Annuals Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Growing up revisited

Just a quick post to show the new seedlings growing. I can see the difference between the kale and the chinese cabbage now with the second set of leaves (I am sure they have a more scientific name) coming through. I am excited about the kale – I saw a recipe with kale and it looked so scrumptious!  With so much nutritional value, it can only be a great addition to any plate! I also harvest a variety of lettuces daily for our lunch salad! No more red, juicy tomatoes, but I do have the small yellow Blondekopf tomatoes. Very sweet and there are always lots of them!

Here we have the kale


[one_half_last]Chinese Cabbage[/one_half_last]


[one_half_last]Rocket in the raised bed[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Ok – I think this is more cabbage[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Potato plant emerging[/one_half_last]

[one_half]A necklace of Blondekopf tomatoes[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Some lettuce in a bald patch[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Oak leaf lettuce[/one_half]



What else is growing in my garden that I haven’t talked about for awhile?

[one_third]Passion Fruit Vine[/one_third]


[one_third_last]Lemon Tree[/one_third_last]

[one_half]Bulbs in the raised beds-must be Sparaxis[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ixia with Lupins[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Birdies love the birdbath[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Grasses are still attractive[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Fairylights in the Leopard tree[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Black pod of the Leopard Tree[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Powis Castle Artemesia in the rose bed[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Rosemary & fennel in the veggie patch[/one_half_last]

Lots still happening in my garden and as I can see, there is still a basketful of goodies I can collect from the veggie patch!

Have a Happy Gardening week xxxxxx




Annuals Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

What’s growing in my backyard

After a week of work committments, my head has hardly moved away from the computer. This has left me with the feeling of “cabin fever”! I was so pleased that we had a holiday on Wednesday – International Workers Day (Labour Day) – and I was NOT going to spend another moment sitting! I was in the garden, playing with the newbie chickens and Skollie (who has calmed down quite abit!) and filling holes and racking leaves. Just your normal “getting-back-the-garden-feel” activity! All was looking quite alive and still a few flowers around. There was some new growth too!! Here are some photos of the back garden activity!

Dietes Grandiflora is blooming

Here, the Dietes is amongst flowering Stevia. Now stevia is used as a natural sweetner. I add the leaves to my herbal tea. It has a distinct taste, but the benefit of a non-sugar sweet is always a bonus!

The busy bees are still harvesting the nectar! Hey – leave some for me!

I love the Mexican Petunia in this patch of the garden. I think it prefers the cooler months in my neck of the woods!

One of my favourite favourites! Borage is growing again. This is a self-seeded plant!

I like Tansy alot – it is soft and gentle and the bees also love it. I can cut it down and within a week or two it is back! The leaves are the best in making a natural pesticide. I make a tea with Tansy and Artemesia! Works really well! I also add some soapy water!

I was worried the Ice cream bush would not last the hot days of summer, but here it is!! Bushy and beautiful. I love the colours and these change as the seasons move on.

As you can see under the Ice Cream bush I have a patch of re-planted thyme and my new solar light. I have 2 dozen of these in the garden and they light the way when I need last minute herbs for dinner!

Oh wow! My Chasmanthe is growing!!  Can’t wait for these to flower! This is their first grown since I planted them last season. They are bulbs that grow every year.

My grasses are in their autumn colours now – I really like this yellow look!

I hope you have lots growing in your garden.

Happy gardening xxxx

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features

What beauties

I am jumping with glee!! It is so amazing to see my Irises going from buds to blooms. I was like a child waiting for Christmas to arrive!! And it was so worth it! They are magnificent. I was never a real flower garden person, but to have these extraordinary flowers all over my organic vegetable garden has been a great delight!! I will say no more! Just look at the photos! They will show you the anticipation I felt!



They stand so tall, almost shoulder height. Is this normal?

They are the Springtime Winners for me! Even my hubby is taken with them. Yup – he has taken his camera out….. yes, the Iris will be photographed again …. and again…..

