Robert and I recently accompanied family from England on a trip to the Kruger National Park. What a wonderful restorative experience that always is!
I suppose it is almost inevitable for sightings of the Big Five to get ticked off when people are there, especially if overseas visitors are with them. (Although frankly we saw so many elephants this time, I would have swapped them for a pack of wild dog in a heartbeat!)
At some point, one of the youngsters asked Robert who the Big Five of the bird kingdom were. One or two fairly obvious candidates came to mind, like the Martial Eagle or Ground Hornbill. But then what about a Twinspot or a rare Sunbird? It quickly became clear that choosing was quite impossible. Of course, my mind went immediately to the plant world where narrowing things down would be just as hard. Do you select on the basis of size, fantastic colour or unusual shape? Size, rarity, how ancient the plant is?
In the end I resolved the dilemma philosophically. Why categorise and elevate one above the other at all? Let us appreciate and enjoy every life form that we have the fortune to experience, whether in their natural habitat or in our own little patches.
IN THE GARDEN
Nature is so predictable. After a hot hot summer and some late rains the garden went into autumn mode almost overnight. Coloured foliage and the intense colours of blooms coupled with heady fragrances have had the bees in frenzy.
Euphorbia Double Delight - what a joy
Ipomeae horsfalliae still in full bloom
Orange zinnias prove that orange is essential in the garden
We all know that autumn is the best time for planting. My staff included judging by the bucket loads of plants they seem to be lifting from the garden to stock up the nursery. We also have the season’s collectibles waiting to be planted and then - to maintain my reputation for not keeping a plant growing in one spot for too long lest it become too comfortable - the annual moving exercise is on the go.
IN THE NURSERY
I have added a number of plants that we haven’t had in stock for years to the New on the Site page. Do have a look.
Click here to view all the plants featured in this newsletter.
· Indigenous plants
Barleria delagoaense hails from Mpumalanga and Limpopo. A well-shaped branched perennial that reaches an average height of 100 cm, it has spikes of orange flowers that attract insects and butterflies from summer to winter. It is evergreen and semi hardy and likes full sun, although my specimen grows very happily in dry shade.
The pink wild pear Dombeya burgessiae is now in bud. This is a strong growing shrub (or small tree, at an average height of 300 cm) with downy heart shaped leaves and fragrant clusters of pink veined flowers from winter to spring. It can take sun or semi shade and is evergreen and hardy.
Rotheca myricoides is an upright 180 cm high shrub with smelly bright green leaves. It is deciduous and semi hardy and is happy in sun or semi shade. In summer the long stamens of the soft two toned blue flowers attract butterflies and give the plant its common name of blue cats whiskers. This is the half-brother of the Rotheca myracoides subsp Ugandens we featured in last month’s newsletter.
Syncolostemon densiflorus is always hard to find. This very rare sparsely branched grassland shrub has toothed leaves and upright panicles of cerise flowers from summer to autumn. It likes full sun, is evergreen and hardy and reaches an average height of 150 cm.
· Exotic plants
Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides (the Mexican flame vine) is a fast growing evergreen semi hardy climber with soft lime green leaves and fragrant dazzlingly orange daisy like flowers from summer to autumn. At an average height of 300 cm, it works well climbing up a trellis or obelisk or cascading from a large hanging basket. Plant in full sun.
Neomarica caerulea is a large rhizomatous perennial from Brazil with gorgeous brown-centred dark blue scented flowers from spring to summer. Evergreen, hardy and growing on average 160 cm high, it likes semi shade and moist soil. Use in a mixed border or as an accent plant.
I love the new Salvia Javier. Evergreen and very hardy, it has stunning purple blue flowers with a black calyx. It can take sun or semi shade and grows about 60 cm high. It flowers all season.
Strobilanthes hamiltoniana (common name Chinese rain bell) is a 150 cm high fast growing perennial that likes semi shade. It has attractive waxy serrated veined leaves and sprays of tubular mauve flowers from winter to spring. Evergreen and hardy.
With our elections around the corner, "vote right" and let's not open a can of worms.
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