🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Love is in the air

The first Cosmos flowers of the season...



Love is in the air
Everywhere I look around
Love is in the air
Every sight and every sound



Love is in the air
In the whisper of the trees
Love is in the air
In the flower and the breeze



Love is in the air
In the rising of the sun
Love is in the air
When the day is nearly done



Normally the countryside is covered in Cosmos by now, starting about November through to March ~ but this year (and it seems every year lately) we only have a scarce spattering along the road. I had to traipse DEEP into the veld to capture these few...


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbinella in my garden, Tarlton, South Africa
Camera : Kodak EasyShare C195
Back-ground texture by Kim Klassen


(I use the Latin name Bulbine frutescens to avoid confusion as the common names Bulbinella and Bulbine seem to lead to arguments in herb circles. The plant I mean has long thinnish succulent leaves, and spike-like clusters of small yellow or orange star-shaped flowers.)

This wonderful indigenous plant is, like Lavender, an outstanding remedy for minor burns, cuts and abrasions, and insect bites. Simply break off a leaf and squeeze the juice or jelly onto affected areas.

The ease of application makes this an excellent herb to plant with your culinary herbs just outside the kitchen door - not to cook with, but to use for kitchen mishaps like burns and cuts.

The juice of Bulbine frutescens also helps to stop bleeding. Use also for rough and cracked skin and lips, ringworm, and cold sores. Scabies also seems relieved by regular application, but remember that Scabies is caused by a small bug, so any treatment of scabies must be holistic and include thorough laundering and ironing of bedding and clothes (to get rid of family and friends).


Saturday, 28 January 2012

A place where I can hang my heart...

The front entrance of my home, densely framed by two species of Karee - Karee viminalis (White Karee) and Karee lancea (black Karee) as well as various indigenous grasses and aloes.


I've had a couple of requests to 'share' a bit more about where I live on my little piece of African soil. This is my home in Tarlton, South Africa, situated on an 8.5ha smallholding. When landscaping my garden about 7 years ago, I took inspiration from Africa, and nature in particular, choosing to plant only indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, with the result that I have a rather wild garden with not much colour, as indigenous flowers and shrubs tend to be less spectacular than most exotic plants, which just don't do well in our climate at all, with very hot and sometimes dry summers and winters that can dish out the coldest of frosts.

I am not ostentatious by nature and prefer the simple and natural things in life. Here I can putter around in my old garden clothes and find my way back to a place that feels right - weeding does that for me. Here I can dream BIG dreams, not all of which become reality but I certainly have fun along the way!

Hope you enjoy, I know I just LOVE to see other people's living spaces, be it small or large, simple or ornate, in suburbia or the country, in a basement or a sky-scraper, inland or at the coast.


A garden ornament hanging from a Karee Viminalis (White Karee), and Jacko, our Fox terrier, sitting at the front door

An old (and now rusty!) paraffin lamp provides some light at night. On the corner of the pathway is a clump of Restio (Cape Reed grass) and right at the back is planted some Tiger Grass (Miscanthus). Grown in India, Australia and Madagascar, South Africa and other warmer countries in Europe, Tiger grass is believed to be the grass that the Bengal tiger uses to clean and maintain its sleek coat. "With the knowledge that the animal kingdom is more in tune with its habitat, Bengal tigers roll around in this grass to soothe wounds and skin irritations, devouring its leaves while waltzing around!" (Don't ask me if that's true, I read it on a Miscanthus site while looking for info on this plant and now can't remember where it was!)

The Tiger Grass gets these beautiful white plumes at the onset of winter before dying down.

One of the many bird baths in my garden. An old log is being cleaned up by some termites.


My vantage point on the patio from where I survey the birds and my garden. Nothing like a warm cup of tea and a sketch-book while watching their antics at the bird feeders! A concrete-relief gecko adorns the patio wall.

A carport turned Studio/Potting shed. Here I pot and plant to my heart's content, sometimes sketching and painting here while my resident Swallows chatter with me.

My Studio cum Office - which often spills over to the kitchen table below!


A hailstorm we had a couple of weeks ago - just about destroyed half the garden! It was actually much worse than the pic shows, which was taken once I dared set foot outside and half of it had melted already from the rain that followed!


Even though it's almost only the beginning of February, I can see by the way the setting sun is moving and the chilly mornings that the season is turning and soon we'll be heading for Autumn.


I live in this world I have made for myself.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Rise and Shine




Hibernation is not continuous; a hedgehog usually rouses for a short time every seven to 11 days. Its body temperature returns to normal, and it usually just remains alert inside its nest, although sometimes it may leave the nest and be active for several days or even move to another nest.

