Tag Archives: garden

Getting the boot

My boots may not be the sexy, pointy-heeled kind that Nancy Sinatra wore in 1966, but they are very practical and also slightly too big for me so I can comfortably wear two pairs of tights and three pairs of socks underneath. Yes, it’s that cold in Cape Town this winter, I’ve never had to wear as many layers as I am now since I moved here 35 years ago. Last night I decided they were boring and, since I have surrounded myself with beads in the last few weeks, I felt sure I could come up with some kind of boot jewellery.

A lobster clasp, some colourful beads and 15 minutes later…

These are cheap boots. I also have a pair in black, as well as some handmade sheepskin-lined boots in turquoise and red leather (for my inner hippy), but one day – when my ship comes in (or even a raft, I’d settle for a plain wooden raft right now) – I’ll buy something smart in leather. I did splurge a couple of weeks ago on a pair of short boots from the UK that caught my magpie eye on Facebook marketplace – someone in Cape Town had asked her friend to get them for her on her travels (pre-covid) but then found they were too big so they are literally unworn. I’ve only worn them once so far, but I don’t keep them in the wardrobe: they occupy an empty spot under my desk where I can catch sight of them every now and then. I’ve updated my will so that whoever gets to deal with the arrangements will see that it is my wish to be buried in them.

I have “a thing” about wearing shoes/boots that are a single colour, but these babies caught me unawares and I stood no chance against temptation. Maybe my personal style is changing, as I get older? I’ll be 60 in three months’ time, perhaps I’m about to turn into a butterfly?

To end with, some gratuitous pictures of three things in the garden right now – a strelitzia about to open itself up, pockets of snowdrops, and some mutant lemons. It’s hard to tell from the photo but some of these weirdos are over 14cm long.


autumn garden

Inspired by Jane and Cathy with their spring gardens, I’ve just taken some pics of what’s happening in my AUTUMN garden right now. It’s my favourite season, even more than spring, and Cape Town’s southern suburbs had beautiful rain all through the night. Here are some of the colourful bits:

Lycianthes rantonnetii, or blue potato.

blue potato sun

Philadelphus coronarius, or mock orange, next to the front gate, in full bloom. The scent is unbelievable. In about two weeks time, the blossoms will fall off and it will look like a mini-snowfall on the ground underneath.

mock orange sun

Perched next to the front door, my beloved red crassula. Eighteen months old and looking like an underwater creature today :)

crassula sun

Next to the driveway, this stunning yellow hibiscus was here when I moved in.

hibiscus sun

The last pic from the front garden, two baby ice-cream bushes (breynia disticha) next to the letterbox, recently freed from the grip of some creeping weedy things and doing very well.

ice cream sun

Moving to the back garden now. The overcast day doesn’t do justice to this pic of the Duranta erecta (golden dewdrops). The flowers really are a glorious purple.

duranta sun

On the patio, this plectranthus was a tiny cutting two weeks ago. It grew so big and so fast it seems to think it’s a banana tree.

plectranthus sun

Some nasturtiums in pots, which those hungry black and yellow caterpillars just love to gobble up. I yell a bit when they’ve decimated a whole plant, but I do get rewarded by butterflies.

nasturtiums sun

The last three surviving petunias. I had to move the hanging basket because they weren’t getting enough sun. There’s also a convolvulus in there but it hasn’t flowered yet.

petunia sun

Tradescantia going beserk, hanging on the trellis. Who said you can’t grow things in old peanut butter jars…?

tradescantia

And then this – Stapelia clavicorona (yes, most unfortunate name) or milkweed toad plant. It lives in the pot it came in on a stand next to the kitchen window, and just seemed like a bunch of greeny-purple sticky-up shoots until yesterday morning, when it produced this. I was ambling around in my dressing gown throwing seed for the birds when I spotted the bloom. I nearly fainted with excitement, and then shrieked so loudly that my neighbour whatsapped me to make sure I was alright.

toad 2

A close-up. It’s magnificence, combined with the wondrous surprise of it even being there at all, is matched only by its vile stench. Google tells me it is also known as a carrion flower. All I can say is that carrion is getting a bad rap because the smell couldn’t possibly come close to this foul odour.

