I have tons of glorious pics waiting to be processed – but do I get to it? Sad smile

However I just have to quickly share this with you.

A mass of buttercups

Buttercups – Ranunculus multifidus – are described in our books of wild flowers as ”said to have been introduced from Europe.” In other words, it is a weed. I love them growing in the wilder parts of the garden, never weedy or assertive, and cohorting perfectly well with the real wildings. But this year one (or more?) managed to grow in a flower bed near the house, where it was watered and fed. The result is a massive cushion of interlocking flower stems tipped with liquid yellow. I would not have thought this demure sequin could have such volume.

Buttercups in close up


Ellensgate Garden

I was planning a post on our wild flowers to slot in with the celebration of Wildflower Wednesday and have been saving suitable pics for days – it being high summer and wild flowers plentiful. But my own recent writing has prompted thought on the subject (see my nature/nurture pic on my previous post) and as a direct result of that  post I discovered This is a fascinating forum for serious talk about gardening and why we do it; about gardening as art, or at least as highly conscious construction.

Ellensgate Garden detail

This morning when I stuck my head across the gate of the Ellensgate Garden it struck me, not for the first time but more forcibly than before, that this most considered and contrived of my gardens had shown me a toffee and done its own thing – rather spectacularly well. What is more, self-sown wildings like the ferns, the mass of Gladiolus dalenii and the yellow arum, Zantedeschia albomaculata contribute substantially to this mutiny. As do the mosses and lichen on the very expensive sandstone trimmings from 800km away I commissioned – even if they now might just as well be cast concrete…

Ellensgate Garden detail 2 Zantedeschia albomaculata

The Ellensgate Garden  was the first development along the new axis from the front door. I started on it in 1996. It came to be because my father acquired the gate made by his father for their family home back in the 30s – read more about it here and follow the link given for full explanations of the material used etc. That original description, first used on a gardening forum nearly 10 years ago, makes for amusing reading against the backdrop of my present plight – is this carefully designed and built garden all about control? Is it the living abandon within the framework of control that makes it a success or a failure? Is what we are witnessing now simply the result of neglect? And then we can ramble on to the ethical/aesthetic debate around “can a garden which is the result of neglect even be considered to be a ‘good’ garden?” And as every gardener knows, that question leads on to all sorts of issues like the passing of time and the need for maintenance, which are like frame and wall to a painting…

Under the Ouhout

You see, the above is to my mind one of the most successful parts of my garden. Snag is that the only human intervention here has been the removal of some dead branches every few years. The trees were planted by nature. So were the grasses and the creeper. All natural, indigenous, endemic, native. Does that mean that it is not a garden? Or that I am such a poor gardener that I can’t compete with something so totally random?

Wild yellow daisy

What if I told you that the deepest joy of my gardening is these random incidents? The moments where Nature says – so it seems to me – ‘well done, Jack, and as a reward I will give you this as well!’ Witness these wild daisies in the arboretum growing, you guessed it, amongst wild grasses and other wild plants but against a backdrop of highly exotic camellias.

Wild yellow daisy detail

Here it is in close-up: Berkeya setifera, called Buffalo Tongue because of its large rough leaves…

Lobelia and agapanthus

Of course it is easy for me in our mountain’s kind climate with its varied flora to call on nature to contribute… The garden lobelia in the pot and the agapanthus beyond are close relatives of our wildings.

16 Lobelia erinus

This is Lobelia erinus, the species of the garden hybrid, photographed growing wild on the farm; individually possibly more beautiful, but not as floriferous as the garden hybrids.

Agapanthus inapertus

And here, planted in the narrow bed up against Alfred’s Arches and raised from seed from a wilding on the farm, is Agapanthus inapertus, a different species from those most garden Agapanthus hybrids originate from.

Crinum & Agapanthus inapertus

Above, the same two flower heads, photographed a few days earlier from the opposite side, together with possibly our most spectacular wilding, Crinum macowanii, seen in more detail below.


