Category Archives: gardening

and the seasons change again – sort of!

Yesterday it was cool (14 deg C) and Cape Town was treated to a lovely gentle rain for most of the day (I swear I could hear the roots of the plants stretching and yawning out of their hibernation). The day before, however, it was 32 degrees C and the sun was strong – not hot enough to fry an egg on the bonnet of the car, but enough of a signal of summer to book a pedicure and check the use-by date on my tube of sunscreen.

Level 5 water restrictions have just been implemented in the Western Cape so we know the overall water situation is serious, especially as we’re now officially in spring and have many rainless months to get through. In spite of that, and because I’m careful to keep my water consumption below the prescribed limit and use only grey water for watering, my garden is green. Very green. Too green? Is that even possible? Where is some colour??? Yesterday – the bleak, grey day – a tiny splash of cerise against the back wall caught my eye. I decided to investigate further, and find as many new pops of colour as possible.

Orange and lemon black-eyed susans; purple Myrtifolia; three shades of lilac simultaneously on the Yesterday, today and tomorrow; tangerine clivia; egg-yolk and white erigeron; purple lavender; ivory Arum lily; red-leaf spinach*; cerise bougainvillea. This cheerful evidence of survival and renewal has filled me with optimism.

* I forgot to mention that about a third of the spinach I used in the pie on Monday night was harvested from my own garden. Disclaimer: any edible produce is due to Peter’s efforts, not so much mine!

 

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cuttings and honey

Have cuttings, will plant.

I had quite a nice assortment sitting in water on the kitchen window sill last week, and they were ready for the big world of Soil and Fresh Air. Somewhere at the very bottom of an as-yet unpacked box is a tub of plant hormone powder. I could be pushing up daisies before it gets found, but Karen came up with an alternative – without which there may not be any daisies at all! Honey.

I thought she might have been overdoing the back pain medication, but google proved me wrong. I boiled up my water, added the honey, and let it cool overnight. Then I did the planty things:

Mazus reptans and Plectranthus nicodemus

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Plectranthus ecklonii (you have to look hard to see the two tiny new leaves popping out in there, but they’re there!)

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Portulocaria afra (I didn’t even plant it properly, just shoved it down the side of a pot of geraniums) – it’s also known as spekboom in Afrikaans. Spek in English is bacon, which is why you may also hear it referred to as porkbush. Which I think sounds stupid. Some things shouldn’t be translated!

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Nepeta cataria (catnip) – the only plant I’m trying to grow that isn’t indigenous to South Africa. It’s for my girls :)

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So, was it just me, or did you also learn something from Karen?

fruity bits

Magnified 75,000 times, here is the first fruitling on the tomato plant Michele G gave me as a housewarming present in October.

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Despite the drought, the baking sun, the Cape wind, and the very crap quality of soil that it has to deal with, it has managed to survive and FLOURISH!! It loves me!!  It will be rewarded with extra mulch and some rooibos-infused cool water a little later this morning after – wait for this…- after I’ve planted the baby melons.

melon-babies

They called to me yesterday at the nursery when I took Alex plant-shopping for her new flat and I couldn’t resist. If a single baby tomato can excite me, imagine the effect of six honeydew melon plants. It’ll be like having all my birthdays at once.

Last fruit-related thing for now: the granadilla at the front is laden with heavy harvest! I was very pleased to see the beautiful flowers start opening up in the spring but thought no more about it – so the emergence of the fruit came as an electrifyingly wonderful surprise. Like a miracle.

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I hope you all find a little miracle of some sort or another today. xxx

working and gardening

Taking five days off to spend in Sedgefield may seem like a really stupid thing for both Rob and me to do at this time of year when there’s so much work to get through, but that’s what we did last week! We packed the boot full of blank pillow cases, fabrics, screens, inks and my iron, so that I could get stock ready for the Christmas markets running up to the 25th, and if Rob’s got his lappie he can work anywhere in the world.

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It was very productive to work with none of the usual distractions, and we both got lots done. He was under strict instructions to exclude my ‘holiday’ face from all pics.

Back in Cape Town, we battle on with very high temperatures, too much sun and not enough water. Some of the new plants have managed to survive, however, and I am so grateful to have inherited a grey water system with the new house. I just need to remember to clean the filter more often, to avoid the mild reek of recycled water, but that is a very small price to pay for some colourful blooms.

I know, I know, a sad show by many people’s standards, but this evidence of survival is deeply satisfying to me. [Two asides: yes, there was once a swimming pool in the back garden, you can see a bit of the remains near the daisies that Eleanor gave me; the blue morning glories are ‘not my own work’, but they delight me nevertheless. My ex-husband was filled with contempt for them and said they were the worst kind of weed, but (a) I don’t care, and (b) he’s not here to see them anyway!]

Wishing you all a good week, however hot or cold it is where you are :-)

plantings

Cape Town is an overcast 19 degrees today, but I took some pics anyway. This is what is now in my garden; each plant is still pretty isolated because I’ve dotted them around leaving lots of room for growth…

There’s also some lavender at the front, some crimson geraniums, and black-eyed susans in three different shades of orange for one of the walls. Slowly slowly growee gardee….