I am back in Johannesburg, dealing with wrapping up my dad’s home, but here are two quick pics to cheer us all as we go into a new year! The view of the main garden across the Makou Dam and below, a detail of the garden outside The Plett.
Just photos of my garden
January 6, 2013
October 20, 2012
A week has passed since I walked down to The House that Jack Built to make certain that all was ready for the arrival of the bride and her groom, my cousin’s son, the next day. What I saw took even my breath away, despite 11 years of calling this spot ‘home’. It has never been more beautiful.
Even before he proposed he asked me what the most beautiful time was on the mountain in spring. I said mid-October. When he proposed he had his plans laid out, the venue booked…
This is where they came after the wedding and reception at the neighbouring Cheerio Gardens to spend their wedding night. As a little boy he had seen me build this house, and this was where he wished to bring his bride…
I took these photos either the day before or the day after the wedding. I remember the earnest little boy, fishing rod in hand, talking to me as I worked on the space where the curved wooden window now stands. With him then was his best friend, the photographer at the wedding, who took a set of photographs here more unique, from what I’ve heard, than you will ever find. I hope to share a few in due course…
Across the dam the yellow azaleas under the purple Japanese maple were more splendid than ever.
So I wondered in to photograph them, and got caught up in the beauty of the Japanese maples as well.
Growing in the shade below the wall of the Carpetgarden, almost completely hidden these days by the purple maple and a dogwood, are two dissected Japanese maples, one green, one purple – or wine red, which better describes their leaves.
Here you can see what the leaves look like on this exquisite low-growing tree, and below the soft mound it forms. Beyond is the purple form.
The yellow azaleas also demanded more attention.
But these yellows, as you could see in my previous posts, do not alone represent the deciduous azaleas – here are a few more photographed in recent days.
This last one is growing right outside the glass doors outside the living room of the big house. Here it is again:
There are more, and when I return from Johannesburg where I am spending time with my father, I will hopefully get to photograph them too…
It is also the season of the Japanese flowering cherries, and I have not photographed them sufficiently.
There is more, azaleas and other Japanese maples, not to mention the first irises and roses… They will have to wait for a further post. My time is limited, and it is time now for bed…
August 20, 2012
I had to document this – the canna bed below the old stone barn, in summer a potently green and colourful spot (see it here), as it looks after the winter frosts and august winds have got to it… a symbol now of winter. Last Sunday, on one of the coldest nights we’ve ever had (I measured –4 up at the house, possibly –8 down by the stream) the water pump iced up and cracked its cast iron housing. Damage: a new pump at R3300 or about US$400 . Hopefully I can get a replacement part and keep it as a back-up pump.
But the past week also brought 4.5mm of misty rain over two days, and suddenly spring did not seem an impossibility as the first leaves and blossoms popped. That is what I wish to show you, but at the end of a beautifully warm and restful Sunday afternoon with friends on the veranda, the light made me rush in to take one last truly wintery pic.
The delicate blossoms of this Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ always take us by surprise, but their arrival was doubly exciting, following as it did on the first rain in over 3 months.
First of the trees to sprout fresh green leaves are the bird cherries, Prunus padus, and they too seemed to erupt from the unexpected rain! And thus, only days after the worst cold of the winter, I can report that spring is on its way… To finish off – that great bridge between winter and spring, the witch hazel, which flowers in its time, come frost or sun.
August 3, 2012
As part of my marketing of Sequoia Gardens I have taken the plunge and started a facebook page. Well, I could write a lot, still must… but obviously getting photos up was more fun and more effective. In fact at my best (that I saw) I was 13% viral… whatever that might mean!
I have been trawling through my photographs of the last seven years using key words on a Windows search. And I must admit that even I was flabbergasted at the beauty I came up with when I started posting them all together in facebook albums…
And to quote a song from my youth… We’ve only just begun! Please visit my Sequoia Gardens facebook page and ‘like’ or even better ‘share’ what you find there! Thanks! Jack
June 12, 2012
Early on a coldest-to-date morning last week. I look out of the guest room window to see how the aloes are doing. Ohoh… The drama queen, the hater of frost, is doing a Sarah Bernhardt on us, a slow languid collapse into a dramatic death. In the 23 years since the house was built and the aloes planted here, we have had three seasons in which they all flowered fully. Yet year after year we hope. The last few years have been particularly cruel, with the edges of some leaves also turning mushy before drying to hard brown scar tissue.
