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

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A restful day

Sir John Lubbock :
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. 

Up early this morning, about 5am - after yesterday's wintry weather, a forecast of 24℃ promised a beautiful day ahead. I decided to take a walk along the perimeter of the fence around our smallholding and it revealed a few lovely surprises. I came upon this section of our fence that seemed to be highly prized by the termites! Not only had they almost decimated my lawn this winter, it seems nothing is beyond their reach. So obviously these poles will have to be replaced, there were about seven of them, and we will also have to paint all the wooden ones with Creosote. In case you're not familiar with Creosite, it is the portion of chemical products obtained by the distillation of a tar that remains heavier than water, notably useful for its anti-septic and preservative properties. It is black in colour with an extremely strong tar smell and is great for keeping any wood safe from insects.

I also came across some lovely wild flowers. This beauty looks SO much like a potato flower I was almost tempted to dig it up!

Circling around the back of the house, I passed Solly (our mechanic and general factotum) at the borehole pump, filling up the water tanks. We stood for a while, chatting, and he told me has going to tend his vegetable patch today, as well is fix his chicken coop as the neighbours' dogs had already killed four of his chickens.

I said goodbye and as I approached the blue gum bush, I spotted a little patch of grass and some Dandelions - these little flowers (I call them flowers, not weeds) always seem to catch my attention, so I stopped and took a couple of photos.

Returning around the other side of the house, I just had to stop and take a photo of my Avocado tree. Believe it or not, but this tree was started with an Avo pip in a glass of water, transplanted several times into different size pots and eventually, when it was too big for any pot, I planted it here next to one of our water tanks. A Privet sprung up next to it, but I've left it as it somewhat protects the Avo from frost during the winter. It has never borne any fruit and is about 8m high now. The Avo tree is on the right.

Mid-morning we took a drive out to Magaliesburg Country Hotel for their stunning breakfast buffet they serve on Sundays and spent a relaxing morning with hubby reading the Sunday papers and me reading my favourite blogs on my Samsung Galaxy tablet, sharing news as we sat sipping our coffees.

On our drive home, we stopped at one of the many little dams dotting the route and I fed the Coots, who always love the bread I take along with me (this time pinched from the toast basket at breakfast!)

Upon our return, there was an Egyptian Goose sitting on the wall next to the gate, letting her discontent be known as as the car stopped, but amazingly, she never flew off and I managed a quick shot before pulling the car into the driveway.

 How did you spend your Sunday?


Friday, 28 September 2012

Rattail Cactus - Disocactus flagelliformis

Every spring my Rattail Cactus has the most prolific, beautiful blooms. I bring it inside every winter, as it does not tolerate any frost and as soon as the temperatures warm up, I take it back to it's place on the patio where it only gets partial sun a few hours of the day and within a week or two, the flowers appear. 

Rat's Tail Cacti are very easy to grow, being suitable for a greenhouse and container, indoors or out. These plants need a minimum temperature of 6ºC (43ºF). They should be grown in bright, indirect light, in a fairly rich potting mix with good drainage. The best compost consists of four parts sandy loam, and one part of equal quantities of sand and crushed brick. They should be repotted every other year because their soil tends to sour. 

Mine is at the stage now where it desperately needs repotting, but I keep on putting it off, because trying to get in between those spiny tails to dig it out of the pot is a major operation! Those little spines seem to penetrate the hardiest of gloves!

This doesn't mean, however, that they'll need larger pots, just fresh soil. Once the plants are established, keep the compost moist from September to April (here in South Africa); less water is required from March to August, just enough to keep the stems from dying back. In the winter, old or discoloured stems may be cut out at the base to encourage new growth. Water abundantly in summer. 

The bright pink flowers, 1.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide (4 by 6 cm), are produced along the stems in spring and summer and are sometimes followed by small red fruits. In the wild, they are pollinated by birds, but in cultivation, they generally need to be hand pollinated. 

A pen and ink sketch of my Rattail Cactus 


Thursday, 27 September 2012

The blessings of nature

"To plant trees is to give body and life to one's dreams of a better world." 
-- Russell Page

As a gentle reminder of the countless ways that trees enrich our lives, I'm posting a list of sixty South African trees that are excellent for our gardens here in Gauteng.

Did you know that trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth's greatest natural resources? Trees are essential to our world and offer a wide range of benefits to our environment and play a major role in purifying the air we breathe. The air is filtered by the trees and returned to the atmosphere at the time of photosynthesis. Trees provide us with oxygen, which is essential for the existence of life, WITHOUT TREES THERE WOULD BE NO LIFE!


• beautify and sustain our world. 
• inspire the creation of great literary and artistic works. 
• are a living legacy. 
• create a shady place to read a book, enjoy a picnic, take a nap, or just sit back and relax. 
• are nature's answer to the play structure. They provide limbs to climb and hang a swing from. 
• help to decrease noise pollution. 
• block an unsightly view and further enhance a nice view 
• offer both food and shelter. 
• provide wildlife habitats. 
• can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 50%. 
• increase property values. 
• help to prevent or reduce soil erosion and water pollution. 

