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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

Woodpeckers foraging two-by-two

We often hear woodpeckers tap-tap-tapping on wood as they search for food in the trees in our suburb most of the year round. They are also quite vocal, but despite all this noisiness they can be difficult to see as they are mostly high up among the branches and foliage of the taller trees. Continue reading “Woodpeckers foraging two-by-two”

Skeletons in the garden Pt 2: Paisley pattern leaves

Skeletons of a botanical kind caught my attention in the form of fallen leaves that were gently disintegrating at the base of a White Stinkwood (Celtis Africana) growing just outside our garden. As the soft pulpy part of the leaves decompose and return to the soil, the leaf skeleton of intricate veins is left intact. Following the example set by the cicada terracotta army featured in last week’s post, I collected some leaf skeletons to photograph on a background of white paper. Continue reading “Skeletons in the garden Pt 2: Paisley pattern leaves”

Skeletons in the garden Pt 1: Terracotta cicadas

Cicadas are best known by the loud high-pitched sound adult male cicadas make mostly during the months of summer. Even though they are loud they are hard to locate and so well camouflaged they are difficult to spot, and typically we only see cicadas that have accidentally bumbled indoors. But sometimes we may come across exoskeletons left behind by cicada nymphs at the time of their last moult into their winged adult form. Continue reading “Skeletons in the garden Pt 1: Terracotta cicadas”

Nature’s bounty in the kitchen

Luckily for me, both sides of my family had habits of frugality, which included saving stuff and reusing it or keeping it in case one day it might come in handy. Some folks might call it hoarding, but I value the presence of old handed-down objects, even if no longer used, which are signifiers of a time when people were more in touch with where their food came from. Continue reading “Nature’s bounty in the kitchen”

Winter Solstice in the South

The shortest day in the south and the longest day in the north, the Solstice reminds us of the balance in the seasonal cycles.

Continue reading “Winter Solstice in the South”

The generosity of the Forest Pink Hibiscus

A dainty hibiscus with delicate pink flowers graces our garden.  It is a forest margin plant that grows wild mostly in the eastern parts of South Africa at low altitudes. It is nowhere near as well known as the popular exotic Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis) grown as an ornamental, but this indigenous South African plant is becoming increasingly adopted as a garden plant. Continue reading “The generosity of the Forest Pink Hibiscus”

Watching butterflies emerging and getting ready to fly

To see a butterfly emerging from the pupa to uncurl and spread its wings is akin to watching a miracle. Following on from last week’s post, here is my record of what might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience: witnessing individual butterflies emerge from the pupa (chrysalis). Continue reading “Watching butterflies emerging and getting ready to fly”

Caterpillars with wings: An eye witness account of Battling Glider butterflies after hatching

Very busy caterpillars that were doing more walking than eating in a nearly bare tree at the bottom of the garden first attracted my attention. My guess was that the caterpillars were getting ready to pupate, and so over the next few days I kept a look out hoping to find some pupae.  It turned out that many of the caterpillars had been successful: I found dozens of butterfly pupae attached to leaves in nearby plants, and a few days after that, perching in the surrounding vegetation there were several butterflies with wings outstretched in the morning sunshine, these butterflies evidently from the first caterpillars to pupate.  Inspecting the pupae, I found that several had hatched and some had newly emerged butterflies clinging onto the now empty shells. But as many of the pupae were still intact I couldn’t help thinking: If I keep careful watch I might actually witness a butterfly being born. Continue reading “Caterpillars with wings: An eye witness account of Battling Glider butterflies after hatching”

Pelargoniums – wild and domesticated

Pelargoniums, for a long time popular potted and garden plants across the world, have been in cultivation since the early 1700s. Of the 270 or so wild species of pelargonium, about 220 are native to South Africa. In addition to these wild species, many cultivars have been developed since pelargoniums have been in cultivation in Europe and elsewhere. Continue reading “Pelargoniums – wild and domesticated”

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