The bliss of gardening on my little piece of African soil. A year-by-year record of the progress in my new garden. My "new" garden, started in 2004, is now just "my garden" where my chooks free-range and supply me with breakfast every day.
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In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What is a garden without Vygies?


Lampranthus roseus – Red vygie, Mesembryanthemum

Mesembryanthemum (meaning “midday flowering”) is a genus of flowering plants native to Southern Africa. This easy-to-grow and hardy evergreen succulent is very easy to maintain and thrives under conditions few other will tolerate. On its thin branches it carries succulent leaves, and during spring masses of daisy-like, rich pink flowers.


It requires full sun and is suitable for all regions without severe frost or hot, humid conditions with lots of rainfall. This is a newby to my garden, planted in a basket, so I will have to bring it inside in winter to protect against frost.


I was given a few cuttings by a friend and it started flowering within days of me planting it.



This is a frequently cultivated and a rewarding floriferous plant. It is easily propagated from seed or cuttings and needs a sunny position. Seed can be sown at any time of the year in shallow trays in a sandy mixture and germination is within 3 weeks. Cuttings are best planted during the summer months. The plants are short-lived and are best replaced every 3 years. Lampranthus roseus prefers a sunny, well-drained slope. The plants thrive in rockeries or containers in a sunny position. Plants are subject to downy mildew and should be sprayed with Ridomil from midwinter to just before flowering. The species is particularly impressive when massively planted on large areas to cover the soil.


There are over a hundred varieties of Lampranthus and many of them are valued as garden plants. Usually relegated to the rockery or succulent garden, these plants are far more versatile and can be incorporated in most areas of the garden, where their lustrous blossoms will enhance their surroundings. Lampranthus species have smooth, three-angled leaves, and the group varies from an upright, bushy growth habit to lax, cascading or creeping ground covers. Some bushes extend to a meter across.

The mother plant from which my cuttings were taken

Common Names include:

ENGLISH: Red vygie, Many-petalled Lampranthus, Rosy dewplant, Rosy Dew Plant, Oxenbould daisy, Mini Ice Plant

AFRIKAANS: Roosvygie

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Aloe striatula

Family: Aloaceae
Genus: Aloe (AL-oh)
Species: striatula (stree-AT-yew-luh)

  
From the wilds of South Africa comes this amazing species with upright stalks of 1" wide, dark green foliage. In warmer climates, the stalks can reach in excess of 3' tall. The larger stalks tend to arch outward with age due to excess weight...as do we(he he!). In early summer, the clumps are topped with amazing scapes of orange-yellow bells. This is one for the plant nut who likes to push the limits of hardiness.


Aloe striatula is a strong-growing climbing aloe whose native habitat is in mountain tops south of the Karoo region of South Africa. A tough and hardy plant, Aloe striatula is popular in gardens throughout the world. It can grow to a 6 feet tall shrub.


Aloe striatula gets its name from its distinguishing markings -- dark green stripes on its stems and leaf sheathes, in Latin "striatula" means "striped". Also known as the “Coral Aloe”, Aloe striatula is quite cold and heat tolerant. Its leaves are thin, dark green and strongly recurved, with small white teeth on their margins.


Aloe striatula is one of the hardiest aloes, and will tolerate much colder temperatures than most Aloes, including frost and even some snow, but it prefers full sun and well-drained soil. In the Eastern Cape it is often planted along the boundaries of kraals, as it naturally forms a well-shaped and hardy hedge. Like other climbing aloes, it can easily be propagated by cuttings (truncheons) as well as by seed.

The brilliant yellow inflorescence emerges in late fall through winter and rises above the foliage.


When planting in the garden you will need to provide Aloe striatula with a free-draining soil as it can be prone to attack from fungal infections if the roots become too wet. Dig in plenty of horticultural grit and sand to the soil of required but avoid planting in heavy soils or soils that are prone to water logging.


