marina da gama garden club

A group of greenfingers gathering for the passion of their gardens

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Outing to Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden 2019

Dear Garden Club Members,

Now that Eve Watson has managed to get back our blog site (hooray!) I am going to post something about our latest very enjoyable outing.

Most of the text was put together by Muriel Darke (with a few additions by others on the outing) and the pictures were mostly taken by Pam Hicks and Anne Collins. There are a few culled from the internet.SUBG entry sign

On September 4, a group of Marina Garden Club members visited Stellenbosch Botanical Garden, guided by Peter Kruger, who worked there for an extended period last year.


Peter Kruger

This is the oldest university garden in South Africa and is situated in the heart of the town. It gained international acclaim when it was recognised by the UK’s Botanical Gardens Conservation International. It was the first in Africa to gain this plaudit, and is one of only nine in the world.

The garden contains roses, ferns, herbs, medicinal plants, reeds, bamboo, bulbs, trees, shrubs, bromeliads, chrysanthemums, fountains, sculptures, aquatic plants, olives and previously, koi fish, until otters decimated that population.


The small garden (only 1.8 hectares) prides itself on being educational.

King Protea JW

King Protea with a honey bee

Honey bee on King Protea


An early curator befriended ships’ captains calling at Table Bay and asked that they bring with them plants from ports they visited. Judging by the number of plants, he was persuasive and added a large quantity of flora to the garden.

Feather flower JW

Feather flower


A very sharp-leaved bromelliad

The bonsai section is a large national collection of both exotic and indigenous bonsai trees. It contains trees from Hiroshima, sculpted to illustrate the before and after of that horror.

Miles S Sax and Wilem Pretorius

This photo was taken from an article by Miles S. Sax and Willem Pretorius

There are more examples of bonsai else where , including this very large one.

We visited only two of the four glasshouses with different climates. In the arid zone glasshouse, we saw the first welwitschia plants ever to be grown outside their natural habitat. There were also many desert adapted plants such as the quiver tree.










The tropical glass house contains many lovely plants including some tropical crops, such as chocolate,

vanilla (an orchid, which was not flowering at that time), and moringa (the latest wonder crop). It also houses Darwin’s orchid – an orchid with a flower that produces nectar at the base of a very long spur. Although the pollinator of the flower was unknown at the time that the plant was described, Darwin predicted that an insect with a proboscis long enough to reach down the spur would be found, and he was correct; there is a moth with an incredibly long tongue that does pollinate it. Although this orchid was not flowering when we were there, several other lovely orchids were:



















Another big hit was the jade vine, a climber with flowers that start out a pale cream colour but mature to a beautiful cyan:



















SUBG is home to the world’s smallest water lily, Nymphea thermarum, with lily pads only one cm wide. In warmed lily ponds, the giant water lily, Victoria cruziana, second in size only to Victoria amazonica, and with leaves up to two m wide is grown. The gardens are open at night for a few days in early March, so that visitors can come and see the flowers of this amazing plant.

In the vegetable gardens we saw a Hermitage grape vine, and a Pinot Noir vine, the parent cultivars of Pinotage, a South African creation!

Hermitage grape


There were also coffee plants, macadamia nuts, and many other useful herbs and fruits.















The outing finished with tea and cake at Katjiepiering restaurant in the garden.

Many thanks to Pam Hicks for arranging the outing.

There will be some more photos of us disporting ourselves on this lovely outing, in a later post.



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Rain in the Richtersveld

Two years ago I visited the Richtersveld and was stunned to see that in spite of knowing it is an arid area, the extreme drought (after about 6 years of no rain) was so severe that even the Kokerboom and Aloe Pearsonii were dying. A few weeks ago I returned and was amazed to see the landscape after some rain had fallen… budding plants, butterflies and bees and rejuvenation of the near dead plants.



More from the Christmas Tea!

Dear Garden Club Members,

We have already seen Eve’s excellent photos of the Christmas tea, but Pam was also taking some pics , and up until now was unable to send them on because of the sort of computer glitches that we all know and hate! However, she has now found a way of sending them to me, and here are a selection for your enjoyment.

And here is our little Chaffinch:

Under the lovely trees:



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An endorsement

Dear Garden Club Members,

I would not normally use our garden club blog to endorse an individual or a company, because that is not really what our blog is for. However, I am going to make an exception in this particular case.