Of course not all the wildings are spectacular. The two flowers below are each no bigger than a finger nail, the yellow Hypoxis hiding in rough lawn and the blue Wahlenbergia floating inches above it on thin stems.

Hypoxis Wahlenbergia

Some are little more than weeds. Weeds? Ah, there too is a whole argument. Rephrase: some are so fleeting in flower and willing in seed that they have no garden value, tend to spread, and have value only as sudden little incidents in the wilder parts of the garden. Ergo, the kind of flowers I love. The flowers of Vernonia, below, are a case in point, especially in a strongly coloured example such as this one, seen against a little fern. Ferns too are worth an investigation on their own…


I have told the story before of how, on a tour to Sissinghurst, I was first attracted to Phygelius. ‘Don’t you know it?’ asked a lady on the tour, ‘It is from South Africa!’ I didn’t explain that just because one came from Washington DC it meant one knew the president. But I remembered the flower.

Phygelius aequalis

To my absolute surprise I discovered huge sheets of it just below Freddie’s Dam’s wall on my return to South Africa. But one needs to wade through the marches to get to see it in close-up. Which is well worth doing.

Phygelius detail

It took me another 15 years to strike a cutting, and that has been languishing for over a year on my kitchen window sill. That is the kind of sharing of one’s inadequacies which leads to angst – or perhaps stills it. (Never mind; I’m not nearly as angst-ridden as you might suspect. Winking smile) However it does reopen the debate about neglect and good gardening… Change the subject.

Samaria irrigation dams

We move further and further away from Wildflower Wednesday, and I have been away overnight to my cousins on Samaria near Mapungubwe – see this post which tells more about Samaria and links in to many of my other current thoughts. It was hot – night-time minimums equalling day-time maximums in less extreme parts of the country during last week’s heat-wave. And I want to share just one plant from this visit: an indigenous plant but considered a pest by many farmers; its English name, Devil’s Thorn, gives just one reason. The seed has vicious prickles. I have more than once had it go right through the sole of a shoe into my foot!


My sister tells of arriving in the arid city of Windhoek as a young woman. Dotted around her sandy ‘garden’ were the prettiest yellow flowers. So she dug them up and planted them on either side of her concrete entrance path. She wondered why the neighbour looked at her strangely. Until the seeds developed and she understood…


Sticking to the joys of wildings, I am pleased to report the survival of an attack by baboons (which you can read about here) of the Eulophia orchid. Here is its first flower of the season, on the only stalk. Not as robust as before, but alive!

Blue Thunbergia 4

I end this post, written over several days, with a reference to one of our quieter but more pervasive wildings, a flower that grows on you with close scrutiny – Thunbergia natalensis: a perfect example of the charms of a wilding as expressed by gardeners around the world on Wildflower Wednesday, a monthly post initiated by Gail of ‘Clay and Limestone’.


Good title. First thought: I need to get into the garden and take autumn cuttings, especially of plants that might not survive a bad winter. But there is much more to it than that.




















 For weeks I’ve been eyeing autumn’s slow approach, a sunny lightening of the leaves long before it could be called yellow. Time to blog about autumn. Time to blog. And gradually the yellows grew and were joined by reds. These two  photos I took this morning, the first framed by our exclamation marks, from the guest room. After several cold nights autumn is well and truly upon us.

Tulip trees in The Avenue

The Tulip Trees march up The Avenue, and on the road below them the Silver Maples are red. Where did the summer go? Has there ever been a summer where I was so absent from my garden? At the beginning of summer I bought MountainGetaways, and we published the first magazine just after I finished my teaching career. This year I learnt all about webpage design and rebuilt the website from scratch. And we published the second magazine. This month we relaunched the website – and those who are observant will notice the new logo up in the top right corner of my blog, which will take you to the site.

Colour starts to show

Here is a picture from late March. March was an amazing month on the blog. I posted the grand total of two posts – never before so few in a month. Yet I had almost exactly 50% more traffic than in my second best month ever, and that was two years ago. It seems the more the host is absent, the more the visitors come to stay… There’s a conundrum for you!