If suitable ground does not exist then consider planting into a pre-formed mound of free-draining soil, a raised bed or even a suitably sized container. For the container, use a good quality compost but with a 50:50 mix of horticultural grit and sand.


Although closest to the rare and unique Aloe commixta of Table Mountain, Aloe striatula is part of a whole group of related climbing aloes that grow throughout Southern Africa, the "Macrifoliae" Aloes. Other species in this group are: Aloe ciliaris, Aloe tenuior, Aloe gracilis, Aloe juddii, Aloe decumbens, and of course commixta and striatula itself.


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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mommy Bobby and her clutch of 10


Mommy Bobby, one of Solly’s hens, chose to make her nest under a truck canopy lying on the lawn in the workshop area of our business (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa), waiting to be fitted on one of the trucks, snugly out of the rain and harm’s way. For three weeks the workshop staff waited impatiently (upon my strict threats that the canopy was not to be touched!) as Bobby sat on her clutch of 12 eggs, fluffing herself to double her normal size should anybody dare to come near.



Then, at about 11am on the 31st December 2010, she triumphantly emerged from underneath the canopy, keeping her brood of 10 close to her side, much to the pleasure and relief of all in the workshop, who immediately got to work moving the canopy, now leaving Bobby and her brood totally homeless!
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Now I know I was supposed to do this long before the time, but Solly and I quickly scrambled to erect a make-shift new home for them so that they wouldn't be caught in the rain that was looming, finishing the coup that same afternoon. At about 4pm, we slowly herded them towards their new home, securely fenced, protected against the rain and a large area where they stayed for about a week before I opened the gate and introduced them to the garden. Now they spend their days happily scratching around in the garden before she leads them home back to the coup at about 4.30pm every day.



Mommy and her brood quickly took to the new housing, snug and safe on the fresh straw I put down for them.

I’m really enjoying having chickens in my garden once more after an absence of almost 2 years!

Monday, February 8, 2016

My little green cactus


My little green cactus stands out there on the balcony,
What do I need red roses for, what do I need red poppies for?
And if some rascal says something ill-mannered,
Then I get my cactus and it pricks, pricks, pricks!
My little green cactus stands out there on the balcony,
Hollari, hollari, hollaro!

I just LOVE my Cactus trichocereus! I've reared him from a tiny little baby and his perfect columnar shape really is beautiful in its simplicity. And now I've noticed, just under the front pebbles, a baby coming up. I don't really want it, it's going to spoil the overall shape of my plant, but maybe I can remove it successfully and have a second one!

Trichocereus hybrids grow well in large pots or in the ground. They can be grown in full sun, but to avoid sunburn, it’s safer to grow them in light shade, under a tree. They respond dramatically to generous water and fertilizer. With weekly watering and monthly feeding, the best cultivars will flush massive blooms every two weeks or so for three months or even longer.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fickle (and no, it’s not a plant!)


I sit here before the world, a very fickle person. Somehow I thought that I would be able to quit having so many blogs (I’ve got 28!), keeping only those important to me and deleting the rest. In stead, I make most “private” every now and then, but just for a while before making it public again, confusing the hell out of Google Analytics! On and off. On and off.

The problem is, I can’t stand to see a “public” blog just lying there, with the last post being a year ago. One of my pet peeves is finding a wonderful blog, only to discover that it has been abandoned. I know that one changes, that one loses interest in a certain topic. That’s life. Life changes constantly and what I was interested in five years ago might not be applicable now anymore. But why don’t people then just delete it? Why don’t I just delete it, especially those that don’t get many hits and don’t seem to interest anybody?

One reason could be that I want to keep the blog URL. Once you delete it, it’s gone forever. Another reason is that I just LOVE designing blog templates. I get great pleasure out of designing and manipulating the html code to see what I can come up with. And once I come up with something I like, I don’t want to let go of it! Another problem is, I have s-o-o-o-o-o-o many interests. Art, nature, gardening, jewelry making, collecting aloes and succulents, books and reading, insects, cooking (only of late), animals and wildlife, birds, my chickens, and thoughts on the Universe as a whole. And I’ve got enough thoughts and experiences for each topic to warrant its own blog. I’ve thought of putting everything on just one blog, but I’ve been told that blog readers are very specific. They have their topics and interests, and only want to read about that. So if you’re a chicken-lover and there are many other posts on all sorts of other random topics, they don’t return to that blog.

