Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Before-and-After photos in our aloe and succulent water
saving garden

Aloe litorallis is a tree aloe growing at least to 3 meter high. 
It is special in that it blooms very young and small for a tree aloe. 
The dry inflorescence stem from May is visible on the photo taken September. 
The aloe in centre front is an Aloe aculeata x Aloe zebrina hybrid. 

The first photo dates September 2007.  The last photo was taken May 2011. 

It is a pity that the aloe and messemb do not bloom together for the photos.
The messembs should be beautiful this year.  I will take a photo September.
The inflorescence of Aloe litorallis is high compared to the size of the plant.

The wine red Crassula sp. is darker in dry summer. 
This photo was taken 
shortly after the rain season started.  The Crassula
sp.  was cut back often over the years,  as was the Euphorbia left back.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Few gardens have the space or conditions to grow these
extraordinary aloes, but it is worth the space and trouble.  These
plants never fail to attract attention to a garden.

1   Aloe dichotoma x Aloe ramosissima hybrid is
easier than either one of the species to grow.

2  Aloe pilansii  the top of the range of  "must
have" for the serious experienced aloe gardeners.  It is also the most
difficult of the tree aloes to grow - if you are able to get one!

3  Aloe ramosissima is the smallest of this group
but more difficult than Aloe dichotoma when grown out of habitat.

Above:- Aloes growing in the Vanruynsdorp nursery situated 
in habitat of these aloes.

Below:-  Aloe dichotoma, Aloe ramosissima and a hybrid in the garden.

4  Aloe barberae below is not from a harsh habitat
and an easy tree aloe to grow in a garden.

The range of this aloe is a broad coastal zone from East
London in South Africa northwards up to Mozambique. 

Above:-  This is a group of trees planted together. 
Here it is growing very well  in the winter rainfall  frost free
climate.  Aloe barberae does not like frost but even there you will
find them in gardens in Namaqualand or in the Karoo botanical garden where
there is frost.  The secret is that it is dry frost and the trees were
protected by other plants or against a house. Wet and cold kills most aloes. 

This tree grows high.  The wall is two meter high on the photo above.

Here is Aloe barberae as a single tree planted next to
Aloe marlothii to the left and Aloe ferox to the right. 

Both species are also described as tree aloes.
The photo was taken in the botanical garden near
Worcester.  The tree grows on a hill where the cold air will move
downhill quickly.  This climate is very dry compared to the habitat of
Aloe barberae which proves again that this is an easy aloe to grow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A new book, on Limestone Fynbos, published  by the Duiwenshok Conservancy.(not a profit organisation!)

Limestone Fynbos is an intriguing flora that occurs on our southern coast, wherever there are limestone hills or cliffs. Most of the plants occur in a broad sweep from Gansbaai to the Gouritz River, including pockets at Cape Point and Macassar. This flora can be divided into three natural units, Agulhas Limestone, De Hope Limestone and Canca Limestone. In December 2007 Veld and Flora published an article on the Agulhas Limestone. The Duiwenhoks Conservancy has added a new aspect to the literature available on this rather unknown flora by publishing a book that describes the Limestone Fynbos of the Vermaaklikheid area, near Heildelberg, which falls in the Canca Limestone unit.

Limestone Fynbos is floristically very different from other vegetation. The reason for this is that these plants thrive on a soil type that would be toxic to most fynbos plants, which are normally found on acidic or neutral soils.  They grow on limestone soils, which are so alkaline that if you squeeze lemon juice on them they will fizz. It is this alkalinity in the soil that is toxic to most fynbos plants. In a remarkable adaptation to a hostile soil environment, Limestone Fynbos has evolved as a unique flora that shares only a few species in common with sandstone fynbos and sand fynbos. As one would expect from a flora that is confined to such specific soils, many plants are endemic, meaning that they grow only on such soils or even at only one locality.

At first glance, this little-known flora appears as dry woody scrub. On closer inspection a fascinating array of intriguing and sometimes tiny flowers emerge. Over the past ten years, the author Louisa Oberholzer began collecting, describing and photographing the plants in the Vermaaklikheid area of the Western Cape ( Near Stillbaai). The Duiwenhoks Conservancy provided financial support for the identification of the species and finally for the publication of the book, Limestone Fynbos of the Vermaaklikheid Area. It presents a photographic record and description of 124 species. Of particular interest are the intriguing Fabaceae, or pea-like flowers and the pungent buchus, which belong to the Rutacea or citrus family.

The aim of the publication is to inform the public and particularly landowners about the value of Limestone Fynbos and the importance controlling alien vegetation, which is a major threat to all the fynbos plant communities.

