New Beginnings

Every once in a while a radical and seemingly daunting change to an established garden results in an unexpected and amazingly beautiful result.

For some years we have been dithering about having a very large palm tree, which had become entangled with a fast-growing ficus, removed. Finally in July this year we bit the bullet and the deed was done. Much preparation was required as many existing plants had to be moved out of harm’s way, including shrubs like the Mackaya bella and Brunsfelsia; lilies – day, spider, arum; agapanthus and fuschias. The actual removal of the palm and ficus took two days, and a large sunny area emerged – which for many years had been an area of deep shade. The Birdberry (Psychotria capensis) and tree fern (Cyathea) nearby luckily survived, with only one broken branch in the Birdberry. These two helped to maintain a small shaded area, with the major space now in full sun.

Previous inhabitants of the palm tree were rather bewildered; particularly the Speckled pigeon pair who have nested there for many years, but had not yet built their 2020 nest. One Cape weaver had started building a practice nest which had not yet received his mate’s approval – so he didn’t seem too fussed and quickly found another building site.

Much thought, discussion and suggestions from gardening friends went into the ‘new’ area as well as compost, elbow grease, plants relocated from other parts of the garden and a few new purchases.

Now after three months the area is taking shape and most plants are enjoying their new home. The most startling response has been from the Birdberry, which after an initial period of adjustment to an increased amount of sun has now produced the biggest mass of beautiful yellow flowers in its five year existence! The glossy, dark green leaves provide a stunning backdrop to the golden yellow flowers – and the bees are ecstatic! Such a worthwhile result after all the hard work!


Text: Leonie Twentyman-Jones 

Photos: Margaret Richards