Sunday, October 26, 2008

Snail damage in the garden.You can not win, get used it..
This morning was a lovely cool morning, one of
 the last cold fronts over the western cape before
 the long hot summer. I stroled through the garden enjoying it for a few moments then my eyes
caught this aloe. The snails were out late on this
 cool morning having a brunch before they hide
 for the day !

"People pay to have snail slime on their skin,
 I am getting this for free" - I told myself
while squashing the snails between my fingers.
In case you do not know it seems the word
 is going around that snail slime is one of
those "proven" remedies for a youthfull skin.
 I took many years off the age of the skin on
 my hands but it did not improve the beauty
 of my hands which were scratched and
bitten by the sharp teeth of the aloes at the
same time. It is not easy to get the snails
 out between the aloe leaves.

I feel like doing something to that neck !
Something slower than a quick squash
between my fingers.

Unbelievable ...this juvenile snail could not
 have eaten all that much in one sitting, he
must be the last one remaining after a party.
Rot can set in where the skin is broken in
aloes and other succulents. The hole, on
the top right side of the photo above this
 one must be from the previous party,
 it dried out well so there is no danger
of rot any more.

I believe these two snails are an endemic
snail species. I do not know anything
about the identity of snails, you are
to help me out there. We see them often
 along the western coast (South Africa).
 They climb on the wooden fence poles
 and sit in a bundle. It seems easy to kill
 them, but those on the poles is only the
 tip of the snail-mountain. I have not
seen them sitting in bundles on poles
where we live, 100 km inland. They
are not as many as on the coast, but they
 do a lot of damage all the same.

Could this be the delicatessen snail which
 arrived here from France? I am not tempted
 to try, but if we would learn to enjoy eating
  escargot that would solve more than one

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Aloe arborescens in habitat.
Aloe arborescens  has a very wide 
distribution from the eastern side of 
the Cape peninsula up through the
 eastern regions of Mozambique, 
Zimbabwe and Malawi.
These photos were taken in the 
Tradouw Pass of the Small Karoo.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The cricket known as a Corn Cricket.  Acanthoplus discoidalis is a species in the katydid family.  The mature cricket like the one which is drinking beer with us is the  most often seen in Namibia.  They need to eat and mate while there is food in a dry climate.

The black corn cricket is not quite as large as the  brown cricket above because it is the immature version of the species and they usually spend their time eating where they feel safe and not walking around looking for a mate.

The damage the insects did to these aloes are not as gruesome as it seems. An aloe has no problem to replace the leaves and it will go dormant and hang on till the rain comes.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hanging aloes are adapted to a pensile life. These aloes are growing suspended as a rule and not because the seeds got stuck on a ledge. Many aloe species grow well on mountain slopes. As long as they have some grip in the soil they are happy, but that does not make them hanging or pensile aloes.

Aloe ferox just loves slopes. I doubt if anybody would think they are hanging. Just wanted to add the pretty scene.

Aloe dewinterii grows in the north west of Namibia on the steep dolomite slopes and high cliffs. On the cool side of a cliff is better than in the open sun but it can grow just as well on the ground usually on or under a dolomite rock.This plant has large leaves. The very soft pastel colors seem to be the rule in the Namibian aloes and the pale blue-green tinted with pink rosette is beautiful in the green garden . Next to the aloe is a dry bush, it is not old flower stalks.

Aloe comptoni growing in the Small Karoo. It also grows well on the mountain cliffs. On the ground it will grow creeping along with the upper part of the stem and rosette straight up and the old growth lying flat, later dying off. It looks better on a cliff. I would like to call it a hanging aloe but as it grows just as well on the flat ground it will not quite qualify.

At last. Aloe hardyi is a cliff hanger growing close against the cliff. The obvious way that it hugs the stone or edge over which it grows gives a lovely display in the garden over a wall. The flower stalk growing from the plant in the middle is visible on the photo. The inflorescens grows a little way horizontal and then it turns upwards. The thick aloe leaves are stiff. Pull out the plant where it is growing and the rosette with the leaves remain in the bended shape it had fitting over the stone. New leaves will adjust shape..
Aloe hardyi blooms in winter.

Another pending aloe named Aloe pendens from Yemen. It has a relative thin stalk by which it hangs down, but the rosette face horizontally and away from the cliff. The thick stiff leaves grow in the half circular shape, it is not soft and hanging down. Turn the plant upside down and it will look the same as when you turn the photo. (You will have to take my word as there is no way that I will uproot it to show my point.) The flower stalk grows a little way away from the
plant and then it turns upwards. The small flowers are pretty, shading red with green tips. Buds are not open yet on the photo below. Aloe pendens blooms every 5-6 months.

Aloe hardyii (from the northern parts of the Republic of South Africa) and Aloe pendens (from Yemen) can not really grow comfortable on flat ground. They probably would survive, anything is better than dying, but what will they look like bending and growing over each other?

The relative small grass-like Aloe ballii from Zimbabwe also grows hanging from cliffs. It is a very pretty aloe for a hanging basket. It grows fast and easy and blooms throughout the year. It would not fare too bad growing on flat ground except for the flower. The flower stalk is a thin soft thread hanging down and that would not function on flat ground. On the photo is an inset of the pretty flowersand on closer look you can see the flowers
PS. I have only one plant,  no seeds.

I built this wall for my pending aloes.
Aloe ballii is hanging on a branch to the right top in a basket . . Aloe hardyii is to the right on the wall and Aloe pendens (plant colour very much like the background) is in the middle. There are a few smaller aloe types on the top of the wall and some other succulent plants. The wall is very narrow and takes up little space but a lot can be planted on it. (flowers would be pretty too).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Aloe colour the difference in habitat vs. the garden. 
The aloe rosettes shades of pink browns and greens are interesting and attractive in the garden. In the habitat those same shades hide the plants. The previous blog shows the aloes in the garden, here are a few of the aloes in habitat.

Aloe microstigma. In the garden this aloe stands out, here it disapears.

Aloe hereroensis ad a very special effect to a garden, but it is not an easy garden plant. Aloe hereroensis does not like to be wet and it needs good drainage. Plant it on stones in the garden in the sun and do not water. The rain, whatever it is will be enough. I know this and I  killed a few.
This way is easier and more successful in the garden. Giving very light but regular watering so that the plant does not go dormant is better than no water and then starting to water at the wrong time.
 The wrong time is -
when the plant is dormant it should be stimulated
first with very little water when the temperature drops. Never water on a hot day (that is true for most plants) Very little water until it shows signs of growing, it can then be watered freely as long as the drainage is good.

Aloe khamiesensis in the same color as the stones! This aloe is also very attractive in the garden but it will be green in colour unless it is watered very little and in full sun. In the habitat the seeds will get stuck under the bushes and the young aloe will grow in shade until it is large enough to face the scorching heat.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The dry hot summer in colorful shades of pink and green. January and February are our hottest months. It was the end of February today and I already noticed for some days that the sun was up later than me. From now on the temperatures will be cooler with just some hot days between. However until the rain starts in six weeks or more, the soil will dry out more.

The very dry aloes are hanging on to their water reserves - waiting not growing. Each season has a distinct attractiveness in the aloe and succulents garden.

Aloe microstigma turned into shades of orange-pink and shows off very pretty in the garden, but on the mountain slopes where they grow, they are near to invisible between rocks and dry bushes.

The leaves are rolled up like narrow spikes. The fine bushes keep the roots cool and the pale green background is a good contrast against the aloes.
Aloe khamiesensis which grows in a very harsh habitat.

One thing I really like about the dry summer - no weeds in summer!