~Written and edited by Veronica Clark ~

Monday, 12 September 2011

Queen of the Night

Hello dear friends. We are back in the grip of winter and finally the rain that was meant for winter is  falling all over Spring. I had full intentions to fly into the garden and snip, plant and weed but alas a Cape Storm foiled my good intentions and now I am gardening in cyber space ...

I was cleaning up my computer files when I wound some ramblings that I thought I might share with you. Do you ever do this? Muse and ramble...

Well, brace yourself...

Ramblings from a suburban garden, in constant state of renovation and renewal of sorts...

Sunny Saturday dreams under Queen of the Night...

Guava notes assail my nostrils and I take a languid sip from the glass...tropical fruit pops on my tongue and I close my eyes...hmmm, I am thinking,...this is bliss...

Reclining on a comfy deck chair, I am savouring the taste of my salmon and cucumber sarmie, washed down with a Chenin Blanch, that according to the label, has raked in more medals than team SA in India, with a lot less effort, might I add, aptly named Perdeberg...lol..honestly.

There is an ever so gentle stirring of the Washington Palm's brown hula skirts as the breeze attempts to waft across the garden. It barely makes it to the assembly of Acers in pots, perched on the camping table next to me...but it does manage, somehow, to flutter the new luminous lacy-lime- butterfly leaves of Serruga against the boyant maroony-pinky- bronze of Acer Dissectum Nigrum. Acer Moonfire interjects with a lively red glowing whirl, whilst the two toned leaves, of the one that I can never remember the name of, interjects with a flurry to add lightness...and dances merrily as I drift off into a lost in translation state of mind...

I planted myself on the reclining chair under my favourite tree, actually it's a shrub turned tree called Cestrum Nocturnum or Queen of the Night. It's contorted branches are an endless source of delight for me and my feathered friends. At last count its twiggy growth was host to twenty three nests...makes for a lot of bird poop believe me!

My Queen of the Night is an endangered specimen here on my patch. Apart from being declared a number one category invader by the Department of Conservation and thus should be removed, its chief enemy on my patch is actually, Mr Tassels!! He threatens my Queen with constant extinction as its a great source of irritation for him, what with dropping leaves in his pool, and it had to endure the sole blame for turning said pool into green- pea- soupy duck pond over the winter months. Not taking care of the pool had absolutely nothing to do with it, you understand...

But Queen of the Night will remain as long as I have a say. I have to confess though, (but certainly not to Mr. Tassels, I won't) that it is a bit messy, but it's but a slight inconvenience to bear, considering the heavenly fragrance that it exudes so generously to our entire neighbourhood when in full bud ( not to mention, an inordinate amount of leaf mould for my beds... see it has many uses. honestly, as a fellow garden maniac, I am sure you get my drift! The tiny starry flowers are all but insignificant, but, en-masse, covering the tree in the late summer, they positively glow at dusk.

I am addicted to the fragrance and can not seem to get enough of the heady perfume. I will often come out here at night and lie on the warm paving to inhale its exotic offerings. It always fills me with a  sense of profound comfort when I catch a whiff of it through the open window lying in my bed. The heady fragrance transports me to David Lamkin's " Night Jasmine Man" and his mystical and sensuous quest through the land of primal beauty. Always compelling, always Kenya.

Some things makes one feel right at home, and the other sound that signifies home to me, is the very specific rustle of the Giant Strelitzia's leaves. The waxy leaves bang out a bongo beat when battered by the South Easter. It comforts me into snuggle bug mode... Oh yes..forgot to say, the purpose of my recline apart from bread and wine that is, was to plan on where to plant my potted Acers...and so , here I am, due to consider the design implications of my planned urban forest! Maybe they are best left potted, that way I can move my jungle about...sigh...

Dangling not a metre above my reclining self, is a completed weavers nest and alongside it, the beginnings of another. I marvel at the precision engineering that enables it to swing there perfectly safely in the wind. Incidentally, the night before, as I turned over in my bed, I caught a glimpse of the shadows on the wall and there it was, quite clearly....the weavers nest dangling against my bedroom wall. How stunning, to lie in bed and see the shadows dance across my midnight wall.

Now, however, Mr. Weaver was spying me with a sharp shrill bleet from a lofty perch, a ream of my palm tree scrolling from its beak. I am kinda in his way and to close to his construction site. He is now fiercely twittering his disgust for my flagrant disregard of his schedule. But I am not about to be intimidated in my slumbering recline. He decides to risk it and flies into the frame of the chamber, all the while voicing his sheer delight in the pleasure of his engineering feat. He darts of to the palm tree not three metres away to restock on building supplies allowing me a quick sip before he returns.

It astounds me, the speed at which he nips the palm leaves and holding it in his beak simply flies of ripping it off as he goes. I am completely spellbound and such a privileged spectator that I daren't move to sip my wine until he goes to restock. My very own nature channel on tap..sigh...sometimes suburbia is not all that bad!

The Labrador, Smirnoff, lifts his head to regard the commotion with a sad look of despair at the decibels being inflicted upon his afternoon nap. He decides that it is not worth getting up on all fours for to move along and simply flops down with a sigh of resignation.

Spot the deaf, blind diabetic Pug is totally oblivious to the scene and merely stares blindly at the pool trying to figure out safe passage along the paving to the grass in order to find a suitable soft landing for his deposit

Meanwhile, robin redbreast has come across the newly filled birdbath to the right of me and bleeping his delight plunges in with a splatter, sending droplets flying in all directions. It's not often that he has exclusive use of the bathing facilities in this busy bird haven and he is making the best of it while he can. Around the bottom of the birdbath, the head of pest control is noisily foraging among the leaves of Queen of the Night. A large dove that I call Plop the Mop! How he ever gets airborne so rapidly astonishes me! There is new aviation ground...or rather, sky...to be broken here, honestly.

