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Friday, 7 November 2014

Miracles happen after the rain

After the first thunderstorm of the season - and an orb in the left-hand top corner of the photo?!
(Read more here about Orbs)

After an extremely cold and harsh winter, we seemed to skip spring and headed straight into above 30°C temperatures. My garden was absolutely devastated by the extreme frost we experienced and then suffered from heat exhaustion no matter how much I watered. Then, to top it, I sat without internet for ages, unable to get to my blogs except for some viewing via my phone or tablet.

But at last we've had our first rains of the season, my internet is back on, things are back to normal and my garden is smiling! So am I, with the rain came the relief of cooler temperatures and at last it's a joy to spend time in the garden.

After the first thunderstorm of just 15mm rain, just about all signs of the devastation of my lawn have disappeared. Just before winter I sprinkled a generous layer of LAN (a nitrogen rich fertilizer which encourages fast leaf growth, ideal for citrus trees and lawns) so hopefully I'll see the benefits this season. Already we have to mow the lawn twice a week in some places.

Just before the rain the hosepipe was Chrissie and I's constant companion! I don't have an automatic irrigation system for two reasons - I should have installed one BEFORE the garden  got established and, number two, I just love "washing" my garden by hand, it's the time when I relax and meditate and also see all sorts of things that have to be done in the garden.

My Phormiums tenax are thriving after all the rain. Phormium, also known as New Zealand flax or Flax lily but are not related to 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. The tough, sword-shaped leaves grow up to three metres long and up to 125 mm wide and the rigid flower stalks can be up to five metres long, projecting high above the foliage. Mine have never flowered in 10 years, probably due to the cold we experience here.

Artemis and the girls enjoying a late-afternoon snack of flying ants (termites on the wing!). I do have a problem with termites in my lawn. At the onset of winter and during winter they cause large, empty patches as they take the grass down to their nests to stock up for winter and I've given up trying to fight them. The only  way termites can be killed is with a contact poison so, unless you can actually get the poison right down into EVERY nest, it's a useless exercise. Using poison above ground (and I do not use any chemical poisons) is dangerous to wildlife and serves no purpose for eradicating termites.

Here's the difference between "flying ants" and "winged termites :

Winged termites have a straight waist and straight antennae. Their wings are equal in size and are shed soon after they emerge from their nest, or swarm. Winged termites usually swarm in the early spring when it is warm and rainy.

Flying ants have pinched waists and bent antennae and are often mistaken for swarming termites. They have two sets of wings, one larger than the other. Depending on their species, flying ants may swarm at different times of the year.

Despite the fact that these Echinopsis cacti are drought tolerant, mine seem to thrive with extra water and seemed to have doubled in size since the rain!

Protected from the frost every winter, my Echeveria glauca absolutely thrive on water in the summer, producing huge rosettes and the most beautiful flowers.

The Geraniums had just started budding, but after that first shower, they all burst into bloom simultaneously!

My Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum, I think!) were all frosted dead but after being cut down at the end of winter, the sprang back to life and will soon be filling this area gain.

While they are most commonly found growing in moist wooded areas, sword ferns are quickly becoming popular in the home garden as well. You’ll find the young fronds, or fiddleheads, appearing in early spring from their underground rhizomes with most plants eventually reaching four to six feet long. In addition to spreading through rhizomes, sword ferns will also reproduce via spores that are found along the backside of the fronds. These spores appear as brown spots, which are clustered together in groups. These ferns are native to western North America.

With quite a few early blooms for the season, it looks like my Hydrangeas will be doing well this summer.

After moving all my Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) from the shade to this sunny spot, I already have the first blooms of the season and soon my garden will be filled with the tjeeps and chirps, of the Amethyst Sunbird (Black Sunbird) and his wife, who are regular visitors during the summer. Last year I was lucky enough to catch a few shots of these little busy bodies that never sit still long enough for a photographic session! Here is one of the paintings I did of a female feeding on a Kniphofia flower :

While the male is metallic black with the most gorgeous iridescent amethyst throat, the female in contrast is a dull brown with spots under her throat and abdomen.

Kniphofia at my wildlife pond, thriving on lots of water from the over-flow area.

 Kniphofia at the pond and Aloe marlothii, which just survived the winter beautifully.

Planting Nasturtiums next to Kniphofia (both sun- and water-loving plants) provides a beautiful contrast of spiky and round.

Still a bit stark-looking after the winter, hopefully my pathway will soon be filled with Marigolds and Nasturtiums again. both seeded extremely well last summer, so I'm holding thumbs!

Aeoniums and some Echeverias thriving in the dappled sun next to a pathway.

Recently I managed to get hold of a piece of Vygie (Mesembryanthemum) and it's taken nicely here in its temporary home. As soon as it is well-established, I will make a little rock garden, something I've been wanting to do for years, and once again be the proud owner of some beautiful, flowering Mesembryanthemums!

"I hear the sound.  And as I look out the window I see it.
Falling wet and grey.
Nourishment for trees and plants that grow.
The watering of the Earth.
And I’m thankful!"


  1. What fine and lovely plants you got there. It would be a shame to have them chewed out, indeed. A plan should be in order to really round up all those critters and keep them out of your hard-earned produce and work. So far, so good, you're quite into it now. Marking and identifying those termites is a good start. Good luck!

    Debra Owen @ Invader

    1. A good start with no end in sight Debra! I have another battle raging with them in my bathroom court-yard garden, where they have annihilated my Sedges, will be posting about that. Thank you for stopping by, appreciate that!


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