I ended my previous post with a dying camera as I was about to take the above scene – so let us continue from here, for this is where the ache comes in: I have waited ten years for this effect to mature. And now Sequoia Gardens is in the market.
Originally the Japanese Walk was simply too sunny for mosses to take hold. But now the wisteria has grown and the Japanese maples have matured, and the rocks and stepping stones we manhandled into position with such effort are beginning to look as I imagined they would…
Taken a few minutes earlier in full sun, I thought the contrast in this photo would be too strong, but I just love the streaking resulting from the sun through the reed fence. The round objects are beautiful clay beer-brewing pots made in a traditional way in the local rural communities. Do you see why this minor part of the garden has ranked so high in my expectations over the years, even though it seldom featured in photographs? Here is another view of this area, taken several weeks ago from the opposite end and used a few posts back:
The wooden pergola is planted with wisteria and below Alfred’s Arches and on the opposite side of the pergola I planted hedges of seed-raised chaenomeles (Japanese quinces). They proved a bit of a mixed bag, but the best one ended up, we discovered three years ago, in the best position!
It has a strong, clear colour, large and profuse flowers and, best of all, a vigorous inclination to climb. So it has joined the wisteria on the pergola and for a short, breath-taking period their flowering overlaps as these photos from spring 2012 prove.
I have a soft spot for chaenomeles, about which more anon. Enough said that in yesterday’s sunny moments I enjoyed photographing these brash blossoms that hide coyly among dark twigs.
There are subtle colour variations from bush to bush: tomato red to darker shades, and some where white pigment gives shades of pinky orange. Notice how the petals are sometimes stalked, resulting in a less clean cup shape – the third, pale example below has lovely full petals.
In fact some flowers are white. (The seeds came from a mixed planting of red, white and crimson bushes.) It is a good, clean fully albino white – but can’t compete with the reds – or can it?
I was first inspired to plant chaenomeles seed to see what came up by a lovely but shy-flowering ‘apple blossom’ self-seeded shrub below our original planting. It remains one of our more special seedlings.
Lastly one of the parents, a bought shrub from the days when impulse buying rather than knowledge dominated our purchases – I think it might be ‘Crimson and Gold’: it is lower growing and less strong than the norm, but quite floriferous.
I said I had a soft spot for the flowering quinces, or Japonica as my grandmother, whose story I now tell, called them. I grew up with a painting which today hangs in my house. It was painted by her friend and neighbour Gerda Oerder (who also signed herself Oerder Pitlo, adding her maiden name), the wife of Frans Oerder; he is one of South Africa’s great impressionist painters, known especially for his still-lives of flowers. His death on 15 July 1944 is the start of my story. Listlessly Gerda went out into the garden on a bleak mid August day. The vague desire to paint again sent her in search of subject matter for the first time since his illness. All she found were a few twigs of chaenomeles, which she picked and placed in a beaker. Then she became absorbed and at last forgot about her unhappiness. Until she stood back, looked at the result and thought “Oh, I must call Frans to show him!” And returned to reality. My grandmother was next on her list. She came over, christened it ‘Eensaamheid’ (loneliness) and bought it immediately. Eensaamheid has always demanded a wall to itself, and after my father’s death I tried it in several spots, before hanging it on its own in the guest bedroom.