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My Winter garden

The stars of my winter garden are without question, the Camellias. Looking particularly beautiful this year, the big red Camellia in my back garden has just opened her first blooms and is covered in buds waiting to open. Tucked in amongst other plants and taller growing shrubs are the smaller Camellias shrubs, some of which are flowering for the first time this year. Their lovely pink flowers draw attention to the lower growing foliage, all of which is looking lush thanks to the rain.


If you look closely there is a hint of things to come. All over the garden the spring bulbs are starting to wake up pushing their first leaves through the soil. Last years bulbs are forging ahead and newly planted bulbs are coming up, competing for attention. It’s a reminder that for everything there is a season …


I’ve been battling a bit to find ‘blogworthy’ things in my garden. We are having lovely winter weather right now, cold and crisp with sunshine and … my favourite … no wind! But a fair amount of rain has left some of the ground in my garden sodden and this makes gardening not entirely pleasant. I may need to look at the drainage in certain areas if it gets a lot worse.

Back garden and Sherrie

The “Two Gardeners” have both been sick …flu, sinusitis and then in case the first bout was not enough, flu again. We’ve both been out of commission, so visits to our friends’ blogs have been minimal. We promise to visit you again now that we are up and about.

I will be linking this post to Helen of The Patient Gardener who hosts End of Month View. This monthly meme is where garden bloggers share their garden views for the end of the month.

I leave you with these lyrics …

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

(Lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Elton John)

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Camellia bed update

I don’t really know why I call this ‘The Camellia Bed”, I have far more Camellias in the back garden than in this small corner, but that’s its name … the Camellia Bed. It started out as a very dark corner with overgrown trees casting deep shade onto the swimming pool – as a result we hardly used the pool). We slowly transformed the area as detailed in this post and then later I added the DIY trellis against the wall on which to train the Star Jasmine that thrives in this space.

I realised that it has been a year since I’ve photographed and talked about this corner on its own so today I took a few photos. Winter is not the best time of year for this bed, but three of the large Camellia shrubs are flowering and a ground cover shrub is also in bloom so it has a few pops of delicious pink and cerise blooms. The petals that fall off the spent blooms also create a pool of pink at the foot of the shrubs which just adds to the charm of the Camellias.

Here are a few photos I took today and then a few older ones to show how it used to look. Am I happy with it? Mostly I am … It’s a very shaded area so I am making the most of it.

The Camellia bed from afar
The cerise Camellia

The cerise Camellia

A few “before” photos …

[one_half]Camellia bed in March 2011Camellia bed in March 2011[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Camellia bed in March 2011Camellia bed in March 2011[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Camellia bed in June 2011Camellia bed in June 2011[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Camellia bed in June 2011Camellia bed in June 2011[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Camellia bed in January 2012Camellia bed in January 2012[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Camellia bed in February 2012Camellia bed in February 2012[/one_half_last]

It’s become lush and very green. I might need to start doing some cutting back and pruning. Happy days!

Happy Gardening

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Lovely Camellias

Flowers are the poetry of earth, as stars are the poetry of heaven ~ Unknown

The Camellias are like stars twinkling in my winter garden …

Lovely Camellia

Lovely Camellia

Beautiful Camellia

Beautiful Camellias

Gorgeous bloom

Gorgeous bloom

Some of the branches have too many buds on them so I’ve been picking off the weaker looking ones so we get better blooms. There are so many flowers and hundreds and hundreds of still-to-open buds … it’s just lovely!

Happy Gardening!

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An Autumn garden

My garden is in a sorry state … three days of continuous rain over the long weekend that interrupted my garden clean-up has left it looking untidy and ever so sad-looking. As I was busy with laying newly purchased compost and mulch the heavens opened up and it rained for three days solid. But in typical Cape Town fashion, as we got out our winter woolies and put extra blankets on beds, so the weather changed right back and the last two days have been too hot to do much gardening.