We don't know why this happens; it doesn't benefit the hedgehog, since fat, and therefore energy, is consumed in the process of waking and going back into hibernation. Arousals seem to be spontaneous, but some may be due to outside factors such as flooding, disturbance of the nest by animals or humans, or unseasonably warm weather.
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Two little umbrellas

“The Smurfs are little blue people who live in magic mushrooms. Think about it.”


These two mushrooms popped through my lawn after all the lovely rain we've had. They started off as two strange, cigar-shaped white fungi that pushed through the grass until they were about 15cm high, and the next day I encountered these two lovely little umbrellas! The tallest one is about 20cm high.

According to Carla, who hosts Fungilicious on RedBubble, this shroom is a “Shaggy Mane” and is edible, but once they start turning colors and ‘ink’, like this one... they’re unsafe to eat.

Camera : Kodak EasyShare C195 - Pic taken in my garden.


Did you know,
A fairy ring, also known as fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. The rings may grow to over 10 meters (33 ft) in diameter, and they become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or rangelands. Fairy rings are detectable by sporocarps in rings or arcs, as well as by a necrotic zone (dead grass), or a ring of dark green grass. If these manifestations are visible a fairy fungus mycelium is likely to be present in the ring or arc underneath.

Fairy rings also occupy a prominent place in European folklore as the location of gateways into elfin kingdoms, or places where elves gather and dance. According to the folklore, a fairy ring appears when a fairy, pixie, or elf appears. It will disappear without trace in less than five days, but if an observer waits for the elf to return to the ring, he may be able to capture it.

Fairy ring in a suburb - Pic from WIKIPEDIA


Here in Africa, Fairy circles are enigmatic barren patches, typically found in the grasslands of the western part of southern Africa. They are most prolific in Namibia, but are also present in Angola and South Africa.These fairy circles consist of round areas barren of vegetation; as yet there is no clear picture as to how they are formed, although scientists are researching the matter. One theory suggests termites as the creator of these circles, but recent studies have stated that there is no evidence termites would cause this phenomenon. In the oral myths of Himba people these barren patches are said to have been caused by the gods and/or spirits and natural divinities.

Studies done by South African scientists shows that these circles are under continuous development. They grow in diameter, expanding to as large as 9m in diameter, where they mature and "die", filled in by invasive grasses.

Fairy circle in Namibia.
Info and pic from WIKIPEDIA


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Early to bed



The nest provides good insulation, maintaining the inside temperature for most of the time at between 1ºC and 5ºC: an ideal level, as the hibernating hedgehog saves energy most efficiently with a body heat of 4ºC.


It is commonly believed that hibernation is a necessary part of the hedgehog's life cycle, and that the hedgehog will suffer in some way if it fails to hibernate. This is not so.

The descendants of British-born hedgies transported to warmer climates only find it necessary to hibernate for a few weeks, or sometimes not at all. In colder countries like Scandinavia, on the other hand, where winters are longer, hibernation is extended.

Hibernation is fraught with hazards. Although the hedgies are inactive, they are as likely to die during hibernation as at any other time. Nevertheless, hibernation is a complex and valuable strategy that gives a hedgehog the chance to live through adverse conditions which it would otherwise have no chance of surviving.
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"


When my hedgehogs went into hibernation, I noticed that, on fairly warm days, they would wake up and get out for a snack, so I used to keep a close eye and then offer some high protein food like meal worms as a snack - I always had a ready supply, and they really appreciated that.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A long, fine life....

Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long, fine life indeed.
- From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (Richard Bach)


On one of my visits to St. Lucia, way up on the North Coast of KwaZulu Natal (south Africa), we were having lunch at one of the out-door restaurants, sitting on the deck overlooking the main road running through the village. One thing that pleased me tremendously is that there were seagulls everywhere - they straddled the railings of the deck, sat up on the roof and walked in between the tables like it was their second home (probably was!)

One chap decided to target me and took his place right next to my chair, giving me the 'stare'. Who can resist that?! Needless to say, I had very little lunch and he left a decidedly fatter and happier customer!


Camera: FujiFinepix 2800ZOOM


Monday, 23 January 2012

The start of a trend?



Hedgehogs were first observed to run in circles in the 1960's and the phenomenon has been reported since. There are various theories about its cause, but none has so far been proved.

However, I've watched my Hedgies running in circles for years and this is what happens : they normally start at a point, say the food bowl, and run a little circle back to the food bowl and the next circle is a bit wider and the next one even wider - this carries on for some time, with Hedgie often doubling back on his tracks and continuing in the opposite direction, even making a figure eight - until they reach a barrier, like the fence or the wall, when it stops and they then continue snuffling around to see what they can find.

This brought me to the conclusion that 'running in circles' was actually a way of establishing their boundaries and heaven forbid any stranger that should enter that circle!


