March in our False Bay garden

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Who needs a focal point when you have a Regal Thomas with a red carpet of Crassula?

Thomas with Crassula
Thomas with Crassula

Lion's ear Leonotis leonurus is a substantial shrub smothering its neighbours. The flowers are velvety and arranged in whorls. Even the buds then seedheads are gracefully arranged.

Leonotis leonurus
Leonotis leonurus

Need a new home for the sunbed, which we haven't used since Camps Bay. I would like a second blue bench, as under the lemon tree gives us a fresh view of the garden, from where we catch the last of the sun and the myriad birds settling in the carob tree.

Sunbed or blue bench beneath the lemon tree
Sunbed or blue bench beneath the lemon tree

March flowers (indigenous except the Mexican sage and culinary herbs, Alstroemeria and rose) Sky blue Plumbago, furry purple sage with hippo, candy pink Oxalis. Tall blue pot outside the kitchen door had a variegated Felicia I loved - replaced with Salvia officinalis purpurescens, blue pot and purple stems singing together. Three Plectranthus flowers for Gail's Wildflower Wednesday as I watched a sunbird - the size of my thumb singing out like an orchestra. He perches on the twigs of Grewia and leans down to slurp from the mauve trumpets. Blue pots in the sun get too hot so I rescued the China flower to a gentler home, and replaced it with variegated mint which is indestructible. Blue butterflies of Rotheca climb in the kitchen door. Spotted curls of Hypoestes herald autumn. Clear pink Pelargonium. Polygala blooms almost year round.

Pink and purple flowers in March
Pink and purple flowers in March

One Limonium survived and has buds.

Limonium perezii
Limonium perezii

Now starring Strelitzia regina Mandela's Gold, gentler blue and rich yellow.

Strelitzia regina Mandela's Gold
Strelitzia regina Mandela's Gold

Beneath the buttery yellow flowers of the Senecio creeper, lurks a preying mantis. Only his toes on a petal are visible on the sunny side.

Senecio and preying mantis
Senecio and preying mantis

Metalasia cephalotes tiny pompoms volunteered on a shrublet with prickly leaves. Alstroemeria with short summer stalks. Iceberg roses are exuberant on a new diet of grey water with phosphates from our soapy washing powder. Striped Cyperus albostriatus is happy in the shade of the house. Pelargoniums in peach, scarlet, raspberry and white. Yellow Euryops daisy with grey feathered leaves. Lemons and yellow cascades of Natal laburnum.

Californian poppy reminds me I use half a kilo of almonds each time I make muesli. Shelled almonds have a Global Water Footprint of 16 095 m3/ton. During the Californian drought I share some guilt. One reason I am vegetarian is because it uses less water than producing meat. Dams are at 26.8 % and our water may last till the end of June.

Yellow, white and red flowers in March
Yellow, white and red flowers in March

For Sarah's Through the Garden Gate a reassurance that our garden is green, despite the drought. The lemon tree needs more coaxing into a balanced shape.

Garden in March. Summer Gold, Froggy Pond, lemon tree
Garden in March.
Summer Gold twice, Froggy Pond, lemon tree

Warning to sensitive viewers:
On the edge of our pond we found this. Blue bits of mussel shell and snails. Mysterious in our walled garden. We are not far from the Silvermine River and walk 25 minutes to the beach ... looks as if we were visited by a Cape otter who slipped thru the gate.

Cape otter left mussel shells
Cape otter left mussel shells

A rare book, which I enjoyed so much, savoured and thought about. Gave it a day ... and read it again. Autumn by Ali Smith. The first of a quartet.

... a wonderful word, a word grown from several languages.
Words don't get grown, Elisabeth said.
They do, Daniel said.
Words aren't plants, Elisabeth said.
Words are themselves organisms, Daniel said.
Oregano-isms, Elisabeth said.
Herbal and verbal, Daniel said. Language is like poppies. It just takes something to churn the earth round them up, and when it does up come the sleeping words, bright red, fresh, blowing about ...

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Comments

  1. Lovely to see familiar plants growing very vigorously as well as all your exotics. Haven't seen plumbago for a while. Needs a warm spot here to thrive. Love the idea of otters in your garden. Everything is looking wonderful. B x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plumbago grows rampant here, like a Rambling Rector rose scrambling up tall trees.

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  2. Thomas was so generous to grace your post with his handsome presence! I'm glad you see that your garden is weathering your nasty drought thus far. I'm sure it's knuckle biting time. When does your rainy season start? Ours has just ended and I'm already afraid we're in for another long dry spell.

