Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snail Invasion

While our hot dry winds continue to blow almost daily, we had some welcome rain over the weekend. But along with the rain came snails - literally hundreds of them. I refuse to use poisons so the only way to get rid of the little horrors is to collect them by hand. In less than an hour I collected 5 coffee jars full! Now comes the crazy and cruel part - I drown them in boiling salt water and then leave the shells to dry in the sun for a few weeks. When the shells are totally dry I use them to cover the bare soil in my pot plants. Does anyone have a more humane way of controlling these destructive creatures?

Lobostemon fruticosus

This bush is also known as Agtdaegeneesbos (8 Day Healing bush). The early Cape inhabitants believed this plant would cure a multitude of ills within 8 days, hence the name. I have nicknamed it the Cinderella bush. Why? Well I planted this rather boring looking shrub in the new front bed in April. Its grey green leaves covered in soft hairs made it almost unnoticeable amongst the other plants. But in late August it suddenly burst into flower. I couldn't believe it was the same unremarkable plant. It was covered in the most beautiful light pink buds and when open the flowers are pale blue on the margins and pink at the bottom. It just made me think of Cinderella dressed up for the ball. It continued to flower until almost the end of September and then all the flowers faded and disappeared and it returned to it's dull existence. I thought I would have to wait until Spring to see it bloom again, but this little bush had a surprise in store for me - mid November and it is flowering again!
It grows up to 1 metre high and equally wide and is multi-stemmed. It self seeds freely in its natural habitat, but can also be cultivated from cuttings taken in Spring and Autumn. It occurs on the West Coast from Namaqualand to the Peninsula

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Summer is here!

Summer is definitely here. The South easter has been blowing for 3 days and yesterday the the temperature reached 30 degrees celsius. Time to bring out the hats and sunblock. It is weather like this that really makes one appreciate our indigenous flora, most alien plants would be wilted and crying out to be watered but our local plants seem to almost relish this weather. This weeks feature plant is a perfect example - it looks so delicate you wouldn't think it could handle our harsh summer, but as the wind blows it reveals the silver under sides of the leaves creating waves of green and silver.

Geranium incanum
Carpet geranium

DESCRIPTION: This geranium has finely divided mid green leaves with grey undersides. Deep purple or occasionally very pale mauve to white flowers cover this plant almost all year round. In my garden the paler flowers are also somewhat smaller than the flowers on the deeper purple form. The carpet geranium makes an ideal ground cover; fast growing it makes a dense carpet about 300mm high. Bees seem to love this plant and there are always a few buzzing busily around.
DISTRIBUTION: Geranium incanum is common in the south western and eastern parts of the country.
CULTIVATION: Like all geraniums this one grows easily from cuttings and seed. It flowers better in full sun but will tolerate semi-shade. The carpet geranium is perfect for sloping banks and is equally happy in hanging baskets.