Today is looking good – not too hot, no wind, no rain (yet), but before I head out to continue my clean up, I took a few photos to show you what’s going on. And as I was taking these photos, I noticed something else – it’s not all white anymore! I have lots of pinks and blues and violets …


[one_half]Camellias have started their displayThe Camellias are starting their display[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Promise of lots to comePromise of lots to come[/one_half_last]

[one_half]A sweet pink daisyA sweet pink daisy[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Looking washed out after rainLooking washed out after rain[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Mexican Petunia keeps on givingMexican Petunia keeps on giving[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More pretty – Brachycombe daisiesBrachycombe daisies[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Barleria obtusa – Bush VioletBarleria obtusa - Bush Violet[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lots of blue and purpleLots of blue and purple[/one_half_last]

[one_half]First Azalea showing its faceFirst Azalea showing its face[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lots of lovely, fragrant LavenderLots of lovely, fragrant Lavender[/one_half_last]

Then there were a few surprises that popped up after the rains. The fading Hydrangea blooms are amazing to me. Spent but still beautiful I think I’ll leave these on the plants rather than cutting them off. I think they are lovely, I think I prefer them at this stage. Even the ones turning brown are lovely, it’s just a different type of lovely.

Tucked away in a very dark, hidden corner, we planted a few extra Clivias around this time last year (I already had quite a few and added to my collection). As I was cleaning, composting and mulching I noticed that the new additions have not just established themselves well, they are thriving and rewarding me with seeds.

And finally, I wrote about my intention to plant Crocosmia in the shade last year which I also did and forgot about. I planted them from bulbs and have been extremely underwhelmed by them – compared to the success I had with all the exotic bulbs I planted I fully expected this indigeneous bulb to do well. It has not really …. but it is still early days. Right now there are a few raggedy looking stalks and one single bloom – I’m not even sure I’m that mad about it anymore, but I will be patient. All the photographs of mass plantings of these can’t be wrong, they obviously just need more time to look impressive. But seeing the first bloom was exciting …

[one_half]Hydrangea bloomsHydrangea[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Clivia seedsClivia seeds[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Clivias have grown very wellClivias have grown very well[/one_half]

[one_half_last]First Crocosmia bloomsCrocosmia aurea[/one_half_last]

Oh, and the photos don’t really support my statement of a “sad looking garden”. Trust me, its sad. The lawn is in a bad way, there are lots of weeds (thanks rain!) and shrubs looking worse for wear after a three day downpour. Lots to do … a busy gardening weekend ahead.

Happy Gardening!

Annuals Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

My garden in Autumn

I’ve been working my way through a lengthy list of Things to Do in the garden – none of which I will bore you with here. You know the drill … cut back, tidy, dead head, prune, chop, feed, mulch, plan, re-pot, plant, prepare … and then still lots more to do. One of the advantages of all this activity is that cutting back the tired summer growth seems to bring the Autumn blooms to the fore. After last years change of season realisation that everything is white in my garden, I’ve been trying to add a few more blues and pinks and I’m enjoying the colours. But it seems more white sneaked its way in too …

First Camellia bloom of the season. Last year they started to bloom slightly earlier which I wrote about here. This lovely bloom below is on the 3 year quite large shrub. It’s the first one to bloom every year. It is one of my favourite plants in the garden and I’m relieved it recovered from the strange leaf fungus or mould that affected it late last year. Cutting back the plants around it and removing the affected leaves seems to have done the trick.

The first Camellia of the Season

Here are some of my other ‘Autumn Lovelies’…

[one_half]Lovely Autumn foliage in the gardenLovely Autumn foliage in the garden[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Close up of Nandinas changing foliageClose up of Nandinas changing foliage[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Sweet Sutera loving the Autumn sunSweet Sutera loving the Autumn sun[/one_half]

[one_half_last]These are new and loving their spotThese are new loving their spot[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Everybodies favourite, favouriteEverybodies favourite, favourite[/one_half]

[one_half_last]My lovely little field of AnemonesMy lovely little field of Anemones[/one_half_last]

[one_half]with lots more to come …with lots more to come ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Reseeded itself? WonderfulReseeded itself? Wonderful[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Sigh … I love all the foliageSigh ... I love all the foliage[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And the roses are still looking lovelyAnd the roses are still looking lovely[/one_half_last]

Don’t you just love the start of my little “field” of Anemones? I’ve read that they can become invasive … I say, “come and invade my garden with your pretty flowers! We’ll make lots of space for you here in the shade”. I should have bought three times the number I bought, they are so pretty and brightening up a corner that would otherwise be quite boring right now.

