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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

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naturebackin

Sharing insights and celebrating the creatures and plants that inhabit and enrich suburban spaces, with images mostly from my own garden in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in South Africa and sometimes from further afield.

How the colourful koppie foam grasshopper sheds its skin

This summer I had the chance to watch nymphs of the koppie foam grasshoppers moulting their exoskeletons. I have been keeping an eye on the juvenile grasshoppers as they congregated in greater numbers this season than usual. Continue reading “How the colourful koppie foam grasshopper sheds its skin”

Wild gardenia: At home in forests and gardens

With attractive flowers, heady scent, glossy leaves and unusual fruit, it is perhaps surprising that the wild gardenia is not more commonly used as a garden staple. It also makes a good container plant and it does well as a flowering bonsai plant. Continue reading “Wild gardenia: At home in forests and gardens”

Likeable lizards: Striped skinks in the garden

Mostly I notice skinks when they are basking in the sun, but last week I watched one on a hunting expedition in the herb patch and understood what focused little predators they really are. Continue reading “Likeable lizards: Striped skinks in the garden”

Reasons to be cheerful part 1: Ella the rescue cat

Starting off 2020 with a good news story about the lovely Ella, one of our rescue cats, seems appropriate enough. I had considered several other ideas, from baby animals in general to flower portraits taken during 2019, but settled on the story of Ella.

Continue reading “Reasons to be cheerful part 1: Ella the rescue cat”

The hopefulness of a baby bird

First we saw one of the handsome parents, and then we saw the long-legged fluffball: a baby spotted dikkop. How special to see the caring and attention lavished on this precious little chick. Continue reading “The hopefulness of a baby bird”

Owed to a tree: For its beauty and bounty many thanks

This springtime, at first we didn’t have rain. Then we had a lot. And one morning a favourite old tree, sodden with the weight of the water, fell with a shuddering thud. Continue reading “Owed to a tree: For its beauty and bounty many thanks”

Transcendent suburban skies

Back in the suburbs after our travels, we still have the transcendent sky Paradoxically, as it arches above us, out of reach and sublime, it also reconnects us to Earth. Continue reading “Transcendent suburban skies”

Camdeboo National Park: Resilience amidst desolation in the Karoo

Camdeboo National Park is best known for Desolation Valley with its panoramic viewpoints where tall columns of volcanic rock tower up to 120 m high over the plains of Camdeboo below. The aridity of the region gave rise to the name Desolation Valley. It is even more desolate now in the current drought emergency. Continue reading “Camdeboo National Park: Resilience amidst desolation in the Karoo”

Wild Rescue Nature Reserve: Step out in a peaceful floral kingdom of wonders

At Wild Rescue Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Reserve, we had the pleasure of staying in a beautiful stone-walled thatched cottage built in the Cape style. We had the opportunity to walk along narrow trails through intriguing vegetation in the reserve, which is classified as a Critical Biodiversity Area. Because of its variety of contrasting soil types, all the major plant communities of the Agulhas coastal plain can be found in close proximity in the 165-hectare nature reserve. Continue reading “Wild Rescue Nature Reserve: Step out in a peaceful floral kingdom of wonders”

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