Leonitus 3

I have posted pics of this very plant  before, but always in winter. It is Leonitus ocymifolia. It is about time for a flowery view on it. (This, by the way, was intended for a Wildflower Wednesday post – about ten days ago…)


Like most of the wildings I post on, it really grows wild on Sequoia. This one just happened to have been moved into the garden twenty odd years ago. It is a great joy.

Leonitus 2

There. Not too many words. I am tired; supremely, happily tired. I shall post this and then sit back tonight with my new book –the biography Christopher Lloyd – His life at Great Dixter.


Gladiolus densiflorus

I could start this post in many ways – but there is nothing like the wow-factor to get you reading… So let me introduce you to this beauty: it is Gladiolus densiflorus.

It is one of many plants I wish to touch on in this post, my contribution to Wildflower Wednesday, a monthly look by garden bloggers around the world at those plants which are native to their immediate area, started by Gail of Clay and Limestone several years ago.

Self-sown Tree ferns

I suddenly became aware again a few days back of a truth I’d come to take for granted: I grew to love gardening on this farm because everything grows so harmoniously here. Many years ago I walked through the young ‘garden’ with a friend, very much a city boy, who could not believe the scale and assumed every bit was considered and conceived, planned and planted. “Surely THIS you planted!” he would exclaim, pointing at three species with minute flowers and a small-leaved groundcover growing on a path which curved amongst grasses and ferns. “No,” I’d say, “we only mowed a path through the existing growth, which caused other plants to dominate in the more open habitat.” My mother once described it as a scarless world, and that sums up the way in which it was possible to gently expand the human presence without pushing nature aside.


Even the big lawn consists of grasses – and other greens! – that grow wild here, although other areas are kikuyu – a thuggish (exotic) grass which is by far the most popular lawn grass in most of South Africa. It was originally planted here back in the 40s and 50s as pasture for the mules used in the early days of timber-farming, and keeping it from spreading insidiously has been one of the on-going tasks in the garden. The picture above regular readers will recognise: the stand of Ouhout (literally ‘old wood’) trees – Leucosidea sericea – with a wild evergreen grass and other plants beneath it: all entirely the work of nature, with no more than the  judicious removal of dead wood every few years by us. And one of the most beautiful spots in the whole garden… for 12 months of the year! In the photo above that you can see the mixed growth along a low cutting that first gave me the theme for this post: self-sown tree-ferns are becoming fine specimens, and an assortment of wild flowers, grasses, ferns and shrubs partial to conditions here have made this their happy home – all with minimal interference by us.


In many areas velvety mosses have covered bare earth – either because nothing much grows there, or because we have consciously kept the ground clear to encourage them, such as in the Japanese Walk where seven years on there is now sufficiently shade on the ground for my vision to start becoming a reality…

Japanese Walk

But this is all about wildFLOWER Wednesday, so let’s see what is blooming…


The rustic fence at the main entrance from the dirt road frames a lovely composition in blue and yellow – the blues appearing paler on film than in reality. The blue featured recently in a post: it is Wahlenbergia undulata, known locally as a ‘Bluebell’ ; the yellow is Hawkweed (Taraxacum officinale, and officially an exotic weed, but I claim it as one of our loveliest wild flowers…) and another smaller yellow daisy – one of the ubiquitous yellow daisies that we so easily just dismiss as weeds – possibly one of the many Senecio species.

Wahlenbergia undulata Yellow weedy daisy - senecio

Small flowers abound, and many I have had great trouble trying to identify. The next two might or might not be species of Selago or Tetraselago; I tend to think not. It is frustrating, but does not detract from the subtle beauty of these late-summer bloomers with their heads of minute flowers, each only about 3mm across.

Blue panicle

Blue panicle2

Blue panicle 3

There is a white flower too, almost certainly the same species.