Happy Gardening xxxx


Christine's garden Gardening

Bulb planting 2012

Last year I spent quite a bit on spring-flowering bulbs and populated my garden with lots of Daffodils, Ranunculus, Tulips, Ixias, Freesias and a few Dutch Irises. After my initial ‘bulb planting’ fest I planted quite a few Asiatic Lilies in the Azalea bed and loved the show I had during Spring right through to the beginning of summer. It gave me so much pleasure to be able to pick flowers in my garden and bring them into my home as well as the many hours spent taking photographs and just generally enjoying the flower filled garden.

So this year I’m adding to my collection. Last year I discovered which bulbs do well in my garden and which don’t, and I’ve bought more of the winners. I especially enjoyed the Freesias and the Ixias last year (both are indigenous South African bulbs), so I’ve bought loads more of those. I’ve bought only a few extra daffodils to add to the collection in the front garden which did well. I’m thrilled to see the ones planted last year are already coming up again. The Dutch Irises are also coming back as well as the Ixias which were planted in a pot and the Freesis which were planted in shade. This year I’m adding another 100 Ixias directly into my sunniest bed and I’m adding the small Ipheon to the mix.

[one_half]Dutch Irises coming up againDutch Irises coming up again[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Bulb planting tools make it easyBulb planting tools make it easy[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Some new bulbs (lots of Freesias)Some of the new bulbs (Freesias)[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lots more Ixias and new IpheonLots more Ixias and new Ipheon[/one_half_last]

[one_half]More Dutch Irises for the backMore Dutch Irises for the back[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Louisiana Irises (not really bulbs)Louisiana Irises (not really bulbs)[/one_half_last]

Planting bulbs is not too labour intensive either – I use a dibber (I think that’s what it is called) and a special ‘bulb planting’ tool. Of course planting them into pots is even easier to do. This year I am also planting up a few pots with bulbs which I can then move into beds once they are flowering. This because some of my favourites require sun and I have limited sunny beds.

I hope it all works out as well as it did last year.

Happy Gardening


Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Dutch Irises no cigar

One of my favourite cut flowers which I often buy for the house are Dutch Irises. I planted about a hundred Dutch Iris bulbs this year in the hopes of having a wonderful display in my garden. Planted below the Beech tree I thought it would be a lovely “story”, at the top half of my back garden. Well … the results were mixed. At first I disliked the foliage which came up quickly and just sort of flopped around. For four months we had this mass of leaves just sort of hanging in there and looking quite messy.

Just as I was about to resign myself to the fact that I can’t grow Dutch Irises, what do you know … the foliage seem to perk up, a thick stem appeared from the centre of each “mess of leaves”, and each bulb produced a wonderful large, beautiful Dutch Iris that stood tall and proud for days.

Dutch Iris

Dutch Iris

The blooms were at least twice the size of the ones I buy from flower sellers and once cut and put in a vase, they lasted for just over two weeks.

Was it worth the effort? I have to say no, only because the before and after bloom stage is aesthetically not very appealing. If you have a very large garden and an area that you don’t mind having the scraggly foliage limping around for months, then perhaps. But the cost / effort vs reward was small. I might be tempted to try it again, but in pots next time.

Happy Gardening

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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

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Ixia – a lovely South African native

Ixia - a lovely South African nativeOK, so I’m a convert. I’ve been gardening mostly with “exotic” plants (i.e. not our native South African plants) simply because I prefer the so-called exotics. Or so I thought. I do have a few indigenous plants in my garden but if I’m being very honest, they are not my favourites, and were not planted by me. Hence the belief that I prefer “exotics”. In April I planted all the bulbs I bought and amongst those were Freesias and my new favourite, Ixias, both of which are native to South Africa.

