The Beauty of the Western Cape of South Africa

This post was sent 10/21/13

Lynn, who just finished her 2 year stint in the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa and had sent TheGardenLady readers some photos and blurbs about Mmathethe, the town she stayed in Botswana, is finishing her African stay with a revisit to South Africa before returning to the states and hopefully another job where she can travel to exotic places on the globe. She sent this paragraph and photos taken during a hike of some of the myriad fields of wild flowers she saw in South Africa. She did not name the plants but TheGardenLady will try to fill in the names and information about the photos. ( If I am wrong and someone knows the names of the plants I do not recognize or know, please email TheGardenLady and correct me.)

From Lynn:

The Western Cape of South Africa is all about many things—awesome people, delicious wines, and coffee shops with character, but this time of year (spring in the southern hemisphere), the Western Cape lights up it’s incredible hills, and further afield, it’s arid landscapes burst into flower. Sometimes it’s as if you’re looking through a kaleidoscope with all it’s brilliant colors. Just driving through the wine lands, purple and white flowers surround the new crops of grapes growing, and on hikes through the nature reserves, fynbos, butterflies, and other flowers I can’t name are just everywhere. No matter if you venture all the way up to Namaqualand, or if you’re just riding around, it’s all special, as is Africa, if you’re a flower lover or not.

1. The first photo is of a flower called a Protea in a place called Fynbos.


Google up images of Fynbos to see the variety of flowers, especially the Protea growing there. Wikipedia writes this about the Protea, “The genus Protea was named in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will, because proteas have such a wide variety of forms. ”

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Great Gardens for Christmas Displays

Do you enjoy seeing the Christmas lights as much as this Garden Lady does? Then consider taking your family on an outing to some gardens in your area or visit your nearest, or furthest, Botanical Gardens. Not only will you see beautiful outdoor decorations at night but you can visit the very warm tropical hothouses/greenhouses to warm up and see indoor exhibits. Many gardens have indoor poinsettia extravaganzas. And you might even be able to sip some hot chocolate in the garden cafeterias. Some of the lights and shows will remain into the New Year if you cannot get there before Christmas.

Holiday lights or Christmas displays are in, to name a few locations:

Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square in Pennsylvania

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Bleeding Hearts and Forget-Me-Nots (Part II)

Forget-me-not Flower Farm

TheGardenLady received this question from Sherrie about Bleeding Hearts and Forget-me-nots.

I was wondering can you plant these together?  If you can plant them together what time of year do we need to plant them me? And my husband lost a baby and we want to plant flowers for the child.

TheGardenLady has begun answering this question in the last post.  In this post, she will give the rest of her answer to Sherrie’s question.

The genus for Forget-me-nots is Myosotis. As far as TheGardenLady knows, the ones you are thinking of bloom in the spring (see here).

The wood Forget- me- not – Myosotis sylvatica seems to be the Forget-me-not most people think of when hearing the common name. (However, if your memorial is being placed near water, there is what is called a True Forget-me-not or Water Forget-me- not Latin Myosotis scorpioides.)

Myosotis flowers are various shades of blue as well as white and pink. (see here)

There are some plants that have golden leaves; if you get a golden leafed variety, pull off any green leaves that emerge to keep only the yellow leaves.

Forget-me-nots are biennials or short lived perennials and self seed. (see here)

Forget-me-nots thrive in cool, moist weather in sun or partial shade. Seeds are generally sown in the spring unless you live in Zones 8, 9, and 10 where seeds can be sown in the fall and plants will bloom in the spring. When planting in the spring, plant as soon as the soil can be worked. After flowering, the leaves disappear.

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TheGardenLady’s Ireland Garden Tour


Gorse by l2x

I love having a garden. It is also so nice when passers-by stop to tell me how much they enjoy my garden, too. Besides having my own garden, I also love to visit other gardens as well, to appreciate what other gardeners are doing and get ideas for my own garden.

To visit gardens, I also enjoy organizing tours of gardens for myself and like minded gardening friends. I have done this for about 10 years, both in the states and in Europe. I do it purely as a hobby; so no need to ask to join any tour, it is only for friends.

This year friends asked me to plan a tour of Ireland’s gardens. To see as many of the gardens as possible, I planned trips to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 18 of us went in May; a bad time for our own gardens, but from all I read about Ireland, May was considered the best time to visit. So I hoped it would be a good time for Irish gardens this year even though Northern Ireland had more snow than usual.

We were lucky. Ireland, which was having a late spring and had had so much rain before we arrived hardly had rain when we visited and there were plenty of flowers in bloom for us to see. We were told when we returned home that we missed half a week of heavy rains where we lived. However, our gardens seemed a little bit ahead of the Irish gardens in that all the roses were in bloom whereas we did not see any roses in Ireland. I knew that the International Rose Festival in Belfast was held in July but I had hoped to see a few roses in bloom.

