Gardening time!

Garden as it looks today, after a little bit of cleaning up. You can’t see the mess that still needs to be trimmed.

I’m receiving  complaints about not blogging often enough – sorry, I haven’t been out and about much on sunny days lately. Seeing as it’s spring let’s go gardening. Warning: lots of pics!

I moved in 18 months ago and it was a horror. What little was planted was overgrown and revolting, including a tree that hadn’t seen a saw in years and the neighbour’s unruly climbers. The previous owner and her tenants were happy with their low maintenance garden – stones and aloes are very undemanding.

The first thing I did was find Richard. Richard is a gem and an expert gardener, as he repeatedly told me. Keen as mustard, he wanted to be here at the crack of dawn or earlier if possible but we negotiated the more civilised time of 8am. He took one look at the place and tutted “Lots of work here”. Then he scornfully threw down my tools, “I’ll bring my own next time” and asked for tea. He understood what was needed and, after tea and a little chat, he got stuck in. Within a few hours he had removed all the revolting overgrown rubbish, keeping exactly ONE aloe, a very large one.

In the process he found a large quantity of different types of stones and paving slabs. The large section of garden that was not planted up but instead was full of small gravel-type stuff and used as parking was dug over and the gravel was added to the driveway gravel.  A path was laid from the stoep to the car, and leaving me with instructions and a shopping list, Richard had finished day one.

The different stones unearthed by Richard. This is AFTER I sorted them into types.
The large aloe is all we kept. We moved it further away and Richard dug a hole that was too big but didn’t bother filling it in a bit so he just dropped the aloe in. It is now half the size of when we started.

Then we built a raised bed (which I insisted on painting myself because Richard’s daily rate doubles as soon as he touches a paintbrush).

Stones for the raised bed.

Richard, bless his soul, is extremely bossy and high maintenance, mainly because he drinks a lot of tea, needs a lot of praise, and has only 2 teeth. In winter soup was easy but as the weather warmed up I found it difficult to come up with things to feed him.

Richard was eager for me to go shopping for plants but I was forced by a sudden tightening of budget to leave things as they were for a while. I would sit at my desk and stare out at that empty garden every day until I wanted to cry. Eventually Caroline took pity on me and so began the great plant donation drive.  I planted.

The planting begins.

Richard was called to action one more time and helped me make full use of each and every single stone and paver we had found. He also helped prepare a vegetable garden, which has yet to be planted – I gave it a full season’s fallow break in the hope that all the weeds would stop growing and all the stones in it would disappear. The weeds are mainly gone but Vida keeps burying bones in it. Well, it’s the same bone, over and over.

I have also received some lovely plants from Pauline and divine clivias from Devos – I was thrilled when he said to leave them in their pots for a few seasons.

Nice and lush!

I’ve spent the last 4 months stepping over and around massive weeds and I can’t see half the middle path so when I wanted to braai the other evening I started preparing early in the day. First task was to dig out the wheelbarrow which serves as a braai (Weber got stolen, as yet unreplaced) and cut back the daisies that were taking over the ‘braai area’. By the time the wheelie bin was full of weeds and daisy branches it was time to braai. In other words, I was at it all day.

The braai

Well into the gardening spirit, I continued the next day and dug up a further few tonnes of weed. Sadly the job is not over yet, but it does look a lot neater and some flowers can actually be seen. It was so good to be gardening again – the aching muscles and the sun on my body, bliss!

Quite chuffed with the great variety of nasturtiums all over the garden. Seeds gathered from various parts of the Green Belt.

No garden is complete without a few ornaments. Here are some of my favourites.

Zimbo Man. I’ve been dragging him around every since I found him in Zimbabwe. He’s carved from a thin piece of slate. I think he’s very cool.

Skull picked up by Paul last year in the Karoo

A couple of flowers …

Have no idea what this is called but it’s extremely lovely and flowers for ages. I had lots. Then came Vida.

Another pretty flower, name unknown.Started out as a stick pilched from Mrs Schultz’s garden.

And finally, Richard.

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

One response to “Gardening time!

  1. Pauline de Wet

    What a difference from when I first saw your garden … you (and Richard) have been busy!

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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