CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

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Nothing symbolises the change in season ,pregnant with expectation, as Friday’s discovery of a bud on ‘Cascade’ rose and the first sign of growth on the indigenous Eulophia orchid – two plants I wrote about together, it so happens, five months ago today on 21March.

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The Eulophia was trashed by baboons and I planted several cuttings from the remnants. Only one had bits of root, and it clearly survived when the others shrivelled. Being herbaceous, I was not concerned when it too browned in the winter – and sure enough… it is growing out from the base. But the rose really was a surprise. It never lost its leaves during the winter and here it is, after spending the time outside, uncosseted if protected from the worst of the cold, bravely in bud before we’ve even finished pruning all the other roses! The more I see of this seedling, the more of a winner I believe I’ve found. Found being the operative word – if you have not already done so, read the story of this amazing find here

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Speaking of pruning – I am busy pruning the roses transplanted into the New Old Rose Garden, a process which will be completed this coming week. And almost all the other roses in the garden – several hundred of them – have now been pruned. As I finished the day’s pruning around 5pm yesterday, I leant back against the pillar at the steps and surveyed this garden. The sun was dropping behind the ridge, I was in shade, but perfectly comfortable in short sleeves. Birds were flitting about and singing. The stream was gurgling behind me. It was difficult to believe that three days before it was bitterly cold. In fact I spent the next few minutes checking on the existing irrigation: six crazy blue standpipes of which one can be seen above. They must be removed and replaced with a series of poli-pipes leading micro-sprayers to every rose. Soon. At the moment the daily watering of the transplanted roses is done by hand with a drag hose. Laboriously.

Yesterday  morning I was part of a group on a trial visit to a cultural tourism development project centred around a 19th century German mission in the scenic foothills to the west of us. This is a bad shot with my little camera, but it gives an idea of the expanse of the scenery – and of the love of crenelated facades for the local ‘rural suburban’ houses.The back of one is seen here, complete with the typical longdrop toilets flanking it. Below is an ancient cattle kraal, were the cattle are herded at night to protect them from marauders. For years I have been wanting to go on a serious photo-shoot into this area, where the sublime and the ugly, the serene and the squalid go hand in hand, and where little gardens are lovingly tended in the hot stony soil, often with water that has to be hauled several hundred meters in cans on a wheelbarrow.

Back to my garden. The seating platform in the Mothers’ Garden is complete. We are ready to start planting the hedges and laying down the paths. The curved grass paths in the New Old Rose garden are so successful that I’ve decided to use grass for the central path in this garden and to lay down galvanised sheeting to keep the edges perfectly sharp. Project number eighty seven for the coming weeks.

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Meanwhile the hedge at the top end of the Rosemary Terrace has finally been levelled. I will have to get a bigger ladder. I am not satisfied that the one rather dwarfed in the picture below is safe when cutting the highest end of the hedge. And one of tomorrow’s jobs is to complete the water feature in the Italian Pot. Pics to follow.

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Another job for tomorrow is the completion of the spout on the front door axis. Then the wooden constructions supporting the line establishing the horizontal for the cutting of the hedge can be removed and the fountain photographed. Where after Alfred’s Arches will be cut to the ground, to grow out again and be re-arched in two years or so. The recent attempt at neatening the arches just made everything look even more botched.   I knew the moment was coming. I was hoping to postpone it for another year. I can’t.

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It has been fun planning the ‘furnishing’ of the greenhouse, and I have a long list of bits and pieces to get to complete the irrigation in here – but finalising the greenhouse  is going to have to wait till the end of the month. Next week will be hectic and end with a long weekend in the Kruger Park with the Rotary Club.

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To end on a more colourful note: one of the flowering quinces in the hedge grown from seed is proving an absolute winner. A clear tomato red, I’ve never seen such dense flowering on a Chaenomeles. Cuttings, here we come!

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Here it is again in close-up, followed by another shrub of an altogether gentler shade. I have been threatening a post on my homegrown  chaenomeles hedges. Perhaps I should start photographing…

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8 thoughts on “CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

    • We had three mother plants – a ‘standard’ red, a white and a special one with dark red flowers and golden anthers which I believe to be the named cultivar “Crimson & Gold”, but no-one can recall if back in the ignorent eighties it had a name attached to it… and of course the seeds got thoroughly mixed up too 🙂

  1. Again, wonderful photos, Jack! I love flowering quince, but being from a northern country, I’m used to seeing them with flowers stopping in a straight line where the winter snow protected the buds! They always look odd that way!

    You seem to have bitten off an awful lot to chew, as the saying goes. Good luck with it all!

  2. Jack, I loved catching up with your story of the seedling rose. It is such a lovely thing. I hope it continues to enchant and surprise.
    Good luck with all your projects. As the previous poster said, you do seem to have a lot on your “to do” list, but many of them sound ultimately like fun jobs.

    • Thank you, Jill – and I in turn enjoyed your post on Stein… it was you who wrote on the Barbican some months back, wasn’t it?

    • lol, Catherine! I have a friend whose rose garden was trashed by hippopotomi two nights before I went to see it…. I was intrigued that roses grew so well (she had a nursery) in the sub-tropcal heat by the river where they lived some 60km away. I have dined out on that story for 10 years!

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