I am on holiday! Late on Friday afternoon  I took the dogs on a proper walk. I grabbed the small camera on the way out; the dogs, not the camera took centre stage. Right  outside the door I was stopped by this arresting sight: a leafhopper on ‘Cascade’ rose. Only after I had taken the pic and chased him off – and Mateczka had decided to pounce on him – did I realise that he’d feasted liberally on the pink petals…

We headed across the valley, where the late afternoon sun made us stop and look back across the garden to the house, before setting off up the valley on the circular drive. Autumn colour is slowly increasing, but Vitis vinifera, quick to turn and fall, demanded a photo in the growing gloom.

With Croft Cottage all but complete, the next project is a second roof on a wooden structure over The Plett. (Previously known as Trailertrash Cottage – read why here.) In front, over the slate paving, there will be a pergola with deciduous climbers for summer shade. I will soon be taking cuttings of this vine, as it will be my chief provider. The Plett, after 30 years, is in remarkably good nick, and I wish to keep it that way with a protective roof. Besides being important as guest accommodation to the main house, it is also the simplest and cheapest way to add an extra lettable cottage to my portfolio. (Do you see the need for a return to the original name?…) This model of caravan home was marketed as the Plettenberg, named after Plettenberg Bay, one of South Africa’s most desirable holiday spots. For years when we were all still based in Johannesburg and neither the Big House nor my cottage were built, we would talk as often of ‘going to The Plett’ as ‘going to the farm’. Some of our best holidays ever where spent here, and I often suggested to my folks that we should all gather in rather close proximity in The Plett for a night and forget all that had developed on the farm over the years, but we never did. However to this day cousins love coming up to stay here…

Along a path on the far side of the garden  I’ve not been on in weeks, I discovered the Hedgehog Bush in flower. This, and its other common name of Blue Boys, is infinitely more attractive than its scientific name of Pycnostachys urticifolia! I was surprised, for usually it flowers at about the same time as the Wild Tibouchina which I wrote about here.

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Dissotis canescens, the Wild Tibouchina

One year the two of them grew and flowered together in this very spot. The brick-red calyxes and magenta flowers of the one and the blue-grey calyxes and baby blue flowers of the other made for a ravaging combination. Both of them like damp conditions. I must make a point of trying cuttings of the Hedgehog Bush and spreading seed here of the Wild Tibouchina. The combination should be used widely in my garden!

Very much a snapshot this, but its value is as a moment recorded, not as a photograph. In the growing dusk I loved this glowing  dogwood (Cornus florida) against a spiraea, near The Embarkment. And a little further on one of my favourite compositions in the Cottage Garden, outside The House that Jack Built, deserved a similar response…

Now it is 9:30 on a Saturday morning. I am unwashed and revelling in a slow, unstructured start to the day. The dogs keep coming to suggest there are better things to do than type. Perhaps I should heed their call.



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Growing wild on Sequoia you will find this remarkable colour combination: a flower of the most vivid magenta held in luminescent brick-red cups. Startling it is, and beautiful.  The Wild Tibouchina, Dissotis canescens, is well named, for the intensity of its petal colour is very similar to the real Tiboushina. Indeed, they both belong to the family MELASTOMATACEAE, but that is as far as I can comment, for unlike something like the BEGONIACEAE where I can nod along sagely and say “A, yes, the Begonia family” and at least have a picture in my head, the family MELASTOMATACEAE contains only two names I’ve ever heard before: Dissotis and Tibouchina. Perhaps there is a path worth following here, for I suspect I will stumble upon a garden of tropical magnificence… Ah yes. And then not be able to grow it… Below are pictures I took in a nearby sub-tropical garden of the two colour forms of one of the most spectacular of all flowering trees: the Brazilian Tibouchina granulosa.

Pink and purple Tibouchina granulosa trees across a valley

Pink tibouchina granulosa in flower

The pink can be dismissed as ‘just a pink’, but the purple is more than purple: it is as though the richest red chiffon has been overlaid with the richest blue, and the two colours jar and shimmer in forming purple.

Purple tibouchina granulosa

Compared to these magnificent trees, my little perennials are slight. But a few years back I spread seed in the boggy ground around the water of Freddie’s Dam, which they love, and this summer saw thirty or more plants in flower – and each year there will now be more. We are moving from a local who hid away from visitors, to one of the stars of our show.Dissotis canescens

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Close-ups, above of our Dissotis and below of the much larger flower of Tibouchina granulosa again make their  relationship clear.

Close up of Tibouchina granulosa flower

To see more wild flowers from around the world, visit the blogs participating every month in Wild Flower Wednesday, an event started by Gail of Clay and Limestone.