“What a delight it is, when, of a morning, I get up and go out to find in full bloom a flower that yesterday was not there.” – Tachibona Akemi.
Many would smile at my delight on finding aeoniums beginning to flower at last in my garden. These herbaceous succulents with glossy rosettes of leaves, bloom happily even in unkempt, untended areas, whereas mine have up till now stubbornly refused to flower.
Another reluctant bloomer is a Coral tree which I have grown from a truncheon. In seven years it has sprung up tall and handsome, but with not a single flower in sight.
A visitor advised me to hammer galvanised nails into its trunk, as they do with success in the Eastern Cape. There, too, he went on, his grandmother used to thrash her bed of violets with an old tennis racquet, resulting in flowers of enviable quality.
They are a tough breed of gardeners (and plants) in those parts!
While daisy bushes of Felicia fruticosa are presently emblazoning hillsides with bursts of mauve-purple, cultivars of pincushion proteas are making breathtaking displays in gardens. The yellow pincushion, “High Gold” can spread over as much as 2m and becomes smothered in flowers.
This looks splendid contrasted with a defiantly orange cultivar such as Anouk.
In Simon’s Town, a group of neighbours has developed a fine guerrilla garden along the hillside adjoining their road, with a wonderful collection of proteaceae, ericas, succulents and other indigenous plants.
Among these, I was glad to see a few Silver trees (Leucadendron argenteum) growing robustly. An early visitor to these parts wrote that the hillside was “covered in Silver trees”, of which there is not a trace today, alas. Hopefully in time descendants of these re-introduced trees will extend further afield.
It has always saddened me to find beautiful cultivars and hybrids of our South African flora that have been produced abroad, as in the spectacular exhibition of streptocarpus varieties at the recent Chelsea Flower Show. But, gradually, our horticulturists are catching up, as can be seen with proteaceae, aloes and agapanthi. Look out, too, for osteospermums in the “Sunny” range, whose orange and yellow daisies will give a cheery hue to rockeries and other sundrenched areas.
Incidentally, I was surprised to discover that the ubiquitous Bietou (Chrysanthemoides monilifera) has now been reclassified as an osteospermum.
Now that drying south-easters have arrived to herald in summer, give a good mulch of compost to bare patches in your garden. This will not only feed neighbouring plants, but help to conserve soil moisture. - Cape Argus