Monday, November 12, 2012

I gardened for Helderberg Hospice

Recently I blogged about the inspirational Una van der Spuy, the doyenne of South African gardening, after she passed away just days before her 100th birthday.  This particular article and photo's of Old Nectar is posted here.  Anyway, since meeting her a few years ago, my interest in gardening was rejuvenated.

It was shortly after her death that I was approached by our local Helderberg Hospice if I would consider opening my garden for their much needed charity drive.  The mission of Helderberg Hospice is to promote and provide skilled and compassionate Hospice palliative care to all persons living in the Helderberg community who are facing a life-threatening illness.  They offer care and support to those living with cancer, HIV/Aids, Motor Neuron Diseases and any end-stage illness.  How could I refuse?

The moment I agreed I started gardening with renewed vigor and in about four weeks, the last two weeks being the most intense, my garden was restored for the Hospice Open garden day.  This was achieved mostly by myself with some help by my loyal housekeeper Gracie who often found me underneath a bush pruning and cutting or in a garden bed fighting a huge battle against the weeds, etc.  Some trimming, sawing, cutting, pruning took place on a regular basis and most of it were chipped with a chipper and worked back into the garden as mulch.

Here and there hanging baskets were replanted, seedlings added to bare beds, pathways cleared and raked on a daily basis, LOTS of raking, beds reshaped, a few teepees made for a few plants and much more.  I'll remember as I take you through the photographs.

Daily watering took place (my shoulders have broadened from dragging the hose-pipes I'm sure).  I've gone through 3 rakes (plastic) - raking their teeth away.  Despite wearing gloves, my hands took a pounding and I badly need a manicure and my body is aching for a massage.  But, all in all, it was wonderful to get back into gardening so intensely and it made me realise again how I adored putting this garden together and see it grow and take shape over the years.  What an absolute pleasure to sit in the shade of trees that you've planted.

Saturday finally arrived. Hospice sent a representative to meet visitors at my gate and to check that they have paid :D.  I met visitors in the garden and was happy to answer any questions regarding plants.

Thanks for stopping by - I'd LOVE to  hear from you if you enjoyed this stroll through my garden - take a moment to comment at the end.  Its not too tricky to figure out.  So, lets go ...

Welcoming flags at the gate
The Brazilian Pepper tree has a sprawling habit and over the years I've trimmed away many branches to create windows to peep through.  

Brazilian Pepper Tree
This lovely old wrought iron cot has become overgrown and entangled with Ivy and Morning Glory and tucked underneath a canopy of Bignonia Cherere.  Its one of the most tranquil spots in the garden. 
Foliage entangled wrought iron cot
 As you can see - its a favourite topic for pictures :)
Cot and Foliage
Climbing Morning Glory on the old cot
If you wondered what on earth Bignonia Cherere is - this is it - also known as trumpet vine - grows rampantly and can get out of hand in adjoining trees.  We remove it from trees but let it grow a bit wild over the pergola and ramble in other places.  I never water it and flowers for a long time in the summer.
Bignonia Cherere
Everyone loves roses, me included, but have to admit straight away its not a plant that I have persevered with and have lost quite a few in our harsh summers.  I don't like spraying for pests and often gave up with all the spots, rust and goggas that roses often are prone to.  This rose, however, charmed my socks off last year when I spotted them during the Elgin Open Garden Fair.  I planted My Granny (such a cute name) in pots and have been rewarded with endless blooms this year.  
My Granny
My Granny

This rustic pergola is in the back garden and even when bare, I just love it.  Here some soft tendrils are creeping towards it.
Pergola and Tendrils
Another old wrought iron piece has found a place in my garden, this time a bedstead, overgrown with campanula with the prettiest dainty blue flowers.  

Wrought Iron bedstead with campanula
Erigeron, My Granny and other foliage
Convolvulus flaunting itself from a hanging basket.
Because of the lack of roses in my garden, the few that are there deserve a mention.  This cluster rose is such a pretty sight when it blooms and I think it would not have survived the summer had I not surrounded it with a few other plants for protection.
My red 'cluster rose'
One of my favourite views of the side of the house.  This variegated elderberry just livens up any area and is a good contrast next to the starkness of the flax in the foreground.  The Nandina to the middle of the photo has bright red berries after flowering and attracts birds. 
Raked pathways lined with logs (branches that I have trimmed over the years).  A view to one of the garden areas on the upper level which I don't water at all in Summer.

Foliage and Garden View
Early morning is such a special time when the sun plays around in the garden.

Sunkissed Lavender
From Una van der Spuy I learnt the value of contrasting foliage - gold with grey. Here the variegated Coprosma on the left next to the purple Geranium Maderense, the wild grey Sage on the right, backed with the golden Elderberry, the grey Budlia (butterfly bush with fragrant purple flowers when it blooms) behind it and the blue flowering potato bush says it all in this one little corner.
Contrasting foliage
The wrought iron cot again showing off 

Wrought iron Cot
The blue Potato Bush Tree (Solanum Rantonettii) is a lovely one to have in the garden and is more like an overgrown shrub than a tree.  Prune it quite hard after flowering to prevent  it from getting too scraggly looking.  

