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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

Wordless in the aftermath: KwaZulu-Natal July 2021

This week in the aftermath of the widespread looting and destruction across much of KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng I have few words. Although a semblance of calm might seem to prevail and road delivery routes are opening up, suffering and bereavement, sadness and pain, loss and fear, anger and resentment remain.

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What may emerge from the ashes of destruction?

We have a crisis in our land. Reports of an orchestrated insurrection seem increasingly credible.  The political campaign ignited an explosion of destruction, and according to many analysts, it exploited and was partly fuelled by the misery and hopelessness of dire poverty and high unemployment levels that afflict a high percentage of people in our country (with youth unemployment being over 50%).

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Fungilorious: Four trees hosting fabulous fungi

The variety in shape, form and colour of the fungi that fruit in our garden, usually during the wet and warmth of summer, is incredible. In addition to the mushroom/toadstool forms that were featured in last week’s post, some other forms of fungi include bracket, crust, puffball, bird’s nest, earthstar, stinkhorn, coral, jelly ears, saddle and cup.

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Mushrooms and toadstools in our garden

To my amazement, not everyone with gardens is delighted to find mushrooms and toadstools growing there. Of course many fungi are in gardens anyway, but they are usually unseen until circumstances are right for some species to seemingly spontaneously erupt into fruiting.

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Winter solstice birds in the garden

In our dry winters, visiting birds make the most of the birdbaths in our garden. In this winter solstice week I decided to spend time photographing some of our mid-winter avian visitors.

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Sombre greenbuls can be loud and splashy too

The sombre greenbuls that visit our garden all year round are mostly evident from their loud and penetrating contact calls as they forage while concealed in dense vegetation or high up within the tree canopies.

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Enchantment in a monochrome woodland

Forests and woodlands have old associations with enchantment and mystery. As magical places forests may be benign and even be sacred places, but conversely enchantment may be malevolent.  Forests can provide sanctuary but they can also conceal danger. Wildness can be healing but it can also be threatening.

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More on our wild irises: The yellow and the forest wild irises

Following last week’s post showcasing the large wild iris (Dietes grandiflora), this post features the other two wild irises in our garden: the yellow wild iris or peacock flower (Dietes bicolor) and the less well-known forest wild iris – or simply forest iris –  (Dietes butcheriana), which is also known as the broad-leaved dietes.

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Introducing three wild irises

The lovely soft looking flowers that don’t last long on the plant make it surprising that wild irises of the Dietes genus are in fact incredibly hardy, to the extent that they are a familiar sight in mass plantings in urbanised places such as business parks and shopping malls.

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