Another part of the problem as to why I can’t delete any blogs might also be that, in real life, I’m a hoarder. Don’t get me wrong, not as in those “Hoarders” TV programmes, but as in “collecting” things - feathers, stones, pebbles, pieces of driftwood, shells, notebooks, journals, fountain pens, crystals, pieces of wire and wood (there’s always some building project going on somewhere here on the smallholding, so just in case I need it), even cardboard boxes, in case I need to pack something away.

In the d├ęcor of my home I’m quite disciplined - I won’t display too much at one time, rather pack away a few things and bring out something new for a change. So there I’m OK, but my MAC is groaning under the weight of files, images, blogs and other useless information that I’ve collected over the years. A lot of it is necessary, like business and personal files, and as for the rest, it’s time for a clean-up. Fairly easy to do, just a bit time-consuming, but then, the internet is so full of wonderful stuff that needs collecting again!

Thank heavens Blogger allows you 100 free blogs! lol!

Would you like to see all sorts of other random topics on this gardening blog…? Let me have your thoughts, thanks!

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sedum rubrotinctum


Sedum rubrotinctum has small, glossy, bead-like leaves that take on a reddish hue in full sun. In a climate with very strong sun this Sedum needs light shade. Leaves tend to drop off the sprawling stems and root to form new plants but stem cuttings can also be taken. The leaves are considered poisonous if ingested and their sap may irritate the skin. Heads of yellow flowers, with reddish sepals in strong light, are produced in the Summer.


Commonly known as the jelly bean plant, or pork and beans, it is a species of Sedum from the Crassulaceae family of plants. It has been classified as a hybrid plant — of Sedum pachyphyllum × Sedum stahlii — named Sedum × rubrotinctum.

A newly-planted stem of S. rubrotinctum

S. rubrotinctum, originating in Mexico, is cultivated as an ornamental plant for planting in gardens and as potted plants. It is grown very easily and tolerates all types of soil except for those that are poorly drained. It grows very well in summer, can take variations in climate, although it is not frost-tolerant. New plants may be grown from leaves (or beans) that drop off or are separated from the stem and laid on the soil.


Water the jelly bean plant more in the spring and summer, but still let it dry out in between waterings. Plant in well-draining potting soil and never let it sit in water. Fertilize in the spring and summer once a month with a cactus and succulent fertilizer. No insect pests or diseases are known to severely attack this plant.

Be careful when touching this plant as it can irritate some people’s skin. Also make sure that no pets or children eat this plant. Jelly bean plant leaves are delicate and can fall off easily, so I havenow got about 6 pots with new plants, all from the fallen jelly beans.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Re-use your egg shells


Being the natural "hoarder that I am, I find it very difficult to throw anything away, so I have been using egg shells in various ways throughout the years. I'm also a bit Obsessive Compulsive, I just love it how they feel when I break them in my hands! Apart from the obvious uses over Easter, I scoured the internet and added a few of my own ideas so here are but just a few to inspire you to re-use your egg shells!


Compost for Naturally Fertilized Soil
Eggshells quickly decompose in the compost pile and add valuable calcium and other minerals to the soil in the process.


Non-toxic Pest Control in the Garden
Scatter crushed eggshell around your plants and flowers to help deter plant-eating slugs, snails and cutworms without using eco-unfriendly pesticides.


Splendid Seedling Starters
Fill biodegradable eggshell halves with potting soil instead of using peat pots to start seedlings for the garden. And an egg carton on the windowsill is the perfect way to start a dozen tomato seedlings in shells before transplanting to the garden in the spring.