I’m totally bowled over by the little white Begonia (third last photo) that appeared again. I planted 6 seedlings last year and all of them succumbed to something-or-other (I suspected cut worm at the time). But this one seems to have come back or reseeded itself? I’m delighted, it was a nice surprise.

I’m loving all the foliage right now too. Everything is gorgeously lush and beautiful. And colourful. And growing. Even the Gardenias are lush and green with the most beautiful shiny dark leaves. They do this to me, the Gardenias … At the beginning of summer the Gardenias look frazzled and spare for about two months and I threaten them every year with removal. Then three months later they do this. They go green and lush and I don’t have the heart to yank them out.

So what’s going on in your garden right now?

Bugs & Pests Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Camellia leaf woes

Oh dear … what can this be? I first removed a few leaves from a Camellia plant a few days ago that looked like this. Situated pretty much at the bottom of the plant I removed the branch with the affected leaves, threw it away and thought no more of it until I found a second branch yesterday with the same thing. I decided to take some photos and once I looked at them on my computer I realised that its a lot yukkier than I first realised.

UPDATE TO THIS POST – Have just found MORE leaves on the shrub towards the top part also covered in this. Looks newly infected/affected, but now I am extremely perturbed and hope someone can help me ID this.

Does anyone know what this is?

Camellia leaf woes

Look pretty yukky, right?

I’ve looked on the Internet and all I could find was one other person displaying a similar image asking the same question. What is this?

I’m thinking it might be fungal, because it seems to have some wet areas (more obvious in the below enlarged versions). The plant is located in a shaded position, looks very lush and healthy, except for these two branches,  which were located towards the bottom of the plant. There has been no leaf drop, the stem looks good … all in all the plant looks great.

[one_half]Camellia leaf woesCamellia leaf woes[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another view of affected leafAnother view[/one_half_last]

If anyone has any knowledge or experience in dealing with this I’d be so grateful for your input.

Happy Gardening

30 Day Challenge Christine's garden Gardening

The 30 Day Challenge – Day 26

Today I am grateful for all my gardening books! I’ve always loved books and combining one hobby (gardening) with another (reading) has resulted in quite an impressive library of gardening books. Its great reading fiction on an E-reader like Kindle or on the i-Pad, but when it comes to gardening and plants, there is nothing that compares to paging through glossy books filled with wonderful photographs of plants, flowers and trees to inspire me to be a better gardener.

I’ve learnt so much from all the books I’ve accumulated and continue to do so on a daily basis.
I ♥ all my Gardening Books!


Photo: Camellias – Because I have so much shade in my garden, Camellias really thrive here. They are easy to manage and relatively pest free (I see occasional aphids). The only down side with Camellias is that they require plenty of water and will not tolerate drought. I love the glossy green leaves and of course the flowers … they are truly gorgeous!

Camellias are evergreen and small trees up to 20 meters tall. Their leaves are alternately arranged, simple, thick, serrated, and usually glossy. Their flowers are usually large and conspicuous, one to 12 cm in diameter, with five to nine petals in naturally occurring species of camellias. The colors of the flowers vary from white through pink colors to red; truly yellow flowers are found only in South China and North Vietnam. The various species of camellia plants are generally well-adapted to acidic soils rich in humus, and most species do not grow well on chalky soil or other calcium-rich soils.

About the 30 Day Challenge

Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, has invited Garden Bloggers the world over to join her in the 30 day challenge of posting a photograph and sentiment that you are thankful for – every day for 30 days. Find something you are thankful for every day, for 30 days, can’t be too difficult, can it? See all Barbie’s and my posts filed under “30 Day Challenge“.

