More of the end of May–and a dedication

I am in Johannesburg, (or rather: I was when I compiled this on Saturday and Sunday) attending a trade expo and, much to my surprise, there is no free wi-fi to be had. So these last two posts, compiled in quiet times – of which there are too many Sad smile –  will have to wait till I am home for posting…

To get back into the spirit of things: some fingered end-of-autumn leaves!

24 Red plane

The thick five fingered leaf of a plane tree is unmistakeable; it is more solid than any maple or liquidambar with which it might be confused. Usually they turn a rather pale yellow before browning and falling, but the reds in this leaf already indicate something unusual…

25 Red plane

It is from my ‘red plane’! I found the tree in a rural wholesale nursery one autumn in the early nineties, sporting red leaves amongst a sea of yellow. I nonchalantly loaded it onto my trolley and looked for more. I think I selected four, but none were as red as this one. Only one of its brethren I can now identify for certain, and it has never proved itself unusual, but this tree… It shows the first signs of colour in mid-February. It is predominantly red, but there are strong yellow and even orange markings as well. And it drops its last leaves in mid-June. That is four months of autumn colour!

26 Red plane

Here a selection of leaves lie on the grass below it…

27 Taubie

Whilst I photograph the plane, Taubie plods off into the water under the nearby  weeping flowering cherry. Only on studying the photo now do I realise how the graft has developed into an  unsightly swelling as so often happens… to hide, or to o ignore? What does this pic achieve? Perhaps to show how lovely our days can be, even as winter approaches.

28 Taubie beyond jetty

And here she is again in this season of fallen leaves…

29 Woodland walk

This photo continues that theme.

30 Beech Border Bench

As does this one, showing the bench under the beech at the top of the Beech Borders. Beyond,  the bright buttery yellow of Acer davidii, one of the snake-bark maples, lies strewn across the slope.

31 Beech Borders

Another view from a few meters on; Taubie snuffling among the azaleas and shrub roses of the Beech Borders, with berberis and the bare stems of the Japanese maples along the stream from the spring; I wrote about them a few posts back.

32 Mateczka, birch, holly

Lest she gets jealous, here again is Mateczka, in the arboretum with birches, an oak-leaved hydrangea and a particularly neat holly.

33 Arboretum view

Since in our meanderings we’ve ended up back in the arboretum, here is another view. but let us get back to the water!

34 Freddie's Dam

The view across Freddie’s Dam is always interesting, and always changing. By the way, clicking on photos will enlarge them!

36 THtJB and Acer davidii

This photo is the opposite view of the one above it, taken from under the yellow snake-bark maple in the centre of the above photo.

35 View across Makou Dam

This time we are looking across the Makou Dam and the comments in my previous post about the shrubs in the Upper Rosemary Border come to mind.

37 Viburnum x bodnantiensis 

Viburnum x bodnantiensis is a tall scruffy shrub at the best of times, lacking the grace and beauty of many viburnums. Like several relations it makes up for this with relatively inconspicuous but nicely scented flowers in winter. However it is a touch too cold for them here, and so a perfect cluster is hard to find. And quite frankly the scent does not appeal greatly to me. I guess I keep it for its snob value: it is quite rare and the link with the magnificent gardens at Bodnant in Wales is irresistible…

38 Cotoneaster detail

A plant that does give me a lot of joy I planted as Cotoneaster horizontalis. Especially now as it is covered in berries and autumn leaves it is a delight…

39 Cotoneaster

But the sheer height to which it has grown makes me wonder if this really is the plant I have…

40 Graham Stuart Thomas in the Anniversary Garden

I really enjoy this rather muddled view. The last blooms on Graham Stuart Thomas (which in South Africa is a ‘climber’ – most of Austin’s roses grow very leggy in our climate) stand out against a hazel. In the background the wisteria yellows on the pergola and a Japanese maple shows some colour. Watching over it all is the sentinel of Melaleuca ‘Johannesburg Gold’ which is always this warm yellow colour – the best yellow-leaved tree of all in our climate.

42 yellow conifer

However this ubiquitous yellow conifer is not to be dismissed…

43 Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe

I end this post with the garden that has haunted me for how long? Fourteen months! The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe. In this imperfect universe very little has happened here this past summer. Children arrive and hop from stump to stump, proving my basic assumption right. The water spout wets it rocks at the end  of the Alfred’s Arches axis. Wild flowers (and weeds) have softened the setting. This last summer brought many changes in my life, but all were more demanding than I’d anticipated and I spent less time – and money -  in the garden than ever. I can only hope that the coming year will bring the opportunity to spend time here…

PS: This morning I showed all these photos to my father, with whom I am staying during the expo. When he saw the date of the photos – 29 May 2012 – he told me that I took them 60 years to the day after he declared his love to my mother and they started going steady. As the love of trees – and the planting of them – very much started with my dad, I dedicate this post to him. And that makes this a perfect opportunity to share a photo he took of our valley one midwinter in the early 50s. It contains some wonderful details and some tantalising uncertainties.

50s panorama s 

To orientate you: the building to the left of centre is the stone barn. The tall gum trees to the left of it are those to the right of the big house today. I suspect the top of the big gum in the arboretum is showing above the curve of the grassy hill near the left of the photo. Only about half the current area was planted to pine, seed potatoes were the main crop, and pigs were kept in the old sties near where the house now is. The old main house, over to the right of the picture, is on the part of the farm that now belongs to my cousin.

The arboretum in early May

My father’s vision and energy have changed the farm dramatically, especially over the last 30 years. The arboretum in particular will be his lasting monument. And remember that the tall gum was claimed by my mother as hers on their honeymoon. But if any spot on Sequoia is truly his, it is the avenue of sequoias that lead up to his dream house where I now live. So it seems appropriate to end this post with a photo sent to me by a couple who celebrated their wedding on Sequoia in April, of them setting off on life together from under this avenue…

Bridal couple in Sequoia avenue


2 thoughts on “More of the end of May–and a dedication

  1. The Garden Welcoming an Imperfect Universe is a very ambitious project, so it’s probably not surprising that — in this imperfect universe — it’s taking longer than you had imagined. I always find that my one-year projects take two, and my multi-year projects sometimes never quite get completed. (Will I finally put the railing on the stairs leading up to the back garden this year??) I’ve only been in Maine 3 weeks, and I’m already thinking that this summer’s major project may have to wait until next summer.
    I love that final photo; what a beautiful place for a wedding.

  2. What a wonderful post to dedicate to your father! I enjoyed all your fantastic fall photos; they make me nostalgic for autumn as we enter our summer. But I was especially touched by the part about your parents. Your dad has certainly made an impact upon the land, as you have. He must be very proud to see you follow his footsteps .

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