Thursday, October 18, 2012

Colourful neighbours

It's such a blessing to have good neighbours (and such a curse to have bad ones) but in our case we not only have great neighbours on both sides but have also had them for the 21 years we've been here. Our neighbours to our west are Nick and Katerina, a fabulous Greek family originally from Sparta (Spartans are so tough their dolmades have meat in them!). Nick's the keen gardener with excellent green thumbs, but Katerina is the one who has kept our garden going very nicely through the course of many holidays. No-one waters a garden like Katerina does.

Right now, their front garden is beyond being a blaze or any other cliche of colour. It's alive, alight, dazzling, foaming, bristling, zinging with flowers, and so for a change I thought I'd show you a couple of photos of their garden, instead of ours.

Botanists can be finks sometimes. Who thought up the name
Mesembryanthemum, for goodness' sake? As an act of very
sane rebellion someone called this the ice plant, and that's a
much nicer name than its other common name, pig face.

I'm not sure whether this is one plant or a hundred, but I think
it did start off as a circle of a dozen or more separate seedlings
which have joined together, as dancers do in the big musical finales.
Now it's a solid mass about ten feet in 
diameter, of icy cool
white and Mardi Gras intensity gay pink. It's a succulent, and
all the various pig faces/ice plants are over-the-top dazzlers.
To view the orange one you need sunglasses. Interestingly,
the flowers only open wide on sunny days; when it gets cloudy
or the sun goes down, they all close up.

In the narrow little bed leading up to their front
door they've repeated the pink/white theme
with some more pretty annuals.
One funny little thing about this garden is that I think it's Katerina's idea. When I saw her the other day and remarked on how colourful it all looked she beamed and said "yes, it's beautiful". Two days later I found Nick out the front and again complimented him on how well it has all grown, but he was much more circumspect, "It's OK, a bit bright".

It has certainly got the neighbours talking. As I was taking the photos this morning a friend from 10 doors up stopped and asked "What's the name of that thing?" pointing at the ice plant. "Sure is bright." 

Yep, sure is!


dirtgirl said...

Jamie, thank you for sharing the pics of your neighbours plants. I'm a big fan of Ice Plant and late last year bought 3 different colours. Talk about bright and beautiful. I planted them in my front nature strip(I did a 'Costa' and dug up my lawn and converted it to garden!) everyone comments on how cheerful they are and they have certainly been a bargain buy and of course just thrive in their position in the hot afternoon sun.

Ngeun said...

Lol, love your mastery of words & writing Jamie; always a smile and sometimes giggle when I read one of your posts - thanks! ;) Also, you've introduced your neighbours' characters very well, looking forward to reading more about them. :) What a beautiful garden bed & display it is; colours are magic. I agree, Mesembryanthemum is a mouthful, & some shorten it to just Mesembs, and also, "Pigface" is not the most romantic name to use if offering these flowers to a loved one. But they are stunning flowers, and I like to think of Miss Piggy when talking about these plants, because she's just one smashing sow. With respect Missy Piggy, if you're reading this. Best. :)