GARDENING THE DURBAN WAY

I am staying with my cousin and his family whilst on business in the beautifully green  subtropical to warm-temperate climate of Kwazulu-Natal. His wife describes gardening here as being more about what you take out than what you put in, for everything grows here. One of the schools I visited, Kearsney College,  just up the hill from them, has the most magnificent avenue of plane trees I’ve ever seen outside of a London park. Yet a myriad tropical and subtropical plants also thrive here. In Pietermaritzburg yesterday, on the more temperate end of the scale, I saw a glorious pink Pride of India (Lagerstroemia indica, Crepe Myrtle) intertwined with a purple Tibouchina granulosa.

Duranta at veranda

My cousins live in a beautifully restored old stone farmhouse against Botha’s Hill, and one of the most ubiquitous plants in modern South African gardens is doing nicely as standards against the veranda – Duranta repens. Often the yellow-leaved variety ‘Sheena’s Gold’ is grown for topiarising, but this variety has the plain green leaf but larger white-edged flowers, and is as continuously in bloom as the less showy parent, which has not only lovely blue flowers, but also showy yellow berries. I don’t think I’ve yet seen berries on these – a sterile hybrid or clone perhaps?

stone steps

The garden is over 60 years old and contains magnificent stone work, covered in lichens and mosses and opportunistic ferns and other plants.

begonia and fuchsia

A curved stone wall backed by terraces lies to the right of the lawn in front of the house. Here a magnificent begonia, a fuchsia and hydrangeas share space with various plants of a more tropical nature – just to the right of this shot a dracaena grows! Stately palms frame  the backdrop to this wall.

Begonia

Here is a close-up of the begonia, growing more luxuriously than any I have ever seen!

Bromeliad

Bromeliads are another more tropical plant I am barely familiar with. This orange version has multiplied over the years and there are a vast number in the garden. Below is a red species, growing with a plant that is native on Sequoia too: Crocosmia aurea. In fact it is growing with a wide variety of other plants, including a plentiful maiden hair fern, and this photo gives an impression of just how lush this garden is, and what my cousin meant in her opening statement!

Red bromeliad

A complete surprise was finding a lovely soft pink Japanese Anemone growing in the garden. I know it exists, but have only seen the glorious white ‘Honorine Joubert’ and the over-saturated deep-pink (‘Prince Heinrich’?) versions in South Africa. This one is a soft pink and I will be back to beg a piece when next I am here; this time round I am away from home for another 3 1/2 weeks. But wait: I think I am hatching a plan for a nursemaid…!

Japanese anemone

One last picture, and an effect I love: a daylily (Hemerocallis) of the softest butter yellow seen against a checkerboard of stone and lawn. My cousin moans about her garden; I hope this tribute makes her see it in a new light!

Daylily

 

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4 thoughts on “GARDENING THE DURBAN WAY

  1. Lovely garden, Jack! While I wish I could grow begonias outside all year, and have bromeliads as well, Japanese Anemones are attempting to take over my garden! Watch out for them if you introduce them to your place, as I have a feeling that with your cooler weather, they’ll REALLY like it there!

  2. Thanks, Gordon. My white Japanese anemones have spread, and I in turn have spread them! I make certain to use them where their spreading nature is an advantage rather than a disadvantage, and luckily their foliage is lovely. Remember, Gord, that my garden is a little bigger than yours! 🙂

    • I’m not going bonkers. Here is Gordon’s message, which came through on my reader but didn’t register here, although my response (above) did!
      Lovely garden, Jack! While I wish I could grow begonias outside all year, and have bromeliads as well, Japanese Anemones are attempting to take over my garden! Watch out for them if you introduce them to your place, as I have a feeling that with your cooler weather, they’ll REALLY like it there!

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