White panicle

White panicle 2

We have our own indigenous knotweed, or Persicaria, P. attenuata I think it is; it might not be as attractive as some of the species I have seen in English gardens, but it does have the added value of being used to treat venereal diseases… Doctrine of Signatures, perhaps??

Our knotweed2

Something much more dramatic. In the fading light (and shot by flash) I come upon Crocosmia aurea just breaking bud. I have never noticed it like this before.

Crocosmia aurea

Immediately I think of the stock description of our other native, Crocosmia paniculata:  “inflorescence zigzagging, each zigzag ending in a flower.” Can I still find paniculata in flower to show this, although one can also see it from the swelling seeds on the stalk? They flower a little earlier. Ah yes. Here it is.

Crocosmia paniculata

On a walk I get to my hedgerow – a mixed planting, dense, forming a rough hedge, in honour of England, in memory of a specific walk in Gloucestershire some seven years ago… There is nothing remotely indigenous in this view…

Standen Walk

Standen Walk (besides the inherent paradox in the words) I named after Philip Webb’s Arts & Crafts home in West Sussex, where I saw one of the most magnificent garden features of my entire 1995 pilgrimage: a long narrow walk with a shrub border on one side and on the other, beyond a low parapet wall, a long view over  a meadow and across a valley. You can see it on one of those 360 degree thingies over here. In miniature I have something similar in Standen Walk. And the plants all come from Europe, and North America, and the East… Yet I heard, coming from an equally exotic conifer, the screechy hiss of one of South Africa’s most iconic birds. I’d heard it there the previous day too. What was this lover of afromontane forest doing in an exotic conifer?

Knysna Loerie

The Knysna Loerie – or Turaco as we are now encouraged  forced to call it – is an elegantly shaped and marked green bird, with bright red on its wings, pictured here in what is simply known as ‘Roberts’ – the bible of Southern African bird books. Like so many beautiful birds, its assorted calls are harsh, ugly. For years I hardly ever saw or even heard it in our gardens. Now, due to the many exotics here, it is resident. May I include it amongst the wild beauties in this post?

Hedgerow rose

Was it after the heps of this rose in the hedgerow? Was it after the pyracantha berries below? Who knows. It was there, and it had not been there. I believe in the value of judicious planting of exotics. I rest my case.


I circle and flush the bird and  manage a shot. It is blurred, without detail, but the shape is unmistakeable…

Knysna turaco

And so, in the glow of a summer evening, we make our way home.

But wait. I have not yet showed you all my shots of Gladiolus densiflorus. It is after all my subject for Wildflower Wednesday. My first memory of it is of a tighly packed double row of almost grey flowers. It was in neatness that its beauty lay. Densiflorus is an apt name, and nowhere clearer than in the elegant spike of developing flowers.

Gladiolus densiflorus in bud Gladiolus densiflorus flower spike

I have never deliberately grown these in the garden, although I am planning to harvest seed this year. Like so many of the wildings, the flower is small (each about the size of a thumbnail), but more importantly: their season is fleeting and their charm increases tenfold when come across unexpectedly in their season. And so, as I often do throughout the year, on a walk I will ask myself: ‘I wonder if xyz is flowering yet?’ And watching out for it adds immeasurably to the pleasure of a walk… As does finding it.

Gladiolus densiflorus side view Gladiolus densiflorus stand at entrance

gladiolus densiflorus close up

OK. We were returning home in the glow of a summer evening, tra-la…

It is a good time to sit on the stoep – veranda – with a drink and watch the colour drain from the world, and then slowly from the sky. Besides which: on two occasions this week five very indigenous Woolly-necked Storks (I posted about them here) soared in in the gloaming and settled with utmost grace in our very exotic big bluegum tree…


Crossandra across the main road

R71 roadside flowers

Two days ago I screeched to a halt, made a U-turn and went back to investigate a few spots of soft orange along the national road which I had never noticed before. When I went back to photograph them early this morning it was still Wednesday somewhere in the world; important – as this is my contribution to Wildflower Wednesday, driven by the indomitable Gailforce

Crossandra zuluensis

I am pretty certain that what I found was a colony of Crossandra zuluensis, which I think ( but have not checked) I have seen flowering quite freely in the Haenertsburg Grasslands (about which, as I said in my previous post, I will still write extensively…) during spring. I don’t know them in late summer, but their flowering time is given as Sep-Mar. A goodly season, especially for such a beaute. It will find its way into my garden and my meadow.

