From day one of my horticultural course I have been utterly enchanted with plants. I don’t consider myself particularly academic, but there’s been something about this course that has charmed me, romanticized, and given studying plants a sense of mystique and awe, subsequently turning me into a total nerd. Heck, there are few days when you won’t find me in the library reading-up about something botanical or paging through vintage flower illustrations or old-fashioned biological diagrams. I love decoding the plant names, which are of course all in Latin. Most plant names serve to describe the plant, but every now and then you stumble across one that’s named after an egotistical botanist (Thunbergia sp.), or you unearth a love story (Kalanchoe ‘Tessa’), or even an immature chuckle - (Phylica pubescens have ‘hairy’ brachts instead of petals, or Stuckenia vaginata -c’mon).
I don’t know why it has taken me twenty-two years to realize that this is what I should be doing –tracing back to my youth, all the warning signs are there. Rumour has it that one of my first words was ‘agapanthus’ (Yeah, google that noobs). Aside from a brief -yet traumatic- period between the age of 4-6 when my parents dressed me as a boy (think khaki chinos, collared Ralph Lauren shirts, Benneton leather belts, and Timberland boots, complete with cropped hair and toothy glare) I almost always adorned beautiful liberty floral print dresses or floral wreathes in my sandy hair. My unknown plant passion travelled with me to high school –where I even won an Eskom Science Expo prize for my project which comprised of a solar-powered Ferris-wheel-like structure that rotated trays of vegetables (instead of people, obviously), this utilized vertical space in built-up urban areas and provided area to grow vegetables –all in an attempt to address the food security crisis. Although this seemed brilliant to me, high school science teachers didn’t share my enthusiasm for my ‘Hortus-Portus’ –and the next year I was told to do a simpler experimental project.
After Matric I left lush Yoburg and moved to Cape Town into a flat with two lovely lasses. While their rooms were always delightfully decorated with picture frames and draped in costume jewellery, I always had a selection of herbs and succulents on my windowsill –no train trip to Kalk Bay was complete without a visit to the nursery. Yet for some reason, it took me two and a half years of studying a BA at UCT, a quarter-life crisis, a botanical twenty first bash, an adventure through Africa, and living at home for three months, to realize that I actually quite liked plants (more so than people).
Most days I have soil under my glossy pink nails, leaves stuck to my designer wellies, grass strains on my Levis, or I just look embarrassingly absurd in a white lab coat. Often I’m frantically charging around with stolen cuttings or branches, specimens that I’m trying to learn the names of – Graptopetalum paraguayense, Citharexylum quadrangulare, and Aeonium arboreum 'Atropurpureum' have been the hardest yet. Weeks later I find all sorts of dried-up foliage in my pockets and at the bottom of my handbags, my desk is covered in burst seed pods, and my kitchen has been taken over by stolen succulent cuttings -I have quickly learnt that all gardeners are thieves..
So here I am, just living life botanically.
In August, I embarked on an incredible adventure through Africa! I started in Victorial Falls and ended up in Zanzibar, and travelled by rail on board the Shongololo Express!
#dar es salaam
I made this sneaky cake yesterday for my Dad’s birthday. It was so easy and quick to make, so is perfect for last-minute baking urges or impromptu tea-parties. It was soft and crumbly and moist and delish.
Last christmas I was given a pretty little Cath Kidston “jam making kit”, which I have only had the chance to make use of now.
Not too long ago, I posted about the handsomely stocked lemon tree in my courtyard in Joburg. Well, I ventured back to Cape Town with a rather large bag filled of this juicy gems! I set some aside to make lemon curd with, but earlier this eve I made Moroccan preserved lemons.
I shan’t even post a recipe for this, as they are almost too easy to make! Simply sterilise some glass jars in the oven, and layer slices of lemons with coarse salt crystals in between. One the jar is filled to the brim, fill the empty spaces with lemon juice and a dash of olive oil. These beauties will only be ready in about a month’s time, but yikes are they worth the wait!
Before I was vegetarian, my Mum used to make the most scrumptious chicken dishes with this lemony gold. Simply use the rind (which will be soft after a month) in couscous, with fish or chicken. The flavour of the preserve is quite pungent, so only a little is needed, leaving plenty of jars to give away as gifts!
My darling boyfriend has a lush guava tree at the bottom of his tiered Sea Point garden. This weekend we plucked fragrant guavas off the bountiful tree, leaving the unreachable fruit for the birds.
Having never been fond of this strange fruit with tough seeds and a grainy texture, I thought I’d give these organic gems a chance -and oh what a good idea this was..
This morning we had the most scrumptious poached guavas with yogurt for breakfast -utterly heavenly. Here is the ever so easy recipe:
Next I made an upside down guava pudding, which we ate too quickly for me to photograph. The guavas turned into a scrummy saucy dream, which didn’t even need custard!
The tree is still flourishing, so I’ll have to find a million more ways to use guavas.
This week I am in Yobes, visiting my bests, and spending sibling time with my not so baby anymore brother. Yesterday the sun was out, the sky was blue, and I was wearing my new Pippa Torrison Lace dress from Jane Sews. I plucked lush lemons off our courtyard tree, and then had a cup of tea in the tree house. I miss our enormous garden terribly when I’m in Cape Town, so it was lovely to frolic around the almost-blossoming plum tree, and lie under the bamboo forest.
I was so overwhelmed by the perfect lemons, that I promptly decided that a whole bag full will be coming back to Cape Town with me so my love and I can make lemon curd.
Although many of these shows have come and gone on Buy Some Damn Art, I thought I’d share some of my fave artists whom have been showcased. Feast your eyes.
I have fallen in love with these llamas and don’t quite know what to do.
When it comes to perfectly purchasing birthday presents, there are two types of people: those who can, and those who cannot. I seem to think I flirt and flutter between the two in phases.