I am on holiday! Late on Friday afternoon  I took the dogs on a proper walk. I grabbed the small camera on the way out; the dogs, not the camera took centre stage. Right  outside the door I was stopped by this arresting sight: a leafhopper on ‘Cascade’ rose. Only after I had taken the pic and chased him off – and Mateczka had decided to pounce on him – did I realise that he’d feasted liberally on the pink petals…

We headed across the valley, where the late afternoon sun made us stop and look back across the garden to the house, before setting off up the valley on the circular drive. Autumn colour is slowly increasing, but Vitis vinifera, quick to turn and fall, demanded a photo in the growing gloom.

With Croft Cottage all but complete, the next project is a second roof on a wooden structure over The Plett. (Previously known as Trailertrash Cottage – read why here.) In front, over the slate paving, there will be a pergola with deciduous climbers for summer shade. I will soon be taking cuttings of this vine, as it will be my chief provider. The Plett, after 30 years, is in remarkably good nick, and I wish to keep it that way with a protective roof. Besides being important as guest accommodation to the main house, it is also the simplest and cheapest way to add an extra lettable cottage to my portfolio. (Do you see the need for a return to the original name?…) This model of caravan home was marketed as the Plettenberg, named after Plettenberg Bay, one of South Africa’s most desirable holiday spots. For years when we were all still based in Johannesburg and neither the Big House nor my cottage were built, we would talk as often of ‘going to The Plett’ as ‘going to the farm’. Some of our best holidays ever where spent here, and I often suggested to my folks that we should all gather in rather close proximity in The Plett for a night and forget all that had developed on the farm over the years, but we never did. However to this day cousins love coming up to stay here…

Along a path on the far side of the garden  I’ve not been on in weeks, I discovered the Hedgehog Bush in flower. This, and its other common name of Blue Boys, is infinitely more attractive than its scientific name of Pycnostachys urticifolia! I was surprised, for usually it flowers at about the same time as the Wild Tibouchina which I wrote about here.

Dissotis canescens 2
Dissotis canescens, the Wild Tibouchina

One year the two of them grew and flowered together in this very spot. The brick-red calyxes and magenta flowers of the one and the blue-grey calyxes and baby blue flowers of the other made for a ravaging combination. Both of them like damp conditions. I must make a point of trying cuttings of the Hedgehog Bush and spreading seed here of the Wild Tibouchina. The combination should be used widely in my garden!

Very much a snapshot this, but its value is as a moment recorded, not as a photograph. In the growing dusk I loved this glowing  dogwood (Cornus florida) against a spiraea, near The Embarkment. And a little further on one of my favourite compositions in the Cottage Garden, outside The House that Jack Built, deserved a similar response…

Now it is 9:30 on a Saturday morning. I am unwashed and revelling in a slow, unstructured start to the day. The dogs keep coming to suggest there are better things to do than type. Perhaps I should heed their call.



  1. In reading this, I can feel that delicious “the papers are all marked and I’m on holiday” feeling that all teachers know and love. Everything is more beautiful in that blessed state of relaxation. Enjoy!

  2. I hope you enjoyed the remainder of your Saturday morning in the same relaxed way that you started it!
    That view looking back to the house is gorgeous!

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