limestone in Tennessee. More wildflowers from our hikes.

December flowers
December flowers

2017 has been a year of learning the new normal in our use of municipal water. And work out when and how much to use our tanks of rain water. We have learnt the recommended 87 litres per person per day is comfortable. The target of 50 litres to avoid Day Zero (dry taps), that, is hard. But I fervently hope we do NOT come to collecting 25 litres each to survive. From January to December our daily municipal use fell from 457 to 74 litres. Un- greenwashed and including rainwater in December we are using 143 litres. 4 days off-grid using rainwater.

Our weather forecast shows a few millimetres of drizzle for New Year. I wish you a Happy New Year with rain or sun as you desire.

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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Comments

  1. I can feel the heat in your garden. Lovely. Great to see the beautiful blue flowers. You are doing well with your water conservancy. No need here, rain every day at the moment. B x

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    1. We used to expect days of steady rain in winter. Hard to remember that real rain now.

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  2. It was so fascinating to see your lady finger bananas producing it's fruit. I have only tasted these bananas once and I thoroughly enjoyed them so it was lovely to see how they were produced. Their flower looks wonderful too. I have been amazed how you have reduced your water consumption over the last year and still create a lovely garden! I hope that you receive more rainfall in 2018, even though you now have extra water storage. Thank you Diana for joining me every month it has been such a pleasure to visit you and enjoy both your exotic plants and other more common plants from your garden. Sarah x

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    1. My London born mother used to talk about lady finger bananas, but I have only eaten the large standard ones.

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  3. Your garden is incredibly beautiful! We've had drought restrictions with our water company before, but never on the amount we could use inside the house. I hope you get a lot of rain soon! Your kitties are cuties too. I love the fluffy gray one.

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    1. That would be Thomas. So scared when we first brought him home from the SPCA that it took six weeks before we could touch him without being smacked back HARD.

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  4. How fun it must be to find a banana developing in the garden! Your flowers always inspire me. Streptocarpus was one of my favorite plants when my "garden" consisted of only pots on a shelf in the apartments we lived in during our student days. Now I need to find one for my lath house! I continue to follow your water challenges with a mixture of admiration and anguish - I fear the stringent limitations you're facing are also in our future here in Southern California. The touch of rain we'd hoped for on New Year's Day has now been pushed out another week...

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    1. The hardest change was in the first few weeks. I look back in horror at quite how much water I casually wasted.

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  5. I guess that at some point we will have to face downsizing. I can't even contemplate what to do with all the books alone!

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    1. I worked steadily along our shelves and removed 8 large shopping bagsful for TEARS. Achieving one solitary empty shelf.

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  6. I recently read a fascinating article about bananas - great idea to grown your own since commercially they are in trouble. https://food52.com/blog/15046-no-bananas-are-not-going-extinct-but-they-are-in-trouble. Good luck with the minimalism. Is this relevant to the garden as well as the house? Probably not since biodiversity is a good thing?

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    1. I have tried limiting my plant choices ... but there is always one more calling to me for the birds and the bees. And the bench. Some large pots to hold the colour themes.

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  7. Love those small bananas...they taste wonderful. Enjoyed hunting for the different cultivars, sold along roadsides and country shops when I was young in Mauritius. My father had what seemed like an instinct, finding the best ones. It will appreciate all the 'waste water' you can spare. Well done on living more sustainably.

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    1. Haven't tasted them yet, but the friend who gifted the plant says they are delicious.

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  8. Some beautiful December flowers! It is so nice to have fruit in the garden, too. Your water conservation is impressive, and the drop in water use commendable. I wish you and your family a wonderful 2018, and I hope it brings some rain!

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    1. Yes - thank you - our promised rain is falling now!

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  9. Happy New Year, Diana, with rain! I love all the blue in your garden. I am always amazed when I read about your water restrictions, yet your garden is so full of blooms! Very nice that you can grow bananas.

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    1. 40 years of waterwise gardening is paying off in green and flowers.

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  10. Happy New Year Diana. I wish you lots of rain. Enough to keep the rain barrels full.

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    1. Almost - we had 4 mm overnight. That's another 200 litres.

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    2. It is amazing how colourful, and plentiful your garden looks since you are still in such a long drought. It just goes to show how wasteful we all were in days of plentiful water! My mother was a great example in never throwing out any water, when we lived in Zambia. When we visited Scotland, I wished I could take all the water home with me!
      I hope you can keep up your posts of the beautiful wildflowers as well, the Cape is very special.

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    3. I still have batches of wildflower photos to blog. Then in March we will have fresh treasure to enjoy.

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  11. oh my gosh I finally found you lol, I have been away from blogging for over a year but found my way back,, your photos as always are amazing and bring joy to me, we buried in snow, I had to start fresh with a new blog almost the same name lol,, but I am so glad to have found you today,, Best wishes from Canada, I have so much catching up todo!

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    1. What a joy to see you in blogland again. I remember your - yesterday's water with the memories of earlier paintings!

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  12. I've never seen a little banana plant, how cute. There is a large banana plantation not far from my home, the trees are beautiful but quite big.
    Amalia
    xo

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  13. Oh, how I enjoyed your post. It is bitter cold and dreary outside but I feel the warmth of summer again after looking at the pictures. It was so pleasant.
    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

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  14. Your summer garden is stunning, Diana, and very 'warming' to see on this bitter cold winter's day here. I love your blue collage. I admire your efforts to minimalize, knowing I should attempt the same. P. x

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  15. Your garden looks so lush and green, especially considering the water restrictions! I didn't know that banana blossoms were fragrant but it makes sense that they are. What's the closest comparison in terms of frangrance? Bananas are marginally hardy here and here too their leaves tend to get shredded in summer thunderstorms.

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    1. tropical fruit salad. Good enough to eat.
      Perhaps I'll try a drop of nectar ;~)
      I need to remember to keep the banana steadily supplied with grey water.

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  16. Good article on the Cape (non) water supply:
    It’s True: Cape Town’s Water Supply Is Three Months Away from a Shutdown
    See Weather Underground, News and Blogs, Category 6.

    Our water supply never got that low in five years of drought, but I do feel your pain trying to garden with water restrictions. The older things will probably survive.

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    1. The garden will be fine. I will rethink a few plants.

      Definitely focused on each litre we use.

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