Thank you, Tracy ( for the very pleasant surprise of finding this post when I went to check up on who my new follower was!

Originally posted on artzoo:

IMG_0871 The house that Jack built is one of the cottages at Sequoia Gardens , situated just outside Haenertsburg .

The cottage is well equipped and comfortable and the grounds are exquisite, I could have spent the entire weekend just gazing out the window in the lounge at the dam in front of the cottage or going for walks around the property.

View from the lounge

View from the lounge

Hydrangeas in a glade

Hydrangeas in a glade

Indigenous to the area St Josephs lilies grow wild and tall, this one towered over me on one of my walks.


A bubbling brook leads from the dam in front of the cottage, to the dam in front of the main house.



Reflections of the day

Ornate wind chimes

Ornate wind chimes

The perfect hide away for a weekend and if you were fortunate enough to be able to spend a week here I am convinced you would return a changed person.

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After surprisingly wet weather, the sun is shining today. But the
Japanese Maples in the centre of the pic look half bare, even though they have just started turning. The long memory of October’s hail storm…. Mid April heralds mid autumn, but this is not to be a memorable one. Ah well. Memories of autumns past and anticipation of years to come keep one going.

Sunset after the solstice

Every day now the sun sets sooner. I looked up yesterday at 1/4 to 6 and realised the sunlight was fading and went out to find the sun just dipping behind the horizon to the right of the tree on the left; on this date it leaves the far horizon and creeps in behind the close hill. That steep curve has a compound effect on day length from now till the next solstice. Sigh. But as I live only 50km beyond the Tropic of Capricorn I have little reason to complain of short winter days…

Acer rubrum detail

As we walk around the garden now, we are on the lookout for autumn colour. This Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) is deceptive though: only the first branches have turned, as this rather poor distant shot shows.

Acer rubrum

These pics really are snapshots. Our walks have mostly been quite late, and I have used the camera on my S4 phone. It is a quite remarkable camera and functions in much poorer light than my entry level (and 4 year old) Canon SLR, but later pics have focus and/or depth of field issues and often there is an annoying blue cast to the shadows.  I have not yet had either the time or the inclination since returning from our holiday (I might still post on that) to do any serious photography…

Cercidyphyllum japonicum

Cercidiphyllum japonicum can be one of the glories of autumn. Our two trees are so-so, and here you can clearly see the damage caused by October’s hail. Their chief attraction is the fact that the dying leaves smell of burnt sugar, as far as I know the only tree with this quality. To me they smell of candyfloss (well that IS burnt sugar, right?) and many people smell strawberries. I was curious to see how the foreman’s sons (who I call Alpha and Beta here) would respond. Alpha (aged 10) after some sniffing lit up and said ‘Pineapple!’ which I thought was brilliant considering the unexpectedness of my question. Yesterday I picked a sprig of our indigenous mint which flowers very beautifully now and asked him what it smelt of. I loved his answer: ‘Colgate!’  It reminds me of my own disappointment when I first and finally sniffed at a magnolia. It smelt of gift soap!

The boys find a perfect universe

The boys love our walks and as so often happens, they dashed around the ‘stepping stones’, as I imagined children would, when we got to The Great Incomplete, as I tend to think of The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe ( about which you can read more here.) Boys being boys, they made their own rules though:

Caught cheating

Whilst on the subject of the boys – and introducing the dogs into the story – I love this pic of Beta and Monty. Monty is becoming quite grizzled, and I was horrified when one of my guests described him recently as fugly, but he is still full of games and joy (and visits to everyone in the valley). He loves nothing as much as a little personal attention. On a recent (cameraless) walk the interaction between Beta and Abigail, first with a fallen quince and then with a pair of pinecones, was a delight to watch. Is it because we can only dream of having their energy and dexterity that we so love children at play? Be it as it may, I love it when the boys join us on or walks!

Monty getting on

Here are the two dogs at the upper end of the Rosemary Terrace. It was with a pang that I suddenly realised that Abigail is also starting to age a little. However one of her sisters is quite matronly, and Abi is svelte and sassy… she is nearly seven after all…

Monty and Abigail at the top end of the Rosemary Terrace

Here we have a long view from within the parking area past the visitors’ entrance into the garden and with the same two pots at the far end of the view. Abi looking svelte and Beta looking active…

Looking along the rosemary Terrace

I prepared quite a number of pics for sharing tonight. But the rest will have to wait for a further post, which I hope will be quite soon. I’m off to bed now, bushed after a hectic week and play out on the first colour on Vitis vinifera. I really had to set up this picture, but night temps have started dipping below 10 degrees C (which is rather early), so autumn should gather pace now. My verdict is that at this stage it is rather slow for end March…

First colour in the vine



A lovely walk but without my camera on this beautiful day.  And then a lovely sunsets to go with sundowners…


I have spent the last three weeks travelling around South Africa and for the first time ever not posted for well over a month. But I’m back, the  garden – thanks to my wonderful staff – is looking lovely and I look forward to the end of summer and the coming of autumn. I’ve yet to walk around the garden although I’ve slept in my own bed 5 times: I had to hit the ground running for the Rotary Club’s biggest fundraiser yesterday, the Rotary Mile. This late afternoon after the wonderful quarterly market day at Mina’s I am now home, awaiting a dramatic approaching storm and slightly inebriated. But still alive and posting. I’m back!

Summer sunset

Misty rain

Much of my enjoyment of the garden has of late been ‘in passing’, but that has made it no less intense. It is looking magnificent, and we have had beautiful weather, the air clear so that the mountains are etched by day and the stars spangled by night. Though sunny it has not been too warm and the wind chimes, which have beautifully true notes, have constantly and gently tinkled. In high summer the sun sets down the valley rather than across it, and watching the side-lighting over drinks is always a joy. But since last night it has rained, and we are promised several wet days. I was out in the garden yesterday as the sun set and the clouds rolled in from the east. It made for stunning light…

Approaching storm

Rosemary Terrace - approaching storma

I also recently discovered the camera on my phone can be voice operated, which means no clumsy finding of the shutter with the camera held above your head to get the best composition. Result: some new and interesting angles along the Rosemary Terrace and across the Mothers’ Garden.

Across Mothers' Garden

Deloitte and Touche, the rose I chose for the Mothers’ Garden, is perfectly matched by the canna I was given by cousin Audrey growing in the New Old rose Garden across the hedge. In fact it is due to be planted in the Mothers’ Garden as well now – even if I might never see the result…

Deloitte and Touche Audrey's canna

I’ve just been out into a misty dusk to try to get detailed pics; far from perfect, but they tell the tale.

Along the Upper Rosemary Border

Back to yesterday’s pics. Rudbeckias are becoming ubiquitous self-sowers. I need to remove several from among the Deloitte and Touche, but on the whole I love the smiling in-your-face cheerfulness with which they deploy around the garden.

Sunset light behind house

I’m finding the gardens around the big lawn, with their various differing structures squaring it off, more and more satisfying. The tweaking of these spaces has been the major garden achievement of the last few years.

Big House across lawn

And so, with a look at last night’s storm racing towards the sun, I sign off on this Sunday evening.

The storm races in


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