You can see there are another two buds just popping their heads out on the right.

milkweed toad 1

Every day I am grateful for the garden and the beautiful part of the world I live in. I’m really missing seeing friends, going out for sushi, having my hair trimmed (and the grey roots dealt with!), not to mention earning a living – aaarrrgggghhhh – but I acknowledge how very fortunate I am. Sending lockdown love to you all xxx

and yet more changes

My garden is looking so lovely right now, as high summer approaches and all the little plants and cuttings recently planted are starting to grow up and bloom. Despite the drought, our work-around has been successful – (grey water, gutter overflow, pipes, buckets, etc) – and Peter has helped me take wonderful care of it all. He’s busy deadheading the daisy bushes as I write this.

Sadly, it won’t be mine for much longer: it’s time to pack up house again and move on. It’s not my first option but circumstances are such that I must accept somebody else’s first option. I have not made any permanent living plans for the rest of my year, I’m just going to focus on packing and sorting and clearing up space and believing that everything happens for a reason. I don’t actually truly think that, to be honest. I think things happen that we have little control over and then we just deal with them because we have no choice – it’s in looking back that we can reshape events and change perspective so as to find silver linings and positive outcomes, because to do otherwise would be too bleak to consider. Just my view. Bit of a miserable one, I suppose, but I’m stuck with it!

Yesterday, this was the front part of my tv lounge.

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Today, I can actually see some floor:

Room 4

The car is packed with stuff to be taken to the charity shop. Let me get on with that before I run out of steam….

paving: before and after

A well-used part of our little piece of the world is at the front of the house. The original garage was converted into a third bathroom so the driveway was gardened over years ago. It’s very pretty and we didn’t want to lose the sacred bamboo, the aloes, the plumbago and the white pear tree, but we needed more space for our cars. And also a tidier look!

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old-garden

It took four men (from Boss Paving) five days to finish the job, and they really excelled themselves.

bricks-1

That’s Tess posing for a new profile pic :-)

bricks-3

The previous owner, who is a lovely, creative woman and a well-known writer, had a natural talent for combining unusual and baroque elements in her home. The swans at the gate had become something of a landmark in this little part of Mowbray, but I am boring and conventional compared to Helen so I opted for plain pointy pier caps and decided to encourage the swans to fly into the back garden, to roost amongst the inca lilies.

swans-2

And looking at the above photo, I’m wondering if I haven’t actually made a mistake… :(

Perfect autumn weather

I seem to remember doing a hell of a lot of moaning and groaning about the impossibly hot weather we had at the end of summer, so now that it’s autumn and perfect and sunny yet mild and the leaves are all copper, I’m making a point of noticing and saying so.

Here’s the view from my lounge, 5 minutes ago:

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and I realise there isn’t much copper, so I walked further down the garden and found this:

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See?  – copper!

Okay, enough of the nature stuff.  On Friday I met up with the woman who is doing up her daughter’s bedroom, her colours are aubergine and lime (yep, purple and green!)
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With the help of Edie Eckman’s wonderful book of crochet edgings,

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and the flower aghan in Simply Crochet Issue 3,

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I’ve already finished the two strips (each 2.30 metres long) that will be used to edge two purple aubergine cushions, and have a nice lilac flower on a slate grey background to start off the third cushion.

I don’t usually buy crochet magazines but the cover of this one caught my eye recently (as one reader will know all too well).  I’m making the bolero on the front, in camel cotton with a 4mm hook.  I’ve just got to the arm shaping bit, but it’s been a lovely easy pattern so far.  Size medium. I figure that since I’m still following the Weigh-Less diet, I might not always have to make the very biggest size in everything from now on.

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Time will tell, I suppose. Yesterday I went to Lyndall’s 23rd birthday tea where it would simply have been unforgivably rude of me not to join in the feast (devil’s on horseback, nutella muffins, lemon meringue).

I have to run some errands later. Perhaps the exercise will help burn off the extra kilojoules (get it?) (sorry!)

Back soon x