Powder blue hydrangea

‘Christmas Roses’ is the Afrikaans name for hydrangeas, and what could sing more of full summer than these beautiful blues – this one in particular, as pure a blue as you are likely to find in the plant kingdom. I photographed it in what is at the moment one of my favourite parts of the garden – the swathe of varied blue hydrangeas at the end of the Beech axis.

Blue hydrangeas

Christmas was a beautiful day, with the predicted rain all but staying away, although the day was bracketed by rain. In fact the week to New year was WET. But Old Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were lovely and we had 12 people to lunch on the first in absolutely perfect weather.

blue and pink

Over the first days of the year the garden grew in beauty, and we now again have magnificent roses, 10 weeks after the hail.

Jacques Cartier

At ‘The Plett’ a swooning mass of over 20 Jacques Cartier roses we grew from cuttings is coming into full flower, but from just a few meters away a single gardenia bush gives them heady competition. And nearby the roses in Trudi’s Garden add their various interpretations of the scent of a rose…

Jacques Cartier close up

The Anniversary Garden, commemorating my parents’ golden anniversary, is looking lovely, if very different from the way I pictured it 10 years ago…

Golden Anniversary Garden

South Africa

And around the garden the cannas, against expectations a few weeks ago, are close to as good as they were last year.


One of the two self-seeded roses growing through Alfred’s Arches is in bud; in fact it looks as though it might be quite floriferous. But, puzzlingly and tantalisingly, it seems as though the buds – tiny and at best only semi-double – won’t open. For days I’ve been admiring these greenish pinkish whitish virgins. They aren’t aging and they aren’t opening…


Self-seeded rose

Cardinal Hume

When I planted the aptly named Cardinal Hume in the Upper Rosemary Border I was expecting him to be temperamental. He’s been slow, but each year he has improved and right now he is making a most impressive show. What is more Lychnis coronaria, about the only plant whose colour could more rightly be described as cardinal red, chose to self-seed right next to him. Not for the first time in my garden a quite mystical colour bond made plants chose to be companions…

Cardinal Hume and Lychnis coronaria

Desmond Tutu In case you don’t know Lychnis – it is the flower in the left foreground with grey leaves and stalks – quite a startlingly bright flower. But not quite as startlingly bright as our amazing octogenarian, the man who  warmed my heart most of all at Nelson Mandela’s funeral and himself a Nobel Peace Laureate: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. So why not include a picture of him? And what better way to wish us all: may 2014 be a blessed year of peace, joy, colour and energy!


    • Thank you Diane – and the same to the Studers! The blue is chinese plumbago – Ceratostigma willmottianum – and in fact a much clearer darker blue than it seems in the photo; one of the bluest of blues.

  1. I never get tired of seeing your beautiful blue hydrangeas, especially since these are flowers that I’m unlikely to ever grow successfully. (Most of the blue ones are not cold hardy here, and hydrangeas generally require more moisture than my glacial sand can ever retain.)

    • Thank you, Jean! My ‘next life’ has shifted from a home on our local mountain dam to one in an over 50s village on a dam on the same river but 800m lower and 35km away by road. Being low it is sub-tropical and few of my plants can make the transition… but I will be taking along many hydrangeas! I will in due course blog on this…

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