After 3 days of misty rain totalling 10mm it rained well all night and we measured 69mm this morning. (25mm = 1 inch) And it has continued to pour down! Here is a pic from this morning… Can you see that it is spring?! 🙂

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An experiment. I was going to ignore wildflower Wednesday this month. But a hawkweed stopped me in my tracks. Could this international weed be called a wildflower? I believe I have done so before on my blog… So here it is: photographed with and reported on… My Blackberry. A first!

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Later: from PC: Voila!! There it is, the picture dramatically and effectively cropped by blackberry, but seen in full if you click on it. And this I was not ambitious enough yet to try on bb: This post is inspired by Gail of Clay and Limestone who started Wildflower Wednesday.



Nothing symbolises the change in season ,pregnant with expectation, as Friday’s discovery of a bud on ‘Cascade’ rose and the first sign of growth on the indigenous Eulophia orchid – two plants I wrote about together, it so happens, five months ago today on 21March.


The Eulophia was trashed by baboons and I planted several cuttings from the remnants. Only one had bits of root, and it clearly survived when the others shrivelled. Being herbaceous, I was not concerned when it too browned in the winter – and sure enough… it is growing out from the base. But the rose really was a surprise. It never lost its leaves during the winter and here it is, after spending the time outside, uncosseted if protected from the worst of the cold, bravely in bud before we’ve even finished pruning all the other roses! The more I see of this seedling, the more of a winner I believe I’ve found. Found being the operative word – if you have not already done so, read the story of this amazing find here


Speaking of pruning – I am busy pruning the roses transplanted into the New Old Rose Garden, a process which will be completed this coming week. And almost all the other roses in the garden – several hundred of them – have now been pruned. As I finished the day’s pruning around 5pm yesterday, I leant back against the pillar at the steps and surveyed this garden. The sun was dropping behind the ridge, I was in shade, but perfectly comfortable in short sleeves. Birds were flitting about and singing. The stream was gurgling behind me. It was difficult to believe that three days before it was bitterly cold. In fact I spent the next few minutes checking on the existing irrigation: six crazy blue standpipes of which one can be seen above. They must be removed and replaced with a series of poli-pipes leading micro-sprayers to every rose. Soon. At the moment the daily watering of the transplanted roses is done by hand with a drag hose. Laboriously.

Yesterday  morning I was part of a group on a trial visit to a cultural tourism development project centred around a 19th century German mission in the scenic foothills to the west of us. This is a bad shot with my little camera, but it gives an idea of the expanse of the scenery – and of the love of crenelated facades for the local ‘rural suburban’ houses.The back of one is seen here, complete with the typical longdrop toilets flanking it. Below is an ancient cattle kraal, were the cattle are herded at night to protect them from marauders. For years I have been wanting to go on a serious photo-shoot into this area, where the sublime and the ugly, the serene and the squalid go hand in hand, and where little gardens are lovingly tended in the hot stony soil, often with water that has to be hauled several hundred meters in cans on a wheelbarrow.

Back to my garden. The seating platform in the Mothers’ Garden is complete. We are ready to start planting the hedges and laying down the paths. The curved grass paths in the New Old Rose garden are so successful that I’ve decided to use grass for the central path in this garden and to lay down galvanised sheeting to keep the edges perfectly sharp. Project number eighty seven for the coming weeks.



Meanwhile the hedge at the top end of the Rosemary Terrace has finally been levelled. I will have to get a bigger ladder. I am not satisfied that the one rather dwarfed in the picture below is safe when cutting the highest end of the hedge. And one of tomorrow’s jobs is to complete the water feature in the Italian Pot. Pics to follow.


Another job for tomorrow is the completion of the spout on the front door axis. Then the wooden constructions supporting the line establishing the horizontal for the cutting of the hedge can be removed and the fountain photographed. Where after Alfred’s Arches will be cut to the ground, to grow out again and be re-arched in two years or so. The recent attempt at neatening the arches just made everything look even more botched.   I knew the moment was coming. I was hoping to postpone it for another year. I can’t.


It has been fun planning the ‘furnishing’ of the greenhouse, and I have a long list of bits and pieces to get to complete the irrigation in here – but finalising the greenhouse  is going to have to wait till the end of the month. Next week will be hectic and end with a long weekend in the Kruger Park with the Rotary Club.


To end on a more colourful note: one of the flowering quinces in the hedge grown from seed is proving an absolute winner. A clear tomato red, I’ve never seen such dense flowering on a Chaenomeles. Cuttings, here we come!


Here it is again in close-up, followed by another shrub of an altogether gentler shade. I have been threatening a post on my homegrown  chaenomeles hedges. Perhaps I should start photographing…





End of the weekly pic after two years of blogging

Without my really thinking about it, my previous post was the first of the Third Year Of My Blogging. Quite co-incidentally I am also at a turning point as a blogger. All of which has made me stop – no, let’s just make that pause – for thought. Decision: the weekly pic has served its purpose, it has run its course.

Broederstroom 1
The Broederstroom, as it flows through my cousin’s farm next door to mine.

For, you see, he said rather lamely: a river runs through it…

When I started my blog two years ago, it was with a certain aim in mind. After four or so years of happy garden sharing in the forums of Mooseyscountrygarden (still the cosiest gardening space on the internet I know of), it was time to start my own blog for very specific purposes. I had left teaching to design gardens, and I was developing Sequoia Gardens as a holiday destination and open garden. I needed a space where I could more obviously display what was on offer. And the original idea behind the weekly pic was for those wishing to visit Sequoia at a certain time of year to find an answer to the question ‘What will it look like then?’ In the beginning I was putting together a catalogue; more and more it has become a diary. Throughout the main point of it all was marketing. The sharing with other garden bloggers was a pleasant spin-off. However the return to full-time teaching has limited my blogging time, and I need to rationalise.