Pea flower

As happens so often when you find a particularly lovely wild flower, there were several other interesting species in its vicinity. I searched around for a reason, found none. Unless perhaps this patch of ground had been disturbed in the not too terribly distant past – but why? This little pea flower (well, its not so little – over 3cm 1 inch across) always reminds me of a snail. Not just because of its spiralled shape, but because the individual flowers seem to lie just above the ground, seemingly attached to nothing in particular. It is, I suspect, Vigna unguiculata, the Wild Cow Pea, which I often find in the wild parts of my own garden. I rather like the combination of violet and orange. Do I have the energy to stage-manage such effortless spontaneity?

Interesting helichrysum

Then there were these fresh silver leaves, almost certainly belonging to one of the hundreds of helichrysums – our main provider of all shades of silver and grey on the mountain flora. They were particularly beautiful and I shall be watching them. And to round things off, unfortunately sleeping demurely in the still misty light of early morning, there was a whole group of starry yellow Hypoxis…



Aloes near SLM

South African aloes flower over a long period, but by far the greatest number are winter-flowering. And right at the moment one of the regents of the land, Aloe marlothii,  marches proudly across the hills a few miles from here. I posted extensively about them here. Above they can be seen, their spreading yellowish flower-spikes carried nearly on the horizontal. Of similar stature but even more spectacular is its cousin from further south, A. ferox, with flame-red candelabra carried vertically. In the photo below from July 2008 two A. ferox hybrids (with yellower flowers than the type) flank a young A. marlothii in the bed below the guest bedroom’s gable.

Aloe garden in 2009

The red and orange globes in the above photo belong to a red-hot poker, one of the few winter flowering species, and so it too usually gets frosted. I say ‘it too’: unfortunately we are lucky to see this sight one year in five, for usually the frost destroys the aloe buds before they bloom. For the last two years heavy frosts have caused severe dieback of the leaves as well, and this afternoons photo shows that our aloes are a sorry sight at the moment.

frost-damaged aloe

I would love to move them – but where to? The fact is that even when their glorious leaves have had their dried tips cut back, like last-year’s leaf facing the camera, the aloes remain dramatic and sculptural. And when there IS a good year… oh, how worthwhile it is then to have them! And so, even as we survey the carnage, we dream of a better winter next year…

winter-damaged aloes

This post links to Wildflower Wednesday, a tradition started by Gail of Clay and Limestone, where on the fourth Wednesday of the month garden bloggers around the world celebrate the wild flowers of their piece of Eden.


Winter Senecio

The school term is over. Tomorrow we have 2 hours of classes and a final assembly – then holiday! One of the best things about teaching is 12 weeks of paid leave per year. I set off this afternoon late to see what there was to photograph by way of flowers in this mid-winter-week. I was heading towards the above plant on the far side of the garden.  I call it  the mid-winter Senecio, because I really haven’t got round to attempting a proper identification of this wild shrub. But I ended up taking the photo by flash as along the way I was side-tracked by so many other flowers to photograph…

Aloe saponaria

There was Aloe saponaria’s delightful flattened orange heads. Several were frosted in early June, but most survived unscathed, one of the few aloes which flowers successfully in our winter frosts.

Chaenomeles speciosa

There was chaenomeles speciosa, the Japanese Flowering Quince which always brightens our winters, and of which I have grown two hedges worth from seed – a fascinating exercise, and worth a post at some time.