Eco-friendly Household Abrasive
Shake crushed eggshells and a little soapy water to scour hard-to-clean items like thermoses and vases. Crushed eggshells can also be used as a nontoxic abrasive on pots and pans.


Natural Drain Cleaner
Keep a couple of crushed eggshells in your kitchen sink strainer at all times. They trap additional solids and they gradually break up and help to naturally clean your pipes on their way down the drain.


Indoor gardening
I often use egg shells for little miniature indoor gardens. A few succulents planted in egg shells and placed in a sunny spots around the home brings your garden inside and does wonders for the morale!



Provide birds with a nutrient boost
Crumble the egg shells into small pieces and sprinkle them in the feeder. The calcium-rich shells will act as a natural supplement to help female birds lay strong eggs (which are about 95% calcium) and maintain bone health. I also sprinkle the crushed eggs shells over my chickens' food. Besides the calcium intake, it also provides roughage in their crops.

 And you thought eggs were amazing simply for their protein content!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Farm talk - Surrounded by Karee's

The front entrance of my home, densely framed by two species of Karee’s – Karee viminalis (White Karee) and Karee lancea (black Karee) and various indigenous grasses and aloes.

I’ve had a couple of requests to ‘share’ a bit more about where I live on my little piece of African soil, so I decided to do a short series of my home in Tarlton, South Africa, situated on an 8.5ha smallholding. This is purely for fun! and I will also be including a few posts on the interior of my home. I would just like to mention that, when landscaping my garden about 10 years ago, I took inspiration from Africa, and nature in particular, choosing to plant only indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, with the result that I have a rather wild garden with not much colour, as indigenous flowers and shrubs tend to be less spectacular than most exotic plants, which just don’t do well in our climate at all, with very hot and sometimes dry summers and winters that can dish out the coldest of frosts.

I am not ostentatious by nature and prefer the simple and natural things in life. Hope you enjoy and find this series interesting! I know I just LOVE to see other people’s living spaces, be it small or large, simple or ornate, in suburbia or the country, in a basement or a sky-scraper, inland or at the coast.

A garden ornament hanging from a Karee Viminalis (White Karee), and Jacko sitting at the front door 


An old (and now rusty!) paraffin lamp provides some light at night. On the corner of the pathway is a clump of Restio (Cape Reed grass) and right at the back is planted some Zebra Grass (Miscanthus). Grown in India, Australia and Madagascar, South Africa and other warmer countries in Europe. 

The Zebra Grass gets these beautiful white plumes at the onset of winter before dying down. 

One of the many bird baths in my garden. An old log is being cleaned up by some termites (I’ve been chasing them all over the garden by pouring Diesel down their holes and this is the latest spot they’ve surfaced!) 

My vantage point on the patio from where I survey the birds and my garden. A concrete-relief gecko adorns the patio wall. 

Rhamnus prinoides (Dogwood or Shiny Leaf) front right of the pic – (Afrikaans : blinkblaar, hondepishout) – a tall, conspicuous evergreen shrub, or small tree – a root decoction has been used to treat pneumonia, and the leaves used as a liniment for sprains. Parts of the plant are also reputed to have protective powers against lightning and evil spirits. It’s a rather scrambly plant and seems to be taking over this section of the garden. Planted it in the wrong spot ...

My Acacia karroo (Soetdoring) in the foreground – I just LOVE this Acacia’s beautiful thorns and little yellow pom-pom flowers. It also provides shelter and safe nesting spots for the Red Bishop and Masked Weaver (but not for the Lone Ranger! lol!)


 A large metal Gecko adorns the wall of the garages

The chicken coop next to the garages where Artemis and the girls spend their nights. During the day they terrorise my garden!

The lawned driveway leading to the garages

The fenced area of my wildlife pond where Torti, my Leopard Tortoise, used to live. Now I keep it fenced just in case I have another visitor to take care of!

 A vintage metal plant stand on my patio housing some of my succulents

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