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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.

Lynx spiders: Tiny and strategic predators

Tiny yet powerful lynx spiders are effective predators of insects in the garden. Concealed in foliage or flowers they are skilled hunters and their name refers to their catlike hunting abilities.

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Ouhout: An adaptable and tenacious survivor

The holiday association of shrubby Ouhout trees lining mountain streams and hiking trails meant that we were delighted to find an established Ouhout growing in the garden when we moved into our current home some years ago. The Afrikaans name, used also by English speakers, ‘Ouhout’ literally means ‘old wood’, and even young plants have a woody gnarled appearance.

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Going grey: Moving to monochrome

Colour photography only started taking off for the home photographer in the 1960s, becoming more widely used as it became less expensive into the 1970s. Before that home photographers used black and white film photography, as old family photograph albums testify.

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Botanical images: Inspired by vintage prints and cards

Botanical art has a classic appeal. There is something essential about the clean accuracy of a detailed depiction of a plant that has been chosen to represent its species, coupled with the aesthetic qualities that emerge from the union of technique, artistry and natural beauty.

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Visitors galore! A garden birdbath during dry July

The garden birdbaths attract many birds and vervet monkeys too, plus of course insects, such as bees and wasps. I have also seen geckoes venturing out to drink from the rim. The birdbaths are especially heavily used during the winter, which is our dry season.

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Uh! Whaddya mean its Thursday already?

Maybe it’s the lockdown. Maybe it’s that we had no electricity for a day and a night. Maybe it’s because the municipal dump is on fire and choking us all with toxic smoke. Maybe it’s because there is no electricity again this evening. Whatever, but I thought it was Wednesday.

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The pigeonwood tree: Providing food, refuge and fun

The Pigeonwood tree does indeed attract pigeons and many other birds and creatures besides. It is one of the faster growing trees and is a vigorous pioneer plant establishing itself in disturbed soil and along watercourses. It can be useful for new gardens or to provide shelter where other slower growing plants need protection.

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The simple art of nature: Connecting with grace

Seeking a sense of calmness in nature, in simplicity and in accepting transience, I have chosen some images that bring to me a sense of grace.

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For the birds: Forest and woodland habitats

Our neighbourhood is at the foot of an escarpment that would have been part of a mosaic of Afro-montane forest and grassland prior to extensive exploitation of the forests for timber and the widespread introduction of intensive agriculture and the establishment of urban areas, which commenced with the colonial era.

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