Embarrassed for choice, please let us agree: this week there is no option; azaleas are the plant of the week.
October 9, 2010
October 7, 2010
I was intrigued to find a link to my blog from my good friend Lynne. We have been virtual friends for ages – originally as the only two active South Africans on Mooseys. Then she picked up on my facebook account – which led to her finding my blog. And now we also twitter together – she much more than I do!
I went to her blog, and found this beautiful post, and thought it deserves a wider audience, especially outside of South Africa… We are fortunate in this country to have among us, inspiring us all to greater good, two of the great men of the 20th century – in fact, one could say of all time: Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. And when they pass, South Africa will weep and the world will weep with us.
PS: I thought a bit of purple script (if not prose) would be a suitable tribute to the archbishop And what is a post without pictures?… so this one, suitably containing a purple Linaria rather randomly in the foreground, continues my recent theme of the greening in spring.
October 2, 2010
I didn’t think that the first week of October was a rose week, but I am curious. At the very end of last autumn one of my garden helpers enthusiastically fertilised and watered the roses in Trudie’s Garden, then already all but dormant. I had a fit. There was some regrowth which of course got frosted. But the roses spent the winter dormant and well fed. This spring they are looking marvellous, growing away apace and already there are four open blooms. Other roses in the garden are looking positively sad in comparison to these. One often reads that plants planted in autumn become established before spring, their roots foraging away under the ground; could it be that dormant roses also benefit? Any comments?
October 29, 2009
End of October – rose season! As the roses flush, spring is superseded by early summer and – usually – by now the rains have started. As I write this there is the promise of a thunderstorm, but so far we have measured only 24mm this month, all less than 4mm in a day. That means the roses are happy, as they don’t like too much water except at their feet; and therefore Trudie’s Garden features this week.
It seems it is still a time for tributes, as death rears its head among the roses. Trudie’s Garden is a collection of 30 plus roses donated to me by a friend who felt she was growing too old to do justice to her roses. I planted them outside the living room window from where my mother could enjoy them as she grew older. When Trudie passed away late last autumn, I picked the last rose of the season, scented and red, and took it to her daughter.
Amongst Trudie’s roses, mostly HTs, mostly red, were several bushes of one of my mom’s favourite roses: a huge and beautifully scented salmon orange rose called Harmonie. I’ve just checked it, and that is in fact the international name. The name is German, the rose raised by Kordes in 1981. I always thought it was a local name as that is also the Afrikaans spelling; an excellent name for a rose with as much presence as the famous Peace. However in our family it has always been known as the Dobbie Rose, as my father’s partner’s wife, Dobbie, gave the first one to my mother as a gift many years ago, and she was thrilled to see that there were several Dobbie Roses among those that came from Trudie.
Recently, as my father was trying to contact Dobbie to let her know of my mother’s decline, her daughter phoned with the news that Dobbie had passed away. In my mom’s last days, already barely speaking and in great discomfort, I picked a Dobbie Rose, the first rose of the new season in Trudie’s Garden, and brought it in to my mother. She took it and inhaled the scent deeply, smiled, and dropped the rose to her chest. It stood by her bed through her last days. Tomorrow I am taking my dad back to their home in Johannesburg. The fading Dobbie Rose will remain on the bookcase in the living room, a tribute to three women who loved roses.
October 22, 2009
I was going to share my roses this week, but there is time enough for that…
Rather, let’s consolidate on spring as a process, something I have shared in several posts over the past weeks. The greens have filled out and only a few trees are not yet in full leaf. The array of fresh green shades dancing in the breeze and the light is amazing and uplifting. So here is a final chapter (?) on green, and more comment on the poppies to be seen in the foreground: blowsy tennis ball sized doubles and slighter singles.
October 18, 2009
By mid-October spring is becoming early summer and the variety of flowers and fresh greens is overwhelming. This is the time of the opium poppies – Papaver somniferum - which came to the garden many years ago and if left unchecked can completely swamp everything else. They are huge, glaucous-leaved, and carry flowers the size of tennis balls with hundreds of ragged petals, looking like the crepe-paper flowers used to decorate procession floats, and in a strident flat pink to boot. Not, you might gather, my favourite flower. But impressive none the less and greatly appreciated by most visitors. Occasionally one would revert to being single – usually because it was too puny to double-up. I found it charming and started saving seed; gradually their numbers increased. This year, suddenly, the garden is full of huge singles in a much softer and subtler pink, with big mauve-grey blotches and the wonderful poppy structure of the flowers exposed. I pat myself on the back and pick it – here with cornflowers – to represent this voluptuous season!
October 11, 2009
Someone asked for more pics of wisterias… and I have long wanted to consolidate my wisteria photos into a story – so here goes! Most of our wisterias we grew from seed, taken from a plant which was the off-spring (clonal, I think) of one at the family farm which was originally planted in the early 1900s. We grew them because we – my dad and I – had just discovered the joy of germination on the farm and well: because they were there! Wisterias carry long velvety seedpods with big seeds that call out “good with beginners”!
