(Not very) Wordless Wednesday: rain

Our Rwanda garden after rain, August 2014Raindrops on the Graptopetalum leaves yesterday morning.

It had rained the night before, for the third time in two weeks. Maybe the summer dry season is ending early?

(I would normally look for consistent heavy showers to start in early to mid September and last until late December.)

I have been hoping for an early fall rainy season, since we only have a few more months in the country, and I would like to see the garden in high growth mode one more time.

ADDENDUM: 6:27 p.m. — raining.

After some rain

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain. . . .

— Robert Creeley, from “The Rain

Our garden on August 31, at the end of the dry season:Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

And on September 11, after several days of rain:Our September garden in Rwanda/enclos*ure

Much better. After the first rain or two, everything seemed almost sparkly.

Below (click on any of the thumbnails in the gallery) is a little tour of the borders along the upper and lower lawns, taken on September 11 — just before sunset — and yesterday afternoon.

I think this will be my slightly early Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up submission for September. Please go to May Dreams Gardens (Bloom Day on September 15) and Digging (Foliage Follow-Up on September 16) to see what’s happening in other Garden Bloggers’ gardens.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for August

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer . . .

by our water hoses.

We are just below the equator here in Rwanda, so technically it is near the end of winter — and of the long dry season, which began in May and normally ends in September.

But last night there was a light rain for about seven hours, so today I don’t need to water anything in the garden, not even the new plants.

The cutting garden (left) and the vegetable garden (right).
The cutting garden (left) and the vegetable garden (right).

We’ve really cut back on watering this year, anyway — none for the grass and a lot less for the planting beds. The grass is going brown, but we still have a lot of flowers, particularly my stalwarts, yellow daylilies and pink gerbera daisies.

The vegetable garden with kale, sunflowers, Missouri primroses, nasturtiums.
The vegetable garden with kale, sunflowers, Missouri primroses, nasturtiums.

My biggest project in the last month has been to tackle our mess of a vegetable garden, which has consisted of several not very productive, but very wide and long raised beds.  Their dimensions just weren’t manageable, so we’ve dug new paths and now all the beds are about 4′ x 5′.

Orange nasturtium in our vegetable garden.
Orange nasturtium bloom in our vegetable garden.

Growing among the argula, lettuce, kale, strawberry, and tomato plants are also celosias, nasturtiums, Missouri primroses, and sunflowers.

Sunflower (one of the shorter varieties) in our vegetable garden.
Sunflower (one of the shorter varieties) in our vegetable garden.
The garden with celosia, feverfew, supports for tomatoes and beans, with lettuce gone to seed in the back.
Our still rather disorderly garden with celosia, feverfew, supports for tomatoes, with a row of lettuce going to seed along the back.

Recently, I tried to grow American hardy hibiscus from seed (in the vegetable garden, where the soil is best), and, despite the fact that I have always read that this is a very easy thing to do, only about ten seedlings appeared from two packets of seeds, and for weeks they have remained at 2″ tall.

Nothing at all came up from a packet of black-eyed Susan seeds; only one plant from a packet of Verbena bonariensis.  However, alpine strawberry seeds have produced about 15 plants.

Lettuce flowers.
Lettuce flowers.

I have also done well with re-seeding lettuce, dill, basil, garlic chives, and coriander and with rooted rosemary cuttings. I have high hopes for my cherry tomato plants, many of which have clusters of tiny fruit.

Feverfew in the vegetable garden.
Feverfew in the vegetable garden.
Celosia in the vegetable garden. The fading blooms are full of seeds.
Celosia in the vegetable garden. The fading blooms are full of seeds.

In the long flower border along the lower lawn, I have one bloom from several purple coneflower plants that I have grown from seed.

The first coneflower bloom.
The first coneflower bloom from plants I grew from seed.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is the 15th day of every month.  Check out May Dreams Gardens to see what’s blooming in other garden bloggers’ gardens today.

Roadside planters and imigongo

Town planters in eastern Rwanda/enclos*ure

While traveling in southeastern Rwanda on Thursday, we stopped for lunch in Nyakarambi.  I liked the town’s roadside planters, which are painted in the graphic patterns of imigongo art.

Town planters in eastern Rwanda/enclos*ure

All the planters held rather dusty palm trees. We are in the middle of the long dry season, which will last until early September.

Imigongo paintings traditionally decorated the interiors of houses in this part of Rwanda. The raised designs are made with cow dung and painted with white kaolin clay and a black substance made from aloe plant sap and the ash of burned banana skins and Solanum aculeastrum fruit.  Other natural colors — red, grey, and ochre — are also used, and today’s artists often add representations of people and houses.

Nyakarambi has a cooperative and shop devoted to imigongo.  I added to my little collection with the piece below, which is about 12″ x 14″.

Imigongo painting, Rwanda/enclos*ure

I didn’t take any photos of the cooperative while we were there; the women weren’t working and their stock of paintings was small. But, several months ago, we were at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, which has several walls in the lobby displaying imigongo.

Imigongo at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Imigongo on walls at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Rwanda:enclos*urePhoto just above by M. Koran.