Saturday, 21 January 2012

He hath wings

African Darter


Be like the bird who,
halting in his flight on limb too slight
feels it give way beneath him,
yet sings
hath wings.
- Victor Hugo


Took a drive to Harties (Hartebeespoort Dam) a few weekends ago and we pulled in under a tree close to the edge of the dam to sit and watch as a Darter and a Cormorant went about their business in search of food, not seeming to bother with one another. It wasn't long before they surfaced and climbed up onto some logs sticking out of the water. I was hoping to catch one of them spreading their wings in the typical drying-off pose they're so well known for, but the Cormorant was struggling with a fish he had caught and the Darter was keeping a close eye on us!

White-breasted Cormorant

The African Darter (Anhinga rufa) occurs in patches across sub-Saharan Africa; in southern Africa it is fairly common in Zimbabwe, northern and eastern Botswana, South Africa and patches of Namibia and Mozambique. It generally favours still or slow-moving bodies of freshwater, especially with dead trees, rocks or banks where it can rest. It is rarely found in fast-moving rivers, estuaries and coastal lagoons.

The Cormorants are a fairly large family of fish eaters residing along freshwater and salt water shores around the world, yet all are so closely related that all are usually placed within a single genus Phalacrocorax. Despite spending much time in the water, they do not possess the waterproofing oil of other sea birds and so must spend much time drying their wings.

Another Darter way up in the trees


Camera: FujiFinepix 2800ZOOM - Pictures taken at Hartebeespoort Dam, North-West Province, South Africa.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Grateful for...

... the rain


Lately the rain here in Gauteng, South Africa, always amazes me. It's so NOISY! Where are the days when rain gently fell with a soft pitter-patter on the roof, lulling the senses into sleep? These days it's accompanied by high winds, HUGE raindrops that drown out even your voice and wild thunder and lightning beating about the landscape with a viciousness that is quite scary.


Nevertheless, I am GRATEFUL for the rain...


Photograph of my patio on a textured back-ground by Kim Klassen


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Listen With Your Heart

Just as whales and dolphins are the Earth’s Record Keepers living In the Oceans,
the Trees are the Record Keepers living on Land.

The Trees comprise a “vast underground communication network system that transmits information so that all Trees, everywhere on Earth, know instantly all that occurs. They are the Living Libraries embodied in bark that we, as humans, can easily “tap’ into (note the term “tap root' we can tap into their vast library).

The Trees are open to all, and not closed in their belief systems or ways of thinking They are open to the Universe and to all life around them, and welcome information coming in from all sources and all places.



They have a cataloguing system built right into them that filters and sorts all the information into categories, and then files these categories away for easy retrieval—just like in our libraries—only the Trees do it themselves, automatically, without any help from man-made technology When you open your doors to the Living Libraries all around you, and take advantage of their accumulation and wealth of knowledge that you need in your lives, you can fulfil your missions here on Earth with greater ease and grace.

All you have to do is give intent for it, and it is so. Intention is always the first step, and then consciously connecting and communing with the Trees is the second step, and walking amongst them, touching them, sitting with them is the third step, and voila, it will happen...


...you will be privy to their information and will find yourselves able to tap Into their vast storage system with no effort. It Is that easy This Is the code to enter the Trees’ library

The Trees are stewards of the Land. They give us the oxygen to breathe and we give them the carbon dioxide they need to breathe—It is a complete cycle of living energy— they are our In-breath, and our out-breath gives them their in-breath—if one of us becomes extinct, the other immediately follows. This is the cycle of life that all are dependent on. We all need each other to live, and we are just now discovering this dependency All species are part of this great life cycle, and all are needed to keep it perfectly functioning. It Is the great rhythm of life that we all carry out together


Align Center

All life forms - every single species, every single plant, every stone, contributes to the overall plan of Creation, and without each and every one of us, life will eventually collapse, as part of the biosphere collapses each time a species is lost through extinction due to mankind’s wars and intrusions into these sacred habitats.

The Trees are yearning to communicate with us, yearning to feel our touch and embrace us in their love and energy. We can go to them, talk to them, sit with them, as they stand vigilant over our homes and communities as protectors of our very lives. Talk to them, and they will answer. They have been waiting eons to have humans reconnect with them again.


Make a Tree Connection today!



Responsibility for the

Earth and the




Thursday, 12 January 2012

Death on the roads


Dead hedgehogs lying in the road cause much concern among hedgehog-lovers - and much controversy too.

Either it means that hedgehog numbers are being depleted by these casualties, or that the population must be vigorous to provide a continuous supply of victims.

It has also been suggested that hedgehogs are gradually learning not to roll up in front of cars, but to run for it, and that the 'runners' survive and pass on their genes to future generations. But the 'runners' are just as likely to be squashed as the 'rollers-up', as they will probably find themselves in the path of one of the car's tyres.

