A good call

Like all the best procrastinators, my to-do list ever lengthens and the best incentive to pay it proper attention is mention VISITORS. The likelihood of people calling in to cast a reckoning look over the house and garden moves me faster than a dose of salts. Continue reading

Passport gums from slow train

Have a close look at your passport. I renewed mine in 2011, updating to the N series. This snazzy model has ghost images, retro-reflective floating images and an embedded RFID microchip. Oh, and it’s also chock full of gum trees. Continue reading

La Louve – a very special garden

I was very fortunate to visit La Louve in early June this year when taking a Ross Tour to Paris and Provence. How lucky we were with a glorious sunny day and just our group to be guided around this fascinating garden by the owner, Judith Pillsbury. La Louve meaning ‘she wolf’ was created by Nicole de Vesian, a fabric designer, stylist for Hermes and later in life a remarkable plantswoman. The garden clings to a rocky steeply terraced narrow plot on the southern edge of Bonnieux – one of the ‘chain’ of villages in the Luberon. Menerbes made famous by Peter Mayle of ‘A year in Provence’ fame is not far away. Continue reading

The race to save the orange

Citrus greening USDA

The orange is under threat worldwide from citrus greening, a bacterium spread by Asian citrus psyllids that sours the fruit and leaves them half green. The disease has already devastated orange trees in Asia, South and Central America and now the USA. This story in the NY Times follows the journey of one Florida grower to see if a GMO orange with a gene from spinach could save the industry. It raises lots of interesting questions about our horror of genetically modified food. Justifiable? Knee jerk? Plain unrealistic? Maybe even fuelled and financed by companies that sell organic products? Continue reading

July daylily party

Daylilies, botanically known as hemerocallis, fill my July gardens with color and joy. The back gardens have a good twenty different varieties that bloom mid-summer. All the joyful colors make a happy garden. And, it’s not only the daylilies in bloom, but the hostas as well. Plus, you’ll notice the blue balloon flowers adding to the cresendo. Together it’s a party! Continue reading

How to grow Swedes, or rutabaga: a most dangerous vegetable

Did you know that a Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1620, found this vegetable growing wild in Sweden? So yes, Swedes do come from Sweden, including Swede the vegetable. Another interesting fact about this vegetable is it doesn’t seem to have a long history, well unless you consider dating back to the1600s not long, which it isn’t compared to some vegetables. Brassica napus variety (var.) napobrassica, is called rutabaga in the USA, but never referred to as turnip. Rutabaga is a corruption of the Swedish for turnip-cabbage. Continue reading

Flowers on Crete

The reason you haven’t heard from me for a while is that I’ve been travelling around the island of Crete for four weeks! (Well someone has to do it!) and what a fabulous place it was to visit.
The scenery was breath taking (particularly at the top of the tallest Mountain on the island, Mt. Psiloritis at 2456m), the people were friendly, the food delicious and the plant life to die for. Continue reading

The succulent Karoo

Flying over the white snowy mountains of the western cape and looking down at one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world – Table Mountain, towering above Cape Town, easily one of the most beautiful cities on earth, you know you are in a special place. I always feel like I have arrived home when touching down in Cape Town, although I live on the opposite and much wilder end of the African continent, but the cape is where my heart lies and always will be, and no, it is not just because of the excellent wine. Continue reading