Thanks for stopping by

13 Kigali, by enclos*ure, June '14. . . to all my readers in 2014.

Our garden in June (the photo above, as well).
Our garden in June (the photo above, as well).

I’m also happy to welcome some new visitors thanks to Fine Gardening’s blog, Garden Photo of the Day, which has featured our Kigali garden for December 30 and 31 (and New Year’s Day).

This morning in our garden. The sky is overcast; the rainy season  has not quite come to an end.
This morning in our garden. The sky is overcast; the rainy season has not quite come to an end.

We’re down to our last week in Rwanda; next stop: Germany — where it’s been snowing for the last four days.

Happy New Year to you all!

November Bloom Day: early summer

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Technically, because Kigali is a few degrees south of the equator, it is early summer here.

But  — given that the temperature is almost always in the 70ºs or low 80ºs — it is more relevant that we are almost three months into the end-of-the-year rainy season.

In late October, I came back from five weeks in the U.S. to rampant growth in all the planting beds.  Now, I need to wade in and do some serious cutting back all over.

To see what’s blooming for other garden bloggers, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens here.

(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.

Before and after: the lower lawn

It has been two years since I made a number of significant changes to our Kigali, Rwanda, garden, and I thought this would be a good time to look back with a series of “before and after” pictures.

Today, I’ll focus on the “lower lawn” — the largest part of the garden, which is parallel to and just below the “upper lawn.”

(You can read about the upper lawn’s “before and after” in my July 25 post here).

Before

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Fall 2011 - lower lawnPhotos above and below:  late 2011.

Then and now, looking down on the lower lawn from the front of the house, you see grass and a clipped bougainvillea hedge along the front of the property — and then the view above.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, late 2011 - lower lawnThis is to the right of the previous photo; that’s Mt. Kigali over the front hedge — seen from the center steps that align with the middle of the house and terrace.

When you go down the center steps and stand on the lower lawn, the views of the city and hills are hidden and the flower/shrub borders are all you see.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Fall 2011 - lower lawn

Back in 2011, I thought it was all too straight, too wide (the grass), too dull.  And the bright white Victorian lampposts lined up out in the grass drove me crazy.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Fall 2011 - lower lawnThere is a slight slope to the lawn, toward the front hedge. Along that hedge (shown above, right) was a very narrow planting strip, into which a variety of nice shrubs were wedged.  I always had a feeling that they and the lawn could just slide down under the hedge.

The practical purpose of the lower lawn area is holding large events.  And from that standpoint, it was already working well.  The occasional need to put up tents meant that we could not remove a lot of the grass, but, as you can see in the picture just above, there was enough room to create a wider, much more interesting planting bed along the front hedge.

After

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2012 - lower lawnAbove is the same area of the previous photo in the summer of 2012, soon after we started making changes.  At this point, we had already painted the lampposts dark brown.

All the borders in the garden on the north side of the house (next post) and along the upper and lower lawns were re-cut in irregular curves — echoing the forms of the surrounding hills. The curves also provide a counterpoint to the long straight lines of the parallel lawns, borders, walls, and front hedge.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove:  the same section in late June 2014.

While I couldn’t remove a lot of grass in the center section of the lawn, the curvy borders can swing out a bit at the north and south ends.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove: the full lower lawn, looking from the north.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, April 2014 - lower lawnAbove: standing on the upper lawn, looking across to the front border in April 2014.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove: standing at the center steps, looking across — this is the same view as in the second photo in this post, above.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove: the full lower lawn, looking from the south.

Before

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Fall 2011 - lower lawnAbove: in late 2011, on the house side of the lawn, the old 9′ heliconias in the border between the two retaining walls loomed down. . .

11 2011. . . and were pretty tattered; I think we had had a hail storm not long before I took the photo above.

After

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove: the same section, in late June 2014.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove: the grass-level planting bed was extended out to contain the lampposts.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, Summer 2014 - lower lawnAbove: from the center of the lawn, looking at the south side of the retaining walls.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, April 2014 - lower lawnAbove: looking north in April 2014.

Continue reading “Before and after: the lower lawn”

Our garden: after two years

It has been two years since I made a number of significant changes to this garden, and I thought this would be a good time to look back with a series of “before and after” pictures.

I’ll start today with the area I call the “upper lawn” — just in front of the terrace off the front door.

Before

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden 2011 - upper lawnThis space — photographed in the fall of 2011 — used to be composed of (left to right) 3′ to 4′ high sheared shrubs, a grass path, and a second border of shrubs and perennials.  Further to the right was/is a stone retaining wall (just visible in the foreground above), another planting bed about 3′ below, and then another stone retaining wall.

Bright green 8′ to 9′ Heliconia rostrata  or  lobster claws were growing in the lower planting bed between the two walls, on either side of the center steps that lead to the “lower lawn.”

It was all very pretty, but with some important problems.

The tall Heliconia created a wall of large foliage right in front of what should have been a wide view from the front door.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden 2011 - upper lawnThe grass path was not really wide enough to be a good seating area, as you can see from this picture of the aftermath of a rather messy large lunch event.  The chairs had to be lined up, and the large bushes on either side created a tunnel effect.

After

The primary practical goals for the upper lawn were to expand our room for entertaining and open up the very good views of the city and hills on the west side of the property (the house is near the top of a ridge).

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnNow, two years later, the lawn is an extension of the terrace and is wide enough for groups of tables and chairs.  Most of the plants in the border are low.

The pictures above and below were taken at the end of last month.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnAs soon as we* removed the old shrubs and the Heliconia, I was thrilled with the increased sense of light and air.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnI still feel happy every time I walk out the front door.

Before

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden 2011 - upper lawnI did consider leaving the rather romantic vines on the columns — shown above in the fall of 2011.  But they only gave us a few flowers at a time, and, on the terrace side, they were mostly a tangle of brown stems.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden 2011 - upper lawnThe effect was a little grubby and very claustrophobic.

After

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnNow, more light, air,  and space.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawn

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnWe have very wide, beautiful views, and now our guests can really appreciate them while sitting on the terrace.  (Unfortunately, when I took these photos last month, they were somewhat obscured by the light of the setting sun.)

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawn

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnBright orange red hot pokers punctuate all the borders at regular intervals.

The transition

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden 2011 - upper lawnThis, above, was the starting point in the spring of 2011.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, summer 2012 - upper lawnAbout May 2012, above, we first cleared out the shrubs and vines on the terrace side.  Most of them were temporarily planted in a newly dug flower garden at the side of the house.

We had also just cut out a long border on the lower lawn (next post), so we brought that grass up and almost instantly made a wider lawn area.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, summer 2012 - upper lawnThen, we cleared out most of the shrubs on the other side, as well as in the planting beds between the retaining walls. (We moved most of them, as well as the bushes stored in the side garden, to the new lower lawn border).

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnAbove and below are the mature results,  at the end of June 2014.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnThis border is full of little sunbirds and butterflies.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnI planted the same coral and grey Graptopetalum in all the pots.  The terra-cotta tones of the clay and of the edges of the succulent’s leaves repeat those of the roof tiles in the view.

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnI planted yellow-blooming day lilies, Rudbeckia laciniata, and roses in the narrow border along the top of the stone retaining wall — and mainly blue and purple-blue flowering plants in the bed just below. 

The yellow holds up well to the bright sun in this exposed spot and echoes the pale yellow paint on the house exterior (and on the living room walls just behind the front door).

enclos*ure: our Kigali garden, June 2014 - upper lawnThe blues pick up the same tones in the hills on the other side — particularly in late afternoon.


*The “we” was me, the gardener, and, briefly, three extra helpers.