    I just planted another Hypoestes aristata in my own garden. It did very well in my former garden. Of the 3 I planted here 2 years ago, only 1 remains and it's a fraction of the size of the specimen in my old garden. I planted the new one in a different, shadier spot and have my fingers crossed that it will like it there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are fervently hoping for March, April, May.
      Definitely June, July, August - but by then we will have huge problems if there hasn't been any autumn rain.
      The alarming worry is NEXT summer if we start with empty dams.

      Read yesterday that Hypoestes needs watering thru its first few summers, once established it gets tougher and waterwise.

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  3. Such loveliness you have in your gardens and Thomas certainly looked Regal.

    Happy April ~ FlowerLady

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    Replies
    1. Himself is on a diet, needs to slim down his stately presence the vet said. Hungry! Lunch??

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  4. How wonderful to be visited by an otter!
    You have so many beautiful flowers in spite of your drought, glad the roses are appreciating your bath water. If only more people were conscientious like you.

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    1. We are having some success week by week with the amount of water the city consumes - from 800 to 750 to 725 this week. The target is 700. And every little helps us to have water in the dams till the hoped for rain.

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  5. Do you - or did you - have fish in your pond? Amazing that it has found it's way into your garden. Lucky that you don't keep chicken - they are a delicacy of otters... ;)

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    Replies
    1. No fish. Ours is a wildlife pond. We have a gazillion water snails, but they would be a mission to harvest for the otter. Perhaps he was simply glad to find water?

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  6. I really enjoy your montages--both the pinks and purples and the oranges and reds! I'm a huge fan of Strelitzias. I know some people think they're too showy, but I find them fascinating. Plus, they were one of my dear grandmother's favorite flowers. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find the brash orange white and blue hard to like (and it reminds me of our old flag and sad history)
      The very tall nicolai has quiet blue and white flowers.
      But the warmth of Mandela's Gold is my favourite.

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  7. That Bird of Paradise is stunning, the colouring is so much better in the subtler shades. The drought situation is very worrying. Wish I could send you some rain, we have enough!

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    Replies
    1. Wishing at our clouds now, which are blowing wet as my London born mother used to say.

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  8. Hi Diana, It looks like a whole new meaning to gardening when I look at the colours in your garden. Liked the bit about otters as we are having a holiday on a private island (no electricity, internet, mobile phones etc) where we should see otters in Scotland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds a wonderful holiday - part Ring of Bright Water and part The Hills is Lonely. I look forward to reading about it on your blog
      https://glebehouse.wordpress.com/

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  9. Living with wildlife is both a challenge and a delight. Are the otters a nuisance? They seem like they would be on the delightful end of the spectrum from where I sit.

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  10. Here's hoping for rain for you, Diana - and soon! Last summer annihilated my Leonotus, sadly. I gave up and replaced it with an Agave, which seemed better suited to the spot. Morning sun mostly, but somehow it takes the toughest desert plants to survive right there. I love your preying mantis shot! And otters!! One would hope simultaneously for a good sighting - and that they do no real damage to the garden... Last, but certainly not least, greetings to Thomas the Regal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No otter damage, they are very welcome. I imagine a young animal who lost the river and found our pond overnight.

      Leonotis seems a bit difficult. Ours is large and blooming, but the leaves are not happy. Perhaps ours wants more sun?

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    2. I wonder... more sun maybe (though mine got too much!) or perhaps higher humidity would help? A friend in Florida seems to grow them very successfully there; I'm mystified... ;-)

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    3. https://www.plantzafrica.com/plantklm/leonotisleon.htm

      Sigh. Wants summer rainfall, so watering in our mediterranean climate. Wants to be drier in winter. Double sigh.

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  11. Hi Diana, that sunbed surrounded by green with a view of birds is my idea of heaven. Congrats to you and the U. for creating such a serene spot. I love the language you quoted by Smith. I'll add Autumn to my long long list of books I want to read - this lifetime preferably.

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    1. I will be looking out for Winter ...

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  12. It's a special treat to see your flowers while I'm impatiently waiting for mine. (What I hope will be our last snow of the season is forecast for tomorrow.) I love Sterlitzia regina, but 'Mandela's Gold' is a particularly lovely variety. -Jean

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  13. I loved that passage, so sweet, I have to look this book up. And how pretty the garden looks, Regal Thomas must be proud of his kingdom.
    Amalia
    xo

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  14. It's amazing how green your garden is despite the drought. It is lovely to see familiar plants in your garden mixed with ones that we could consider exotic. The lion's ear is so well named! Sorry for delay in commenting thank you for participating with me again this month. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete

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