Newsletter Nov 2021

In my younger days, I had visions of becoming a scientist, but as time has passed and I succumbed to the joys of simply experiencing nature, that is now a rather distant memory. I don’t even have a control group when experimenting with new soil mixes or plant treatments! Robert just rolls his eyes.

Information about climate change and global warming is everywhere these days for anyone interested in delving into the (rather depressing) details. While the scientists ponder and pronounce, I am making my own observations. Much has been said about how early the jacarandas are blooming these days, and this year we marvelled at how intense the colour was and how long the flowering season lasted. In our little patch, I have noticed a difference in both the exotic and indigenous plants. Our bergamot plants are standing at a respectable hip height; the pink filipendula has flowered for the first time; the blooms on the Cape Chestnut tree lasted twice as long as they usually do; and the African dogrose excelled itself by producing almost 20 blooms compared to the usual sparse four or five at any given time. My gardening friends in other province have also reported that their gardens were superb this season.

What could be the reason? I believe it is because for the first time I can remember, we have actually experienced spring! Yes, there have been some temperature spikes and some dreadfully hot days since September, but these were always followed by periods of rain and cool weather, so we haven’t had the usual abrupt shift from winter into high summer. My conclusion is that because they don’t have to respond quickly to a sudden rise in temperatures, the plants are able to do a good job (and really enjoy) the start of the growing season.

Not exactly a scientific explanation, of course, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

IN THE GARDEN

Lots of rain and lots of sunshine have given us a prime garden this season. The lovely pentas are giving us a beautiful show, climbers are cascading and growing up trellises, and the salvias are bursting into bloom. 

Aster cordifolius

The gorgeous Neomarica that only lasts a day

Justicia carnea

Monarda fireball

Salvia Argentina skies

Our heartache this season was the slow death of our umzimbeet (Milletia grandis) next to the path down to the nursery. Building operations about six years ago had obviously damaged the roots. Lebo even put up a trestle table to support the tree but it was all in vain.  Fortunately, I had seen this coming and planted another in the front garden about three years ago.  So, all is not lost. 

IN THE NURSERY

Click here to view all the plants in this newsletter on the website.

·        Indigenous plants

Cyphostema hypoleuceum is an attractive deciduous climber with double-barrelled stems, bright green velvety leaves, and yellow branched inflorescence followed by red fruit. It is happy in sun to semi-shade, and attracts birds and bees to the garden.

The starburst pelargonium Pelargonium luridum is a breathtakingly lovely tuberous perennial with a basal rosette of lobed or ribboned leaves and inflorescence of creamy pink flowers in summer. Found from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo, it is deciduous and very hardy, and wants full sun.

I am thrilled to have a Syncolostemon hybrid in the nursery after enjoying it in my garden for many years. A sparsely branching evergreen shrub with toothed leaves, it has loose panicles of cerise pink flowers from spring to autumn. It grows about 1.2m high and likes full sun.

Zantedeschia rehmanii is a rare grassland bulb from the Mpumalanga area with lance-shaped leaves and small trumpet-shaped pink flowers flushed with cream in summer. It is deciduous and very hardy, and likes moist soil and sun to semi-shade.

We also once again have Streptocarpus plants in the nursery. They are so special that have a page on the website devoted entirely to them.

·        Exotic plants

Acanthus mollis Whitewater is a gorgeous perennial with erect spikes of pink and white funnel-shaped flowers in spring that attract butterflies and do well in the vase. The large lobed dark green leaves have splashes of white. Evergreen and very hardy, it reaches an average height of 90cm. Plant in sun to semi-shade.

The multi-purpose Hamelia patens (or Firebush) has sprays of orange flowers from summer to autumn. This is a hardy evergreen shrub that grows on average 2m high and likes full sun.

The Korean bell flower Campanula takesimana is a clump-forming hybrid perennial with glossy, leathery heart-shaped leaves and upright stems of large white drooping bells from spring to summer. Evergreen and very hardy, it wants semi-shade, and grows on average 60cm high.

I always like being able to feature a plant that thrives in harsh conditions, and Cistus x purpureus Brilliancy is one of them. A compact, bushy evergreen shrub that likes full sun and dry sandy soil, it has oval, crinkle-edged greyish-green leaves and pretty dark pink flowers with large magenta dots in summer. It reaches an average height of 70cm.

SNIPPETS

Well, it’s that time of year again, and judging by the enquiries I have had, a reminder that we we have gift vouchers is in order. Also take note that the nursery will be open on 16 December but not over the Christmas weekend.

I hope that you will be able to take a well-deserved break over the festive season after another tumultuous year, and …

Happy gardening!

Leoné

082 482 0257