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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

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Plants

First flowering of an Aloe ferox

A post on the Ashburton Aloe Festival back in July 2017 (Aloes and gardens, samangos and forests) featured a small potted Aloe ferox (bitter aloe) that we bought at the festival. I said then I might post an update on its progress – so here it is as this winter it flowered for the first time.

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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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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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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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Meanwhile back in the garden: Images of early winter

Shorter days and cooler nights bring changes as the daytime temperatures vary between hot and mild. With the dryer air the sunshine has a golden clarity enhancing the colourful winter flowers and mellow berries, and brightening the visiting birds and insects in the garden.

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Going with the flow: Some southern African rivers and wetlands

The freshwater biome can be categorized into lakes, streams and wetlands, and all are interconnected. We depend utterly on freshwater systems that globally comprise only 0.8% of all the water on the planet and cover only 1/5 of the Earth’s surface.

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