The days are getting noticeably shorter here and the temperatures have dropped from the high 30′s of last week to a slightly chilly 23º C today. I had to go looking for a warmer jersey for the first time this year because my normal cardies were not doing it for me anymore. So I guess Autumn is actually here. We will in all likelihood still have some warmer days again until the chill sets in in mid to late April. Such is Autumn here in Cape Town. One day you are desperately trying to escape from the heat and the next day you’re looking for warm clothes…

It’s my very first “caring-about-my-garden” Autumn and so I’m watching the changes happening in the garden with interest and some anticipation (and expectation!). I have lots of Camellias in the garden of varying age, size and types and am watching all of them get buds. To my delight the first one has started to flower – beautiful crimson flowers which I thought I would share …

First Camellia BloomFirst Camellia Bloom

… and the SecondSecond Camellia

These are on a small(ish) compact shrub (about half a metre in height and sprawling one metre wide). The first flower opened on Tuesday and today there are four blooms on it with about twenty buds ready to spring into action. I love these shrubs, I’ve had a few of them attacked by aphids and have been diligently spraying these bugs off whenever I saw them and a quick check today and the Camellias are bug-free (Yay!). How do I care for them? Regular watering (its been daily watering during our summer heat), checking for bugs and spraying, all got some extra compost a week ago and regular fertilising with special fertiliser for Camellias. And of course they all have a generous layer of mulch around them. That’s it. They seem to be pretty hardy because they are all beautiful, healthy plants.

Watching the Camellias of all colours and sizes flower will no doubt cheer me up through the next four months when not much else will be happening in the garden … and I’m sure I will bore you to death with endless posts and photos of them all :)

I’ve just been on the American Camellia Societies website which has an encyclopedia of over 800 varieties of Camellias … wow! I didn’t know there are that many. It looks like a great website, one I’m sure to learn a lot from.