Chaenomeles xsuperba 'Crimson and Gold ' perhaps Chaenomeles grown from seed

I think the plant on the left might be Chaenomeles x supurba ‘Crimson and Gold’  and the one on the right is one of my own seedlings.

Iris unguicularis

Iris unguicularis, the Algerian Iris, can always be relied on to provide an unexpected and  incongruously sunny splash of blue amongst the mess of its dying leaves.

Azalea hybrid Viburnum tinus

In spots where there is some frost protection there are azaleas in flower, and the Viburnum tinus hedges carry their clustered blooms.

Rudbeckia hirta

In the Anniversary Garden there are a few confused Rudbeckia hirta, looking remarkably fresh amongst the blackened seedcones and shrivelled petals of their elder siblings; and there are two roses that can always be relied on to still be in flower: ‘Iceberg’ is one of them, looking remarkably monochromatic in the gathering gloom.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

The other was bred in 1899:‘General Galieni’, with rather dishevelled blooms has  the curious effect of looking as though a red and white rose has been dipped in dark wax.

Rosa 'General Galieni'

And there are the last opportunistic Oxeye Daisies. And of course the camellias – those that have avoided the frost.

Oxeye Daisy Pale pink camellia

In fact there are whole bushes of camellias, and like family, one mostly notices their beauty rather than their blemishes. It was quite dark by the end of the walk when I flash-photographed this one next to the Sequoia avenue.

Pink camellia by flashlight

Earlier on the walk I had photographed this scene – a rather more up-beat note on which to end the post. Usually the weekly pic is just that: one pic. But it was quite thrilling to see how many flowers there were along my walk.

View across Makou Dam


A mountain pass through indigenous forest

The Forest Drive runs down a valley in the Woodbush Reserve, starting high in the mountain and ending in the Lowveld. I remember riding it 50 years ago sitting on the roof-rack of my father’s Opel Record Caravan – my first memory of my mother’s vertigo where her children were concerned.

Forest drive with waterfall

But Flea, my father’s caretaker and my adopted sister who helped me nurse my mother, had never been there. And as it is only a few kilometers from Sequoia, that is a shame. So at the end of February – high summer – we rectified that.

Dad and Flea

I think she enjoyed the trip…

Scadoxys puniceus

plectranthus Tall trees tower over one – but one also looks down on them due to the steepness of the terrain. And the verges are rich with plant life. Above is a plant which also grows on Sequoia, Scadoxus puniceus, in seed. It is also known as a Blood Lily and impressive enough to be on the cover of Elsa Pooley’s authoritive ‘A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Region’. It stands among white Begonia dregei  which feature again in the photo below. I’ve written before of Eve Palmer and her wonderful identification guide to the Plectranthus clan. If I studied it I might be able to tell you the name of the beauty on the left… Another of the beautiful begonias is the bright orange B. sutherlandii which I intend growing in my new greenhouse – about which more soon – where I will be able to give it the frost-free conditions it demands. It is a beauty!

Begonia dregei white

The delicate beauty of the white form of Bergenia dregei, which tends to hide in the deepest shadows against near vertical cuttings contrasts with the extrovert orange of the Sutherland Begonia.

Begonia sutherlandii

crocosmia aurea

Our old friend Crocosmia aurea, which I’ve posted about in a previous Wild Flower Wednesday post, was there, as was the ubiquitous but ever lovely local Bizzy Lizzy, Impatiens sylvicola.

Impatiens sylvicola

All of these come to you courtesy of Wild Flower Wednesday, the fourth Wednesday of every month, and started by Gail of Clay and Limestone.


Phygelius below Freddy's Dam

Three weeks ago I carefully made my gumbooted way through the marshy ground below Freddy’s dam to take this photo – and to collect material for cuttings, now growing on happily outside the back door. They are the first cuttings I’ve ever taken of this wild flower, despite knowing it strikes easily, and despite wishing to do so for nearly sixteen years. And thereby hangs a tale…

Phygelius aequalis

Any guesses as to what it is? (And I’m not talking of the yellow flower which is so clearly a St. John’s Wort, one of two species that grow wild on Sequoia!)

