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Friday, 25 October 2013

Summer's colours

summer’s colors

bending light

finding beauty

taking flight  

- unknown 

The season's first Marigolds have appeared after we had our (late) spring rains a couple of weeks ago. They are always first to add bright splashes of colour to the garden and it's amazing that these, often regarded as simple, little flowers can provide so much pleasure. And not only do they fill empty spots beautifully, they also keep all sorts of harmful insects at bay. Farmers and gardeners have long known that marigolds make important companion plants all over the garden. Not only does the scent of the marigold (Tagetes spp.) repel animals and insects, but the underground workings of the marigold will repel microscopic worms and other pests for up to 3 years.

No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than marigolds. These flowers are the spendthrifts among annuals, showing a wealth of gold, copper, and brass into our summer and autumn gardens. Marigolds form the backbone of many plantings because of their diversity and adaptability. Use them freely in beds, borders, edges, pots, and boxes. They grow in almost any soil but do need lots of sunshine. Seeds sown directly into the garden about 1-inch apart sprout within days in warm weather and plants bloom in about 8 weeks.

But be warned! Their seeds are dispersed by the wind and if you are a fussy gardener, you might not be pleased that they suddenly appear all over the garden where you might not want them. Since putting in a few seeds a couple of years ago, I have never bought or planted marigolds again!

All the deciduous trees are also now dressed in their finest greenery and the soft green of the new Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) leaves look beautiful against the backdrop of the darker Karee lancea (Black Karee) leaves. The Acacia karroo (Sweet thorn) also pushed out their brand-new little leaves the day after our first shower.

Celtis africana (White Stinkwood)

Acacia karroo (Sweet thorn)

The thorns of the Acacia karroo are always an indication of how much water it gets - during the rainy season my thorns are always huge and fat. The sweet thorn gets its common name from the gum which is exuded from wounds in the bark. This pleasant tasting gum is eaten by people and animals, including the Lesser Bushbaby which feeds exclusively on insects and gum from trees, particularly acacia trees. And that reminds me, I haven't seen any Bushbabies for years, they used to be regular visitors to my garden... The same with Chameleons...

Flowers of the Acacia karroo usually appear early summer or after good rains, so I'm looking forward to these lovely little puff-balls!

The sweet thorn makes a beautiful garden specimen. The bright yellow flowers look very striking against the dark green foliage. The rough, dark brown bark is also most attractive. The flowers are sweetly scented and are renowned for attracting insects which are essential to any bird garden. Birds also like to make nests in thorn trees as the thorns offer them some protection from predators. Caterpillars of 10 species of butterflies are dependant on the tree for survival. These include, the club-tailed charaxes (Charaxes zoolina zoolina) and the topaz-spotted blue (Azanus jesous).

Flower of the Echinopsis cactus

Echinopsis are cacti native to South America, sometimes known as hedgehog cactus. They are fairly ball-shaped and can spread fairly fast, forming clumps of individual cacti that can be lifted and transplanted. They are renowned for their amazing flowers, often giant … 5″-6″ in diameter … and frequently dwarf the cactus that they grow on. Mine carry pink flowers but they come in reds, violets, oranges, yellows and numerous mixtures. Such a shame they only last a day or two after opening, though I guess that really makes them all the more special.

Lots of babies from just two mother plants

Pic taken 5am this morning

 It's amazing how one can water the garden every day for weeks and then just 20mm of rain and everything springs to life!

Geranium flower


Arum lily

Naturtiums and a couple of leaves in a bottle of water hanging from a tree - don't keep your flower arrangements for just inside the house - they complement the garden beautifully if hung or placed in strategic spots.


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