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The Yellow Woodland Poppy – Stylophorum Diphyllum

Stylophorum diphyllum, Celandine-poppy by Tie Guy II

A favorite woodland native that is happily almost taking over my front and side gardens is the yellow woodland poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum. I love this plant that a friend with a wonderful woodland garden gave to me.

The woodland poppy has bright, very showy yellow flowers that bloom heavily in the spring. It starts blooming just when the daffodils finish blooming to keep the spring joy in your garden. It also blooms sporadically throughout the summer and has a decorative, interesting seed pod. It is happy in zones 4-9. Woodland poppies are best grown in medium wet to wet, loamy soils in part sun to part and full shade. Plants will go dormant in early summer if soils dry out. Mine are growing in front of my Jack in the Pulpits and around my hellebores and hostas.

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Plants have minds of their own

I am convinced that many of my plants are shy. They have “minds” of their own. Some even jump to locations in my garden where they can hardly be seen. In my garden I see this happening repeatedly, so I have to be cautious when weeding a baby plant.

I am not just talking about plants that close their flowers in the heat of the sun as if coyly shutting their eyes. If you come to my garden in the morning, you will see lots of Tradescantia virginiana-spiderwort flowers of all colors open and pretty. This thug of a plant that is taking over my garden, is extremely colorful in the morning when just about every color- white, pink, blue, and purple flowers are open, But come after 11:30am on a hot sunny day when I usually get visitors and there is nary a Tradescantia flower open. My garden looks like a weed pile. Then I am tempted to compost every Tradescantia plant that is lying down. But come the next morning and once again I am charmed with a spectacular show.

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Are you a tree hugger?

Tree of Hippocrates by CyberMacs

Are readers of TheGardenLady blog tree huggers or tree lovers like this Garden Lady is?  How many people are there who make pilgrimages to old trees or who keep a list of the oldest trees they have seen, like bird watchers checking off each bird? Some of these old trees have the most interesting trunks- true works of G-d’s sculptural art.  I wish I had thought of visiting ancient trees when I traveled more. But I have decided it is never too late to start making a check list.

For a list of the world’s oldest trees, go to Wikipedia. The list of verified ages of trees is mostly from the US. It is amazing how many of the oldest trees are in the US. Wikipedia also lists ancient tress from around the world but here the ages are not verified, just guesstimated.

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Terrariums – Part II

terrarium stuff by pinprick

In the last post TheGardenLady wrote about bringing nature into your house with terrariums.  In today’s post, she will write about how to build a terrarium.

TheGardenLady thinks that Mason quart canning jars will look interesting if you want to build your own terrarium, but you could use mayonnaise jars or spaghetti jars.  You can use unused aquariums or whatever you find in your house. Of course, you can rummage around in flea markets, garage sales or markets for interesting jars, too. Or shop for jars in fancy nurseries or online. This is your creation, so use whatever you think will make a fine container.  Then as you become more adept at making the terrariums, you can get more elaborate containers including terrarium Christmas ornaments (see here).

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Merry Eastern Orthodox Christmas

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate Nativity on January 6 & 7! by fusion-of-horizons

I think it should be a rule that everybody celebrate everybody else’s happy holidays so that every month the whole year long is filled with festivities and happy holiday cheer. Now that Christmas and New Year’s Eve and day as most people- at least in the Western world-  celebrate is over, we can now start preparing for the Eastern Orthodox Christmas which comes on January 7th.

Traditionally Eastern Orthodox Christmas was celebrated with vegetables making up most of the foods served.  Orthodox Christmas food may include:

  • Nuts and fresh dried fruits.
  • Vegetables and herbs such as potatoes, peas, and garlic.
  • Mushroom soup.
  • Slow-cooked kidney beans with potatoes, garlic and seasoning.
  • Bobal’ki (small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppy seed with honey).
  • Bowl of honey.

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Finding ceramic or clay pots with holes for plants

inside of planter by brododaktula

TheGardenLady received this question from Sarah.

I’m looking to buy 5 or so used, large pots for planting, made of either ceramic or clay.  They need to have holes in the bottom for drainage and a saucer to catch water.  I’m trying to find used ones, as long as they are pretty and in good shape.

This is late in the season to find large pots for planting that are cheap. One can always go to thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales or look in your local $1 store.  Check your local nurseries- not the big box stores. Many of the local nurseries had their sales in the fall when they were selling everything for at least 30% off. Ask the nurseries if they still have big pots left and if they will sell them to you at their sale price.

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