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Our Blaauwheim garden, Part 2

Posted by Jo-Anne on Tue February 25, 2020.

Climate change and the subsequent frequent droughts have compelled South Africans to reconsider their gardens. We now think differently about this topic to what we did ever before.

The typical South African garden of old had a lawn, the bigger the better. Any garden without a verdant lawn was unthinkable. A proper garden also had several roses with Peace, Virgo, Queen Elizabeth and Crimson Glory at the top of the favourites list. The roses were all fragrant and well suited for picking.

And then there were the flower beds filled with colourful annuals.Dahlias! We used to have dahlias the size of breakfast plates. My father ordered the tubers from a mail catalogue and I can vividly recall my disappointment seeing these shrivelled promises of glorious blooms.

Winter was the time for red hot pokers that frustrated my mother to no end. There were always freshly picked flowers in our house, beautifully arranged by her. The pokers would turn their heads in all but the desired direction. She also loved pyracantha berries.

The bulbs for the spring display ranked from freesias to narcissus and everything in between, preferably those with scented flowers. As kids we even picked bunches of ranunculus to take to school.

In an arid corner of the garden might have been a rockery with a couple of sad looking aloes. Succulents often did not even feature in suburban gardens. Things have changed. Go to any reputable nursery today and notice the huge shift to succulents and other water wise  plants like strelitzias. Succulents are no longer the stepchildren of the garden!

Climate change and frequent droughts changed so many aspects of life and all gardeners had to adapt. We still have a few roses like the "Chicago Peace" featured above. I love bulbs and the Western Cape has an abundance of indigenous species from which to choose.

They often flower from autumn right through to  spring. In summer their foliage dies down and the bulbs are dormant until the next season. The pink amaryllis belladonna is the harbinger of autumn and will show up in the most unexpected places.

All plants are welcome in my garden but if they don't thrive they have to make way for those that do. I have replaced most of my ailing agapanthus with clivias. Gazanias are also hardy and provide lots of colour too. Very often self-sown seedlings fare the best and are real survivors.

I cannot imagine my life without a garden!


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