False Bay garden in May

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Out front the garden is coming on. The olive tree is an embraceable size. Our side of the boundary wall the succulents are a dense and complex tapestry dotted with scarlet and salmon pelargoniums.

Olive tree on Karoo Koppie
Olive tree on Karoo Koppie

But Through the Garden Gate the garden is a mess. We are in the mucky throes of installing our rain water tank. One heap of soil he redistributed, that corner is back to normal. I attacked the second heap which is hogging the space between the table and Froggy Pond. A third is laid across the garden beds and pots. Another trowel full for you?? The tank waits with two bags of pebbles for checkerboard seams in Rose Courtyard. Down at the shady end near the lemon tree, chaos has a concrete platform almost ready for the tank. We plan to use that water in the washing machine - as our next step of droughtproofing our life and home.

Installing a rain water tank
Installing a rain water tank  

A WET mess! The clouds brought us 5 millimetres of rain.

5 millimetres of rain on Melianthus leaf
5 millimetres of rain on Melianthus leaf

My new Canon camera is fun to use as we mostly agree on what exactly we are looking at.

Froggy Pond with dwarf papyrus
Froggy Pond with dwarf papyrus

Halleria lucida carries its flowers hidden against the trunk, nectar for the sunbirds followed by berries for ... we'll see who comes. Osteospermum moniliferum out front is beginning to flower and the bees are there for Wildflower Wednesday.

Halleria and bietou daisy with bee
Halleria and bietou daisy with bee

With autumn coolth and at least a little rain I am planting the gaps. Against our neighbour's garage wall and outside our livingroom Van Riebeeck's almond hedge is a protea, Brabejum stellatifolium (the leaves in whorls like stars) attracts insects then birds. In the drift of garden prunings beneath the birdfeeder Linum africanum (which will have yellow flowers similar to Oxalis) I have added succulent string of pearls Curio radicans to the wall planter outside the kitchen. One more tree waits.

Brabejum, Linum and Curio
Brabejum, Linum and Curio

In Porterville I used to say the garden year began with the March lilies after the summer baking. No sign of those leaves and flowers which I transplanted here? On False Bay in autumn Barleria, Hypoestes and Plectranthus quietly inform me the garden has awoken. But the clearer signal is Boophone (from the Greek phone meaning death as the bulb is poisonous) fan of leaves just outside the bay window, and the spotted leaves of Lachenalia rubida emerging from the top of the terrace wall. Dais cotonifolia is a thirsty tree leafing out happily. Potted lime has lots of fruit developing. Outside the front door (in life not as caged as the camera says) the Searsia crenata is coming up surrounded by a ball gown skirt of Plectranthus neochilus.

Lachenalia, Boophone, Dais, lime Veltheimia Searsia, maidenhair fern, Cape gooseberry, hoopoe
Lachenalia, Boophone, Dais, lime
Veltheimia
Searsia,
maidenhair fern, Cape gooseberry, hoopoe

New this month are the blue spires of Plectranthus neochilus  along the pavement. Fading flowers on Rotheca, Hypoestes and Plectranthus. Iceberg and pelargoniums bloom on.

Rotheca, Pelargonium, Hypoestes Plectranthus neochilus, Pelargonium, Iceberg rose Leonotis,  Pelargonium, Plectranthus saccatus Pic h
Rotheca, Pelargonium, Hypoestes
Plectranthus neochilus, 
Pelargonium, Iceberg rose
Leonotis,  
Pelargonium, Plectranthus saccatus

Caught before the ear emerged and the paw waved hello, a headless Thomas was fast asleep.

A headless Thomas
A headless Thomas

Last Saturday 20th May was the most spectacular sunset we have had here, perhaps my most memorable ever!

Sunset on the 20th May
Sunset on the 20th May

Our False Bay garden in May 2015
when I first planted the Karoo Koppie
May 2016 in our False Bay garden

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Pictures by Diana Studer

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Thanks for comments that add value. Maybe start a new thread of discussion? BTW your comment won't appear until I've read it. No Google account? Just use Anonymous, but do leave a link to your own blog. I would return the visit, if I could ...
I welcome comments on posts from the last 2 months
Danke für sinnvolle Kommentare. Die werden erst veröffentlicht nachdem ich sie gelesen habe. Es können auch Bemerkungen sein die in eine ganz andere Richtung gehen.

