‘SUR CIEL’ is our home-cooked-French-type name meaning ‘NEAR THE SKY’ and that is just where we garden. We feel really privileged to be gardening, surrounded by such beauty. When we moved here three years ago we decided to work with the nature around us and plant indigenously but to include some water wise plants as well. The garden is on a steep slope so paths became essential and slowly we have been creating areas and pushing boundaries.
We are amazed by the generosity of these plants which provide such contrasts, colour and excitement throughout the year. Our Leucodendrons and Leucospermums are becoming legendary, as are the vygies, plectranthus, sages and salvias. Most trees are bending backwards to grow and soon we will sit in their shade.
We are also fast learning which plants do not thrive and how to cope with a hungry family of bushbuck – alas we can’t. Dry periods, moles and enormous caterpillars are also a challenge. Every time we flatten molehills and ponder the buck-pruning that goes on, we shake our heads and continue, determined to avoid any poisons, insecticides or fertilizers, happy in the knowledge that our creatures, nuisance though they are, are healthy animals, after all our mission is to live with nature.
Growing Proteas & Leucodendrons:
A for treatment of the proteas, perhaps all I can say is that we have found that Proteas and their family do love living on a north facing slope. We never use compost or fertilizer when planting but line the base of the hole with well rotted pine needles and then surround the planted protea with more pine needles.
These plants also love living on a slope where excess water will drain away and they enjoy the wind in their branches.
I am finding after 3 years there is some die back on lower branches but I just cut it out. We have lost a few and I put some of the losses down to heavy mole and mouse activity at the roots – or maybe they just didn’t want to live there. However, we have been delighted at how few have died – touch wood! We have also been awed by the variety of foliage offered by the different Leucodendrons and so happy to find that the resident bushbuck leave them alone.
~ Clare Miller is a member of Gardening at Leisure
~ Photographs and Text by Clair