Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's an ill wind that blows no good!

Christmas time arrives just as we're entering our hottest months of the year and, along with it, we are battered left, right and centre by strong South Easterly winds, which typically arrive in the Mother City (Cape Town) towards the end of October and through November, picking up in both tempo and frequency through December and January and continuing, on and off, until the end of February and even into early March.

This wind is "affectionately" named, The Cape Doctor (by locals), as it keeps the city air free of pollution, blowing away almost everything in its wake (OK, so it's not a completely ill wind!). However...when it reaches gale force proportions, as it has been doing the last couple of days, it can be almost impossible to stand in places in the city centre and pedestrians are frequently seen clinging to lamp posts, as they desperately try to avoid being blown away.  The highrise buildings in the city tend to funnel the wind, causing it to pick up even more speed and, at times, it can be quite frightening, if not exactly treacherous! 
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The famous tablecloth on Table Mountain, seen in photographs at this time of the year, is a cloud mass which drapes the top of the mountain when the South Easter blows across False Bay towards the mountain.  When Capetonians wake up to the tablecloth, they are forewarned of the type of day ahead...WINDY!!!

I have a stone engraving in my garden to remind me, on days when I'm loudly berating the wind, that I do actually love gentle wind, the kind that delightfully rustles the leaves of trees and coaxes ornamental grasses to come alive.  It's the kind that cools the air, gently caressing ones face and hair, whilst softly fragranced garden scents waft sweetly past in the enveloping folds of the breeze.  This is wind that stirs ones soul and reminds one of all the good reasons to embrace life. 

I love the winds Longfellow speaks of in this quotation...

Through woods and mountain passes
The winds, like anthems, roll.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~

The South Easter is not such a wind!  The South Easter puts me in a bad mood.  It breaks my plants, rips leaves, snaps twigs, tears branches and then rudely deposits them all over the garden.  If it dies back in the evenings and I'm able to make some headway with cleaning up the mess, it's really only teasing and taunting, because to be sure the very next day it returns with even greater strength and sets about its malicious destructiveness all over again.  As a result, no matter how many times I sweep the entrances to our home, I'm in effect fighting a losing battle (and, yes, I know there are far worse battles to be fought, so give me a break!)

View of False Bay looking over the boundary wall at the bottom of our garden - I'm hoping you can make out the "white horses" on the sea? - a sure sign that the good old South Easter is having a rip roaring time today!
My husband finds my reaction amusing to say the least.  He cannot comprehend why I get so worked up about it.  After all, no matter how loudly I rant and rave at the wind it makes not a shred of difference - in fact, I strongly suspect it only makes things worse as I'm certain the wind is having fun with me!  If you don't believe me, pull on your hat and shoes and step out into the garden with me...when I open the door, be sure to hang on to your hat, else it will be..."Gone with the wind!"

I may as well lead you to our front entrance, as the wind is not quite so severe on that side this morning...

Approaching the front door from the driveway area

I found this old air-vent lying in the rubble surrounding a ruined, mud and daub farmhouse from yesteryear.  It "spoke" to me so I brought it home and we hung it on the pillar outside the front door - it's exactly as I found it - the blue paint gives it exactly the right amount of colour to draw attention to it and it makes a delightful statement on this pillar, I think ;)

View towards our front entrance looking up from the adjoining, driveway garden.

Turn around now, and this is what you see from the opposite direction...looking back towards our driveway area.

My husband did the water feature himself.  The pump is a restored Hungarian antique. 
Coming in a little closer...

And a little closer still...

Now you can feel the cool spray hitting your face from the water feature!
This small water feature is on the opposite side of the front door, on your right facing the door from outside.

This is the small, raised garden bed directly outside the front door.  The ashes of our two beloved German Shepherds, Ziggy and Tessa, were scattered in this bed and have been feeding these plants ever since, providing a constant reminder of how much we loved and miss them both.

New clematis in flower - I'm hoping it will cover this spot nicely in time.
I very much wanted this bed to have a tropical feel - my husband set up an automatic irrigation line, which simulates rain forest type conditions, twice a day in the hottest months, keeping everything green and lush.

I love the leaf patterns, colours and variations - they provide year round appeal and beauty.
This delicious monster grows at an alarming rate - I have to keep it under control, but don't want to take it out, as I love the huge leaves and the interesting patterns on its trunk.

