Easter is all about new beginnings, and after the trauma of losing both my dogs and my car within a short space of time recently, I am more than ready. A beautiful new vehicle and a rambunctious puppy have given me a head start!

Katie Williams

Easter always makes me remember the story my mother used to tell me about the symbolism of the passion flower, one of my all-time favourites. I hope longstanding subscribers will forgive my repeating this account of what the parts of the flower represent in the Christian faith.

  • The three stigmas represent the nails that were used to nail Jesus to the cross,
  • The five anthers symbolise the five wounds,
  • The corona or fringe is the crown of thorns,
  • The ten petals represent the ten apostles who were present at the crucifixion (Judas and Peter were not),
  • The lobed leaves symbolise the hand of God,
  • The tendrils represent the whips used by the soldiers, and finally,
  • The fruit itself symbolises the world which Jesus came to save.   

Passiflora x violacea


After one of the hottest summers that I can remember, night temperatures are at last beginning to drop. Hopefully day temperatures will follow suit. Unlike most of us, the plants seem to have loved the heat and the garden is quite rampant. Our dilemma is that if we prune now, we will have a bare winter garden, and if we don’t, who knows what unsavoury characters might hatch from the bushes. 

Highlights as we head into late summer are the holmskioldias (Chinese hat plants), salvias, Japanese anemones, and the second flush of the fragrant Quisqualis indica.

Holmskioldia sanguinea

Senecio oxydonthus

Sclerochiton kirkii 

Japanese anemone Whirlwind



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

Indigenous plants

Anisodontae scabrosa is a Stellenbosch Botanical Garden find that grows beautifully in my Gauteng garden. A fast growing rounded evergreen Cape shrub, it has aromatic leaves on woody stems and large cup-shaped pink flowers from spring to summer. It likes full sun and dry sandy soil. I find it grows about 1m high in my garden.

The scrambling perennial Barleria gueinzii has soft grey-green leaves and spikes of pale blue flowers in autumn. It is evergreen and hardy, grows about 60cm in height, and likes semi-shade. The plants in the nursery are just coming into flower.

Plectranthus chirindensis is a self-seeding shrub with round tapered grooved leaves and sprays of stunning true blue flowers in autumn. Evergreen and hardy, it grows on average 1.5m high. Plant in a shady spot.

The variegated flowering ivy Senecio tamoides variegate is a fast-growing succulenty climber with creamy variegated frilly leaves and large clusters of small scented yellow flowers that attract butterflies in autumn. It is evergreen and hardy, grows about 3m high, and wants semi-shade.

Exotic plants

Justicea aurea is well suited to even deeply shaded parts of the garden. An upright branched evergreen shrub with robust stems and huge mid green leaves, its sprays of tubular yellow flowers attract bees and butterflies during summer. It grows on average 1m high and should be cut back in early spring.

Another plant that is happy in shade to deep shade (even indoors) is the Chinese money plant, Pilea pepperomioides. This creeping perennial has small white flowers in spring but its leathery glossy disc-shaped leaves are the main attraction. Evergreen and semi-hardy, it grows about 20cm high.

If you don’t have Quisqualis indica (Rangoon creeper) in your garden, I urge you to remedy that immediately! This is a rare strong growing climber with oblong leaves and clusters of gorgeous highly scented white, pink and red flowers in summer and autumn. Deciduous and hardy, it grows about 3m high. Plant in full sun.

Thunbergia grandiflora alba is the striking white variation of a perennial favourite. This vigorous woody stemmed evergreen climber with dark green heart-shaped leaves can grow to 10m, and has beautiful trumpet shaped flowers in summer. It wants full sun.


There are two important things to remember about Autumn. The one is that it is a good time for planting. The day temperatures are milder and the plants have the entire winter to establish their roots and prepare for a burst of growth in Spring. The other is to horde those leaves as they start falling so that you build up a good supply of lovely mulch.

The Tokara Rare Plant Fair and Open Garden is a much-anticipated event in the Western Cape calendar. This year it will take place on Saturday 20 April – save the date!


Happy gardening!


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