Zandvlei Trust

The folly of Roses.

(Extract article from the volume 2009/2 Newsletter)

Leonotis leonurus  (Wild Dagga)                                Pelargonium myrrhifolium (Vrouebossie)

While we go about our daily tasks in our homes there is a parallel universe at work in our gardens as bees, birds, butterflies, frogs, porcupines, insects and a myriad of living things go about their tasks during the day and night.

The green corridors around Zandvlei of but a few years ago have dwindled. While there was until recently easy access from the mountain to the Vlei so the denizens of the parallel universe could make their way between the two according to their needs, this has become really difficult with a resultant loss of life as traffic, cats, dogs, crows and other hazards account for the death of many of the little creatures.

To make life safer for these beings it would be really good if every gardener in the Zandvlei area took the trouble to plant indigenous flowers, shrubs and other helpful greenery so the little creatures could thrive and survive.

Muriel Darke of Lakeside learnt the hard way that planting indigenous is the best way. Soon after having a house built on the mountainside below Boyes Drive she decided it would be nice to have an English country garden with a variety of roses, among others.

Amaryllis belladonna (March Lily)                            Leucospermum conocarpodeendron (Pincushion)

She spent a considerable amount of money on the plants, compost and clearing the area and then waited for her garden to grow. But she hadn’t factored in the wind. After a particularly fierce south-easter that blew without mercy for three days she went to inspect her roses and found at least half with their roots in the air. At first she was sure a dog had dug them up, but on looking more closely found that the wind had done the damage and actually torn the young plants from the ground.

Lesson learnt, she climbed the mountain to see what did survive in the wind and found that proteas and fynbos did well, in fact seemed to thrive in the same conditions that had done in the “pretty” plants.

Photograph by Peter Kruger 

Protea repens (Sugar bush)                 Restio Chondropetalum tectorum.

Muriel now has an easy-to-maintain fynbos garden that requires minimal watering, provides much cover and food for the little creatures and looks with satisfaction at the various proteas she planted that stand strong against the fiercest south-easters and also winter north-westers.

Fynbos is surprisingly hardy and not at all difficult to grow. The plants just need the same care that any young plant does – compost, regular watering and don’t underestimate the importance of talking to them!

Some useful indigenous plants that would do well in the Lakeside area are; Proteas, Pincushions, Restios (Cape Reed), Wild Dagga and any members of the Buchu family.

Muriel Darke.


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