Broederstroom 3

Looking downstream from almost the same point.

Besides – I  have the basic tool now; now I need to refine it. Someone who has never seen my blog before needs to be able to find relevant information more easily. Much of the limited time I spend on my blog in the coming months will have to relate to that aim. There will still be new information, but I will concentrate on less regular and more substantial posts for the time being. But (publicity moment to fellow garden bloggers!): there are some very exciting developments I will post about in the near future, so don’t go away!!!

Broederstroom 4

These photos were taken this afternoon when I went down to collect building sand for one of the on-going cottage projects. The sand was conveniently washed up by the river during the great flood of 2000. My stream joins up with the river a few hundred meters after flowing into my cousin’s ground. My grandfather, a keen trout fisherman, bought the two Deeds of Sale in 1951 for the excellent trout fishing on the river. So you see: a river really does run through it.


There is only one plant that can match the old roses when it comes to voluptuous soft pinks or – even more unusual – rich pinks that age to almost neon shades which become overlaid with a blue-grey bloom: the camellia … which insists on blooming for me in winter.

Old rose camellia

The problem is that my winter is not suitable for camellias. Two kilometres away and several hundred meters away from the water, I have neighbours who hardly ever have frost, and whose plants face away from the morning sun. Now you should see the sheer excess of THEIR camellias, dozens of cultivars and hundreds of bushes.

Camellia walk

Mine face into the morning sun and regularly show frost damage. However when we have a few warmer nights in a row, such as this last week, and now that the bushes are larger and dense enough to have shady sides, one can find  a few near perfect blooms. But even on bitterly cold mornings, the pink camellias call one across the valley from behind the gum trees – and you tend to go, even when you know that from close by you will be disappointed.

Semi-double pink camellia Salmon pink camellia Pink Camellia
Palest pink camellia Shaded pink camellia

PS: I can’t get away from the latest garden developments: next to the big lawn in the far right of the photo above, taken from the arboretum, you can see the ground work that has been done on the Mothers’ Garden. And we’ve started digging the holes for the roses that are being transplanted into the new Old Rose Garden…


Taubie in the new Old Rose Garden

In winter one works on your roses –right? So progress in the new Old Rose Garden – about which I’ve warbled on (as opposed to Twittered) in my last two posts – deserves to take centre stage this week. Today I marked out the paths with sand and we used the sods lifted from the lawn where the Mothers’ Garden will go to start on the paths. Being of indigenous tufted grasses, and tough as can be, rather than a runner, it should work well. Problem: we are going to be short of grass to complete the paths. Solution: go back to the post on The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe –here is a link – and see what I say about a series of reflective water surfaces on the lower terrace. These were long term plans. But the grass will be needed here. Ergo, the series of ponds become short term plans. Ouch. Or as we say in South Africa, expressing a little more of shock, horror, surprise or even excitement: eisch!!!

The string on the right of the picture marks the outside edge of the hedge enclosing the Mothers’ Garden. Sandy markings indicate where paths hive off. Taubie says “Something is happening, but I’m not certain what!”

Fixing the Italian pot's base

Meanwhile work has stopped on the greenhouse, about which I can’t wait to post, as we await the delivery of the polycarb sheeting that will form the roof and walls. Anyway, next week my builder goes up to Samaria, the game farm on the Limpopo River,with us. There he will again help my cousins to build their new camp; this is my investment in future holidays in paradise! So to mark time this project fits perfectly. I mentioned in my previous post that some rebuilding – and especially realigning – of the plinth on which the Italian pot stands was needed. He is busy doing this. Also worth an upcoming post1

In the parking lot

Lastly: when you need to move thirty odd mature azaleas, each 2m high, and 20m of hypericum hedge in order to prepare for the new Old rose Garden… you don’t just dump these plants. You re-use them. And that too takes time. Luckily the defining of the parking area, adjacent to the new garden, made sense. And so the move was not as strenuous as it might have been…


Vinca major

Do periwinkles wink at you in winter too? I always forget to check: I’m certain they DO flower most of the year, but their bitty display and inherent bashfulness make one look right across them. And then suddenly, when all else is drab, they greet one shyly.

Vinca major3

Not for nought is one of the intensifiers for blue periwinkle blue! Somehow it is more a flower of spring than of any other season; and yet… that perfect pentagon in the centre speaks of hidden strengths. This is Vinca major; Vinca minor is just the same but smaller, and often an inkier blue. And this is Monty, posing among the periwinkles.

Monty posing among the periwinkles


Winter on the Makou dam

I know choosing lifeless cannas, straw-like lawns and endless grey twigs is bound to invoke a rather cheerless picture of winter, but I’m not there yet. That happens in early August; the way Northerners feel in Feb. At this stage I am still revelling in the water which seems so green now that it is so cold, the monotones and the shutdown that happens after heavy frosts. Perhaps the next photo, of Leonitus ocymifolia  gives a cheerier impression. This is a self-planted wilding, and its winter baubles give me more joy than its furry orange salvia-like flowers do, sticking out of the balls in fours and fives in summer. It is so wintery, and yet so graphic. Now all I need do is get there early in the morning and catch the baubles frosted in the first sunlight. Deal!

Wildedagga Leonitus ocymifolia

I watched for the otters, but the water was still. A Woolly-necked Stork flew over, but either we disturbed it or it was on its way to nest elsewhere anyway. I think they have found the bluegum rather chilly of late. Two Black Ducks flew over at low altitude, complaining, and moved on to Freddy’s Dam. The dogs ratted amongst the cannas, and Mateczka took herself on a mad run, slicing through the cannas at times for the tearing-silk noise it made. God was around also.