Meet the Blogger: A Conversation with Diana from South Africa

“South Africa never leaves one indifferent. Its history, its population, its landscapes and cultures – all speak to the visitor, to the student, to the friend of Africa.”  

~Tariq Ramadan

 

A few years ago I received an award from Julie@Gardening Jules, and had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers.  Between 2015 and 2016, I did 5 Interview posts before having to take almost a year off from blogging.  You can find those interviews on a new page at the top of this blog.  

I had one more Interview post ready to go last August, and was unable to finish it before my injury. I really love doing these posts, so I thought I would start them again here, and the first would be the post I had to put on hold.  So here we go.  You are in for a special treat……

 

When I started blogging in 2010, this blogger was the first to welcome me to Blotanical, an amazing group of garden bloggers. Diana@Elephant’s Eye on False Bay has been a wonderful mentor and blogging friend all these years.  And I am always amazed seeing her gardens and how she and her husband construct them.  They moved a few years back and started over….the transformation of yet another garden(s) still inspires me.  But I think I love her posts about her home in South Africa the best.  Her passion for the landscape there, the environment and the wildlife captures my heart, and I long to visit this beautiful place.

So let’s whiz to the southern hemisphere, down to the tip of Africa and meet Diana……..

 

 

For those that don’t know you, please briefly tell the readers about yourself, Diana. 

I grew up in Camps Bay. Youngest of four sisters. Library diploma with a year of botany, zoology, geology, physics and chemistry. Swiss husband. I worked at the Engineering and Science Library at the University of Cape Town and 10 years in Zurich libraries. No children by choice, but always cats when we lived in South Africa.

 

 

1.  Diana, why did you start blogging?

Reading Blotanical – I can do that? To distract my mind the day my husband had a sinus op, I began to blog.

 

 

2.  I have always loved the title of your blog. Tell us what is the significance of the title of your blog?

I was inspired by the Olifantskop (= elephant’s head) mountain in Porterville which was our borrowed scenery. That June, low winter sun cast a shadow across a cave – and the guardian elephant opened her eyes to watch over our town. In Cape Town there are two Elephant’s Eye caves; one overlooks the City Bowl, the other our False Bay.

 

 

3.  You live in an amazing part of the world, South Africa. How did you come to live there?

My father brought his new engineering degree from New Zealand to look for work during the Depression in London, where he met my mother. He was offered work in Malaysia or South Africa, and my mother could choose where she wanted to live.

 

 

4.  What would you like to tell us about your beautiful country? What do you find most special about South Africa and False Bay?

We are blessed with blue skies, wide open natural spaces, mountains and a long coastline. In our First / Third World country we appreciate passionate women who make a difference – Loubie Rusch with her Making Kos garden for indigenous edibles in Khayelitsha township. Field biologists like Jenny Cullinan of Ujubee.

 

 

5.  You have taken us to many wonderful spots, in South Africa, in your blog posts. Do you have a special spot you love to visit in South Africa?

I’m still surprised by the joy of being able to walk up into the mountains, along the seashore, to Kirstenbosch, each week. We plan more visits to our National Parks and National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

6.  You recently left your home and beloved gardens and moved to False Bay. What has been your greatest challenge with creating your new gardens, and what has been your greatest achievement?

Challenge – removing invasive alien trees for which we called in a garden service, the Ungardener digging out the lawn.

Achievement – that after just a year we have a garden that invites a gentle stroll to explore.

 

 

7.  I know you garden for biodiversity. What does that mean for you specifically in your area of the world?

We have sunbirds so I plant to supply their nectar (with bugs and spiders) diet. We let the creatures live and the garden finds its own equilibrium. I encourage wildflowers that reclaim our space.

 

 

8.  Diana what are some of your creative endeavors/hobbies? And what is your creative process?

Gardening and writing blog posts now. Papermaking, yarn and fabric wait for one day.

Creative process? I post every 10 days. An edited travel post from my original blog, or a Dozen for Diana plant portrait, or What we did this month. Ending with Wildflower Wednesday and this month in our garden. I start with a dedicated folder of photos. Then the text around those photos. Links out for breadth, and back to my older posts for depth. 

 

 

9.  Tell me what famous person or not so famous person would you like to meet?

Not so, my grandparents. I wish I could have had that ‘talent skips a generation’ feedback as Pam’s English Cottage Garden has.

 

 

10.  What is or would have been your dream career or job? 

When we left Switzerland, I had library work where I rose to the level of my incompetence. I worked one on one with librarians new to our network, but with a support base to fall back on. I would like to have worked in the library at Kirstenbosch – imagine being able to wander in that garden in your lunch break!

 

 

11.  What are some other places in the world you love to travel to and why?

Japan for the temple gardens. New England for leaf peeping. Scandinavia for that particular way the light falls. Antarctica for the penguins. IRL it is London for guided walks, gardens, art and music, theatre and museums! 