Yes. It is Phygelius aequalis – together with a Cape native that tends to yellower shades, P. capensis, it is the parent of the great many popular Phygelius hybrids available around the world today. All of which I knew nothing of that perfect July morning in 1995 when, on a group visit to Sissinghurst, I stooped to admire the strangely dull pink tubes of a very attractive flower –  and discovered that inside the tubes  were brightly coloured! “What is this?” I exclaimed and one of my fellow tourists laughed and said “But you are from South Africa – don’t you know Phygelius?” I said I did not, and took the following photo – shared here with you thanks to the  technological wonders enabling the scanning and editing of old slides – complete with a bit of Sissinghurst brick in the background!

Phygelius at Sissinghurst

It must have been six months later that a shower of pink flowers below Freddy’s dam wall, which I had never noticed before, attracted my attention. I investigated. They were Phygelius! Never since has the show been as impressive, but every year I notice them, and promise myself to take cuttings of the rather lank and dull plants, if only to be able more easily to tell the story to visitors. Last spring for the first time I got to buy five glorious hybrids from a local grower who is introducing them to South Africa. I planted them near Rosa mutabilis with which, in all its shades, they form a splendid match; but never yet have I managed to photograph them together. I think one of these cuttings should join them.

What was that about a prophet in his own land…? And I speak of Phygelius, most definitely, and not of myself. Winking smile

This post is dedicated to Gail of Clay and Limestone who started us all blogging about our wild flowers on Wildflower Wednesday, the fourth  Wednesday of every month. Hail to thee, O Gail, from The Fool in the Veldt!


Crocosmia aurea close-up of flower

The most striking, the easiest – indeed, you might even say the weediest – of our wild flowers on Sequoia is Crocosmia aurea. It is orange. Amazingly, overwhelmingly orange, as only a plant that uncompromisingly exists in all its parts and stages in shades of one colour can be.

Crocosmia aurea en masse

Flower spikes are carried high on wiry stems that zigzag appealingly from bud to bud. They are beautifully graphic in the bud stage, but somehow become muddled and unphotogenic once opened. I so wish I had taken the above picture a few days earlier to show you…

Crocosmia aurea flower spike

Even this photo seems to have angled itself in a way that barely shows the zigzag; but it looks good against masses of its own leaves as well as those of flag irises where it has sown itself with great enthusiasm in the bed opposite the garage, and strikingly visible as you approach the house by car from under the avenue of Sequoia trees that line the driveway.

massed Crocosmia aurea

Here is that view, with the Ellensgate Garden, which the living room looks out onto, beyond.(Read more about this garden here.) And below is a photo taken from the stoep (veranda) which shows the extent to which this mass of orange has made itself at home. I guess the first plants were brought here from where they grew wild on the farm, but only a few. 25+  years on they are the centre of the March focus in this part of the garden.

weedy crocosmias

Tatyana: does that make them as weedy as they are in your garden? I have elsewhere removed them. I should have removed them three years ago already from the Ellensgate Garden, where they do not do justice to the soft pink ‘Bewitched’ roses, also blooming their hearts out at the moment. Whether it is laziness that I have not yet done so, or bad management, or just my laissez-faire attitude to the superior will of plants when it comes to knowing their place, I  will leave to each of you to decide. I know that this easy local is one of my favourites in the garden.

Growing wild on the farm I also have the red, rib-leaved C.paniculata which flowers a little earlier; it is the parent of the famous ‘Lucifer’. Ironically I have never had success with any of the (few) Crocosmia cultivars available in South Africa, including one I sceptically bought as ‘Lucifer’ And if the wilding is so willing, why cry over the cultivar…?

This post is inspired by Gail of ‘Clay and Limestone’ who started  Wildflower Wednesday on every fourth Wednesday of the month.