The mossies have decided to move from behind the confined space of the honeysuckle and the office wall to being neighbours to the noisy weavers. The have constructed a large messy platform in stark contrast to the precision engineering of the wavers and I can just imagine what Mrs. Weaver would think of the messy neighbours.

They have quite a colourful assembly above, what with bits of yellow Johannesburg Gold, some red coleus and a bit of orange phorium. The nest has grown quite large in the last two days and they dart back and forth with new bits of colourful lining to add to the decor and for the babes. They sit on their platform taking in Mr. Weaver's antics and seems to be doling out encouragement and advise on how the please the Missus...lol... she ripped the previous nest to shreds!

My Brugmansia is in bloom and the large single white bell nod from behind the Liquidamber tree. With each nod the fragrance is released upon the breeze and sails past in a barley there seductive note. I have a day fragrance and a night fragrance, well until Queen of the Night flowers and then just claims the night entirely.

Nicotiana, selfseeds every year beneath the Liquidamber and is standing stoutly erect in brilliant white. When night has fallen and the earth cools, so will he perfume pervade the starry skies. I promise myself to stake them just as as soon as Weaver is done and the Chenin Blanch is finito, or the South Easter will have them floored in no time at all.

Well, and just as soon as I am done scribbling this note, on some tiny piece of paper pressing on my recipe file, with my glass balancing precariously to the one side of the file, one eye on Mr Weaver and being splashed by robin from the other side..such is the life of a suburban mother, suffering empty nest syndrome, well, not in the tress, you understand, but in the two vacant rooms inside....

However,  the Chenin has put in a fine performance and I am totally relaxed and close my eyes to listen to the surrounding symphony. The crow conductor is squawking the orchestra into tune from atop the roof, the blackbirds are popping up from under the gutter to put in a perfect projection, the doves are cooing from beneath as they patrol the pool paving, almost right in front of the snoring Labrador's nose...the mossies offer some cheery cheeps, robin throws in an aria and percussion is provided by someones  far off thudding knock in DIY mode... tomorrow is another day...sigh...so why waste today's perfect sun...aghuna mata...
....honest confessions of a recovering obsessive gardener/urban sprout....


 Construction continues and I will update you in due course....

Have a fab week

Live Well

Thanks for stopping by and you may leave any confessions of your own in the comment box below.



Joining Mary for Mosaic Monday here
Wow us Wednesday with Kim here at Savvy Southern Style
Homemaker on a Dime for Market your Biz here
White Wedneday at Faded Charm Cottage here
Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer here
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day at Mays Garden here
Fertilizer Friday  at Tootsie Time here
Poutpourri Friday with Honey at 2805 here


  1. What a vivid post, I felt I was in the garden with you. That tree - it is so unique, never seen anything like it. I, also, would deal with the messy leaves (and poop!) to see it everyday. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a lovely journey through your garden!! The picture of the birds are just lovely! Thank you!! Cathy

  3. *sigh*
    Beautiful bits and pieces, gorgeous and exotic trees - you have me longing to smell the perfume from the Queen of the Night.

  4. You are so lucky to watch a weaver bird build his nest!! I love your garden and all your animals and birds!

    I'm your newest follower and would love for you to follow me.
    Have a wonderful day!!

  5. Veronica your photos are absolutely beautiful! The Queen of the Night tree is amazing and so are the birds that populate it! The Weaver bird was charming and so were Smirnoff and Spot. It was a pleasure to read this wonderful post!

  6. Privilege spectator indeed! This post was fascinating to me from the Queen of the Night tree to the swings made by the birds. They are fantastic and I am sure there could be a childrens book in that at least. Thank you for these pictures.

  7. Veronica, what a beautifully written post you have given us, sharing your thoughts on a fine afternoon. I'm loving your dogs and the little birds sitting on the loopy rings, so sweet. Beautiful post !!

  8. Your photography is outstanding! The water droplets on the flowers and the pictures of the birds! Wow! Loved this post and it is so informative! Is the bird that is perched on the vine coverd branch or rope? And did you created it for a perch?

    Don't forget Porpourri Friday! You are such an asset to the party!

  9. Hi Veronica, Your photos are outstanding. I love the way you draw us in with your story line, girl you could write a book.. I always enjoy my visits.. hugs ~lynne~

  10. Beautiful photos and my favourite are the weaver photos.

  11. What an incredible photo please keep us posted on her progress with the nest. What type of bird is this? I am a first time visitor coming from linky party and I will be back I love your interesting way of weaving a story. Kathy

  12. Thank you so much for visiting Scribbler Unfocused. I really enjoyed looking through your blog and will return!

  13. Oh my gosh... I love the photos of the weaver building his nest!! We don't have those here, I don't think. Amazing to see in progress! I love the dogs, too... adorable!

    The flowers are also wonderful, of course. Your photography is lovely!!

  14. It's such a joy to see your gorgoes photography! Your information on the "Queen of the Night" is so interesting!

    Thank you for linking to Potpourri Friday. You are an asset to making the party a success. I appreciate you and I hope you will make this a weekly stop.

  15. What a wonderful tour thru the nature. I am just amazed. Where are you locaed? In Kenya. What a beautiful piece of earth you have there. Thank you for inviting me in.

  16. Simply wonderful! I follow another lovely lady from South Africa. A gorgeous area...

  17. Beautiful pictures! And the first dog it's so lovely I would like to have one.