Four months have passed since my last post; although it was not intended as a final chapter, it made an appropriate one. This is my 401st post, written after six years and some days of blogging. Officially it will be my last, although with the new owners of Sequoia Gardens we are planning a joint blog to cross-refer and edit from this blog, so I will in due course post a link; they have decided to continue letting the cottages, and so a marketing tool makes sense.

Late autumn at The House that Jack Built

Soon this will again be my ‘home’ on Sequoia, for I shall stay here as a visitor. It is three years since I put Sequoia Gardens on the market, nine months since the buyers appeared on the scene, but only now have we finalised the sale. Much has happened in the meantime.

My silence for so long was mainly due to my return to teaching. I helped out at Stanford Lake College, my old school 10 minutes away, for a term. Here are a few of the many shots I took as autumn turned to winter in this beautiful setting.

SLC autumn

SLC winter

slc MORNING SLC sillouettes As I started at SLC, I learnt that I would teach from  July at Mitchell House, a very different but very lovely private school in Polokwane, 65km (40 miles) away. At that stage I was well on my way to purchasing a house in our local village, which I consider my home town, and the plan was to commute. I bought a Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion and twice have managed to achieve 4l/100km (58.8mpg) on my 65km run to work! I don’t mind the commute, but any teacher knows that there is always grading to be done at home – and I am losing 10 hours per week to travelling. Almost on a whim last Friday afternoon I popped into an estate agent in Polokwane. On Monday I saw my new home and by the time we returned to Sequoia late on Tuesday, my offer had been accepted. Next Sunday I prepare to start camping out in my new home during the week. After fixing this home, it  will have cost me 25% less than the Haenertsburg home fixed, and will be a much more saleable asset. Thus three years of limbo start drawing to a close…

What are the gardening implications of this move? Small courtyard gardens in a much less kind climate; all very low maintenance but attractive within the limitations. Few of my plants in the greenhouse will make the transition to the new home. There is a borehole and a sophisticated automatic irrigation system, which adds to the lock-up-and-go quality of the property, and the front courtyard and pavement are well loved and beautifully shady – in fact on one side the pavement garden extends three meters across the neighbours’ property. Here it is, with my dirt-road-dirty Polo in the driveway.

New home

Street and entrance courtyard planting

As you can see, the front courtyard is well treed. Excessively so, and we will thin out the palms and unfortunately one of the best white-barked leopard trees, as the 4×4 and caravan need to be parked here. However thinning is needed, and only the one tree will be mourned. Most rooms open out onto the inner courtyard, where there is a small pool, some paving and planting boxes, and a small lawn for the dogs’ pleasure. I see fuchsias in hanging baskets in the side alleyway that the kitchen and living rooms look back onto, some roses added and a rather formal Moorish inspired tinkling  fountain, but the bulk of the planting needs to be hot-climate shade-lovers under the existing canopies.

And what about the future of Sequoia Gardens? Way back in December last year I posted the following:

Amaya's Rose

Take note of the windowsill just showing in the above picture. It is of ‘Sequoia Rose’ growing outside the guest room. I have often written about it. I dedicate this picture to a young lady, turned one this week, whose bedroom this will hopefully one-day become. She crawled purposefully towards the open window, pulled herself up against the burglar bars and tried to pick a bloom. I helped her, then put it in her hair. A real picture moment, but a camera was not handy.

Cuttings of the Sequoia Rose will go with us to Polokwane…






10 thoughts on “CODA

  1. Hmmm. Achy about you leaving Sequoia. . . . All has been a wonder. The only thing I see about your new house that would give me the jeebies a la heebies is that it is in town. Neighbors in my pocket are not my forte. Am glad you will be taking some roses to it. And. Must ask, what is a Leopard Tree? I gather it has the mottled bark, but what are its familiars (used as an adjective)? A leopard fulfills the other description, kind of.
    Are you still going to build on the property you bought?
    Amaya is too young to know the honor you have paid her. But she will be most appreciative!
    Do you plan to take a cutting of the rose you found by a creek on Sequoia? Were I not a trillion miles away, a cutting of each would be most treasured, sir.
    Have you enjoyed going back to teaching?
    And lastly, for questions, will your Sequoia blog stay up?
    Otherwise, all does seem a coda. A sad one to me, for I will miss you should you not want to blog.

    vaya con dios,

    • Bonnie Brook! How lovely to hear from you again!

      About the leopard tree – this link gives much info on how it is used here:

      The buying of the other property fell through. Buying this house was a practical decision, rather than a passionate one. I am renovating in a way that I can resell in 2-5 years, but also so that I can stay here into my dotage. A simple home base which allows opportunity to travel is my ideal. I am a teacher at heart and very happy to start on a new phase in my career when most people are thinking of winding down.

      Cuttings of both the Amaya Rose and Cascade are growing strongly and will definitely come along. Some others I need to strike – specially Rosa mutabilis, Jacques Cartier and Penelope.

      The blog will stay up, even if it becomes rather static. Judging by how fast my four months of non-posting passed, I don’t think I’ll start another – except of course co-hosting the new Sequoia blog about which you will read here. But who knows… 😉

      All the best to you and your gardening etc etc enterprises! 🙂

      • Hurrah for you, Jack! Shan’t say much about dotage. My CPU still goeth strong and persists in kicking the slats out of body for not obeying orders and keeping up. 😉 Hubband talks of wanting to move, but b. thinks this is a very nice spot and am investing it with roses, irises and other chlorophyll goodies.

        How is the new place’s weather more harsh?

        Thank you for the link to leopard tree.

        Where do your foots long to wander?

        And. Mr. You! You know my name, drop me an electron! 🙂

        vaya con dios,

        P.S. Vaya con dios: go with God is the literal translation, said to one who is journeying and much like “break a leg” means good luck!

  2. Congratulations!
    Jack, I was thinking a lot about what’s going on in your life, and I noticed how long we didn’t hear from you. I’m glad you got a home and I’m glad even more that you got a teaching job! This planet needs good teaches!
    It’s wonderful that you like Sequoia Gardens’ new owners!
    It’s tough to leave the place so dear to you, but the place continue to live and to make people happy – this is what matters. And, it lives in your heart.
    All the best to you!

  3. Jack, This is such a bittersweet post with its combination of endings and new beginnings. Yesterday, I was at a talk by Fergus Garrett (of Great Dixter) and was particularly intrigued by a courtyard corner at Great Dixter filled with container plants. He described the containers (which are changed fairly frequently) as a great way to experiment with plant combinations on a small scale. Perhaps your inner courtyard will provide a similar kind of creative opportunity. Enjoy your new home!

    • Jean! I remember writing a long answer to you. Now, sleepless, I trawl through my blog and find it missing….
      My thoughts about gardening are taking shape… The pots at Great Dixter have always been an inspiration and I definitely see them becoming more so. And as for you attending a lecture by FG… how I sometimes wish I didn’t live in a darkening corner of Africa! 🙂

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