More and more to see as spring kicks in!

I always say that early spring is schizo around here – all colour and no green. Bleached by winter cold and drought, grasses are blonde and trees are grey. Suddenly colour arrives like a rash on the first azaleas: one looks at it in fascination and surprise. Of course the first blossoms on the trees are magnificent, and of course – almost grudgingly – I get pleasure from those first azaleas, but it is only a few weeks later when the many trees start pushing young leaves that spring becomes overwhelmingly beautiful to me!

Arboritum greens

Detail of arboritum greens2

Detail of arboritum greens

The pictures above – a view and two details – I took yesterday from the veranda of the big house.  As I’ve been living there since early September rather than in my own house due to my mom’s health, I’ve been able to observe the daily – make that hourly as the light shifts! – changes that make this view so rewarding. Here for instance is a view on the 13th, when suddenly the afternoon backlighting caught the young leaves on the first of the oaks to green up. It gives some idea of how much changes in two weeks!

First leaves

The view from my house has been the subject of a few shots too: I do get to take the occasional walk, and my dogs sleep at home and so get let out every morning at ‘photo time’!  This is the one month in the year when I consider giving the bridge a fresh wash of white – surrounded as it is by flowering cherries and almonds, azaleas and Viburnum plicatum, it seems a little drab. For the rest of the year I like its ‘dull white’ look.

When the bridge could be whiter

Here is another shot of the icon of my garden, taken a few days earlier from my front door. The bowl of scented freesias stands on the stone plinth in line with the bay window. In our sheltered valley reflections are often near perfect.


This early morning view shows the quality of the reflection and the greening of the trees across from my home; the centre of the view from my big bay winow is in line with the left edge of the photo.


To continue the theme of greening (or in this case reddening – or wining?), this opposite view from the above one, taken nine days earlier, shows the first silvery brown leaves on the Acer palmatum atropurpureum. The grass of the meadow which only days before waved between the house and the water, has been cut and the dogwood (Cornus florida) in the right foreground is flowering properly for the first time this year. I grew it from seed off my own trees!

Purple Japanese maple coming into leaf

To end off, a view up from Alfred’s Arches to the big house. One morning one wakes up to a garden that is no longer wintery; Erigeron karvinskianus with its white daisy flowers from pink buds self-seeds most beautifully all around my garden and contributes hugely to the blowsy, accidental overlay of the formality which I so love. Down the steps to meet me comes Doubly, the Border Collie.

From under Alfred's Arches


11 thoughts on “More and more to see as spring kicks in!

  1. Oh, so my favourite time of year. Everything is so fresh and clean, vibrant and hopeful.
    I love the line blowsy, accidental overlay of the formality. It reminds me of Sissinghurst, where Vita attempted to give that cottagey feeling of abundance to Harolds very formal lines.

    • Thanks, Deborah! Sissinghurst was my earlest and possibly greatest inspiration as a gardener, although I find as my garden develops I prefer to hint at the rooms rather than enclose them fully. My spaces are most successful when the ‘walls’ define the space rather than enclose it and one is aware of the adjacent spaces.

  2. Hi Jack, Your photos are stunning–just beautiful! I love the ones that include the little bridge, and the reflection of the trees on the water. Your garden and view look awesome. One thing that gets my attention is that you are in SPRING! Just when our weather is changing and leaving behind the best time in the garden–you are entering into it! What eye candy this will be for those of us about to be visited by winter!!

  3. Really nice post. Gives the mood of the year in photos and words. I live where a spring like that does not happen, so I really enjoy reading about in someone else’s garden.

  4. Stunning garden! All those conifers look great.

    When you’ve time, I hope you’ll edit your blog to remove that tacky line that WordPress sticks on everybody’s Heading:
    “Just another weblog”

    It cheapens both your blog and WordPress. I’m sure they put it in so you’ll know you can put another line there, but really….

  5. Dear Jack,
    when I saw your banner image (I was under the impression that you were writing from the US) I thought: that looks a lot like Cheerio Gardens! And then I saw your reference to krismisrose and I thought: is he an expat? Then I saw the photo of the krismisrose on front of the house and I thought: that light looks hard, it looks like our light, not like late autumn in the Northern Hemisphere…
    Then: the Knysna lourie – where else could you be but in the lovely Haenertsburg district?
    What a marvellous piece of land and how bracing that has been loved so dearly. For how many years has it been in your family?

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