Such spectacular leaves!

Such interesting markings and variations...

Pretty schleffera...again, no two leaves are the same!

Now, raise your head and eyes, stand on your tippy toes and this is the view you have from the open front doorway...looking off to your left, front!

This is what you see looking slightly more ahead of where you're standing now.  My fiddlewood is beautifully contrasted against the blue sky and offset against the dark green of the viburnum.  When it's in flower, the perfume is simply heavenly, filling the air in the evenings.

These two geese are carved from the root balls of coconut palms.  They have so much character and no two are the same.  Made choosing ever so difficult!

The maidenhair fern behind the geese is showing distinct signs of wind burn.

I love the detail in the wood carving and the rough, knotted look of the feathers!

Regular visitors to Driftwood Ramblings will recognise this little fellow from an earlier post - now you know where he resides!  On the wall of the raised bed outside the front door.  This spot of moss remains evergreen ;)

Standing at the edge of the tiled section outside the front door, here's a close up view of a gorgeously floriferous fuschia (actually, there are two different plants growing in the same tub).  They always put on a spectacular show!

I also have a beautiful blue plectranthus (not in flower at the moment) growing in a pot alongside the fuschias and, to the right, a varigated ivy.  The bronze ornament peeping beneath the leaves of the plectranthus is a clay dragon my son made for me. Unfortunately, it has suffered some damage over the years, having lost an ear and part of its nose.
This tiled insert provides interest outside the front door.  The surrounding tiles are plain.

Stepping off from this little entrance alcove, I'll now proceed to show you a bit of the garden bed alongside the larger of the two water features, as seen in the picture above.

This tree fern grows well here, but has suffered some damage by the wind and will need cutting back some more.  Our resident pair of Cape robins have nested in the crown of this fern on two occasions.  It was a joy to watch the proceedings right from egg stage through to fluffy fledglings.  They have since decided a better nesting site is in the jasmine creeper that clings to the garage wall.

You cannot visit my garden and not see another example of my driftwood collection!  This is actually a gum tree root ball, with a carving of a face done on the trunk.  It is untreated wood and has been here for well in excess of 15 years! 

A closer look at the face.

This hydrangea was a potted gift many years ago from a very dear friend of mine.  It reminds me of her regularly :)

Looking up from the far side of this little bed - towards the front entrance ahead.  Again, I have lush ferns in here.  They help to make these hot, windy days seem so much more bearable!

Another picture I've used in an earlier post - but I've included it here, again, so you can see where it fits in, in terms of the layout of our home and garden!  This was taken before my husband had completed the larger water feature - if you look, you'll see that the Hungarian pump is missing ;)

Hope you enjoyed your visit, today!

 In conclusion, I'll leave you with this delightful quotation by Kate Chopin...

I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?

Gardenia photographed in my garden today - this one is growing in a pot inside our front gate.



  1. You also a wonderfyl day darling...what a beautiful post !!! i love it !!...love Ria....

  2. It's hard to imagine Christmas being hot - it's so linked to snow and cold here(UK), lighting up our darkest days. Your garden looks wonderful (despite that wind. I hate wind too.) and I've never seen a real gardenia before. How delicate and creamy it is.

  3. Hello Ria:

    I'm going to hop on over to your blog right now to see if there's any further news on your Mom's condition.

    I appreciate your making time to visit me, especially knowing how difficult things are for you right now!

    Big hug xo

  4. Hello Jenny:

    Super to have you pop by and pay me a visit :) I wish I could share the absolutely heavenly fragrance of my gardenias with you, in addition to my photograph.

    I spent a Christmas in London in 1972, with my parents and only sister. That was the year I completed school. It was the most incredible holiday and, although we didn't have snow, it was certainly freezing cold! We had an excellent Christmas dinner at our hotel with all the traditional trimmings. It was wonderful!

  5. Lovely to wallow for a minute in all that verdant green growth, it is all a bit bare here now.

    I know what you mean by different winds, I feel the same, a gentle breeze is so delightful, but a forceful one that slaps my hair into my lipgloss and hurts my ears - let alone cause damage - don't like them at all!! Teachers always say kids really misbehave in class when it's windy too, which is strange.xx

  6. Yes, but I've been enjoying the magical landscape of frost and snow through blogs like yours. It is nice, though, not to have to experience the icy conditions firsthand! ;)

    I can quite believe that school kids "act up" on windy days - our dogs don't like it, either! And, I've admitted I become a bit unhinged, too!