Trees are a vital part of any ecosystem.  If one part of an ecosystem is damaged or disappears, the long term effects can be devastating. Creating awareness among people about the importance of trees and the need for their conservation is of the utmost importance to all of us.

Many of my closest friends are serious tree-lovers, not only for their beauty but also because they symbolise the blessings of nature; life; growth; good fortune; stability; strength and security.

Maybe you would like to leave a comment below and we could build up a LIST OF SERIOUS TREE LOVERS! Thank you!

Photo credit : Elizabeth Kendall, a tree-loving friend

Evergreen Trees Indigenous to the Gauteng Region (South Africa)

  1. Acokanthera oppositifolia - Bushmans Poison.
    Small, evergreen shrub. Bushmen used the plant as a bonding agent for the poison for their arrows.
  2. Aloe arborescens - Krantz Aloe.
    Small, shrubby Aloe. Good hedge material.
  3. Aloe marlothii - Mountain Aloe.
    Large, evergreen, drought resistant tree. Orange horizontal flowers in winter.
  4. Berchemia zeyheri - Red Ivory.
    Shrub / medium sized evergreen tree, up to 10m. Very sought after timber, red heartwood.
  5. Buddleja saligna - False olive.
    Medium sized fastgrowing evergreen, drought and frost resistant tree, makes a good screen plant while still young.
  6. Buddleja salviifolia - Sagewood.
    Medium sized, frost resistant, fast growing tree. Weeping habit. Beautiful scent when flowering in early spring.
  7. Carissa bispinosa - Num Num.
    Small, evergreen shrub. Attracts birds which eat the large plum like fruit. Attractive large white star shaped flowers.
  8. Cassine burkeana - Transvaal Kooboo-Berry.
    Small, evergreen shrub.
  9. Cussonia paniculata - Mountain Cabbage Tree / Highveld Caggage tree.
    Small sized, evergreen, drought and frost resistant tree. Grows amongst boulders and rocky outcrops. Nice specimen plant.
  10. Diospyros lycoides - Bluebush.
    Small, evergreen, drought and frost resistant tree. Attracts birds which eat the large red berries it produces.
  11. Diospyros whyteana - Bladdernut.
    Small, evergreen, hardy tree. Produces fruit which are full of air.
  12. Dodonaea angustifolia - Sand Olive.
    Small, evergreen shrub.
  13. Ehritia rigida - Puzzle bush.
    Small, evergreen, fast growing shrub. Attracts birds which eat the numerous berries it produces.
  14. Euclea crispa - Blue Guarri.
    Small to medium sized, frost and drought resistant, evergreen tree. Beautiful round crown
  15. Grewia occidentalis - Crossberry.
    Small, evergreen tree, up to 6m. Attracts birds which eat the small berries it produces. Pretty pink flowers with yellow centre in spring.
  16. Ilex mitis - Cape Holly.
    Medium sized evergreen tree, up to 10m. Birds eat fruit it produces. Unsuited to drier areas.
  17. Kiggelaria africana - Wild Peach.
    Small to medium sized evergreen tree, 4 - 13m.
  18. Maytenus heterophylla - Common Spike Thorn.
    Small, evergreen, drought resistant tree. Large spikes make this a good perimeter plant. Attracts birds which eat the Numerous berries it produces.
  19. Maytenus polyacantha - Kraal spike thorn.
    Small drought and frost resistant, evergreen shrub. Covered in small spines.
  20. Myrsine africana - Cape Myrtle.
    Small evergreen, shrub.
  21. Olea africana - Wild Olive.
    Medium sized evergreen frost and drought resistant tree, attracts birds which eat the small olive like berries and nest in its branches.
  22. Rhamnus prinoides - Dogwood.
    Small to medium sized, evergreen, frost resistant tree. Attractive shiny foliage. Attracts birds which eat the Small Black berries it produces. Grows in riverine forest.
  23. Rhus lancea - Karee.
    Medium sized, evergreen, drought and frost resistant tree. Attracts birds which eat the small green berries it produces in late winter, provides important forrage for birds in the dry highveld winter environment.
  24. Rhus leptodictya - Mountain Karee.
    Small to medium sized, evergreen tree. Grows on rocky outcrops and ridges on the hughveld.
  25. Rhus undulata - Kuni Bush.
    Small to medium sized, evergreen tree. Typical highveld dry forest tree.
  26. Zanthoxylum capense - Small Knobwood.
    Small, evergreen tree. Knobs on trunk.