These first two photos are in fact the last I took. This particular plant, incredibly robust, covers a camphor tree and the adjacent pin oak, which is just visible beyond the camellia on the right. It has completely swamped the small pergola built for it between the two trees and has set off through the adjacent shrubbery, where last year we realised that it was leaning too heavily on a flowering dogwood and twenty assorted shrubs. I was looking at it yesterday and thinking that it needed further curtailing. The blue spikes below it are Scilla natalensis, a bulb which grows wild on Sequoia. The netting is to protect it and the young roses from the deer (more correctly buck – duiker and bush buck). Early in the season when food is scarce they love to nibble on fresh rose foliage and the blue firework flower stalks.
Here it is in close-up. Definitely; this year we will search for rooted cuttings amongst its meanderings. It is floriferous, with good colour and long racemes, and the fact that it is two weeks later than most can only be an advantage. I will plant it in the huge old mother-pine where its sister’s dumpy flowers are over before the yellow banksia rose gets under way.
Every year I have to act the contortionist just to get the yellow and mauve into the same frame. The banksia was planted by a friend’s mother as a young woman. When their yard was subdivided, he offered me the huge old root ball. Within three years it proved a good investment, worth transporting 350km (over 200 miles) to its new home!
Today I went and took this photo specially. The banksia flowers 10 meters up into the tree. The wisteria reaches twice as high and will eventually climb to the top of the tree – but no longer has a single flower. Now imagine the banksia combined with the day before yesterday’s sprawling giant…
The next example I think is a brother; a sprawling good-for-nothing brat, a disgrace to the family name; why he has not been disinherited I do not know! He grew right here from a root in what used to be the nursery holding area. As a result he was a bit neglected as a child. Surrounded by trees (some of which have subsequently been removed), he didn’t have one of his own to look up to – and so he was left to his own devices and became a scruffy introvert. The brown behind him is an unsuccessful rescue job (just as well, considering where it was planted), a conifer from a terracotta pot that I valued more than its occupant. Beyond, an assortment of conifers including a gawky ginkgo not yet in leaf. The area to the right is the future Sage’s Walk, a path through a collection of salvias (in sun) and plectranthus (in shade) culminating in the azalea crescent in the distance. It is also the area where most of my collection of seed-grown pink deciduous azaleas are concentrated. Their twiggy outlines add to the general scruffiness, but by this morning they too were coming into flower!
We now move to an area up on the boundary below the neighbour’s gum plantation across from my house, where many of the seedlings were planted just to get rid of them. Bear in mind that it takes up to ten years for a seed-grown wisteria to flower. That is according to several sources I’ve just consulted. The figure I remember is seven, and my first ones flowered at five years if I remember correctly. It was a convenient spot to dump them while we waited. Out of sight proved to be out of mind, and not one of them was ever moved. They are a motley collection, mostly disappointing and can easily be grubbed out if something better comes along. However one of them, visible in the centre, will still make me my fortune (he said wishfully.)
This wisteria’s flowers are of good but not spectacular colour, but their length and grace is exceptional. What really makes this plant unusual though is that it chose to be a tree rather than a climber. From a young age it had a sturdy, self-supporting stem. As time passed it became clear why: the space between nodes is compressed. This has a further advantage: the magnificent trusses are carried close together, so that the flowers literally hang like a beaded curtain…
Here you can see my wisteria tree, al the way from its stem to its spectacular flowers. On the left an altogether less impressive sibling grovels before my Joseph’s Coat (hmmm: Wisteria ‘Joseph’s Coat’ - it has a ring to it!) In addition to its typically short flowering season , it is most beautifully hung with silver-brown velvet pods for many months of the year, some of which can still be seen in this photo!
If the tree wisteria is my most important specimen, this one is my most successful. It grows over the pump-house (I have to stoop slightly to fit under that green cross-beam) and the surrounding trees. To the left foreground lies my water-lily pond. I have a dream of building a deck and a pergola over the edge of the water to support the wisteria and its reflection… but that will relate to developing Sequoia Gardens as a tourist destination in years to come!
To give you an idea of the setting, here is a picture taken this morning; the wisteria is spent, but the first water-lilies are in bloom! To the left an indigenous tree fern is stretching out its 2 meter fronds, at this stage still rolled and golden. And as I tend to interrupt myself when speaking, why not do so here? So here’s a bonus pic :
As the pump-house wisteria is all round my best example, and the flowers hang conveniently low, here are a few close-ups and flower studies.
Each pea-flower is perfection in itself.
And then a bee arrived to complete the photo-shoot!
Just about the only wisterias not propagated on Sequoia are the matching clones planted in the Anniversary Garden. Their tresses are disappointingly short, but born profusely and richly coloured. If it was not a five year project – at least – I would replace them though with cuttings from the pump-house. This photo you have seen in a previous post.
To end off – a romantic shot of a carpet of wisteria flowers and a yellow iris; one of those shots that make me feel I have achieved my objective in the Anniversary Garden!