You may remember that Dave Jubb mentioned, during our Q & A session in June, that he could recommend someone for fixing or installing well points. Martyn and I were having increasing difficulty with our well point. It often needed priming (with clean, potable, municipal water!!!) and only worked intermittently without priming. Once it got going the pressure was good, but the water was very smelly and sulphurous.

So, we decided to get Dave’s recommended fixer to come and help us. This turned out to be a charming young man called Juma Makalani. He came and had a look at our well point and recommended that rather than fuss about trying to make it work, he could dig a new one, but since our pump was quite new, he could use this on the new well point.  On the day and time  that he said he’d be there he turned up with his work gang and they quickly and efficiently dug the new well point. The water pressure seemed good and the water was quite a bit less smelly. All seemed good!

However, a few days later, when I tried to use the well point, it started off quite briskly, but within minutes, the pressure fell off and the pump shut down. I have to say that we were very disappointed and worried that it was now going to cost a fair bit to sort the system out. We were agreeably surprised that when we phoned Juma, he made arrangements to come and rectify the problem as soon as possible. It did take a couple of visits to get things working perfectly, and at one point we were worried that the well point pump was tripping the electricity, but Juma stuck with it until it was put right and did not charge us anything more, except for some ball valves that needed replacing because the old ones were corroded and playing havoc with the pressure.

So this is why I would like to recommend him and his company. He was polite, professional and knowledgeable. Whereas many businesses in Cape Town have driven us mad by promising to phone and never doing so, or failing to turn up at the agreed date or time, Juma was there when he said he’d be, or if arrangements had to be changed, he phoned ahead to change the planned time.

He does landscaping, paving, lawns and many other garden works. We are certainly thinking of employing his company for some of our future projects. His details are:

Juma’s Irrigation & Garden Solutions

Cell: 071 813 4422


While I am doing recommendations, I’d also like to mention that for those who need precast walls (not permitted for your outer walls, but sometimes useful for internal  garden divisions) that Mouton Precast are very fast and efficient Their details are:

Mouton Precast Walls cc

021 715 6000


I hope you are having a wonderful  New Year, and I  also hope to see most of you on February 7 2018, if not before!



the garden in happier times

Our garden in happier times before everything dried out!

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Reflections on our Christmas quiz

Dear Garden Club Members,

Everyone who was at the Christmas tea and participated in the quiz can congratulate themselves on having paid attention during the talks we’ve had throughout the year. All groups got at least four out of five of the factual questions right, and many got five out of five. The question that posed the most problems was the ‘easy’ question: How many petals does a poppy normally have? The answer is ‘four’, but many thought ‘five’.

Everyone also did really well in the creative questions. There were some very funny answers and I will bring the answer papers to the February meeting so that those interested can look at them. Here is a small selection of the answers I liked most, but they were all good:

2017 Creative Questions for blog

The most fiendishly difficult part of the quiz was the who’s who. Obviously, most of the committee do not look very similar to their childhood selves. Time has changed us unrecognizably! The best score for this was four out of nine, and many guessed fewer than that.

2017 Quiz Qestion 5 for blog

I would have liked to have included some of Pam’s pictures of the party, to add to the excellent ones Eve has already shared, but Pam’s computer and my computer are not talking to each other, at present. Perhaps it will become possible later. I would particularly have liked to post some of her pictures of the cheeky little chaffinch who was cleaning up some of our crumbs. Instead, here is an internet chaffinch: not nearly as nice as the Little Stream one, but all we have for now:


Merry Christmas!



Christmas Tea in dappled greenery


IMG_1620The end of the year function settled out in the lovely, established gardens of Little Stream in Constantia, where one could be disbelieving of the fact we are struggling through severe drought here in the Western Cape. Here the gardens were startlingly verdant with huge trees casting dappled light over the tea table where members chatted and laughed together and then being tested on Jenny Wilkinson’s fun annual quizzes… Always being pushed to rattle our memories for tit-bits gleaned through the year from our speakers and outings. Jenny, I loved the ‘golden oldie’ photos… tough, tough, tough to identify but a lot of fun 🙂
Such a huge thanks, as always, to the dedicated and enthusiastic committee who always work tirelessly to bring us fascinating speakers, interesting outings – going that extra bit to keep our club the special, friendly gathering of people that it is. There is, for me, a warmth and concern among the members which I feel each time I attend the functions.
Thank you everyone and wishing you all, a wonderful, safe and happy festive season.