By the time I publish this I will have been home a week – but there hasn’t been much time for my blog, or even for photography. So this will be a rather random photo-essay, impressions after two weeks away. The continuation of my story about my dad and Sequoia will have to wait. It needs time to prepare. But since we ended with the arrival of The Plett, let us start off there today.

Plett today

There was a rather similar angle of The Plett as it arrived. Last year I added the 2nd roof and pergola and expanded on the gardening around The Plett. It is looking lovely, as the following photos (almost) show.

Plett Garden developing

Creepers are making their way up the pillars and the paved area is surrounded by lush shrubs and perennials.

Plett Garden

Privacy between The Plett and the big house improves every week and this garden area is fast becoming THE place to explore. This path is a reminder of the route The Plett followed to get here.

Detail from Plett Garden

In addition there is plenty of scope for cuttings of new perennials from here… I wander down to inspect other parts of the garden. The big lawn is looking neat and finished, although not one plant from the past-their-sell-by-date seed packs we planted in the straightened lower edge of the top bed germinated. Good. Room for perennials then!

Looking across big lawn

The pale orange dahlias that were planted too late last summer have recovered fully and make a strong statement. My plan is to document and collect from the vast variety of old dahlias around the village and neighbouring gardens that have survived since the heyday of the dahlia half a century ago…

Summer greens with dahlias in foreground

This one (bought new though) will start the collection. One thing I did learn – not that one doesn’t know this of dahlias: beware which colours you plant where!

Dahlias towards Plett

The magenta-purple dahlia on the right is all wrong! Luckily it is also of very short stature; it will be moved. This soft orange is ideal. We have pure yellow pompoms (although there is already rather too much pure yellow around) and clear reds of an orange rather than purple shade will work here; also the many russets growing around my cousin’s staff house, survivors from the terraced gardens next door… One thing I learnt late last summer: dahlias can be moved when not quite dormant and still survive, and that is what I plan to do later in the summer!

My purples

Before moving on I admire my favourite plant combination in the whole garden, seen in the background of the last dahlia pic. It gives me pleasure for at least ten months of the year! Then I turn to the Upper Rosemary Border.

Upper Rosemary Border

It is looking lush and richly textured. Not for the first time my mind wonders to the impossibility of achieving such richness in time for the Spring Festival when much in my garden has yet to awake…

Mozart Rose

This is Mozart, a Hybrid Musk rose much like Ballerina (and my own Cascade Rose)  but larger and more inclined to sprawl. Each year it has looked better, spilling over other plants in this border.

Cardinal Hume

And here, finally, is a good shot of the cardinal red of Cardinal Hume which grows close by in this border. Below – a more general shot again of the varied plants in the Upper Rosemary Border.

Upper Rosemary Border 2

And yes – if the plant dead centre looks suspiciously like a weed – it is! One of my favourite weeds. With great anticipation I turn to investigate the Lower Rosemary Border where the scatterpacks of annual seeds were just beginning to flower when last I was here…

Meadow planting

Mmm… at first glance, disappointment. A little selene which we already have, dominates, followed by gypsophila and a few yellow daisies. But there are signs of more to come, although I don’t think we can expect the exuberance of the last sowing, some 5 years ago. This morning I returned with my camera for a few close-ups…

Dominant selene Selene close-up

Here are the selenes. Like so many flowers, there is just too much of magenta and too little of pink about them. Below are a pair of blue flowers.

A tiny blue daisy Blue weed

On the left a blue daisy which could be one of any number of ‘blue daisies’; on the right something I know as a weed of sandy riverbeds, but a flower I’ve always admired. Rather like a morning glory in appearance, it is carried on a fleshy shrub-like plant with spiky leaves, and if I’m not mistaken forms a large spiky seed capsule. I shall have to identify it and check how weedy it will be in our climate; in fact I wonder how a lone plant ended up in my seed mix… 

Wine red cosmos Nemesias and gypsophilla

A wine-red cosmos hints at the rich colours to come, and a variety of nemesias and gypsophila show that all is not magenta…

Nemesia red and yellow Nemesia blue & white 

In fact, it is worth seeking out the nemesias and coming in close to see their delicious colours.

Colour contrast

Searching through the bed I start to find the startling clashes and serendipitous blends that so enchanted me during the last incarnation of this garden. I believe it will be a success after all…


Satiated, I turn to the next bed down – the groupings of cannas. And am enchanted by the sinuous lines that characterise this part of the garden.

canna bed

On I go, crossing the wall of the Makou Dam.

Makou Dam

Stopping to look back across the garden I think – I know not for the last time – ‘How I would love Dad to be standing beside me looking back at what we have achieved!’

Across Makou Dam

And on, up into the arboretum.

Mothers'  Garden

The Mothers’ Garden still awaits its roses, but over the next days I will clip its hedges. I took the big Toyota Condor seen in front of the garages – a 4×4 based on a Malaysian commercial vehicle, simple, cavernous and ideal for transporting both goods and people, and even for sleeping in when camping (and of course now off the market, leaving a gaping void waiting to be filled) – to Johannesburg in late November, intending to buy the roses. But life took over…

Double Rugosa Rose

In the arboretum I find the double  Rugosa flowering. I must propagate this intriguing rose. Grown from species seed, like all my Rosa rugosas, this one is double instead of single. Whether it is a mutation or in fact a cross I suppose I will never know. But I suspect it to be a mutation as the colour, growth and leaf is stock-standard.

Beech Border axis hydrangeas

Onwards I go, enjoying being on the farm again with my dogs, finding the new sights of the season, and listening to the rush of summer waters…

Freddie's Dam overflow


5 thoughts on “HOME

  1. A grand tour for sure and another reminder of the difference in our seasons. Nice to enjoy yours while we are being inundated with rain which may let up on Christmas day. I think I’ll go back to the beginning and take this walk again.

  2. Lovely. It’s grey and miserable in eastern England so it’s wonderful to be reminded of the summer and all those beautiful dahlias and hydrangeas. The shortest day has just passed, so we can start to look forward to spring again. Happy Christmas!

  3. Jack, Both my parents died during the summer, and I found the garden a source of enormous comfort, both in its beauty and in its reminder of the circle of life. This was surely a healing place to come home to.

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