The Hymenosporum Flavum is one of my all-time favourites (Australian Frangipani).  Fast growing with evergreen leaves its an asset to have if your weather conditions allow it. There is a time when it can look a bit drab but when Spring arrives, she bursts into creamy yellow flowers and her scent is magnificent.  The scent is at its best in the evening and early morning and there's always some in my bathroom and bedroom when she blooms.  Plant it near your entertaining area or where the scent can drift into your bedroom at night.  In my opinion this is the seductress of trees and we should all have one.
Hymenosporum Flavum

A close up of the variegated Elderberry which I also prune quite hard and then shove the cuttings in randomly all over the garden and before I know it there are new plants waving at me. The foliage is soft and I love the way it sways in the wind.  I believe one can make fritters from the flowers.

Variegated Elderberry
Mini forests have been created as the lower branches of shrubs and small trees have been trimmed over the years and pathways lined with sawn branches. 
Mini forest
Bauhinia Variegata (Orchid Tree) with masses of flowers 
Bauhinia Variegata
The view from the gate towards the house - Bauhinia Variegata on the right and Gold Crest on the left 
This is my favourite lavender and I think its the English Lavender.  It has very long stems when blooming and such a pretty sight this time of the year.   
Lavender and Birdbath
A view towards the gate.  Fennel in the foreground, yellow buttercups, variegated coprosma on the left, pink Bauhinia Variegata and Gold Crest on the right. 
View towards the gate.
Close-ups of the Bauhinia Variegata.  Such abundant beauty. 
Bauhinia Variegata
Bauhinia Variegata Close up
The drive way dotted with its spring attire. 
I'm blooming for Hospice
Not yet in full bloom - a rustic pergola with a rose on the left and creeping Star Jasmine on the right.  In the foreground buds of miniature Agapanthus.   

The rusted tins swinging on the pyramid used to hang in my late Dad's fig tree, filled with one or two stones and attached to a long string of which the other end was tied to his bedpost. When he had his afternoon siesta and heard the birds eating his prized figs, he'd give the string a yank and the clanging tins would scatter the offending birds.
Pa's rusted tins
Rusted tins that used to guard Pa's figtree
Campanula - a lovely delicate creeping plant with masses of blue flowers 
A modest Daisy catching the sunlight
Geranium Maderense about to seed
Dappled sunlight in the trees
Catching a sunray
Abalone Shells 
Old winebarrel hoops hanging in a tree 
My son's old bike in the mini forest
Neo posing on my son's old bike

Abalone Shells supported by a few restio branches.  
Wonder if the birds will nest here.
Shady spots and drawing eye to sunny spot in the distance
Flowering furiously
Lovely tendrils
Old Milk cans retired in my garden
Flags and an old chair filled with leaves for interest
Dietes Grandiflora burst into flower 2 days before
Dietes Grandiflora
Another old log found a resting place in the garden

Bauhinia variegata confetti
Dietes Grandiflora and an old log
White Potato Climber
White Potato Climber
Stump of the old plum tree
Textures and foliage
Bauhinia in the birdbath
Glorious Morning Glory against the sky
A bit of sillynes

Old wrought iron bench filling a bald patch

Tied up for the occasion
Another little walkway
Another garden window
The old wendyhouse looked festive
Another walkway with wild sage, strelitzia and a variety of  plants
And now - time to put up my feet, pack the garden tools away for a bit and rest my weary bones

More about my garden here and here and here and here


  1. Love, Love, Love!!! Your garden is glorious and I admire your vision and hard work. It has surely paid off. Well done!

    1. Thanks Helene - it is so satisfying and the rewards great.

  2. Lovely! Such a good time of the year to show a garden with all the wonderful shrubs and trees in flower. Congrats, you deserve the rest!

    1. Thank you Carol! Isn't it just the best time for the garden. I've just been around to embrace the evening smells.

  3. baie geluk aan my ou skoolmaat van sovele talente - so bly ek was in die Kaap tydens jou ope dag! So baie geleer en kon sommer by jou vergete name van plante in my eie tuin aanteken. Soos die pragtige Chinese stinkhoutboom (hopelik reg onthou?

    1. Dankie Anchen en hoe lekker was dit om vir jou en Mariaan vroegoggend (albei skoolpelle van sub A) by my hek te sien. Ek ken die boom as 'Chinese stinkhout' - sy blare is meer blink en geil as die tradisionele celtis africana s'n. En die ander ene wat jou oog gevang het, oa, is die Pride of Medeira.

  4. Karin, kreatiewe omgeemens ...doet so voort!
    Baie dankie dat jy dit met ons gedeel het. Lekker rus!

    1. Guido my ou vriend - hoe verlang ek nou na jou vriendelike gesig. Ek rus lekker en geniet die plante wat enige oomblik gaan blom. Die agapante staan op aandag, die shastas gaan enige oomblik hul wit gesiggies wys en jy moet sien hoe lyk sterjasmyn nou! Sulke lang slierte wat swaai in die wind oor die prieel. Jy en Margaret kan gerus kom koffie drink in die tuin.

  5. LAat weet ons tog volgende jaar voor die dag- ek sal graag my Ma na jou tuin wil neem.
    MariƩ du Toit, Riebeek Wes

    1. Ai Marie - jammer jul het dit gemis! Hoop darem jy het die blog vir haar gewys. Mooiloop.

  6. Karin, your garden is truly a piece of Heaven on Earth and such an inspiration! How wonderful to use it as a blessing for Hospice. I long to visit so that I can breathe in the scents, marvel at the colours and explore every exciting nook and cranny! "The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth" Lots of love XXX Kathy

    1. Thanks for popping in Kathy - and for the lovely message.


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