Wondering how to share with you my dream, I went to Google Images. I did not really find what I want, but this image captures the spirit if not in any way the subject of my dream.


an early 20th century card by Josef  Madlener

I have asked myself the question: what if I won the lotto before I leave Sequoia Gardens. Would I stay? What would I do to develop the gardens further? I must admit that I think I would leave, for in my head I am ready for the next stage of my journey. But I would regret not completing three projects: The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe, about which I have often written, e.g. here

The boys find a perfect universe

The potential of this garden, the size and simplicity of the idea, the audacity of it makes it my greatest loss; the project I would most like to complete.

Next in line is a recent concept,  and one which is so far beyond my financial reach or any practical implementation in the way I envisage it, that I allow myself to dream ever bigger. It is impossible – so don’t even consider the possible! That is where the top picture comes in. I was dreaming of a magical space – a spiritual place, a chapel or a meditation retreat under the avenue of pin oaks. I cleaned the site up a little in this photograph.

My cathedral space

Under these tall, upright pin oaks there is an space that can easily be levelled. The trees soar like the pillars of a gothic cathedral. In winter their traceries meet overhead, but in summer the leaves form a dense roof high up. Cleaning up and levelling the space beneath them is very possible – in fact it would be my first project should I stay. But then the dream kicks in. Beautiful as this space is, it cannot protect one from the elements. A simple glass-roofed structure on slim supports will protect those gathered beneath. Simple. Oh, exquisitely simple. The supports would be cast in specially prepared moulds; or perhaps carved from a softer material. They would be the attenuated organic shapes one finds in the best Art Nouveau work; picture the entrance to a classic Parisian Metro; or beautiful Art Nouveau stained glass. Perhaps loops and curves, great bone-like shapes.

paris_metro_elev_b1305601010270 97839cd5ab66d56b175160f4271f15d3 images image-3

Did I mention stained glass? The roofs would be clear – except for swirling tendrils creating the structure. But perhaps at eye level – or higher – between the pillars – there could be stained glass such as one finds of the period; a botanical, illustrating our native flowers; or perhaps allegorical scenes. Or even glorious unstained glass…

a b c d e

 Imagine our natives immortalised in beautiful stained glass…

schizostylis-coccinea 16-lobelia-erinus gladiolus-dalenii-2 ouhout-thicket impatienssylvicola agapanthus-inapertus begonia-sutherlandii

Oh right. . There’s a third dream. But it doesn’t quite  flow from here, so let’s keep it for later…

(I see now – yesterday it was the 5th anniversary of my blog… happy birthday to me!  That is quite an achievement, I think Smile)


July colour in the arboretum

You can see them clearly from the house, although in the photograph it takes a little imagination; behind the white stems of the tall gum trees two Camellia ‘Donation’ proudly sport a crop of pure pink flowers, and other, shyer, camellias flaunt their shiny evergreen foliage. Go closer and you will find there too are flowers. So near to the water it really is too cold for them. But after 15 plus years the camellias stand taller and throw protective shadows against the frost.  With the exception of one night four weeks ago, which was one of the four coldest nights I’ve ever known here, winter has been mild so far, and the camellias are happy. And that means they are flowering. So up into the arboretum we have been going to admire them.

camellia donation

‘Donation’ demands a group pose; the other want portraits.

Camellia 1

camellia 2

camellia 3

And then the boys pick up a huge flower fallen from a tree and bring it to show me…

camellia 4

But after weeks of collecting beautiful autumn leaves and stacking them up, one on top of the other, a red one, a yellow one, a multi-coloured one, and sending me home with a sheaf of leaves to spread in the blue plate on the table (their idea, not mine), presenting me with one found flower is apparently not enough. So:

Creating camellia 1

An azalea gets picked and added. And my enthusiastic response leads to a new game…

Creating camellia 2

Soon enough leaves get added to the confection – I’m only showing you some of their trophies.

Creating camellia 3

Creating camellia 4

And still the flower grows…

Creating camellia 5

But eventually we leave it ceremoniously on a rock, a funeral spray for a lost autumn.

Creating camellia 6


Aloes in the early light

Aloe saponaria is one of the few aloes that positively thrives in our cold climate, suckering happily and flowering freely. Over the years the bed in front of the stoep has twice been thinned. This week the winter clean-up in the garden started, and the dark seed heads which featured in the foreground in my previous post have gone. And still the last autumn leaves linger…

Aloe saponaria


Checking on font changes, I play some more with my new theme -

Oak leaf hydrangea

The Oak-leaved Hydrangeas turn late, and this year they are spectacular. Below, one provides background to the self-sown rose which draped itself across a Rosemary in the Rosemary Borders. Its leaves are turning bright yellow and the first bud is showing colour. I suspect it might be seedling from the Musk Rose ‘Mozart’, which last year carried copious quantities of tiny heps. In fact, said heps featured in the first photo of a post from last year this time:

self-sown rose in the Rosemary Borders

Here are archive photos of Herr Mozart – he has slightly larger and darker flowers than the better know Ballerina, and forms an arching creeper rather than her compact twiggy shrub – first the flower and then last year’s heps.



