Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last post for 2011

Here I was thinking that I can't let 2011 go by without a last post, but I couldn't come up with anything to write about. Then I popped over to Diana - always full of useful information and also inspiration. So here it is - to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, I have selected 12 flowers one for each month of the year.


Bulbine frutescens - this flowers for most months of the year, but I really appreciate it in January when little else can survive the scorching heat.


The delicate flowers of the Indigofera jucunda are almost at an end, they start flowering in December, filling the tree with a mass of tiny blooms.


Miribilis jalapa - this will probably be the last alien I remove from my indigenous garden - if ever. These wonderful water-wise flowers start springing up in November. providing interesting colour right through till May, then they obligingly die back allowing my indigenous beauties to shine.


Asystasia gangetica - really useful ground cover that flowers throughout spring and summer


Strelitzia reginae - showing off it's striking blooms.


You know it's winter when Aponogeton distachyos start to flower - beautiful and you can eat them too!


Can't beat Gazania's for winter colour


Stunning display from Sutherlandia frutescens tells me that spring is not far away.


Hard to choose in my favourite month of the year, but this pelargonium never fails to delight.


Watsonia borbonica - my favourite spring bulb.


Can't help but be impressed by this King Protea - the size of my head. This was taken in Helderberg Nature Reserve


Crassula coccinea putting on a dazzling Christmas display.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Use me More

South Africa is one of the best countries for using solar power

And if you live anywhere near the coast you will know that we certainly don't lack wind power.
The trouble is we are not harnessing much of this available power. At the moment the bulk of our alternative energy is left to private individuals and the cost is exorbitant. We are not even offered the opportunity of putting excess power back into the grid. 

 Eskom is still investigating new nuclear power plants and investing in coal fired plants. What are they thinking? Clearly they aren't.
Despite the ridiculous salaries their top management earn (R18.5 million) see:
 Salaries of Eskom execs doubled-20110627
Eskom and Government keep arguing that alternative energy is too expensive and so we have to keep using coal. The problem is they are not looking at the real cost of coal generated power. When calculating the cost they forget about about the strain placed on our water resources, they forget about the health issues of the people living around these plants and they definitely haven't thought about the impact on climate change. You can read more about the cost of Coal fired power here:

If you are as horrified by these facts as I am then please join me in asking Government to use the sun & wind more.
(Sorry this technologically challenged person can"t get the link pic to work properly - so please click the USE ME MORE  text)
 To make my bulb shine brighter, Click here: PetitionLinkButton.png

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretty Pelargoniums

This post was meant to be for Clay & Limestone's Wednesday wild flower meme, but the end of the month is always hectic at work and  blogging time is limited, so I've missed the deadline. But these are too beautiful to be ignored so I am posting it anyway.  I have decided on Pelargoniums . Firstly because they would be well known to overseas readers and secondly because they are such easily grown, rewarding plants.

I know there are many sites trying to clear up the confusion between Pelargoniums and Geraniumms but in case you haven't read them – here's the quick answer. Pelargoniums belong to the family Geranicae of which there are approximately 800 species. These are divided into Geraniums with five equal petals and Pelargoniums with a variety of flower forms but mostly with 2 smaller petals above and 3 larger petals below.(Can also be the other way around - 2 large above and 3 small below). South Africa is blessed with about 220 species of Pelargonium. My garden boasts only 8 of these. Pelargoniums hybridize very easily leading to the vast variety available in nurseries and also leading to the confusion I have in correctly naming the varieties I have growing. I have got as far as putting them into categories. If there is an expert out there I would appreciate any help in naming or correcting any errors.

These have large showy blooms in a variety of colours.
Definitely a Regal, it's blooms are absolutely stunning but despite reviewing hundreds of photo's I can't positively ID it.
Pelargonium cucullatum - this one I initially thought was capitatum, but it has no scent and the leaves are tinged with red on the edge.

As the name indicates these have typical ivy shaped leaves and a trailing habit.

Pelargonium peltatum - the leaves are smooth and semi-succulent.

Flowers from this group are usually small and insignificant, but foliage is highly aromatic.

Pelargonium graveolens -Rose scented (above)
Pelargonium tormentosum - Peppermint scented (below)
I love these - just brushing against the leaves releases the most amazing aroma.

Most of these, but not all, have a darker horseshoe shaped mark on the leaves.
Pelargonium inquinans? Not sure about this one, it does have that typical smell, but no horseshoe marking on the leaves.

This one is definitely a Zonal - but which one?

And this one?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden Update October 2011

It is mid October and that means we are well into the last quarter of the year, before we know it 2011 will be history.

Before that happens I think it's time for a garden update. I'll start first with the casualties. I lost both my wild Rosemaries, two of the three Orpheums and most recently my only Lobostemen. All of these were in the front bed that we planted in April 2010. Every one of them went from looking healthy to totally dead within 2 weeks of showing the first brown leaves. I am not sure but I think it may be root rot. We have clay soils under laid by a layer we call “koffie klip” - this is basically a 300mm thick layer of small stones cemented together by clay. Although we added copious amounts of compost to the bed I don't think we dug deep enough to penetrate the koffie klip. This essentially means that the roots can't get through, so they they become waterlogged in the upper layers and become susceptible to fungi.

The other casualties have been in my back garden where powdery mildew totally wiped out one of my Anisdonteas. It also affected my Barleria and Hypoestes so badly that I got fed up and ripped them all out. Any ideas of how to treat this? I have read that spraying with milk is supposed to help, so I am trying that on my remaining Anisdontea.
Clockwise from top left - Anisdontea, Barleria, Orpheum & Lobostemon

My ever present snails destroyed my only orange Clivia by eating right through the flower stalk just as the buds were about to open.

