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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Clivias and Spring

I planted my Clivias (C. miniata) about 3 years ago and it's been a constant struggle to keep them alive. I planted them in an area which got a bit of morning sun and shade the rest of the day. But every winter seems to take its toll and the chickens don't help either, trampling all over the plants.

However, this winter has been fairly mild and for the first time they're actually flowering! After flowering, the seeds are carried in rather large, bright orange berries, which have about 10 seeds in them. If I'm lucky enough that they produce seeds, I'll be saving those to plant in pots and pamper them. Clivia miniata can be propagated by seed or by removing suckers.

Miniata are always found under tree cover in evergreen forests, and as mine are not planted directly under any trees, the flowers are showing some signs of frost-bite. Maybe time to move them...?

The Clivia (pronounced Clee-via) is indigenous to Southern Africa where they grow wild in forested woodland areas. The flowers are carried in clusters on stout stems and range in colour from rich oranges to shades of deep red.

Prized for their ability to flower in shade, they are an ideal plant for massed planting under trees or in shady areas. Clivias are extremely hardy and drought-resistant but do not thrive in direct sunlight or frost areas. They grow to a height of around 80cm, so I'm really looking forward to seeing that!

The Aloe ferox are coming to the end of their winter-flowering period and this is actually the time when they're richest in nectar as the flowers are completely open and almost ready to fall off.

Aloe ferox, also known as Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe and Tap Aloe, is a species of aloe indigenous to South Africa's Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Lesotho.

Flowering occurs between May and August and mine started at the beginning of July. Aloe ferox is most famous for its medicinal qualities, as it contains cleansing properties, is a natural detoxing agent, has more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and polysaccharides than aloe vera and is traditionally used to stimulate cell renewal.

My 20-year old peach tree also started budding early in July and last week she burst forth all her blossoms. The old girl is gnarled and bent and every season I have to prune off another dead branch, but then she just sprouts a new one in it's place. We've been having almost summer-like weather with beautiful warm days and everything and everyone in my garden has decided it is spring!

Peach trees grow in the warm regions of both the northern and southern hemispheres. Because of cold winters, diseases, and pests, peach trees can usually only live about 10 to 12 years in our Gauteng climate. However, if a peach tree is fertilized properly, and taken care of in the right way, it may live many more years. My Peachy is regularly pampered with extra compost and lots of water in summer and I hope to still have her with me a couple more years. Her fruit is not that great anymore, but the birds don't seem to mind!

And so winter seems to be at an end (although there is a cold front forecast for the coming weekend, hope it's just a passing phase!) and I'm looking forward to planting a few new plants which, hopefully, will escape the onslaught of the chickens. I have fewer now as I managed to find a lovely new home for five of them, leaving me with eight scratching, eating-anything-green, sand-bathing feathered demons (to a garden, that is!) I love my chooks and wouldn't give them up for anything in the world. My garden has had to adapt and evolve around them, not an easy task I might tell you...


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