    But those gentle winds...the night winds of my childhood...so enchanting!

  7. Your garden looks wonderful; so green and lush and loved!

    I envy you your views of the mountain and the sea. The combination of mountain and sea is my idea of heaven!

    Thanks for showing us round :)

  8. I had to laugh as I read about you and the wind. I get the same way about the rain here, which we've had so much of this year. My husband doesn't understand why it bothers me so much either.
    I loved seeing your front entrance, it's so pretty and welcoming! My little one and I went to a nursery today and were smelling the gardenias in the greenhouse, I love them!
    Hope the winds quiet down.

  9. Thank you, H :)

    We count ourselves fortunate to live in such a lovely part of our country.
    As you so rightly say, having sea and mountains within easy reach is, indeed, really wonderful.

  10. Oh, Catherine! Now the rain and I are the best of friends! I'm afraid I side with your husband on this one ;)

    Yes, I suppose you can have too much of a good thing, too, though! We don't get nearly as much rain, especially during summer when it's so hot, dry and windy, as I'd like!

    Fully concur with your thoughts on Christmas. Hope you and your family enjoy a very special one this year!

    Tell your daughter that one of the things I love best about our Christmas season is the arrival of the "Christmas beetles" or cicadas. They live in our willow tree and sing from dawn till dusk.

  11. Windy, stormy weather, which we've had a lot here lately, freaks me out. I've never experienced dry wind that just blows, so I don't know how I'd react to that. But I've heard they get dry winds in California that make people crazy, they are called Santa Ana winds. I know how frustrating it is to have to go out and clean up the garden after the wind, we've had lots of fir branches and cones down all over.

    A few nights ago we had such a strong storm blow through, it sounded like someone was aiming a firehose at our window. That was at 1 in the morning, so it kept me from sleeping.

    I loved looking at the pictures of your entrance, it looks so lovely, the architecture is so different from what we have here. That tile insert that you showed closeup is very pretty. And I love your geese, they are so unusual, with so much charm and character!

    Got a kick out of you calling your plant a delicious monster, because its Latin name is Monstera deliciosa.

    Your blue air vent was a great find, such a cool thing to decorate the garden with. I need to get out to a few more thrift stores and see what I can find.

    Thanks for visiting my blog, the plant in the picture is Arum italicum.

  12. Thank you for your welcome comments, Alison. I had no idea that leaf was an arum! Unlike you I'm not very knowledgable about the Latin names of plants. Hanging my head in shame, as I love gardening and buy all my plants myself! Just knowing their common use names seems to have served me well enough, as they all grow quite happily. I know most garden enthusiasts would slay me for this, but it would take some of the joy out of gardening if I had to swot up on all those names ;). I also never keep a diary or really plan what I do in the garden from year to year. I garden very much on what feels right to me at the time. I guess my modus operandi is largely impulsive but it works for me and this garden, thankfully :)

  13. Wow..wonderful post...and such powerful winds!! Beautiful photos..and super gorgeous driftwoods!! Lovely!

  14. Thank you, Victoria :) I always feel so honoured to have you pay me a visit!!

  15. Thanks for your comments.I enjoyed your post. You have a beautiful garden and views. I don't like wind at all it gives me a headache and makes me grumpy.

  16. How great to have you pop by, Diane. Thank you! Ditto the wind and a resulting bad mood ;)

    Really enjoyed what you're doing over on your blog and I'm an instant fan of Birthday Bear! I'll be following her adventures closely :)

  17. Fantastic and inspiring post Desiree. What a beautiful garden. I'm really pleased to have found your blog, and thank you for your kind comments on my blog. Rgds Jane-Anne

  18. When I first got married many years ago, I moved to San Francisco with my young husband, (he was in the Marine Corp) and found a job some blocks from home. I had no car (which was probably a good thing) so I walked to work each day. The winds in San Francisco sound exactly like the ones you discribe. I would round a corner and the wind would throw me backwards and I would huddle in a doorway and then move slowly on to another one. I remember it well..and that was many, many years ago.

  19. Yes, Mona - I'd say our winds are of the same ilk! When the wind is not blowing here, we have the most glorious days on earth, so I really shouldn't moan so much, should I!!!


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