The Ixias were a freebie included by the Bulb Company when I ordered all my spring flowering bulbs. After lovingly planting all my “exotic” bulbs, as an after thought,  I bunged the free Ixias in a huge, slightly broken, not very attractive terracotta pot that I put right outside my office doors – the doors that lead outside. They sat in the pot and I confess that I didn’t water them very regularly, was disinterested in them and paid them no very little attention. Not even when the shoots emerged and looked kinda scraggly did I take much notice. I just kept thinking “I must move that awful pot sometime”.  The leaves of the plants continued to grow and started looking moderately attractive. “Hmmm, not too shabby after all”, I thought as the stems started to emerge.

And then two weeks ago a wonderful thing happened…

The first flower buds started appearing atop a long wiry stem. And oh they are sooo pretty! My pack of bulbs must have been mixed, because I seem to have them in all sorts of colours. Reds, orange, yellows, yellow with a touch of red, pinks … and they look sort of wild and wonderful all tumbling over the rim of the pot. Some stand upright but mostly they are waving around and tumbling. Now the first thing I do every morning is go to the pot to see if there are any new colours and I waste about half an hour taking endless photos of them … they are a delight to photograph (Click the images below to view the enlargements).

Some photographs of the Ixias …

[one_half]The first budsThe first buds[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More buds, different coloursMore buds, different colours[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Tumbling out of the pot …In the pot ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Even the pot looks quite nice nowEven the pot looks quite nice now[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Pretty pink IxiasPretty pink Ixias[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Yellow with red centresYellow with red centres[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Yellow with darker centresYellow with darker centres[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More pinks – in the sunMore pinks - in the sun[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Orange with dark centresOrange with dark centres[/one_third]

[one_third]The yellow IxiasThe yellow Ixias[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Orangey pink colourOrangey pink colour[/one_third_last]

This Info from Wikipedia …

The genus Ixia consists of a number of cormous plants native to South Africa from the Iridaceae family and Ixioideae subfamily. Some of them are known as the corn lily. Some distinctive traits include the sword-like leaves, and long wiry stems with star-shaped flowers. The popular corn lily has a specific, not very intense fragrance (Wikipedia says it smells like vegetables, I don’t agree!). The Ixia are also used sometimes as ornamental plants. The genus name is derived from the Greek words ixias, meaning “the chameleon plant”, and physis, meaning “bladder”. 

I think they are supposed to stand straigh up – mine are sort of “tumbling” towards the sun. I don’t think they get quite enough sun in that spot but thats as sunny as it gets in my garden. Only about 20 are in bloom right now with another 80 in bud! Should be pretty spectacular when more are flowering. I even have two Ixia Viridiflora – they are a rare version which are turquoise – I wonder if they will make it – I don’t remember where in the pot I planted them. (Known as Green ixia or groenkalossie – in Afrikaans- it is an exquisite species with many-flowered spikes of sea-green blooms with black centres).

So now I’m wondering … have YOU ever planted something half-heartedly, just because it “was there”, and then fallen in love with it? I’d love to hear!

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Bulbalicious Beauties on this Fabulous Friday

I thought I’d share some of the beautiful blooms being produced in my garden by the bulbs I planted back in April. It’s only the start of the blooms and I’m loving them! My favourites right now are the gorgeous Freesias that are providing a bright splash of yellow to an otherwise uninteresting corner in the back garden. They seem to light up the whole area with their bright yellow flowers and lovely scent, and are quite a show stopper! Why didn’t I plant more of them? I’d happily have had hundreds more of these and a few less of some others. Now I know for next year!

Freesias in the planting scheme

Fabulous Freesias …

[one_half]The lovely FreesiasThe lovely Freesias[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lots of flowers and budsFlowers and buds[/one_half_last]

Other Bulbs flowering today …

[one_half]Pretty in pink RanunculusRanunculus[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Exotic Tulip from the Hadeco rangeExotic Tulip from the Hadeco range[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Exotic Tulip from the Hadeco range *Exotic Tulip from the Hadeco range[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another pretty TulipAnother pretty Tulip[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Another lovely exotic TulipAnother lovely Tulip[/one_half]