 

 

12.  You and I met about 7 years ago when I was first blogging, at the wonderful garden blogging community, Blotanical. And you were a great mentor to this fledgling blogger. What are some words of wisdom you have for those of us who are new and those of us still learning about blogging after all these years?

Don’t try to squeeze yourself into a boxed formula – find your own voice.

I desperately miss, for new bloggers, what we had at Blotanical. I had comments and engagement from my very first post.

If you are new – leave comments on posts you enjoy (make sure your link goes back to your blog, not a Google Plus profile you do NOT use).

If your muse has left you – read those blogs on your roll, delete the dormant ones, encourage the hopeful – IS anyone there? 

Pay it forward – Seek out and encourage the fledglings in your turn.

 

 

13.  If it is possible to pick a favorite book or song, what would you choose?

For books my wildflower and wildlife guides.

Song – Shepherd on the Rock.

 

 

14.  After several year of blogging, I am always fascinated to know what keeps someone blogging. So Diana, what keeps you blogging?

In Switzerland I wrote letters home, my blog is now ‘my letter home’.

But without the engagement of comments, I wouldn’t blog.

 

 

15.  Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?

I am poised on that finding my way into retirement journey with you and Jean’s Garden. Hoping for more hiking, and more U3A.

 

It was such a delight talking with Diana.  I continue to learn from her creative process and her blogging tips.  Her blog and her love of her land renews me as does her beautiful photography.  I always enjoy my visits to her blog!  One of the reasons I enjoy these interviews, is the connections I make on such a deeper level with amazing, gifted, talented and inspirational folks.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know Diana a bit more….I know I did!  

 

Please make sure you visit Diana in all the amazing places she hangs out:

 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2014-2017.  Photos are the sole property of Diana@Elephant’s Eye on False Bay, and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.

31 comments

  1. Laura Bloomsbury says:

    Donna – a marvellous interview – you asked all the right questions as Diana and her south African gardens have held me in awe – since Blotanical days in fact. And we are all still here!! Still commenting which is after all the food we bloggers live – thanks to you both

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much Laura….I do enjoy doing these interviews….I have always been in awe of Diana’s gardens too. I am so amazed that so many of us who met on Blotanical are still blogging and still connected!

    • Donna says:

      It was my pleasure Diana, and thank you for doing this interview. Yes Blotanical will always be remembered fondly for that spark it gave each of us in building a blogging community that still stands for many of us….and you were one of those instrumental folks who helped us build that community Diana!

  2. Kris P says:

    Thank you for this interview, Donna! I’ve been following Diana’s blog for some time now but had only surmised a general outline of her from her posts so your “introduction” to her is much appreciated.

  3. Gail says:

    Diana, So glad to read more about you. Your beautiful posts have educated me about SA native plants. Love that you post for Wildflower Wednesday! I do dream of visiting your part of the gardening world someday.

    Thank you Donna for interviewing Diana. Really enjoyed this post and reading the comments/replies.

    xogail

    • Donna says:

      So glad you stopped by Gail….I too have really enjoyed learning about Diana’s native plants….she inspired me to write more about mine and join you for Wildflower Wednesday! I hope to join in again at some point.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Eliza. I love having conversations with folks so it just seems to flow. And of course bloggers are wonderful to talk with.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Janet. I agree it is a wonderful way to connect more with bloggers we love. And I hope to do more interviews in the coming year.

  4. Kathy says:

    Ah, you brought me back to my first blogging days. I still blog, and fondly remember Elephant’s Eye, but it is much more sparingly as I try to paint more and garden less. I enjoyed learning more about Diana – what an incredible woman! You have portrayed her well, Donna. Thank you.

  5. Pam's English Garden says:

    Wonderful interview, Donna! I learned much about one of my favorite blogger friends. I especially enjoyed learning Diana’s creative process. I am so flattered she mentioned my blog. Those of us who started with Blotanical were fortunate indeed. Well done! P. x

    • Donna says:

      We are still all so interconnected Pam and yes very fortunate….like old school chums. So glad you enjoyed the interview as much as I enjoyed it!!

  6. Indie says:

    What a great interview! I have enjoyed Diana’s blog and seeing such a vastly different landscape and garden to my own. It was great to learn more about the history behind her and her blog! I miss the Blotanical days as well, where we were all just a little more connected and could more easily find the community, an audience, and new blogs to enjoy.

  7. debsgarden says:

    Hi Donna,
    I very much enjoyed Diana’s interview! I well remember my early days at Blotanical and what an encouragement and pleasure it was to meet you and Diana, as well as other bloggers, from many parts of the world. Your idea of interviewing other bloggers is a great one, and I look forward to more of them. I have told you before, but, again, I am so glad to see you back in the blogosphere!
    Best wishes,
    Deb

  8. Jean says:

    Great interview, Donna. I was also encouraged by Diana at Blotanical. in hindsight, Blotanical was a kind of garden bloggers’ Camelot.

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