But there are nights when things are not so good, when the
winds howl, the wistaria lashes against the roof, rain crashes
down in bursts, and mountain torrents rush raving down the
valley. Then it is best to turn one's back and go to sleep : when
nature's forces are let loose we humans can take no part. In
the morning the fury will be over, and we shall be left to pick
up the pieces.
MY BOLUSANTHUS tree is in flower. Perhaps it is hardly
a tree rather an elegant bush about 7 feet high. It is rather
like those beautifully-grown wistarias raised in big pots in
England, trained over supports, and when on show a mass of
bloom. I expect this is just another relic of Chelsea in a dustv
corner of my mind. But Bolusanthus is more delicate both in
flower and foliage than any wistaria, and needs no supports.
The leaves are a pale yellow-green, and the flowers are lovely
racemes of navy-blue blossoms. Usually the weather is very
hot at this time of year, and then the blooms are short-lived ;
but this year has been cool, with rain at intervals, and the
bush has been perfect for a fortnight and shows no signs of
fading. Unfortunately it has never made any seed here : it
belongs to the much warmer regions of the low veld up to
Rhodesia. It likes plenty of water in summer. I have it on a
steep slope so that our winter rains do not distress it, and irri-
gation water runs there in the summer.
Gerbera Burmannii is in bloom. I am beginning to realize
that this is just as much worth cultivating as G. Jamesonii. It
may not prove as amenable. It is very slow, but in this locality
with its hot dry summers it is hardier. It only asks to be left
alone. It is found on the hardest and driest slopes, and on the
poorest of soils. If chopped out and planted, it will struggle
through and bloom in time. The beautiful soft pink blooms
with their shining black centres are as good as any of the hybrids
from Gerbera Jamesonii, and the blooms have the same lasting
qualities and artistic display so dear to the hearts of those who
compete in the decorative classes at the flower shows. The
seeds germinate well ; but I think it will be three years before
they arrive at flowering size.
I have yet another Gerbera, seed of which was sent me from
the Transvaal. The blossoms are said to be pink, but I have
not yet seen it bloom.
Last winter I found a plant of Lobostemon in flower in the veld,
I took home cuttings, and plants from these are now making
a good show. The flowers have the true " borage " colouring,
brilliant blue with a suggestion of pink. The plants I have are
more spreading than erect and about 1 foot high. I have made
a note to plant them on the edge of a terrace : blue flowers
at this time of year are specially valuable.
The garden has a gay effect with masses of white Agapanthus
showing up the lovely blooms of Hesperaloe Engelmannii,
seed of which was given me by a kind friend in California.
The Catalpa trees are in full bloom and are much admired.
Between these the jacarandas and scarlet-flowered gums are
getting their blossom display ready for Christmas. But except
for the white Agapanthus all these are only very welcome
guests in this country. Without them my garden would make
a poor show by midsummer.
THE GARDEN is gay ; but the scarlet hibiscus, deep blue
hydrangeas, jacarandas, sweet-scented romneya, red-flowered
bottle-brush and all such things are not South African natives
and are well known in gardens throughout the world. But
there are watsonias making a fine show, mostly hybrids from
W. tabularis. They have good spikes of scarlet, flame and
salmon ; but the flower-beetles do their best to destroy them.
Then in moist shady places the first blooms of Vallota are
alight. They show the most satisfying red of any flower that
I know : the best shades of the hybrid Amaryllis are muddy
compared with it. In vain do I try to persuade these plants
to set seed. Last year I hand-pollinated every bloom, and the
ovaries swelled hopefully. One day I went to visit them and
was entranced to find a beautiful butterfly hovering over the
flowers. A friend with me remarked that I might have saved
myself the trouble of pollinating, as the butterfly would do
it for me. Ten days later I went to look again. Every stem was
lying wilted on the ground, and in each a fat caterpillar was
established. Eggs had evidently been laid just where the
pedicels joined the main stem, and the resulting grub had
burrowed its way down. I now have bitter feelings toward
that beautiful butterfly.
We are urgently lifting bulbs as fast as we can, for the rodent
moles are busier than ever. They have left me with about half
a dozen bulbs of the treasured Antboly^a rtngens (Babiana
ringens), half of my black Sparaxis are gone, and many other
treasures. The worst kind of mole makes no heaps or mounds
to show where he is working. He has small runs at the level
of the bulbs ; these lead to deeper and larger runs where he
makes his store and also his nest, which is usually lined with
the outside coats of Sparaxis bulbs ; and his young are fed on
Our research workers give us instructions as to how these
creatures are to be dealt with. I suppose they are under the
impression that their methods are successful ; but I have never
met the grower who found them to be so. If we could get
over this trouble here at the Cape, we could grow bulbs for
the world. Soil and climate are perfect, and there is marvellous
material awaiting cultivation in quantity ; but all our efforts
are in vain owing to these devastating rodents.
The seedling bulbs are left in their beds until they have
gone dormant for the second time. We sow in March and
April when the rains begin, and they take about a month to
germinate. Then we take them up about midsummer the
second season. There is nothing for it but to sift through the
sand with a trowel. Some of the smaller geissorhizas and
romuleas match the soil exactly and are smaller than a pea.
It is a work of patience to collect them. Lachenalias and orange
ixias are much easier : their tiny bulbs are white. But it is
not unpleasant to sit on a sack in the hot sun turning over the
seed beds and extracting the treasure. Of course the true
gardener's mind is full of a picture of these thousands of
gladiolus species in bloom in the spring, or of whole beds of
gleaming ixias and sparaxis, somehow better than they have
ever been before. Seeing a gardener at work, the onlooker
thinks what a tedious business it is, and wonders that anyone
can stand up to it. But the onlooker does not know half the
joy of the gardener : he only sees the flowers that really happen,
whereas the mind of the gardener is nourished and delighted
with the sight of flowers " that never were on sea or land ".