[one_half_last]A gorgeous DaffodilA gorgeous Daffodil[/one_half_last]

About Freesias (from Wikipedia)

Freesia Ecklon ex Klatt is a genus of 14–16 species of flowering plants in the family Iridaceae, native to Africa. Of the 14 species, 12 are native to Cape Province, South Africa, the remaining two to tropical Africa, one species extending north of the equator to Sudan. They are herbaceous plants which grow from a corm 1–2.5 cm diameter, which sends up a tuft of narrow leaves 10–30 cm long, and a sparsely branched stem 10–40 cm tall bearing a few leaves and a loose one-sided spike of fragrant narrowly funnel-shaped flowers.

Freesias are very popular garden plants, grown for their often strongly scented flowers. The most commonly cultivated species is F. refracta, which was crossed with F. leichtlinii in the 19th century. Numerous cultivars have been bred from these species and the pink- and yellow-flowered forms of F. corymbosa. Modern tetraploid cultivars have flowers ranging from white to yellow, pink, red and blue-mauve. They are widely cultivated and readily increased from seed. Due to their specific and pleasing scent, they are often used in hand creams, shampoos, candles, etc.

* I have no idea what type of Tulip this is – I’ve checked my original order and I didn’t order this (or anything that looks remotely like this). Perhaps it was a “freebie” or it is a mutation of some sort (is that possible?). If it weren’t for the foliage I would seriously doubt it even is a tulip 🙂

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Favourite Foliage

As I was getting ready for the monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day I realised that although I love having pretty flowers in my garden, I’m actually far more taken with the foliage of plants. When I’m shopping for plants these days I look for plants with interesting foliage rather than questioning the colour or look of the flower. If a plant has gorgeous foliage and the flowers appeal to me too, well then it’s an absolute winner of course, but I’m attracted to the foliage of a plant and don’t care too much about its flowering potential.

My big bulb planting experiment has taught me a lot about my plant preferences. Now that the bulbs have all emerged and are mostly in bud, I know exactly which ones I will nurture and replant next year and which will end up in the compost bin. Some of my “favourite flowers” won’t be making it back into the planting scheme. For example, Dutch Irises (which are true bulbs) are one of those destined for composting. I simply love having a vase of these gorgeous blooms in my home but regrettably I don’t particularly like the actual plant in my garden. The flopping foliage doesn’t do anything for the overall look of the garden once it emerges, but I remain hopeful that the flowers will make up for it once they bloom. After that, Sayonara!

Rhizomatous Irises on the other hand, like the Siberian and Bearded Irises which are so popular, have wonderful, large, strappy leaves that contrast beautifully in a plant setting, regardless of their flowers. I would have these in my garden even if they did not produce a single bloom, simply because I love the strong, strappy upward growing leaves that contrast so well with more delicate and ornate foliage. Even the Agapanthus, when not in flower, contributes to the overall look of my garden and ornamental grasses? Well these are in a class of their own and my love affair with grasses has only just begun…

Today I’d like to share some of my very favourite plants that I love specifically for their foliage. These are the plants that create atmosphere and interest in my garden.

