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Thursday, 10 October 2013

October gardening

October is a time when the Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) stands proud with brand new foliage. It's a sure sign that summer is now here. One of my chores this past winter was trimming away some of the lower branches, not too many, it's still a young tree and I first wanted to see the result when the leaves appear, and I'm glad I did, the tree seems to be fuller and very happy. Unfortunately I lost one of my White Karee's (Rhus viminalis) to the right of her, have no idea why. It's going to be a big job taking it out, but another thought is to just leave it, the Fiscal Shrike absolutely loves surveying her surrounds from the top of the dead branches. Maybe planting an Hedera Helix ivy at the base would also be a good idea as I can train it up the trunk to cover some of the 'deadness'. But I've also experienced what the ivy can do to a dead tree - when it gets big, and HEAVY, it can bring the whole tree tumbling down, causing absolute havoc in the garden!

There's something I love about how stark the contrast is between July and October, from brown and dusty to clean and sparkly green after the first rains. Our rain has been very late this year, had our first shower last week, but already everything is starting to go green. All the greenery also inspired me to clean up the space between two trees and spruce it up with an ornamental twig basket and some crusher stone and river pebbles. Two little terracotta pots filled with some Sempervivums and a driftwood found on the beach completes the picture.

I lost six of my Clivias due to the heavy frost a year or two ago, so I placed a vintage hand planter amongst them to temporarily fill the spot. Maybe a coat of paint would be in order...

However, surprisingly enough, most of my nasturtiums survived the winter, adding a lovely splash of colour to the otherwise winter landscape. They're already sporting lots of large seeds, which I've already started pushing into the ground in some sunny, empty spots.

I'm never actually sure when to trim the Hydrangeas down, but this year I did it right at the beginning of winter and it seemed to have worked. They've sprung back to life with a vengeance and I've already got a couple of first flowers. And every year my flowers seem to be a different colour - whether I add compost or not seems to have a lot to do with it. Unlike my previous garden, which had a very acid soil and I mostly had blue flowers, now I'm blessed with lovely pink ones, obviously the soil here is much more alkaline.

My Geranium, placed on some wooden pallets together with some cacti and succulents, also survived the winter and is now ready for transplanting into the new garden I will be landscaping in the chicken run.

A garden ornament hanging from a branch of my Acacia karroo (Sweet thorn). Amazingly, the first green leaves on the Acacia appeared within hours (it seems!) of the bit of rain we had a couple of days ago.

Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta), commonly called Oxalis or sour grass, is a vigorous weed. It is a summer annual -- sometimes perennial -- that thrives in fertile, warm and moist soils and likes shade. (Identified by MyBlueDaisies in the comments below - Thanks Daisy!)

This little weed, which can spread like wildfire if left unchecked, covered most of my dead lawn during the winter, so I left it as it provided some sense of greenery in an otherwise dead scene. I'm sure I'm going to be sorry, because last summer I sat for hours on the lawn, pulling them out root and all, otherwise they just grow again. I did actually find it rather therapeutic sitting on the soft green weeds, taking in the scenery and just letting my thoughts wander. Have no idea what it's called, still doing some research to try and find the name.

Unfortunately the winter also killed off most of the plants around my pot feature (and the chickens played a great part too! You can see ChickyBoo above trying to find some greenery!), so I'll be choosing something more hardy to fill up with here again - the Hen & Chicks that filled up this spot is much too tender for winter and also much too tasty to the chickens!

My pot feature just before winter.

It's the middle of October and I'm only half-way through the chores I set for myself - soon November will be too hot to do anything but water the garden, so I'll have to hurry to finish off and fill in the empty spots before winter catches up with me again!



  1. Your garden is lovely!! I'm also only half-way through the chores I set for myself, but the joy so far is wonderful!

    1. Thank you Liz! I've still got to fix up the pebble area (same as you!) and we're having some beautiful rain right now as we speak!

  2. I came across this blog posting while looking for chicken run upgrade ideas. I enjoyed your beautiful photos and writing and simply love your hanging tree artwork!

    I think the plant that replaced your lawn is Yellow Wood Sorrel:

    We have the above plant in NJ, USA. It is a wild edible that my children and I enjoy snacking on. It was so nice stumbling upon your site!

    1. Aaah MyBlueDaisies, good morning and glad you enjoyed the photos! And thank you for identifying the Sorrel, I will definitely be having a look at your link. Thanks for the visit from NJ, USA, nice to meet you!


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