Hedgehogs can run quite fast, but not fast enough to avoid a car; and rolling up is no defense against four wheels.

In any case, there has been too little time, in evolutionary terms, for the hedgehog to adapt its way of life to the presence of the internal combustion engine, I think!
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

My Native land, Good Night!

“Here an ancient oriel window opened glassless to the sky
and the light of the hunter's moon washed us in silver.”
- Unknown

Black ink sketch on a textured back-ground by Kim Klassen


It was full moon last night and when I switched off the garden lights, my garden was bathed in a golden glow... and I could've sworn I saw the fairies hiding under the mushrooms...

One website explains the full moon thus,
"The moon and sun are on a line, with Earth in between. It’s as though Earth is the fulcrum of a seesaw, and the moon and sun are sitting on either end of the seesaw. Thus as the sun sets in the west, the full moon rises. When the sun is below our feet at midnight, the full moon is highest in the sky. When the sun rises again at dawn, the full moon is setting."


"Lunar eclipses can only occur at full moon, where the moon's orbit allows it to pass through the earth's shadow. Lunar eclipses do not occur every month because the moon sometimes passes above or below the earth's shadow. Lunar eclipses can occur only when the full moon occurs near two nodes of the orbit, either the ascending or descending nodes. This causes eclipses to only occur about every 6 months, and often 2 weeks before or after a solar eclipse at new moon at the opposite node.

Full Moons are traditionally associated with temporal insomnia, insanity (hence the terms lunacy and lunatic) and various "magical phenomena" such as lycanthropy. Psychologists, however, have found that there is no strong evidence for effects on human behavior around the time of a full moon."
This info from WIKIPEDIA


There you have it! No excuse for any bad behaviour in the future!

Have a good night tonight!

Camera : Fuji FinePix 2800ZOOM - taken in my garden


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Learn to be still

Early this morning, just as the sun was rising at about 5.30am, I saw that my little clump of cacti (Echinopsis) was flowering, the early morning light giving them a lilac tinge (they are actually pink), so I rushed for the camera, but when I got back the light had changed slightly already.

That brought home the thought that we should learn to be still, enjoy the moment as it is happening, even if we do miss putting it on film for posterity. Because now I missed half the precious moments anyway....

Cactus (Echinopsis) and flowers in my garden on a back-ground texture by Kim Klassen
- Camera Kodak EasyShare C195

sometimes it’s good
to just let life
swirl around you.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A Prickly Friend


Some of the hedgehog colonies in the Scottish islands might have started simply because people like hedgehogs.

Apparently, during the second World War, members of the armed forces who were stationed there, smuggled them in, hidden at the bottom of their kit-bags, to keep them company. Some animals managed to survive the journey, and prospered in their new home. It's not the only occurrence of hedgehogs as family pets; hedgehogs on Alderney are supposed to be the descendants of animals bought from Harrods about 30 years ago!
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

January gifts - Cape Reed Grass

green and tawny gold tall grasses . swaying in the breeze
a tumbled tangled garden . that needs cutting down
everywhere I look . love and gratitude follow
- Unknown

Yesterday I went outside to soak up some of this glorious weather we’ve been having and take some pictures. Ambling along my pathways, I was suddenly surprised to find my path blocked by some of my Cape Reed Grass (family Restionaceae). When did this happen? I thought. It has spread beyond belief in just a couple of weeks, even covering some of my miniature Phormiums.

Time to do something here, I decided. So, spade in hand I separated it into clumps, wondering what I would now do with it. Scratching around in my potting shed, I found an old Everite pot which seemed ideal, so in went drainage stones, potting soil and one of the clumps.

I found an empty corner and placed the pot amongst some Marigolds and Hen 'n Chickens (Chlorophytum comosum) and filled the area with a couple of rocks. I think a pot like this is excellent as it will contain the plant as well as show off the grass's natural beauty. Now off to find some more pots....

Another clump of Cape Reed grass that needs to be thinned out

How was your New Year's weekend?
Pictures taken in my garden in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) - Camera Kodak EasyShare C195 - Back-ground texture by Kim Klassen

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Stay ever-amazed in 2012!

As the year closes I am reminded of how rushed I sometimes was over the past year - many times not stopping to enjoy the moment, rushing on to the next appointment, the next painting, the next blog to up-date. I never make New year's resolutions, but for 2012 I set myself the intention to slow down, sit for a few moments longer enjoying my early morning coffee, stopping at each plant in the garden just a bit longer in stead of just rushing through, making notes of what has to be done and to listen more intently to the sound of the birds, the sound of life happening outside my studio.


in stillness and motion . embrace this day

listen to whispers on the wind ...

become ever resourceful

remain ever reflective

continue ever reaching

stay ever amazed

- Unknown

May your 2012 be reflective and ever-amazing.


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