[one_half]Carex evergoldCarex evergold[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Big strappy IrisesBig strappy Irises[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Festuca glaucaFestuca glauca[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ficus benjamina ‘Starlight’Ficus benjamina 'Starlight'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Chameleon’Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Chameleon'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Nandina domestica Sacred BambooNandina domestica Sacred Bamboo[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Ipomoea Sweet Caroline PurpleIpomoea Sweet Caroline Purple[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Inherited Ponytail PalmInherited Ponytail Palm[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Plectranthus madagascariensisPlectranthus madagascariensis[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Inherited PhilodendronInherited Philodendron[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Hypoestes phyllostachyaHypoestes phyllostachya[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lilium LongiflorumLilium Longiflorum[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Agapanthus africanusAgapanthus africanus[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Panicum Virgatum “Shenandoah”Panicum Virgatum “Shenandoah”[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Chondropetalum tectorumChondropetalum tectorum[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Nandina pygmaea ‘Dwarf Sacred Bamboo’Nandina pygmaea 'Dwarf Sacred Bamboo'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Plectranthus ciliatusPlectranthus ciliatus[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lamium ‘Beacon Silver’Lamium 'Beacon Silver'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Cynara – Globe ArtichokeCynara - Globe Artichoke[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Acanthus mollisAcanthus mollis[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Cinerarias (annuals)Cineraria (annuals)[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Helichrysum petiolareHelichrysum petiolare[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Heliotropium ‘Royal Marine’Heliotropium 'Royal Marine'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lavender (I forget which type)Lavender (unknown type)[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Delphinium ‘Belladonna Casablanca’Delphinium 'Belladonna Casablanca'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Acorus gramineus ‘Variegata’Acorus gramineus 'Variegata'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Nandina pygmaeaNandina pygmaea[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Hypoestes ‘polka dot plant’ whiteHypoestes 'polka dot plant' white[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’Duranta 'Sheena's Gold'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Caladium (I think?)Caladium (I think?)[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’Flax lily[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Alocasia cucullataAlocasia cucullata[/one_half_last]

All the Spring flowering bulb purchases, researching and planting, caring for and watching has been an amazing experiment and I’ve enjoyed the learning process and wonder of it all. I’ll enjoy a summer of not having to buy flowers for the vase but will make very different choices next year when I plant my spring flowering bulbs. I think I am “growing up” as a gardener. From planting odd pretty plants that I bought on impulse to carefully planning and researching, trying different combinations and making bolder decisions … it’s been a huge learning curve and very rewarding.

I’m linking up to Pam at Diggings monthly Foliage Follow Up, a monthly Garden Blog meme for lovers of Foliage!

What is your favourite foliage plant in your garden?

Happy Gardening

Annuals Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Buds galore and my first ever Tulip. Could it be …

… that Spring is on its way?

When I look past all that still needs to be done in terms of preparing my garden for the imminent arrival of Spring and Summer, it gladdens my heart to see buds, buds and more buds all over the place! If you had told me two years ago that I would get excited about seeing buds on plants, I would have asked you what you were smoking, but that’s exactly how it is right now. I’m like a child in a candy store, jumping around from bed to bed and getting excited about the buds I see and the promise of things to come, just a few short weeks away!

Buds are everywhere and in my enthusiasm I must have taken about 200 photographs yesterday of all “my buds”. Whilst not all the plants and bulbs I planted are “budding” yet, most are and I am really thrilled.

I thought I would share some of my favourites with you …

The promise of things to come …

[one_half]The first Ranunculus BudThe first Ranunculus Bud[/one_half]

[one_half_last]On the Lemon TreeOn the Lemon Tree[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Murraya Exotica budsMurraya Exotica buds[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cinerarias (I think thats what these are)Cinerarias (I think thats what these are)[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Nandina (heavenly bamboo) blossomsNandina (heavenly bamboo) blossoms[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Heliotropium arborescens ‘Marine’Heliotropium arborescens 'Marine'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Madevilla splenens always in budMadevilla splenens always in bud[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Pink Azaleas are everywherePink Azaleas are everywhere[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Yipee! Tulip buds …Yipee! Tulip buds ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Oh my … what have we here?Oh my ... what have we here?[/one_half_last]

[one_half]The first of the Tulips opensThe first of the Tulips opens[/one_half]

[one_half_last]So excited about my first ever TulipSo excited about my first tulip[/one_half_last]

I’ve excluded photos of the buds on the lime tree, the snow drops (Leucojum aestivum), Freesias, Dietes grandiflora, Viburnum tinus ‘Lucidum’, Impatiens, Liliums and the Camellia buds which are not giving up just yet. Also flowering are Hellebores, Violas, Dianthus, Alliums and Lobularia.

What’s “budding” in your garden right now? What are you excited about?

Happy Gardening