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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

Spring in my step: Some of the joys of the season

It was spring equinox this week, inspiring this collection of spring sightings in the garden to bring a cheering lightness to lift our spirits.

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Spring flowers at the West Coast

Spring truly arrived this week in our part of KwaZulu-Natal with a full day of gentle rains, softening the hard soil after a long dry winter. Fresh leaves are unfurling on deciduous trees and flowers are in bud or already blossoming.

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Springtime nesting: Black sparrowhawks beyond the bottom of our garden

Being spring here in South Africa, many creatures have already been a-courting and are turning to nest building or are in the process of brooding their young.

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Calling from the rooftops: Egyptian geese in the suburbs

Among the swelling signs of spring is the increasingly noticeable and highly vocal activity of Egyptian geese passing through our neighbourhood. The raucous calling of pairs in flight – or even when they alight on the roof of our or a neighbour’s roof – enlivens especially the early mornings and sometimes also the late afternoons.

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A diminutive and dynamic presence: The African firefinch

I hear the tinkling call of visiting African firefinches more often than I see them. They forage on the ground and in low vegetation, venturing out into open ground when undisturbed.

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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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