The unseasonal weather continued all last week with pours of rain thundering down for much of it. Yesterday morning it was dry at last and we woke up early to go running. At this time of year we are normally sweltering in the heat so it was a joy to be splashing through puddles and smelling the sweet damp morning air. I was working in Johannesburg for much of the week, missing the rain, but also the dogs and the run, so they were full of joy as we bounded along. Yes, I did say bounded. Fewer flowers mean fewer photos so I’ve been running a bit harder and slowly getting fitter.
I count my blessing every day that we spend on this farm. We’ve been a bit slow about transforming the garden and today the fabulous Henk Scholz came to give us some advice. He is incredible, one starts with an idea of course and he’s very kind so he takes it on board, but then comes up with his own idea that is so audacious and splendid it’s completely irresistible. Peter then came up with a couple of stunning ideas which, if he really is prepared to do the work, will transform the place and make it even more beautiful. I described the farm to someone the other day as the most beautiful farm in the Cape, which was stupid because there are many amazing farms here. Ours is unusual and unexpected which gives it a special beauty.
Henk admired elements of the vegetable garden, principally the fact that I’ve managed to get anything to grow at all. I may love plants and gardens but whatever shade my fingers are, it’s definitely not green. He gently explained that the reason my plants are not fruiting is because they are completely smothered by weeds. Oh I can make all the excuses I want, the rain, the fact that I fertilised everything before the rain, which of course the weeds love even more than the plants. The time, or rather the lack of it that dominates my life. In the end, after he left, with the earth still soft and yielding after all the rain I dug and weeded for hours and have cleared all those pesky monsters away. Maebh loves it when I garden, she sniffs around and tries to help, then lies down and observes all the work with great interest. Finally she curls up in the cool shadow of an orange tree and happily falls asleep.
Back to the run. As we bounded up the mountain I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this Protea repens. What? Now? It’s far too early! And indeed the season doesn’t really start until March. This one clearly decided to get ahead. It has just opened, perhaps the season starts much earlier than I’d realised and this is the first.
One of the joys of the mountain is the magnificent Salvia africana-caerulea. It flowers prolifically for eight months of the year and particularly seems to thrive at this time of year.
Another flower that is glorious at this time of the year is this stunning Erica. I’m pretty sure it’s Erica abietina, simply called Red heath which flowers all year round but seems to relish the dry most of all. The coral flowers are stunning along the drive and although the strong midday sun was almost too much for this photo I couldn’t resist the way it reflects the flight and glows from within.
Despite the cooler weather Seamus still took a dip and a drink in Fox Pan as we climbed higher up the mountain. Then, graciously deigning to wait for me, he stood and admired the view with the water cascading off his flanks and shining in the morning light.
I rushed to identify the last blog’s flowering bulb as Watsonia, possibly because it gave me a great title. But I was a bit bothered by that and not entirely convinced. The flowering season is wrong, and although that sometimes happens you have to be certain. So back to the books I went and in fact it is Tritoniopsis, most likely triticea, although burchellii is almost identical and grows in the same places. The brown leaves, which you can see in this photo, are distinctive and make me confident of this identification.