Comments

  1. I hope that rain is the start of much, much more, Diana. My own rain tanks are already nearly empty and it's unlikely we'll see any more rain here until October or November but, with water restrictions now reduced, I'm lucky to be able to use the irrigation system somewhat more this year. I sigh every time I see those beautiful blue butterfly flowers in your garden (now renamed Rotheca I gather). As to Thomas, my own cat, Pipig, is striking much the same pose - cats are so funny! Best wishes with the ongoing rain water collection effort.

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  2. It's good to see you still have lots of colour & greenery in your garden despite the drought .. we used rinse water from the washing machine successfully during drought times. Good luck with the tank it will be very useful. Thomas looks very fluffy & relaxed!

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  3. That is an impressive water tank. How will it be filled with water from the washing machine? Will there be a filter in between?

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    1. Oh no! The other way. We will collect rain water, then contrive to use that to supply the washing machine. It does have a leaf catcher at the top. And will have a first flush diverter.

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    2. I hope there will be enough rain to do the washing. The water in our rain barrel often smells a bit peculiar.

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    3. Hoping for rain on Saturday, and real rain on Wednesday. Low dams mean our tap water sometimes smells of geosmin (earthy muddy smell but quite safe to drink, and we have a filter)

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  4. That sunset really is spectacular! I read somewhere this week that Cape Town is now officially in drought. Sad news. I hope the winter rains will give you some respite and enable you to make use of the water tank.

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  5. Very informative post Diana :-)

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  6. headless Thomas, so funny. I love your description of the size of the olive tree as embraceable! Your new camera is taking great shots, but as you say, cameras do sometimes tend to disagree on what you're both seeing. I've never thought of it like that, it's like a power struggle.

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    1. The olive has made that satisfying leap from scrawny sapling to - when I grow up I WILL be a tree.

      When in doubt, the camera has the casting vote!

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  7. Here's hoping for centimeters of rain for you regularly...5 mm, ha! Glad to see the rain water tank going in and that sunset. All looks good!

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    1. Watching the long term forecast and hoping for proper winter downpours in June.

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  8. I'm glad you got a little bit of rain, I know you've been worried about the drought.
    Amalia
    xo

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  9. Wow! What a spectacular end to your post! I hope you get much more rain, and best wishes finishing the water tank project. Thomas is ever adorable!

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  10. Your rainwater tank looks huge, you now need more rain to help fill it. You have a lovely selection of new arrivals this month. That sunset looks incredible! Sarah x

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    1. 750 litres - about enough to run the washing machine for two weeks. It is interesting to see the volume of the water we use.

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    2. Getting used to your new layout. Seems I'm replying to a reply...not sure. Talk about rain, we had sooo much the ants are invading the house. Your scenic photos are always a joy to view. Good luck on your rainwater tank.

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  11. Installing a water tank is a nightmare once the garden is thriving. I hope, it will be back to normal soon.

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    1. This position is not so bad. It is one of the last corners that needed to be planted. The corner where I dump the prunings for shredding. And at the better end of that gutter, rather than the brick patio outside the kitchen - where it would have been garstigly and fugly.

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  12. Best wishes for generous rain. The Brabejum is very interesting--one I'm not familiar with--have not seen it here. It looks like it must make a great screen.

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    1. It is a very beautiful tree - interesting leaves, and flowers, and fruit (the 'almonds') but be warned, in time it becomes an enchanted forest.

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  13. How much water does your new rainwater tank hold? I installed a 50-gallon rain barrel when my new addition was built and I'm amazed at how little rain it takes to fill it.
    I find it fascinating that our gardens are waking up at the same time, given the differences in our locations. I guess that's because your garden goes dormant during the hot, dry season, while mine goes dormant during the cold, snowy season.

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    Replies
    1. Ours is 750 litres (200 gallons). Expecting it to overflow in the next 24 hours as the storm rolls in. Your 50 gallons would be 200 litres - twice the size of the neat little tank I'd like for the patio roof.

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  14. A beautiful autumn garden. It's intriguing doing Through The Garden Gate and noting changes from one year to the next. Our garden feels very different to this time last year. A very dry spring affected a lot. Good luck with the water butts. B x

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    1. Will be pruning and chipping tomorrrow as I tidy up after the storm.

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  15. No! my last attempt at a comment was a mess....
    Thank you for your beautiful post, transporting me away with your beautiful images and words. Oh my ' The olive tree is an embraceable size' captured me right away. Ahh, to have a garden as beautiful... at least I'm back at the plots (and our garden is nice but not like yours).

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