In our garden: Ross’s Turaco

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. . . an occasional large and dramatic avian visitor to our garden — about 30′ up, climbing around in one of our several Grevillea robusta trees.

Also known as Lady Ross Turacos, the birds are about 18″ long with mostly dark blue feathers. I got a very quick look at the ends of this one’s wings — bright red and only visible in flight.

I have seen them in different tall trees around the garden before — the last time in a pair. The males and females look exactly alike.

Today, this one was making only a noisy, repetitive croak, which drew me to look for it.  But, previously, I have also heard them make a more melodious call, which I remember as sort of a loud cooing sound (a contradictory description, I know).

My soul into the boughs does glide;
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets, and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepar’d for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

— Andrew Marvell, from “The Garden

More Bloom Day in March

The borders along the upper lawn in our Kigali garden are blooming particularly well this month. I took these pictures yesterday.

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(You can control the slideshow by hovering the cursor over it. Or you can scroll through larger versions of the photos by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.)

Our front garden is a rather formal arrangement of two long lawns that run parallel to each other and to the length of the house and its terrace. The narrow upper one is separated from the much wider lower one by two sets of 3′ retaining walls, which are joined in the center by a flight of steps. Irregularly curving planting beds border both sides of the lower lawn and one side of the upper.

I’ve tried to balance the formal layout with an informal, sort of “country garden” planting plan. The beds contain a closely planted mix of tropical and temperate plants and shrubs. Most are cultivated, but the “wild” plants and vines that work their self-seeding way up through the jumble can stay if they they add nice textures or colors.

The beds between the retaining walls and the one along the far side of the lower lawn are anchored by several large, often flowering, shrubs and lianas, and even some small trees.

Because of the vigorous plants and the constant warm weather, I’m always pruning or chopping something back.

Almost every plant repeats in the garden, often in several places.  But each 7′ to 15′ section of border has its own primary and secondary colors and then a bit of a third color trailing through the middle or around the edges.

The border along the upper lawn starts out orange and white (with a little pink) at its south end, then becomes yellow and blue/purple with some orange to the center steps. On the north side of the steps, it is yellow and blue/purple again with a stronger trail of orange (red hot poker, lantana, tropical hibiscus). At the north end, it is red and pink with blue around the edges.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is the 15th of every month. To see what’s blooming today in other bloggers’ gardens, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

My earlier March Bloom Day post today is here.
Continue reading “More Bloom Day in March”

Foliage Follow Up: my rosemary hedge

I’m a bit late, but I did want to show off my 25 rosemary plants (on the left, below), which grew from cuttings that I took from a single big old plant that was in the garden when we arrived here.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: rosemary(Especially since the gardener expressed grave doubts at the time that they would root and grow.)

The photo above shows the passage between the vegetable garden on the left and the cutting garden on the right, walking toward the south end of the upper lawn.

By the way, that huge, dark green tree in the upper left corner is what your potted weeping fig would look like over time — in the ground, in a constantly warm climate.

I started the cuttings about 18 months ago.*  Now the plants are 2′ to 3′ tall,

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: rosemaryexcept at the very end, on the left above.  Those plants — which will finish out the row — are about 6 months old.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: rosemaryAbove, on the left, is the mother plant.  Just to the right of it is a little patch of alpine strawberries, which I grew from a packet of seeds.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: alpine strawberriesI divided them recently, so they look a bit skimpy.  The tiny fruit does have a more pronounced and almost perfume-y taste, compared with larger strawberries.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: black-eyed susan seedlingAs I am giving you  a couple of my success stories, I should also show you the flip side — above.

This is the one Rudbeckia hirta or black-eyed Susan to germinate out of an entire packet of seeds — a plant that has a reputation for generous self-seeding.  I have big hopes for it, though.  It’s a pretty showy native American plant.

Thanks to Pam at Digging, who hosts Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up on the 16th of every month. Click  here and see what’s happening in other gardens.

*I cut pieces that were a little or not quite woody, stripped the ends of leaves, and stuck them in a slightly sunken, slightly shaded place.  Then, I kept the ground there damp for a few months.  After I transplanted them, I was also careful to water the new plants almost daily for a few weeks.