Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Adieu to the Tulips

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve loved having the Tulips in my garden. They are beautiful and they’ve added glorious colour to the spring garden, but were they “worth it”?

Adieu to the Tulips

According to Wikipedia, During the Ottoman Empire, the tulip became very popular in Ottoman territories and was seen as a symbol of abundance and indulgence – I understand why.

The bulbs are fairly expensive, certainly the ones I bought were. The standard tulips were quite reasonable but were sold out so quickly that I only managed to get my hands on a few – and only red were left when I bought. As Tulips are my daughters favourite flowers, I had promised her “lots of tulips”, so when the exotic tulips became available, I indulged and bought a lot of them. They were pricey considering that they are only worth keeping for one season, or so the bulb-people tell you. But order them I did and I lovingly planted all the bulbs and waited in anticipation for a marvellous show of tulips.

Was it marvellous? Well … it certainly was lovely. It was a fun experiment. It was great being able to cut tulips and bring them into the house (and my cut tulips lasted a whole lot longer in the vase than the ones from Woolies do). But was it “show-stoppingly marvellous”? I would have to say no. The exotic tulips all seemed to bloom at different times so I never had a single “wow” moment in the bed they were planted in. We had plenty of “thats very pretty” moments, but never a “Wow, that is a great show of Tulips” moment. And once the blooms are spent you are left with the collapsing greenery … and no chance of another bloom (indulgence!).

The standard red tulips are blooming now and they look lovely. I don’t think the the way I planted them induces a “Wow” moment when you see them, but we are enjoying them for now.

[one_third]Adieu to the Tulips[/one_third]

[one_third]Adieu to the Tulips[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Adieu to the Tulips[/one_third_last]

My final verdict: If (and its a rather big if) I buy tulips again, I will plant them in pots which I can move around or in an area that isn’t that obvious (but then whats the point really?). For the amount of time they took to grow and flower (4-5 months growing time for 2 to 3 weeks of flowers), that’s just not worth it in my book. I think I can do a lot better by choosing any number of the perennials on my “I want these” list, which will give me pleasure for a lot longer than three weeks. It’s not that I expect a plant to flower continuously, far from it, but I don’t see the point of devoting an entire flower bed to six months of growth for a fleeting showing by the tulips, only to trash them afterwards. I just don’t have that much space in my garden (or cash in my bank account :)).

So much like one says to friends you know you won’t be seeing again for a while, I bid Adieu to the Tulips … till we meet again!

In Memory of the Tulips …

[one_third]I loved you ...[/one_third]

[one_third]... and the two of you[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Very pretty[/one_third_last]

[one_third]More lovliness[/one_third]

[one_third]A perfect yellow bloom[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Maybe I will "indulge" again ...[/one_third_last]

[one_third]Pretty ruffled edges[/one_third]

[one_third]Dew kissed beauty[/one_third]

[one_third_last]One more yellow beauty[/one_third_last]

[one_third]More of the lovely[/one_third]

[one_third]About to bloom[/one_third]


Perhaps I will look back on this post next year and change my mind and do it all over again … time will tell.

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Design Gardening Home page features Perenniels

All about Change – the Azalea bed, then and now

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.  ~ Author Unknown

I’ve long hung on to the overgrown trees I inherited in my garden, believing that excessive cutting back or pruning would change things radically. I was wary of changing things too much. Mostly, I was wary of losing my fiercely guarded privacy. You see, I’m a very private person, reclusive some will tell you. And mostly, I liked it that way.

And then I started this blog, and suddenly, things were a bit less private. Strangers were “looking” over my walls and into my garden. It actually felt quite nice. Some of those strangers have become gardening buddies and I look forward to their virtual visits to my garden and mine to theirs. Then it dawned on me … perhaps cutting back a tree or two to let in some more light was not such a bad thing after all. Maybe just prune back a little … and so we did. And guess what? Nothing terrible happened. In fact, the sun peeped through and it made both the plants and me smile a bit. Perhaps time to prune back a bit more? Let more light in? Why not?

Get the tree feller in, see what he says. He said two trees HAD to go or they would cause problems with the foundations of my house within the next two years. Oh dear … more loss of privacy? He chopped them down. Then he cut back the others. Hard. Quite a shock to my system. It’s taken quite a while for me to get used to all the light (and seeing some neighbour roofs). But I’m still here, nothing bad happened and … now I like it! I can see the mountain – I have a view! And I see the sun and the sun sees my plants and they seem to be smiling back with their lovely blooms.

Today I’d like to share with you the jungle I was hiding in and how I have transformed this area which I call the “Azalea Bed” over the last three years …

Before – no light, no sun, just overgrown trees

After – Now in September 2011

After - September 2011

More “Before and Afters”

[one_half]Before – Dexter as a puppyDecember 2007 - Dexter as a puppy[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The same area (and Dexter) todayThe same area 4 years later[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Another “before” with baby Dex[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Today Lilies & Azaleas grow hereToday Lilies grow here[/one_half_last]

My “brag book”  – the way it looks today

(click to enlarge)
[one_half]The way it looks todayThe way it looks today[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Can you see the Mountain?Can you see the Mountain?[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Azaleas and LiliesAzaleas and Lilies[/one_third]

[one_third]Looking to the mountainLooking to the mountain[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Looking from the other viewAnd from the other side[/one_third_last]

The last photograph shows the bed from the other side (with the mountain behind me). There is of course still work to be done in the front of the bed and once the Tulips have died down in the bed opposite the Lilies & Azaleas I will be planting perennials in there (not doing the Tulips again next year).

