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Friday, 23 August 2013

My New Garden : Progress 16 - Feb-Dec 2011

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

February started off really well, with lots of rain still, and some unknown aloes had silently sprung up next to the new garden path. My Cycad, Cycas revoluta (Sago palm) planted in 2007 was healthy with many new leaves and seemed happy in the protection provided by the semi-shade from the Celtis (white stinkwood) and the wind-break provided by the Tiger Grass behind it.

The Echeverias I had transplanted had taken beautifully and I was hoping for lots of babies.

After good rain for most part of the year, in October we had a HUGE hailstorm, wiping out all but the hardiest plants. Luckily the Bulbinella, which had spread beautifully in the new herb garden, was amongst the survivors. Their lovely, slightly-scented yellow flowers were a joy to behold and makes a great pot-pourri to spread in the chicken nest boxes.

The trees that I had planted seven years ago were now quite large, reaching heights of seven meters and my garden has now changed from a sun garden to a shade garden, resulting in me having to uplift and transplant many of my plants to sunnier spots. But the Hydrangeas were revelling in having a bit more shade and were already flowering early in October.


The Phormiums, on the other hand, do not seem to mind the extra shade and have bushed out nicely. But they do get a couple of hours of full morning sun.

Phormium, also known as New Zealand Flax, is a genus of two plant species in the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. One species is endemic to New Zealand and the other is native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. The tough, sword-shaped leaves grow up to three metres long and up to 125 mm wide. They are usually darkish green but sometimes have coloured edges and central ribs. Cultivated varieties range from light green through pink to deep russet bronze. The rigid flower stalks can be up to five metres long, projecting high above the foliage. In November (in New Zealand) they produce clumps of curving tube-like flowers which turn bright red when mature. These produce unusually large quantities of nectar to attract all nectar feeding birds and insect. Unfortunately mine hasn't flowered yet...

 It's December, mid-summer and HOT! South African summers can be excrutiating, but luckily the Highveld (Gauteng) has some of the best weather in the country. Temperatures over 33°C are rare, but I start feeling the heat at 30°C, and today is one of those days! The Aloes, however, were lapping up the heat and I'm actually considering transplanting them to a sunnier spot as their current location has been over-taken by shade, affording them only late-afternoon sun.

December is Hydrange time and they were now in full flower. They're not called Christmas roses for nothing here in South Africa! Over Christmas, instead of decorating our tables and mantels with ivy and red berries, Hydrangeas are everywhere, making for a really festive season.

The couple of Marigolds I had planted have spread all over the garden, popping up in the most unexpected places and providing lovely bursts of colour even in the shade.

I ended off the year by making a new pathway between the Phormiums and the Cape Reed grass. It was getting difficult to reach plants in the centre, so Chrissie and I put down a brick pathway in some open space and filled up the gaps with some river sand, adding an edging of big rocks to keep it all in place.

What a pleasure being able to get from one side of the garden to the other without having to walk right around, especially when dragging a hosepipe!



  1. Wow. I love how your plants look! I am sorry for the lost plants after the hailstorm, but I am sure you’ll be able to grow new ones soon. I am looking forward to your entire garden coming to life soon! 
    Darrell Gardner

    1. Thank you Darrell! Luckily everything recovered very well and no real damage was done!


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