It is not the first time I am telling the story of my garden to an audience – I did that for five years when I had the most wonderful audience of garden lovers across sunny South Africa, all readers of the popular South African monthly magazine, SA Garden. Now – through GardenDrum – I hope to find a new audience of gardeners who would like to share my garden with me and share their gardens with me! For those of you who have not read any of my garden articles I published the past 10 years, let me introduce myself: I have gardening in my blood.
My granny and grandfather always had the most charming, down-to-earth garden in a time when plant propagation was pretty much up to the number of slips you could carry in your purse, and seeds were saved for another season. My mother taught me plant names at a very young age, when I joined her early morning watering sessions in the front garden. She now lives with me, and she has her own little garden – a frilly, frothy riot of flowers and colour right through the year.
When I became editor of SA Garden magazine, South Africa’s beloved rose breeder Ludwig Taschner named a rose after my mom. The ‘Jean Geldenhuys’ rose, a tough and gorgeous pillar rose, can be found all over my garden. My dad was always a farmer in his heart, and I remember the prize vegetable patch that he tended tenderly every afternoon after work. Most of my siblings also love gardening, even though some of them only discovered the pleasures of muddy feet and dirty hands somewhat late in life!
I’d like to think I have an ordinary garden. I let it happen around me, and, although it gives me many moments of intense pleasure, I am never satisfied with it. I am always finding new drab nooks and dreary corners in need of urgent fixing. I am the world’s most impatient gardener, having being spoilt beyond the point of no return by DIY gardening articles I have been writing for various magazines the past 10 years. Writing such articles means you have to style up the garden around it as if it has been growing for at least a season or two. Which is of course far from the truth – you simply buy fully grown shrubs, perennials and annuals, and plant a little show garden! Instant gratification – almost like eating junk food, complete with the expected heartburn and unhealthy weight gain as a result! When planting for a garden photo, you try to fill every centimeter of space, and all gardeners know this will certainly bring regret later.
Fortunately the instant bits in my garden are just pockets of un-reality all over my normal garden, where I grow seeds with lots of enthusiasm and hope, where I delight in every single bulb growing and flowering and where I am always filled with great wonder if I can eat something I have grown in my own backyard.
Autumn in my garden
• Autumns are mild up in Gauteng where I am, so we still enjoy being outdoors and working up a storm in the garden. Nights are cooling down, but the days are filled with sunshine and light breezes in my garden.
• Compost time has arrived in my garden. Although we make compost through the year, my giant London plane starts donating its heavy load of leaves in May. This is my compost recipe: layers of shredded leaves, grass clippings and wet torn newspaper. I do not include fruit or vegetable peels or any rotten fruit from trees in my compost hole, because of a rat infestation in the area. I have seen rats eat rotten fruit in my pomegranate tree, and immediately cut off and threw away all rotten fruit.
I have read of a local company bringing rat traps to your garden, as they feed them to their rescued owls. They also erect owl boxes in your garden, which would be my next step. I am an organic gardener, so rat poison is not an option.
Enjoy the images from my late summer garden and please visit me for a daily chat on my Facebook page, Garden Diva