Sarah Bernhardt is always the first to complain – perhaps because she starts off with flower trusses held on the horizontal. She is Aloe marlohtii, and most dramatic and statuesque of all South African aloes. (Says I, possibly a little parochially…)
This aloe, with its tall dense candelabra which turn to yellow as they open should be easy to identify, as few such flowerers can survive even light frost. It might be a hybrid of Aloe spectabilis, which has heavier leaves and less elegant flower trusses. Whatever it is, its beauty is often obvious before the frost gets to it.
Aloe arborescens is a local which forms a branching trunk. Last year we thinned the branches and this year the rosettes of leaves look better and the plants are flowering prolifically. It takes a substantial frost to damage this one – and as it is an early flowerer, it has given quite a show normally before that happens.
But back to our drama queen… She staggers around the stage for a few more days, lifting her head just sufficiently to check if she’s getting the attention she thinks she deserves. Then a colder night plunges the knife once more and leaves even her companions darkened and weak-kneed.
Finally last night the temperature fell to minus three degrees Celsius… Even some of the arborescens flowers succumbed.
The other aloes are all on their way out. And the great Sarah Bernhardt, shrivelled and insignificant in death, is difficult to picture in her role as the grand dame of them all…
June 9, 2012
Leave a Comment
April 7, 2012
Good title. First thought: I need to get into the garden and take autumn cuttings, especially of plants that might not survive a bad winter. But there is much more to it than that.
For weeks I’ve been eyeing autumn’s slow approach, a sunny lightening of the leaves long before it could be called yellow. Time to blog about autumn. Time to blog. And gradually the yellows grew and were joined by reds. These two photos I took this morning, the first framed by our exclamation marks, from the guest room. After several cold nights autumn is well and truly upon us.
The Tulip Trees march up The Avenue, and on the road below them the Silver Maples are red. Where did the summer go? Has there ever been a summer where I was so absent from my garden? At the beginning of summer I bought MountainGetaways, and we published the first magazine just after I finished my teaching career. This year I learnt all about webpage design and rebuilt the website from scratch. And we published the second magazine. This month we relaunched the website – and those who are observant will notice the new logo up in the top right corner of my blog, which will take you to the site.
Here is a picture from late March. March was an amazing month on the blog. I posted the grand total of two posts – never before so few in a month. Yet I had almost exactly 50% more traffic than in my second best month ever, and that was two years ago. It seems the more the host is absent, the more the visitors come to stay… There’s a conundrum for you!
I have posted pics of this very plant before, but always in winter. It is Leonitus ocymifolia. It is about time for a flowery view on it. (This, by the way, was intended for a Wildflower Wednesday post – about ten days ago…)
Like most of the wildings I post on, it really grows wild on Sequoia. This one just happened to have been moved into the garden twenty odd years ago. It is a great joy.
There. Not too many words. I am tired; supremely, happily tired. I shall post this and then sit back tonight with my new book –the biography Christopher Lloyd – His life at Great Dixter.
October 24, 2011
Marlowe’s poem which formed the subject of my previous post might never have been as famous as it is, had not Sir Walter Raleigh – he of the tobacco and other taurobanding adventures – not written a rather cynical but very clever reply from the beloved who is asked to share this rural idyll…
“The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh ~
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten-
In folly ripe, in reason rotten…
…But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Next up: a 20th century response and vague ramblings about a new world order (or disorder) approaching…
For more info on these poems, read the interesting blog entry here.
October 21, 2011
This is the season above all other when the feel of “isn’t nature perfect, let’s just ignore the world and its worries and be outside” is dominant… Besides, I have other reasons to be thinking of this poem …
(from Christopher Marlowe’s “The passionate shepherd to his love” 1599)
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies…
… If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
The love’s reply, by Sir Walter Raleigh, and a more modern comment, awaits another post…
June 30, 2011