The book is priced at R130.00 available from the Duiwenhoks Conservancy, (info@duiwenhoksconservancy.co.za) and also from the author, (louisa.stanford@gmail.com)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Kalanchoe beharensis is a tree size succulent plant from Madagascar. 
It keeps up the Kalanchoe legacy that is:   hardy and
grow very easy from leaves or pieces of stem.

Photo above is one plant.  This could have been an
even bigger bush if it was not that the branches are often blown 

off by the wind.  The stems are not strong enough for the heavy 
leaves full of  water.

Showing size of leaf.

The bullterrier also posed for size.  One leaf will
easy cover her head.

The pattern where the leaves were attached on the stem is

The "thorns"  on the stems where the leaves were attached 
are blunt and do not cut or scratch.

The inflorescence is very large and heavy. 

It is a pity that the flowers are so very small.  
The pale buds are more obvious.
The Kalanchoe genus vary from odd to interesting and
beautiful succulent plants.  For the most part popular, 

but there are a few species that are hardy and grow very 
easy from leaves or any piece of vegetation so that they 
are seen as weeds. 
Kalanchoe bossveldiana,  could be the most popular
species cultivated for beautiful flowers.  The plants are 

mostly sold in pots but they do best hanging.
Here on my rock garden wall the pink flowering one is 

so pretty I bought the yellow flowering one this year. 
They are cultivated in many colors gorgeous in bloom. 

I am looking forward to the yellow flowering Kalanchoe
blooming as nice as the pink one next year.

The hanging aloes on the wall are a small one from
Madagascar to the left of the pink blooms.  Then to the right three
Aloe pendens from Yemen followed by a few Aloe hardii from South Africa.

It was easy to build this succulent plants wall garden. 
Instructions on my site.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

The theme in our garden is aloes with other water saving plants to keep it interesting. 
Maybe "water wise gardenĂ¯ng" fits the theme better. 
Any succulent and drought resistant plants which do not harm my aloes are welcome. 

Strolling through the garden a few days ago, this scene triggered a memory.

Take a second look.

That was very long ago I know -  but does "feed me !!!!" ring a bell ?

The weird plant in "Little shop of horrors" ...   A very old rock
musical (but the kids still enjoy to see it.)

This plant is so realistic to the plant in the musical 
that I could hear it say - "Feed me !!" 

While taking this photo I had a strange feeling it might snap at my finger. 

Now serious.    This is a very easy water-wise plant that can grow 
well over a meter high.  The hairy leaves are soft with a velvet touch.  

It was cultivated from Kalanchoe beharensis  from Madagascar.... 

aha ... I knew it.  I would expect something like that from Madagascar.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ever changing scenes in the garden. 
The focus here is on Aloe vanbalenii in front and
Aloe barberae (tree aloe) to the right just behind the stump. 
The daisies are blooming it is winter - 20007 (that is June-July).

June 2010 and the rain season  started at least 2 months 
ago.  The aloes are washed shiny clean from the summer's 

Interesting how the one Aloe vanbalenii plant grew way 
faster than the two on the side and Aloe barberae the 
tree aloe in the middle, more than doubled in size.  
The smaller type aloes in the background are not in the
picture any more, they have reached their maximum size

long ago. 

Special about Aloe vanbalenii is the color changing in
the leaves when it is grown "hard". That is a lot of summer 

sun and very little water.

Special about Aloe barbarae -  it is a tree. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Euphorbia species
It is extraordinary how many Euphorbia there are and how much 
they differ from each other.  The only way to know they are related 
is by the  flowers.

Here is a photo of the tiny ground cover.  The leaves are very small  
in dry weather and  much larger(in  comparison) in easy conditions.  
I added my finger tip for scale.


It was only recently that I found out that this old favorite ground 
cover  was in fact an Euphorbia!

Never forget that the milky sap or latex of  the Euphorbia plant
is highly toxic.  Especially in the eyes.  There is one very fierce 
large tree size Euphorbia in the northern parts of South Africa 
where it is dangerous  in habitat where those large plants grow
to walk downwind when they are in bloom.  Your eyes will start 
burning and you better cover the eyes and nose with a  piece of 
cloth quickly.  
Surprisingly the bees and butterflies love the flowers !

There are animals - even domestic cattle - that eat some of the 
Euphorbia species.  This is life saving for the animals in 
Namaqualand and the Karoo.   
I would like an assortment Euphorbia  between the aloe 
plants but most of the pretty or odd ones are rather difficult 
plants out of their habitat.