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Hope Grows Day July 2011

My second time taking part in “Hope Grows Day“, a monthly Gardening Blog meme hosted by Hanni of Sweet Bean Gardening. I am showcasing what I am hoping to see in my garden over the next month.

Lovely growth, Check!

So how successful was I in June?

  • I hoped for good rains without too much storm damage. We had good rains. It was lovely. I have not had to water my garden at all in the past 4 weeks. Not once. This week we are experiencing sunny weather, I might need to water tomorrow or Friday as there is no rain forecast and things are getting a bit dry. I had no serious storm damage. So first ” Hope”  for June gets a big Tick! Yay!
  • I hoped my newly planted bulbs would continue to grow – check.
  • I hoped the “Sinfonietta” Irises would continue to grow well – check.
  • I hoped we’d be eating cherry tomatoes – we ate 6! Not quite what I was hoping, but check all the same.
  • I hoped we’d be eating carrots from the veggie garden – not yet. No check.
  • And lastly, I hoped I would have something to show on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th June, and I did. Quite a lot actually – check.

Not bad. More checks than not.

War against the Moles!

So what am I hoping for in July?

  • I have a new “mole / vole / mole rat” problem. All the beds that do not have the solar mole repellents are being decimated by something that seems like a mole. Tomorrow we go to war. Dexter and I against the moles! We are prepared. We have ammunition – two more sonic mole repellers and organic mole repellent potions I bought today. So top of the list for July is “Get rid of the damn moles!!”
  • Of course I continue to hope that my bulbs and plants grow well throughout these winter months
  • I hope to get the back garden planted up with new plants on the side that was damaged during recent plumbing improvements
  • And finally, I’m hoping to get all my little “projects”  completed, once and for all!

What are You hoping for in July? Join us all over on Hanni’s blog and share what you are hoping for – Hope Grows July 2011.

Happy Gardening

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Stopping to smell the flowers

I did a walk about the garden this morning to access and photograph the storm damage as well as the damage to the back garden after the plumbers redid the french drain. The photographs I took are all so bleak and unattractive that they have been relegated to a “before” file – no brag-worthy photos today unfortunately. Now usually Dexter (the 65 kg Rottweiler) accompanies me when I’m in the garden and my sweet little kitty stays well away, but as Dexter was away on a play-date today, Hercules got to enjoy gardening time with me without being harassed by his ‘big brother’.

I thought I would share my photos of him – he absolutely loves spending time in the garden with me and follows me around, stopping to smell the flowers, digging when I dig, tip-toeing around in the grass. Its too cute! Here he is smelling the potato bush.

[one_half]Stopping to smell the flowersHercules stops to smell the flowers[/one_half]

[one_half_last]This one smells good!Aren't I a beautiful cat?[/one_half_last]

And then there is a lot flowering again. We have flowering Camellias all over the place, lots of red berries on the Nandinas, lush growth after the rains … and as I’ve keep being told by my fellow garden-bloggers, I really have nothing to complain about (even if my back garden looks a bit like a dump site right now). I am blessed to have a lot of prettyness going on in the garden right now, even though its the middle of winter.

[one_half]Camellias and Nandina berriesCamellias and Nandina berries[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Iceberg flowering againIceberg flowering again[/one_half_last]

Happy Gardening

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Autumn Day loveliness

It’s hard to find lots of new things to blog about when there is not much happening in the garden. Correction, when most of what’s happening in the garden is leaves blowing and gathering everywhere and all we seem to be doing is trying to keep things tidy. Not an easy task when the wind picks up just after we’ve swept. I’m not actually sure why we bother. I like this look …

Autumn Leaves

Are these Azaleas supposed to bloom now? I thought they bloomed in Spring, but here are the first ones in my Azalea bed blooming right now. Very happy this particular one is blooming because its the one I pulled out of one bed and added to what I now call my “Azalea Bed”. Pretty, no?

Azalea Bloom

And just in case you don’t remember, I have lots of Camellias in bloom right now. They brighten up the winter garden for me with their pretty white and pink flowers …


And I love this look – All different shades of green and bright red berries on the Nandinas – very “Autumny” …


Happy Gardening