Newsletter Apr 2022

After a recent trip out of town, I found myself once again waxing lyrical about the joys of a road trip. Driving past an undeveloped area sprouting hundreds of Brunsvigia orientalis plants in bloom, I stopped, put on the hazard lights, and jumped out of the car to take my time breathing in this beauty.  

Brunsvigia orientalis

Apart from how new vistas and less familiar surroundings refresh the mind and revive the spirit, they are an opportunity for discovery and broadening our knowledge. I often take advantage of guided tours to learn about the different vegetation and plant species in certain areas. Even without a guide, I usually have my eyes glued to the ground anyway for a plant I haven’t seen before. Thankfully, there are now numerous online communities, particularly on Facebook, to help with identification. What a thrill it is to find out that you have stumbled across something rare or endangered, or so endemic that you won’t encounter it anywhere else. And of course, once you have spotted something interesting, the Easter egg search mentality kicks in and you just have to keep going!

A friend has also been telling me about the Google Lens phone app. Take a snapshot of your plant of interest, and it will do an internet search for possible matches right there and then. Although not entirely infallible, it certainly scratches that instant gratification itch. I think I must give it a try on my next excursion.

Screenshot of a Google Lens search

IN THE GARDEN

On a stroll through the nursery on a wet afternoon some weeks ago, I couldn’t at first work out why something seemed amiss – until I suddenly realised it wasn’t something I was seeing; it was something I wasn’t seeing. Our Chinese Elm tree had fallen down. I was devastated! Particularly as it had shown no indication of being stressed or unhappy.  

Our fall Chinese elm

Then it occurred to me how many upended mature trees I have seen all over our suburb and surrounds in the last month or so. What could be the cause? Root rot, ants, old age? Or perhaps too much water! Could it be that the good rains of the past season may have had a negative effect on our trees which are not used to such precipitation? I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

IN THE NURSERY

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

·        Indigenous plants

A fast-growing deciduous shrub indigenous to our more tropical areas, Brillantasia subulugurica makes a marvellous filler in the garden. Reaching a height of about 180 cm, it has big bright glossy green leaves and spikes of large purple flowers in summer. Plant in sun to semi-shade.

Gladiolus dalenii is a hardy deciduous sun-loving corm with fan-shaped strap-like leaves and lovely sprays of orange flowers from summer to autumn when it can reach a fairly stately height of 100 cm. A good cut flower.

Platycarpa glomerata is an interesting new evergreen perennial with a basal rosette of spiny toothed leaves and stalkless pink flowers from spring to summer. Indigenous to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, it grows in colonies in full sun and dry sandy soil. It is very hardy and reaches an average height of 30 cm.

There are few plants that can beat the impact of Plectranthus zuluensis planted en masse. A rounded evergreen and hardy perennial with tapered grooved ovate leaves and a spreading habit, it has lovely sprays of blue flowers in autumn. It is happiest in shade to semi-shade.

·        Exotic plants

Scilla peruviana is a summer-deciduous semi-hardy bulb from the hyacinth family that has cones of dark blue flowers in summer. It is happy in sun to semi-shade, and grows about 50 cm high.

The delicate looking orchid vine, Stigmaphyllon ciliatum, is a semi-hardy evergreen twining climber with lobed pale green leaves and mothlike bright yellow flowers from summer to autumn. It reaches an average height of 4 metres and likes sun or semi-shade.

The tubular white flowers of Symphytum tauricum, the Crimean comfrey, are so unassuming and yet so pretty in those deeply shaded, moist parts of the garden. A clump-forming very hardy perennial with tuberous roots and oblong hairy green leaves, it blooms in summer and grows on average 40 cm high.

With a name rather like that of a Harry Potter character, Zingiber zerumbeet is a deciduous clump-forming spreading perennial with long narrow leaves that develop from a rhizome. It has cream-coloured pinecone like flowers in summer.and is known as a medicinal plant.

SNIPPETS

I have just returned from the Rare Plant Fair in Stellenbosch at Tokara Wine Estate – what a treat!  The gardens are beautiful and there is certainly much to look forward to on a next visit, but the selection of the autumn-flowering plectranthus on display now was out of this world. A round of applause to all the gardeners involved!

 

Plectranthus planted en masse at Tokara

Happy gardening!

Leoné

082 482 0257