The gay little Hesperantha Buhrii opens its pink buds at 4
o'clock and becomes a gleaming white star all through the
night, while H. Aletelerkampiae and H. Stanfordiae have large
butter-yellow blooms on short stems ; and I must allow
that the former should have first place, for its chocolate blotches
on the three outside segments are a great addition to its beauty.
But they are all lovely.
There is a long bed of kalkoentjies (Gladiolus alatus] in full
bloom. Their scent of summer apples is quite unique, and so
is their colour of terra-cotta red with the lip banded with
bright green. I seem to have acquired a very large-flowered
strain, and I see some of them are playing tricks with their
colouring, showing green where they should be red and vice
versa. I think they may have crossed with Gladiolus Water-
meyeri ; there is the same showing of pencil stripes in the
flowers and the long narrow lip of that species.
The planting of Gladiolus tristis is at its best in the evening,
when the pale flowers show to advantage and the scent is
almost overpowering with its soft sweetness. The species
seems to have been grown for more than a century in many
corners of the world and is quite the best known of our
Gladiolus species. It is also the easiest to hybridize ; it makes
crosses spontaneously with G. alatus and G. grandis, but I have
never seen any of the progeny as attractive as the species.
As to the so-called scented hybrids raised in Europe and America,
I think the less said about them the better. Unfortunately,
G. tristis has an unscented form which turns up occasionally
and is definitely not worth cultivating ; but the scented G.
tristis I consider a first-class cut flower although the florists
here at the Cape hardly know it. I think this is due to the
strange regulations passed by our Provincial Administration,
which aim at protecting the wild flowers by preventing the
picking of them in the veld and succeed in penalizing the
growers who would prevent their extinction.
But to return to the Gladiolus species and their scent. The
rare G. viperatus or green kalkoentjie has the best scent of all.
Visitors asked to smell it always say " What does it remind
you of?" a question I find difficult to answer. It reminds me
of miles and miles of a long, straight road and the rain beating
down, and the old car pounding on and on through pools of
water on the road, and water pouring through the hood and
one bloom at the back of the car cheering us on with its wonder-
ful fragrance, and then at Hopefield a grand welcome and dry
clothes and a much-needed supper. Sometimes the collector's
memories of plants, people and places are strangely interwoven.
The bulb plot is full of thrills these days. There are beds
the length of the orchard, and the plum trees are now in bloom,
their white blossoms making a delicate background for the
brilliant colours of the bulb flowers at their feet, blue babianas
and geissorhizas, freesias, homerias and lapeyrousias in every
We planted all these treasures in February, when the sun
beat down day after day and the sand was so hot that it burnt
our feet and there was no colour in the fading leaves of the
plum trees. Day after day and week after week we toiled.
They remained dormant in the ground until the first rains
came in April, and as the winter advanced the green shoots
appeared. They grew well in the many weeks of deluging
winter rain with brilliant sunny days between. There was no
frost to quell them and as soon as the first spring days gladdened
our hearts the lachenalias began to show colour, and now for
weeks and weeks there will be a succession of bloom only
quenched when the sun burns too fiercely. Then they go to
sleep until things cool down once more, and in their sleep they
travel to all sorts of queer places and wake up to display their
marvellous colours to people who admire their beauty in many
THE GARDEN is now waking up to a good show on sunny
days. Most conspicuous are the bushes of Protea cynaroides
(King Protea). The beautiful rose-pink cone-shaped buds
washed over with silver sheen take weeks to develop into the
perfect flower-head, which is sometimes one foot across, the
outer bracts a deep rose and the centre flowers pale lemon.
The bushes grow to about eight feet and are spreading. They
bear a succession of bloom for several months. Protea barbigera
runs these very close. Every bract in its pointed bud is edged
with dark fur, and when the blooms expand they show a cone
in the centre heavily tipped with black fur. There is a variety
with very deep pink blooms and another with cream ones.
Nearly related is Leucospermum reflexum, a very attractive bush
with small grey leaves and heads of flowers of soft flame-red.
As these open they turn back towards the stem, and the styles
become very prominent. I have counted 150 blooms open
at one time on a bush, and the effect is extremely beautiful.
Then all the daisy flowers open on sunny days, and what a
show they make ! My enthusiasm is for dimorphothecas,
especially the perennial ones. This year is a red-letter date for
me the first blooming of my special hybrids. The original
break was, I think, a natural hybrid ; and its appearance gives
me a clue as to its probable parents. This one I call V.E. It
has large biscuit-coloured flowers with a violet ring round the
disc, which is usually brown. I was able to propagate this by
cuttings, and when I had raised a good stock I crossed it again
(and what a job is the hand-pollinating of a composite !). I
am now getting results, and they are far beyond my expecta-
tions. So far no two are alike. The flowers have again increased
in size, and now run through every shade from pale cream to
deep gold. In some the ray-flowers are tipped with copper,
and some have a copper gleam all over the flower. Some have
dark centres and some pale ; but not one has the violet ring
of the original V.E. daisy. However, I am crossing again
this season and hope to get it back. There is one that I think
specially good : the flowers are very large, palish gold with deep
gold centres in the middle of which is a dark brown spot. To
speak more botanically, the centre flowers of the disc are a dark
brown, while the outer ones are gold, and the ray-flowers several
shades paler. There are now seedlings from last season's hand-
pollinating ready to plant out, and I hope to see them bloom this
summer. These I call V.J.
All the perennial dimorphothecas like full sun, not too rich
soil, but sharp drainage. Where winters are severe they may be
kept as cuttings in frames and planted out in spring. Here I
cut them down after their spring flowering, and they bloom
again in summer if watered. Where they get summer rainfall,
they go on blooming nearly all summer. While all the world
grows the little annual Dimorphotheca these very-much-better
perennial ones are little known. Three really good species of
perennial Dimorphotheca are D. chrysanthemifolia, D.jucunda and
D. jucunda var.