Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A walk in the garden

Day 1 in my mother's garden, soon after coffee, and I point the camera at flowers.  Agapanthus in great abundance, as well as variety. This flower is ubiquitous in the Western Cape, a municipal cliche, a mass of blue bloom in the summer months, and now available in cultivars that make acquiring more impossible to resist. There is a problem, though, and I think it may be a big one. More about that later, when I have amassed pictures and information. A moth, a caterpillar, and a long dark tunnel to destruction.

Below, Dietes grandiflora, each bloom luminous for a day, and also used often in 'landscaping'. Drought tolerant and low maintenance, like the agapanthus.

More natives - Cotyledon orbiculata is a sunbird favourite.

I have never seen sunflowers in this garden. Something new.

I noticed this huge scabiosa in the fridge at Seaport Flowers on Henry Street a few weeks ago, and here it is, 8,000 miles away - Scabiosa "Fama Blue". The seed came from Chilterns, UK.

Always pretty, shasta daisies - "Montawk" in the Northeast.

Yesterday the spider lilies in pots in the shade began to open -  Hymenocallis festalis, known as Peruvian daffodils.

Not to eat but to bloom - artichokes.

A plant from my childhood summers beside the Indian Ocean - Fuchsia magellanica. This shrub on the patio grows in a pot and is about 6 feet tall.

Rosa mutabilis is 7 feet high and at least as many wide.

The tree tomato, Cyphomandra betacea,  has lots of new green fruit, and I have already eaten a plateful of the remaining ripe ones - cut in half, scooped out with a teaspoon.

This is Charlie, the pin tailed whydah (Vidua macroura).  He is a small, officious bird with a fancy tail and he patrols the feeding area, dive bombing all comers, who ignore him. Charlie has Issues. And OCD. Perhaps the loss of his long feathers out of breeding season gives him a perpetual sense of midlife crisis. If he were a man, he'd drive a red Mustang.

A Cape turtle dove (Streptopelia capicola) sunning itself.

An olive thrush, Turdus olivaceus, and a white eye - Zosterops lateralis, breakfasting on banana.

Below,  Mrs Charlie, with her therapist.

Right now the mountain is covered in a huge blanket of cloud, and upcountry it is raining. I have not ventured beyond the borders of the garden in two days and will travel farther today, sniffing out seasonal menu possibilities for a blogging lunch under the tree on the 2nd of January, known here in the Cape as Tweede Nuwe Jaar, or second new year.

I'm still adapting to the switch from cool weather greens and root vegetables to abundant fresh green herbs, berries and apricots. There are worse problems.


  1. Ahh! I feel as though I'm beside you, at home in my own homeland...so many similarities (and many, of course, come from SA, especially our spring bulbs)
    But I'm somewhere betwixt, on the tropical NE coast of Australia.
    Nice to see your mother's R.mutabilis still going strong!

    (And the driver of a white Mustang is rather glad you said "red.")

  2. What beautiful and lush visions to brighten these grey winter days! :)
    Scabious from the UK - yay!!

  3. dinah - oops on the Mustang, thank goodness for red :-)

    jelli - I'm so sorry about Lemon, I just read his comment on Estorbo's blog. How is he doing?

  4. What a lovely Christmas gift - a trip to SA with flowers blooming and warm air. Just the thing as our northern hemisphere cools down for our real winter weather!

    Makes me wish I could win the lottery and turn my year into a two-summer variety. Glad you're safely landed and rested. Can't wait to see what we do this year.

  5. What beautiful blooms and birds in your Mom's garden, just wonderful.


  6. Rosa mutabilis is one I covet, but it won't do well in zone five here in New England. It IS however available at the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas! Your walk through your Mother's garden makes me homesick for California.

  7. I often peruse pictures before reading blog posts, and for a second I thought you were out here visiting coastal California... until I saw the tree tomato and pin-tailed whydah. We have many South African plants in our CA gardens. I love virtually traveling with you. Thank you for sharing.

  8. The better hemisphere to be in during late December.

    Le petit monde. I received a chilterns seed catalogue in the mail box this morning.

    I couldn't get a flower from my Agapanthus this year. I bought a good sized bare root last spring and potted it. The conventional wisdom seems to say it needs to be more pot bound.

    An alfresco new years lunch awaits. Lucky you.

  9. Charlie!!! The little troublemaker did not have a name the last time I saw him. Which makes me wonder, why da name? ;-)

  10. Here all is gray, wet, and cold. Can't wait to share summer.

  11. Hi Marie. Thanks for asking about Lemon(big 3yr old pale ginger boy, sweetest nature). He is in a PDSA hospital, times being hard y' know, and should be having x-rays this morning. All further treatment depending on local council providing proof that I'm kinda needing a little help lately. If they don't, not sure what to do from there...Fingers crossed etc :( x

  12. Wow! Marie - the bird pics are breath-taking! Especially the dove sunning itself - it is so serene, the backlit feathers so perfectly spaced.


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