Up the garden path on a Sunday morning


I woke up this morning to the endless chirping of birds. That was my signal. It was time to get up, and move my butt to the neglected front garden. I donned my skinny – by default – jeans and furry bed slippers and off I went to meet, greet and weed my forgotten plants.

Lavender Sheena, Sanna Copper Leaf and Bruno Birdbath looking fresh and perky again
  First in the queue to get some slimming treatment is Sheena, a seriously overgrown lavender shrub. I lop off the protruding dry twigs and make her feel sexy again. Sheena is originally from Grabouw and belonged to her namesake, an artist, sculptor and horticulturalist. The REAL slim Sheena has since moved to a remote Karoo town because Grabouw was becoming too busy! Behind the lavender bush, stands Sanna, the copperleaf tree. It is squashed against the boundary wall. With a snip here and a snap there, it can stand tall behind her ADHD lavender friend.

 My copperleaf was given to me by my adorable helper and sanity-controller, Sanna. She bought the sapling from a resident who sold plants from his blue bakkie at Shoprite store, a stone’s throw from our home.  Sanna hailed from Kimberley and she was one of those who had to trek all the way to Cape Town in search of work. She spent five glorious years with us, pampering us and keeping all of us organized.

Levona Vygies and Colleen Sterilitzia after their sprucing
I then move on to Bruno and Colleen – the birdbath, hibiscus tree and sterilitzia.  I trim the hibiscus a bit,give the birdbath a proper spring cleaning and zap out the tall grass blades growing between the sterilitzia broad leaves. Now the blue-beaked,orange-crested crane flowers look even more snobbish as they peer from their green-collared necks. Bruno and Colleen have settled in New Zealand and we have bought their house.  
Malva hugged by neighbour Gavin's overhanging hedge

I slip-slop my way to Levona – a clump of vygies hugging the sterilitzia, negotiate the pile of garden waste growing in the pathway and check in on Toyer – the mother-in-law’s tongue. Toyer was my colleague, a caretaker of Grassy Park High School where I spent 25 years of my teaching career.  The malva potted plants look energetic – they always do because they can replicate and just go with the flow.  And Gavin, our neighbour’s hedge – form a perfect drop for these plants to flourish. I am pleased to see that Desiree – the delicious monster -  is still shape and Brett’s fern is growing tall and lanky.  No need for any censorship for these two, I see.

The joys of having neighbourly shrubs and fig trees.

When I look to the back of our property I see Gavin, Pieter and Dellie’s shrubs and trees flirting with our ivy along the boundary wall.  How nice! So, without any effort from our side, we have our own botanical gardens. We share a bit of fig tree (with fruit when available), a mulberry tree ( with occasional fruit that hangs on to the garage roof and plucked off by the younger generation in this family), a Brazilian pepper tree and a Bottle-brush shrubbery for free. In fact, Dellie’s grown Brazilian pepper tree forms a natural arbor on our side, perfect for lazy summer days when the house becomes a furnace.  

Our ivy can cause havoc at times because it has a tendency to crawl up Pieter’s tree in the far corner. On one occasion our casual gardener cut the ivy back so severely that I thought that it would never grow back again. Yet this morning I see it has quietly snuggled up to one of the lower branches. Before our neighbours decide that ‘Good fences make good neighbours”, we had better reign that wild child in.

Our reckless ivy having fun with our shared trees.


I turn on the hose and give the garden a good soak. I even sprinkle Vanessa and Craig – our patch of lawn on the verge – grateful that they have finally learnt to network, leaving only a few sandy patches here and there.
I can’t recall when last I had so much therapeutic fun in the garden.  For 2 hours, while pruning and cleaning, I was reminiscing, having wonderful memories of all the stories behind each of the plants in the garden. In short, they are mainly gifts from family, friends and neighbours – priceless symbols of all that is beautiful.


You can’t work in your garden without feeding your soul.  

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