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Thursday, 31 December 2015

The last day of the year 2015

The last day of a year that has flown by much too fast. I intended doing so much and can't believe that 365 days weren't enough for me to do what I wanted to do! Amongst others, I wanted to build a rockery for all of my succulents and also on my list was removing some lawn and putting down a brick-pave drive-way (lawn too thirsty), tile the front patio (the wooden decking was rotten and I had to remove it), dig up and transplant a big Aloe ferox that is now in too much shade, plus some Aloes that came up randomly all over the garden in the most unwanted places, empty the wildlife pond and completely re-seal it, it is losing water at an alarming rate, chop down two big trees that died (why.....?), but I know what the procrastination on that was - the birds absolutely love the dead branches to catch some early morning sun, especially in the winter. And the Fiscal Shrike finds it a great vantage point from which to hunt. I also wanted to extend the garden in the chicken run and plant a tree so that the girls can have some shade in the heat of summer. I very rarely let them out of the run these days as they have annihilated my garden, as well as the insect population. I haven't seen a moth or a beetle for months!

But I did get around to buying some Water lilies for my pond - I got two, which were supposed to be pink, and lo and behold! - a yellow flower! But I'm thankful that they took well and that I've got some flowers.

Another thing on my list was to plant lots and lots of Erigeron (E. karvinskianus) - the profusion of small white flowers looks absolutely gorgeous cascading over rocks, they are lovely for softening steps or paths and they absolutely thrive in full sun. A single plant, once established, will form the capital of a huge empire, spreading itself to any nook or cranny where its preference for sun and good drainage can be satisfied. The one above was a small, single little plant just a couple of months ago. A word of warning - I was told that, because of its spreading habit, you can just pull out a few by the roots and plant them, but this way failed miserably for me. I have found that a few fluffy seed-heads, once sown into some loose, damp soil, takes easily and it's not long before the new seedlings appear.

But looking back at the year, I also did manage to accomplish at least half of the tasks on my list - with chickens in the garden, just keeping the garden neat and tidy on a weekly basis is a task in itself.

I hope you have wonderful memories of this past gardening year and that there will be many more in the new year!


Monday, 28 December 2015

Coquettish maids

Coquettish maids
Peeking painted faces
Coyly from under tilted green
Sun shades.
- Imogene Wagner (1948)
Taken in my garden -
Camera : Canon EOS 550D

Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Merry gardening Christmas 2015!

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling! Hope you have a wonderful gardening Christmas this 2015! And remember, don't wear perfume in the garden — unless you want to be pollinated by bees!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

It's Agapanthus time!

Every summer I look forward to the few Agapanthus (A. praecox) that I have, flowering. I say “few”, because I struggle to grow these beauties in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa) – too much shade. I have found that they prefer full sun and not too much water.

The evergreen species is indigenous to 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. The deciduous species come from the summer rainfall Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Free State, Lesotho, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Mozambique, and grow rapidly in spring with the onset of the rains, and then lose their leaves completely and lie dormant during winter.

Agapanthus species are easily able to hybridize with each other, particularly when grown in close proximity and as a result, a bewildering array of garden hybrids have arisen.

Insects just absolutely love Agapanthus and the Agapanthus is undoubtedly one of our indigenous botanical treasures. It has been exported to all corners of the earth, but occurs naturally only in Southern Africa, where it grows in the wild in all our provinces except the Northern Cape, as well as in Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

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. This one above is the smaller praecox minimus species I have in my bathroom court-yard garden.

Here's to another bloomin' blue summer!

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