I should probably have waited to show this when all the Lilies are blooming and when the Prunus is covered in blossoms … but I’ll just have to show you how it looks then again … it will be another whole new look. I can’t wait!

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Flowers for my Mom

As I was pottering around my garden today I had the sweetest childhood memory of being a very young child (must have been before school-going age), picking flowers and giving them to my Mom which always made her smile. And so it is today, my lovely, supportive Mom is probably my gardens’ biggest fan and often I catch myself thinking “Mami will love this!” when I spot a new flower in the garden or find a lovely plant at a nursery. A lot of what I plant is in anticipation of the joy I know it brings to her when she reads this blog, all the way in Germany!

So today’s floral show is just for you Mami! Thank you for all your love and support and mostly, thank you for being my Mom!

First the Tulips I picked for you …

[one_half]Yellow Tulips[/one_half]


[one_half]Todays Tulip[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lovely Tulip[/one_half_last]

[one_half]3 Tulips[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Tulips in the vase[/one_half_last]

And a few other “Pretty’s” in the garden today


[one_half_last]Angel's Trumpet[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Ranunculus white[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ranunculus pink[/one_half_last]

[one_half]More cinerarias[/one_half]


All my love

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Happy Days the Hellebores are waking up

Is this a sign of things to come? Forgive me my excitement but this is only my tenth month of being a “gardener” and I am very excited about Spring this year. Mid July here in Cape Town means we are just past the mid-winter mark and with the glorious weather we’ve had for the last ten days the early spring bloomers seem to think its time to start waking up …

You might remember my thrill at finding Hellebores at a nursery in Elgin at the beginning of April. No? Ok, Hellebores are not readily available as standard stock at the average nursery here in South Africa but I managed to buy three Hellebore plants at a specialist nursery after having admired them on many overseas blogs. I duly brought them home, planted them and believed they might take a year or two before they flower (if I even managed to keep them alive that long). So imagine my excitement when I discovered actual buds on two of the plants this weekend! I’m absolutely thrilled – I actually can’t explain how delighted I am. I’m like a child at Christmas because … well it feels like maybe, just maybe, I might actually be on the way to becoming a real gardener! I chose, bought, planted and nursed a plant to flower, all by myself! It feels really great!

So here they are and some other things that are making me happy today!

[one_half]My masterpiece – Hellebore budsHellebores[/one_half]

[one_half_last]… because I’m proud, another shotHellebores[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Nestled amongst the Azaleas & LiliumsHellebores[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Exotic Tulip bulbs are coming up!Tulips[/one_half_last]

To all my gardening friends in the Northern Hemisphere that encouraged me to get the Hellebores and especially to Carolyn of Carolyn’s Shade Garden in North Carolina for all her advice, Thank You!!

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

The first tulip emerges and other joys from my winter garden

You might remember that I spent ages planting up all the hundreds of bulbs I bought in April and May. Most of the bulbs were planted at the end of April over the long Easter weekend and made their presence known very quickly with shoots emerging and now we wait for them to flower in Spring. The few Narcissus I planted have already flowered (I admit I was underwhelmed by them, they were pretty but nothing to get terribly excited about). The Tulips I planted have not shown any signs of planning to emerge until today! I found the first bit of life from the tulips and I’m very excited about it.

The Asiatic Lilies are coming up and look very strong and healthy and at last the Daffodils are starting to come through. The Potato bush which I thought I had killed has erupted into a mass of flowers so it goes to show that moving a plant from a position where it seems unhappy to another, really pays off. Then the last bit of joy is that my Camellias are all flowering and Azaleas in pink and cerise are adding colour to my winter garden.

[one_half]The first Tulip emergesThe first Tulip emerges[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The Asiatic Lilies are looking goodThe Lilies are looking good[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Potato bush comes back to lifePotato bush come back to life[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Violas hide emerging DaffodilsViolas hide the Daffodils[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Pink AzaleasPink Azaleas[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Does Lavender flower all year long?Does Lavender flower all year long?[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My only white Camellia openingMy only white Camellia opening[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ranunculus waiting for SpringRanunculus waiting for Spring[/one_half_last]

Oh I just can’t wait for Spring … only two more months (59 more sleeps!)

Happy Gardening

I’ve added this post to Helen’s meme: End of Month View over at her blog, The Patient Gardener.

Annuals Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Another bag of potting soil

I had to get a bag of potting soil today for a planter that is being used for the tulip bulbs (no, I still haven’t planted them, but i have a good reason! I needed to get potting soil …)

As always, I seem to be incapable of walking into the nursery and leaving with only what I came for. This time a few seedlings found their way into my car as well as four white Dipladenias. I have a plan for the Dipladenias (or are they Mandevillas – can the plant-naming-people make up their minds? My previous Dipladenias were labelled Mandevilla and these are exactly the same but labelled Dipladenia).

But, I going off point … The plan for the Dipladenias; the two I have are doing so well here that I decided to get more for the front bed trellisses. Its too hot there for the existing Star Jasmine which are getting scorched so I need to  move them (or over-plant with the Dipladenias – is that a thing one can do?)

Then the little six-pack seedling trays were calling me and I came home with Delphiniums, Digitalis and Cinerarias. Now to find homes for them …

[one_half]New acquisitionsA Bag of Potting Soil[/one_half]


It looks like rain this weekend. Hopefully it will clear long enough for me to spend some time in the garden.

Happy Gardening