Neomaricis gracilis

Neomaricis gracilis – Walking Iris
Photo: D. McCallum


A somewhat unusual bulb, although now becoming better known after Flourish Garden Club had quite a few of them for sale at our last Plant Sale in 2014.
Neomaricis gracilis is a versatile bulb, with handsome strap shaped leaves, typical of the Iris family, and very decorative blue and white flowers, from late spring to early summer. It needs little attention, although it flowers much better if it gets enough water together with some some compost and fertiliser. I have found it does well in morning sun or dappled shade and also grows well in pots.
This bulb has an interesting way of propagating itself. After the flowers have faded, their stems will slowly start lowering themselves towards the ground and will eventually root and form another plant from the faded flower. I help mine by gently pulling the spent flower stem down, once a shoot appears, and anchor it into the soil, either adjacent to the mother plant, or in a pot. Once the offset shows signs of starting to grow, the flower stem can be cut and you have another plant!
Limited stocks of this plant will be available at our sale. This bulb is not often (if ever) found at Garden Centres, so if you want one – come early to the sale – Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 November.


Carel’s Questionnaire

Questionnaire  Carel

Why do you garden?

Some men like rugby or hanging out in man-caves – I find gardening much more interesting. I get my adrenaline rush from watching plants grow and observing small animals in the garden.

Where is your garden?

Constantia Hills

What is the size of your garden?

Smallish; total stand size 1500 m2 less building and paving leaves about 1000 m2.

When did you start gardening?

Other than doing garden chores like mowing the lawn and trimming edges, in December 2011.

Who or what inspired you to start gardening?

My late mother was a life-long keen gardener – I expect I got the temperament from her.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

If you let yourself be disappointed by plants not growing according to your expectations gardening would be a sorry affair. If a plant languishes, pull it out and replace it with something that feels like growing.

What plant has made you the happiest?

The gloriosa superba – Flame lily -that I found growing over a garden bench; not remembering having planted it there.


What do you love about your garden right now?

The sense of just waiting for spring to break into a growth spurt again.


What do you feed your garden?  How often do you feed ?

I maintain a thick layer of mulch and work in compost at all possible occasions. From time to time I dispense trace elements to plants that look like they need it.

How often are you out in the garden ….. enjoying it …..and working in it ?

I work from home and wander through the garden ever hour or two, keen to see if anything has grown since the last time, always clipping at plants and picking up cement chips left by the builder.

Do you have ‘help’ in the garden      –Maulana – he’s from Malawi, a hard worker and positive person.

Have you had any problems you have had to overcome….soil…..environmental issues?

Sandy, fine soil – one has to become a soil farmer before you can be successful with the plants.

Soil contamination with builders’ rubble. If I ever build again I will write into the builder’s contract that there will not be a speck of cement remaining when the work is complete.

How often do you garden?

Daily and double time over week-ends.

What do you enjoy doing in the garden the most?

Watching it grow and visualizing new shapes, colours and perspectives that I can try out.

What do you dislike doing in the garden?

I only do the things I enjoy in the garden. Long-suffering Maulana picks up and fixes up after me. Much like a spoilt, ADD child. (Which I am – really)

Which are your favourite plants …, native or ornamental ?

All of the above.

Are there any plants you really dislike?

No. I also have books on ‘problem plants’ and enjoy getting to understand why they are considered problematic.

Do you have a favourite garden writer or personality?


Have you ever been inspired by any author, garden writer or landscaper?

I have learnt from and been inspired by all of the professionals that I have dealt with. They help to see other possibilities.

Have you been helped by a landscaper or friends?

All the time.

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

I have seen many beautiful gardens, locally and abroad, but Kirstenbosch remains a favourite.

Do you have a borehole? Have you made any particular move to become more water wise ?

I do have a good borehole and irrigation. All run-off from the roof soaks directly into the garden – nothing runs into the storm water system.

If you could change just one thing in your garden, what would it be ?

I would like to do it all over again; twice the size with four times the budget.

Is there anybody you would like to credit for helping you with your garden?

My wife, June, for tolerating my gardening OCD.

My gardener, Maulana.

And a range of gardening professionals who helped me on my gardening journey:

Cara Smith

Alan Dawson

Russel Trope.

Marijke Honig

Philip Botha.



Bridget, a member of the Bishops court garden club has, after undertaking extensive renovations and additions to their house, only recently landscaped the large garden on her and her husband’s Constantia property.   She has been inspired by her grandparents, who were avid gardeners, and then her parents who encouraged her, at quite a young age, to grow vegetables by allocating her a section of the vegetable garden. She has carried on this tradition in her large formal fruit and vegetable garden through which is criss crossed by rills, emanating from the house. Nearer the homestead are more traditional plantings of shrubs, roses and grasses while running along the drive is a neat vineyard with rows of lavender interspersed between the vines.



carel IMG_0016 (14)carel7

Carel describes his garden as ‘informal, wild, a touch eccentric – mostly indigenous with a smattering of exotic visitors.’ He only began serious gardening when he and his wife moved from ‘up country’ into their Cape Town house and is now so passionate he finds it hard to resist buying new and interesting plants – as can be seen in the selection on the table. It’s a small, very natural lawn-less garden through which paths meander. A stepping stone path leads through a mini forest to an open sunny area where succulents and aloes predominate. Further on is a fynbos area which leads to a wooden deck overlooking a spectacular eco -swimming pool set against the back drop of Constantiaberg.





Christine, a member of Flourish Garden Club, is a keen gardener who professes to be a novice not realising how much she has absorbed about plants and gardening from her mother! She has a way with plants which respond to her touch. Hanging baskets, with fuchsias and pelargoniums, are star performers in her small suburban garden which contains an eclectic range of plants – from those one associates with English cottage gardens like roses, larkspur and delphiniums to more lush plantings which give a tropical look around her small swimming pool. She feeds her plants regularly with a wide range of products including rabbit droppings and worm tea and spends may hours pottering in the potting area growing plants from slips and seeds.

At the end of summer Christine  made a few minor changes to the shape of the front border  before cleaning it out  and digging in compost.  She has now added  some standard roses and planted her pansies.




Anthea’s garden.



Anthea is an amateur gardener who has become an ‘avid’ gardener since joining the CVGC, less than a year ago, in September 2015. She is being ably assisted by her retired husband Peter whose enthusiasm for building structures and creating features is inspirational. Her’s is a large garden with sweeping lawns bordered by broad beds filled with roses, shrubs, annuals and perennials. The piece de resistance is a woodland walk where shade lovers thrive; you will find some unusual plantings here. There are also a cottage garden and a wagon wheel vegetable garden while a fairy garden, inspired by her granddaughter’s Emilie’s passion for plants and gardening, is in the making. While Anthea loves the beautiful old trees in the garden even though they cast a lot of shade her nemesis is the heavy clay soil which is cold and damp in winter when it also retains a tad too much water.

At present the vegetable garden is a nursery for some of the many plants she has been given or has grown – Every Tuesday  she makes notes about what to do as Jean and Elaine, her mentors – and friends from the garden club, walk around to check out how everything is progressing.