Although all of these failures were disappointing there are more than enough successes to make up for it.

The Halleria Lucida that we planted in April 2010 is now over 2 metres tall.
Oh yes we also added a fence to the front garden - yuck!

 The Pelargonium capitatum has also doubled in size and is now in full bloom. Hopefully it will soon cover the ugly wall.

Pelargonium cuculatum
 The flowers on the Pelargonium tomentosum are insignificant but I can't resist touching the soft furry leaves and enjoying the peppermint scent that they release.
Pelargonium tomentosum

The Geranium incanum flowers for eleven months out of twelve and is popping up like a weed in almost all my other beds. This is great as it is filling up all the gaps.

Geranium incanum

Gazania rigens is another amazing ground cover, it also flowers almost all year round and grows really fast in full sun, tolerating long periods of drought once established. You can't beat Gazania krebsiana for a stunning winter display, they have been flowering since June but they will stop flowering soon and their leaves will curl up showing their furry undersides to the hot summer sun.
Yellow Gazania rigens, an ugly duckling compared to the others, but it does flower for much longer.

The Freesias always put on a lovely display in early spring.

I bought some Clivias at a nursery sale, they were not flowering at the time so I assumed they would be the common orange ones - but look what I got! This is the only one of the four to flower - can't wait to see what the others are.

Dimorthopeca pluvalis grown from seed.

Sutherlandia frutescens- I planted two of these bushes, this one has grown much faster and put on a stunning display of flowers in Spring.

Felicia amelloides - such a versatile plant. I have them growing as a border around our veggie garden where they receive blazing hot summer sun, but they do just as well in the front garden where the bed receives only a little morning sun.

Watsonia borbonica - only one of my bulbs has flowered so far, maybe I will be lucky and get a few more before their short flowering season is over.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Citrusdal Sashay

Having your own business means time off is a luxury rarely afforded. But with Tuesday 9 August being a public holiday we decided to grab the opportunity, and taking the Saturday and Monday off work and returning midday Wednesday we have just enjoyed our annual leave. We wanted to go to the Orange River to visit our oldest son but with time being limited and not wanting to spend too much of it travelling, we headed off to Citrusdal instead.

We left on Saturday morning determined to enjoy our break from the start, we decided to avoid the busy N7 and instead take the quieter route. This took us through Stellenbosch, past Wellington and on to Porterville (Hi Diana) we finally joined the N7 just before Piekernierskloof and stopped as always for a leisurely meal on the top of the pass. Down the pass and just a short drive to our destination.

A glimpse of snow as we drove down Piekernierskloof

Our cottage was equipped with everything you could possibly need for a comfortable stay and with beautiful views all around we were set for a relaxing time. Our friends arrived shortly after us and stayed in the next cottage.

The rest of the day I spent lazing in the warm winter sun with my latest book – The Great Disruption.
Of course it wouldn't be SA if we didn't braai (barbecue) so as the sun dipped behind the mountain the fire was lit, providing warmth, a place to cook and best of all an opportunity to enjoy the company of family and good friends.

There is something about fresh country air that seems to make me sleep like a baby. We only woke at about 7 a.m. on Sunday morning – quite a record for me as I am usually up by 5 a.m. So as hubby started to prepare a leisurely breakfast on the fire I headed up the nearest hill to explore. Have I mentioned that I am the most spoilt woman I know?
Looking down towards the valley of Citrusdal

The same luscious berries seen by Diana at Elephants Eye – I don't know what they are either.

Breakfast was scrumptious and the sun on our verandah was lovely and warm, so out came my book again. In the afternoon I dragged hubby up another nearby hill.

The hillside was filled with flowers

Lots of tall Euryops speciosissimus

Beautiful Lobostemon ??

Many I couldn't identify. Like this one. Eriocephalus ? But it seems sparser and finer that those I have seen before.

The view from the top was amazing.

Enough exercise for the day, early braai, early to bed.

Monday morning, what a wonderful feeling, the rest of the world is at work and we have the day off! We have never had a long weekend or a holiday without explorimg the surrounding area. So off we headed north out of Citrusdal driving parallel to the N7 and alongside the Oliphants River. We drove for quite a while along a gravel road enjoying the peace and the scenery. Eventually we came to a crossroad and after some deliberation decided to turn right towards Algeria. (No not the country- just a little piece of nature in the Western Cape). The road was quite corrugated but that didn't matter we we driving really slow, in total awe of the surroundings. We eventually found ourselves on the Nieuwoudt Pass and the beauty awaiting us was so unexpected. Hundreds of Heliophila covered the mountains in a purple haze.

Driving further down into the valley we reached Algeria, the campsite appears neat and well maintained. We followed the paved road out until it turned to gravel again. The scenery kept us enthralled, towering mountains, interesting rock formations and an abundance of water and plants.
We passed this interesting ruin and couldn't resist getting out for a closer inspection.

Finally we reached a fork in the road and we turned left towards Ceres.

Stopping every few minutes to get a closer look. Thanks to the very patient driver. (Hubby)

The variety of plants is astounding

Just as we were thinking a drink and something to eat would be good, we saw a sign for the Cederberg Oasis. What a novel place. We were invited to help ourselves at the “ Honesty Bar”, while the hostess prepared delicious toasted sandwiches. We sat outside enjoying the view.
The view across the orchard
Zoomed in to the mountain


Shortly after this, the drive back to Citrusdal took us through wine farms and pear orchards, not nearly as interesting as the wild flowers.

Tuesday we spent relaxing and not doing much.
Wednesday morning back to work - can't wait to go back again!