A small garden

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The “main” garden – a small plot of about 5 to 6 square metres

A garden is not a garden unless it has plant life. Our garden in Natal, measuring at most 12 square metres including a gravel border along the length of the house, was a very modest one in size. Just after moving into the house we decided it needed a bit of colour so we had a local landscape gardener provide a few plants in two areas – a few Ixora chinensis plants to create borders that would, in due course, make three small hedges, a few tall spindly trees of some type (name escapes me) that were to provide wall cover, and some variegated creepers that have pale pink flowers (name also escapes me).

In addition to these, we had some small ornamental grasses to hide the runner for the electric gate, two agave plants and a couple of small box bushes. The latter died and were replaced by a pair of thick-leaved variegated plants that were doing well.

The creepers grew uncontrollably so I eventually pulled them out. In their place, I planted Chilean Boldo and Lemon Basil as well as some small-leaved succulents and some Mother-in-laws tongue. All of these were now well-established and thriving despite the heat. The Chilean Boldo is not an attractive plant so I planned to replace that.

After two years the Ixora was starting to look like a hedge to the point that I had begun pruning the plants to coax them into shape. I had, at one recent point in time, planted the small-leaved succulents (Callisia repens, known also as “mouse ear ivy” due to their shape, underneath the Ixora, as well as some basil to fill gaps. Unfortunately, someone mistook them for weeds and they all disappeared!

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(Front to back): Anthurium, Chilean Boldo, Pineapple, Agave, Sword of St George

There is a semi-paved corridor that runs along the side of the house, bounded on one side by a tall wall. Half of the width is paved but the other side is gravel on a sand base, to act as a soak-away when we have heavy rain. While it tends to flood under torrential rain it takes less than half an hour for the water to drain away when the rain stops. The area gets sun during the day so, despite the apparent challenges, it proved to be a good place to plant life. Over a period of a year, I planted Chilean Boldo (a straggly mess which I started dealing with), Lemon Basil, Pineapples, Aloe Vera, Agave, garlic, Sansevieria trifasciata (Sword of St George) and the small-leaved succulents. The pineapples started well but half of them began withering – not sure if the roots became waterlogged or too dry or if some other issue.

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Cuttings of callisia repens, known also as “mouse ear ivy”, in a pot

I bought a couple of Anthurium plants in pots, always meaning to re-pot and train them up the wall, but never got around to it.

We moved out of the house last month. I forgot to take cuttings of the Anthuriums but did take the Callisia, Sansevieria, and an acerola plant that I had been nurturing from seed. These are all now thriving in pots on our veranda in the temporary accommodation of a flat. I can’t wait to move to a house.

Plants add life to any home, no matter what size the garden is.


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