Here are some more pictures of my mother's summer garden, taken in December, when we were in Constantia for a week. Speaking of Constantia - the Cape Town suburb and wine-growing region where my parents live - there was an article in The New York Times a few weeks ago that focused purely on Constantia (rather than Cape Town in general) as a getaway. European visitors have known this for a while, but now the American bobcat is out of the bag. I actually wrote to The Times to suggest a small correction - the article talks about the Alphen Trail that goes right past my parents house, and say that it ends on the Constantiaberg. It doesn't. No matter. Apparently their guide was also confused, and so was a local website to which they referred me.
There are many mountains. And it is funny to think of that trail - used primarily by dog walkers who never scoop their poop - a terrible South African practise, as a destination.
Anyhoo: above - butterflies (garden acraea) at home on the Confederate jasmine that festoons the arbour over the patio every early summer.
Bulbine, indigenous to South Africa, is something I'd love to grow here. Impossibly, my friend Dan plants it as an annual on Fire Island. I have no idea where he finds it. I suppose I should ask. Its succulent, gel-oozing leaves have wonderful healing properties for skin ailments, and I think it makes a very good cut flower. Witness the flowers for my dad's 80th birthday (actually, you can barely see them in the linked pictures: there was precisely one in each vase. I kept stealing flowers from the garden and decided my mother would kill me if I took more!)
Cannas and fuchsias grow at the bottom of the garden.
The David Austin rose Graham Thomas is about eight feet tall.
My niece Rebecca gave this protea (a hybrid called Pink Ice, I think) to my mom, and it does surprisingly well. Proteas can be fussy in gardens, but this one is in the right spot, with excellent drainage.
Gorgeous opium poppies...
A nameless and flourishing orchid.
And a little piece of England? With Asia thrown in, in the form of day lilies...the mixed border in front of the large tree tomato. I love the bronze fennel in the middle of everything else.
I think my mom's garden will be open* to the public again next year, when her garden club hosts its biennial Open Gardens Weekend, a fund raiser and spectacularly successful event which attracts thousands of garden visitors. Money raised is donated to two local not-for-profits (Abalimi bezekhaya and Soil for Life) which support edible gardens on the Cape Flats.
* Update: Nope, I'm wrong, hers will not be. But the dates for next year's Open Garden weekend are November 14th and 15th, 2014
The view from my bedroom window
But before then I'll see it this May - late autumn for the garden. I have not seen the garden, or Cape Town, at this time of year since I left South Africa for what was meant to be a six month study trip. Many, many years ago.
I really can't wait.
Kirstenbosch in 80 Minutes