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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Lost in summer

Summer is the season of simple and timeless joys. She frolics like a happy child between innocent spring and melancholy autumn waiting for us to embrace her unbridled delight with life. It's a time to engage in the simplest of tasks: weeding, watering, harvesting. And watching the garden dress herself in summer's glorious colours. The secret is in slowing down long enough to notice the simple miracles that surround us.

The Hydrangeas started blooming early this year and already the plants are full of large flower heads.
There are two flower arrangements in hydrangeas. Mophead flowers are large round flowerheads resembling pom-poms or, as the name implies, the head of a mop. In contrast, lacecap flowers bear round, flat flowerheads with a center core of subdued, fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of showy, sterile flowers.
Hydrangea flowers are produced from early spring to late autumn; they grow in flowerheads (corymbs or panicles) at the ends of the stems. In many species, the flowerheads contain two types of flowers, small fertile flowers in the middle of the flowerhead, and large, sterile bract-like flowers in a ring around the edge of each flower-head.

 In this photo, the beautiful lilac, star-like, fertile little flowers are clearly seen in the centre of the flower. They start off as small three or 4-lobed little bubbles, opening up as the lovely little centre, star-shaped flowers.
Hydranges are native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas, and Indonesia) and the Americas.

Last summer I was devastated when I noticed that just about all of my Agapanthus praecox Blue had succumbed to rot due to too much rain and being in too much shade. I took them all out, saved what I could and moved them to a sunny spot. My efforts have been rewarded and some of them have just started flowering and it’s early days yet, but soon this flower will be thick with these lovely, lily-like flower spikes.
Some species of Agapanthus are commonly known as lily of the Nile (or African lily in the UK), although they are not lilies at all. All of the species are native to Southern Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique) though some have become naturalized in scattered places around the world (Australia, Great Britain, Mexico, Ethiopia, Jamaica, etc.)

My first White Agapanthus ever! (Agapanthus africanus ‘Albus’)  It is bloomming where I only had blues last year. I doubt that there is a South African gardener alive that has not come across an agapanthus somewhere! They line our roads, and are in most gardens and parks, from the tall globular-headed ones to the ever-shrinking dwarf cultivars now available at garden centres. Most of the agapanthus that are grown are cultivars or hybrids of Agapanthus praecox.
This evergreen species is indigenous to South Africa and comes from the winter rainfall Western Cape and all-year rainfall Eastern Cape and shed a few of their old outer leaves every year and replace them with new leaves from the apex of the growing shoot.

Also known as “White Lily of the Nile” or “African Lily”, Agapanthus africanus ‘Albus’ are evergreen perennial with narrow, erect leaves and long-stemmed umbels of white, trumpet-shaped flowers in late summer. It makes a good container plant in colder areas or perennial color accent in outdoor beds where winters are more mild.
Agapanthus africanus (African lily) is a native of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. A. africanus is more difficult to grow in gardens than A. praecox, as they should be protected from severe frost.

One of my Geraniums has started acting weirdly, like she wants to be a Bonsai, so I've decided to accommodate her. I pruned off all excess branches, leaving just the three above and transplanted her into a shallow dish. From here on I will keep pruning, keeping to this desired shape and then transplant her into a nice Bonsai dish. She has the most gorgeous flowers, as you can see from the close-up below.


Yesterday I spotted the first flowers of the Acacia karroo high up in the utmost top branches of the tree. Soon all my Acacias will be covered in these beautiful little yellow pom-poms.

 Acacia karroo or Vachellia karroo, also known as the Sweet Thorn, is a species of Vachellia, native to southern Africa from southern Angola east to Mozambique, and south to South Africa. This beautiful indigenous tree grows to its greatest size when rainfall of 800-900mm is received but can grow and even thrive in very dry conditions such as the Karoo region of western South Africa. The requirement here is for deep soils that allow its roots to spread. Everywhere in its range, however, the tree is easily recognised by its distinctive long white paired thorns and coffee coloured bark, both of which are very attractive.

Summer is finally here! Take a deep breath. Summer is a simple reminder not to allow your leisurely summer visions to turn into frenzied schedules with no time for family connection. Create open-ended free time in your summer schedule, for gardening, spending time with friends and family in the garden and reap the fruits of your long hours of (enjoyable!) time tending to your garden.


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