The Water Oak on Freddie’s Dam still has a few leaves; one in the arboretum though glows with more than half the leaves still in place. The House that Jack Built is just to the right of this shot; a lovely place to sit out in any season!

Seating under the water oak


The axis and the big lawn

An accidental press of a button – and I accepted a new theme instead of returning to my original. And my original is discontinued, so I could not return there. So here I am: willy-nilly, I’ve had a make-over!

 Autumn rose foliage

I have enlarged the photos in my previous post to fit better – over time I will backtrack and change more older posts. For now I’m seeing what on earth the effect is, using the photos I had not used for my previous post. The first, taken from the steps at the top of the axis, takes in Alfred’s arches and the water spout as well as the view across the big lawn; the next is a detail of autumn rose foliage. After the extremely cold night two weeks back ‘Isfahan’ has turned beautifully; below is a wintery view towards the visitors’ parking and entry. On the left beyond the trees the visitors’ information board can be seen. Lastly, a shot towards the water across the Upper Rosemary Border.

Visitors' Entrance

Looking across the Rosemary Borders


According to Wikipedia, exactly 31 hours from now, at 10h51 GMT on 21 June 2014,  the earth will wiggle a little (I imagine) as it starts to swing back on its axis. The solstice will have come and gone. But the seasons are slow learners. I have never understood why those in the North claim that spring is over and summer has arrived on this day. But I do know that (comparatively) short as our winter might be, it is not yet the middle of winter. In fact, one might say that it is the beginning of winter, and that all we’ve had to date is a warning or two… From now through to early August frost will be the rule, not the exception, at Sequoia Gardens.

Looking upstream from the Makou Dam

Click on this photo to see it full size. Frustrated by the small photos on my blog, I recently played with other themes. But two things held me back: I use a discontinued theme, which means I can’t go back to this one if I chose one that messes up past posts. And I frankly don’t have the time to prioritise fine-tuning the change. Oh, there’s a third: in the coming months I will be writing the final chapters in this blog. Will I be blogging once I’ve left Sequoia? I don’t know. Perhaps I will. I certainly find it very satisfying.

Maidenhair Fern below Makou Dam

Yesterday, after taking the above panorama, we turned down along the overflow from the Makou Dam, where the boys, I kid you not, took off their shoes and played in the icy water and I took this shot of a maidenhair fern. It is the one part of the garden where it is damp and dark enough for them to seed themselves.

a motorbike

a chainsaw

a horse

Then we climbed up towards the fire break were the boys found yet another toy to add to their imaginative collection: a motorbike. Below that, from earlier walks this week – a chainsaw and a horse! And then we made our way back over Freddie’s Dam, where once again the wind and the sun made for sparkling water.

From Freddie's Dam


Tonight’s pics are a few days old – and here is the reason why:

bougainvillea at The Ranch Hotel

I have been away at the annual Rotary District Conference at The Ranch Hotel near Polokwane, some 80km away. Their lovely gardens too were hit by the recent extreme cold, but this pot which we all walked past at least twice a day was pretty well protected. It stands next to a functional but featureless path (at this point) where it skirts a building, and is one of the most effective examples of simple but striking design I’ve seen. It is a bougainvillea, a woody creeper, grown to tumble gently out of a huge rounded pot, over one meter  in diameter and almost a meter high. It flowers for many months and reminded me of nothing as much as the magnificently trained roses at Sissinghurst: ultimate artifice appearing artless. (For a spectacularly beautiful series of  8 photographic posts on Sissinghurst, visit my friend Tatyana’s blog posts at http://tanyasgarden.blogspot.com/2014/05/sissinghurst-pictures-moat-walk-azalea.html )

Barbed grasses Barbed grass

Do you know that moment on a walk when you can’t resist hauling out your camera, and after that it becomes a photography walk? This was it. On a warm afternoon nearly a week after a severe frost turned autumn to winter, these grass seeds caught my eye and set the tone for the rest of the photoshoot…

End of a dandelion

frosted bracken

Frosted Bracken

Little yellow daisy weed

Frosted creeper

Vernonia in seed

Rough grass seed

Old Gold Everlastings

Yellow everlastings turned to old gold by the cold.

Fallen leaves

Grassy measdow

Zinnias after frost

Zinnias and marigolds

Marigold in winter

Wilted aloe

Mushy aloes, and below – the hydrangeas in front of the old barn: I do like the clarity of our seasons!

Winter view of the old barn


frosted hydrangeas

It is winter, but with the typical blue blue skies and wind-still days which make most of our winters so lovely. In the morning the frost lies white and after switching on the kettle, I light the fire. These are the very same hydrangeas seen in my previous post, three days later.

self-sown rose survives heavy frost

However the self-sown rose seems none the worse, and I’m hoping the buds will still open. And then for the past five days an interesting but potentially rather unwelcome visitor has been lurking down by the water – a young bull. Somewhere someone must be very unhappy, but calls to the police and various neighbours have led nowhere to date. However this is Africa and the bush telegraph will eventually do what needs to be done, and hopefully my garden will suffer little more than a few soft pats.

Unexpected visitor