Deciduous Trees Indigenous to the Gauteng Region (South Africa)

  1. Acacia caffra - Common Hook Thorn.
    Large, deciduous, fast growing, drought and frost resistant tree.
  2. Acacia galpinii - Monkey Thorn.
    Large, deciduous, Drought and frost resistant tree. Fine feathery foliage.
  3. Acacia hebeclada - Candle Thorn.
    Medium sized, deciduous, drought resistant tree. Seed pods stand erect on tree. Fine feathery foliage.
  4. Acacia karoo - Sweet Thorn.
    Large, fast growing, deciduous tree, attracts birds which eat the gum it produces and insects that are attracted by its yellow fluffball like flowers in summer. Described as one of South Africa's most important trees, because it is extensively browsed and used as fodder in arid areas. Strong sweet smelling scent when in bloom.
  5. Acacia nilotica - Scented Thorn.
    Medium sized, deciduous, drought resistant tree. Attractive scented flowers in summer.
  6. Acacia robusta - Splendid Thorn.
    Large, deciduous, drought resistant tree.
  7. Acacia tortilis - Umbrella Thorn.
    Medium sized, deciduous, slow growing, drought resistant tree, with a large flat spreading umbrella shapedcrown.
  8. Cassinopsis ilicifolia - Spiny Cassinopsis.
    Scrambling shrub / small tree, up to 5m.
  9. Celtis africana - White Stinkwood.
    Large, fast growing attractive deciduous tree, attracts birds which eat the small green berries it produces.
  10. Croton gratissimus - Lavender Croton.
  11. Combretum Apiculatum - Red Bushwillow.
    Small to medium sized deciduous tree, 3 - 10m. Occurs in dry open bushy shrub like woodland.
  12. Combretum erythrophyllum - River Bushwillow.
    Large, fast growing, deciduous, frost hardy tree. Grows along riverbanks.
  13. Combretum molle - Velvet Bushwillow.
    Medium sized, deciduous, drought resistant tree.
  14. Combretum zeyheri - Large fruited Bushwillow.
    Small to medium sized deciduous tree, up to 10m. Afrikaans common name - Raasblaar.
  15. Dichrostachys cinerea - Kalahari Christmas Tree.
    Small, deciduous, drought resistant tree. Attractive Acacia type flowers pink on top half yellow below.
  16. Dombeya rotundifolia - Wild Pear.
    Medium sized, deciduous, drought and frost resistant tree. Attracts birds which eat the pear like fruit it produces. Beautiful yellow blossoms in early spring.
  17. Dovyalis zeyheri - Wild Apricot.
    Medium sized, deciduous, hardy tree. Attracts birds which eat the small apricot like fruit.
  18. Erythrina lysistemin - Common Coral Tree.
    Small to medium sized deciduous tree, 6m. Beautiful red flowers before new leaves in spring on bare branches.
  19. Grewia flava - Brandybush.
    Shrub / small deciduous tree, up to 4m. Dry woodland and bushveld. Yellow flowers.
  20. Heteromorpha trifoliata - Parsley tree.
    Medium sized, deciduous, fast growing, multistemmed tree. Bronze coloured bark peels back in concentric rings makes this a good specimen plant.
  21. Leonotis dysophylla - Wild Dagga.
    Small, deciduous erect shrub. Attractive orange erica type flowers in early spring.
  22. Mundulea sericea - Cork Bush.
    Shrub / small, slow growing tree, 2 - 3m.
  23. Ochna pulchra - Peeling Plane.
    Small deciduous tree, 3 - 7m. Pretty smooth bark which peels off like the exotic plane tree.
  24. Pappea capensis - Jacket Plum.
    Small to medium sized tree, up to 7m.
  25. Pavetta gardenifolia - Common Brides Bush.
    Small, deciduous shrub.
  26. Peltophorum africanum - Weeping / African Wattle.
    Small to medium sized deciduous tree, 5 - 10m. Beautiful yellow flowers.
  27. Rhus dentata - Nana Berry.
    Small deciduous tree, up to 6m. Red shiny fruit.
  28. Rhus pyroides - Common Wildcurrant.
    Medium sized, fast growing, deciduous, drought and frost resistant tree. Attracts birds which eat the currant like berries in summer.
  29. Rhus zeyheri - Blue Currant.
    Small deciduous tree, 3 - 4m. Blue grey foliage. Occurs on rocky koppies and stream banks.
  30. Sclerocarya birrea - Marula.
    Medium sized tree, up to 10m. Frost sensitive.
  31. Scolopia zeyheri - Thorny Pear.
    Medium sized, deciduous tree.
  32. Securinega virosa - White Berry Bush.
    Small, deciduous shrub. Attracts birds which eat small white berries.
  33. Spirostachys africana - Tamboti.
    Medium sized tree, up to 10m. The sap from this tree is poisonous.
  34. Ziziphus mucronata - Buffalo Thorn.
    Medium sized, fast growing, deciduous, drought and frost resistant tree. Attracts birds which eat the large red berries it produces. Makes a good perimeter barrier as its thorns are rather profuse when young and difficult to untangle because one points forward while the other points backward. Shiny light green leaves hence the afrikaans common name Blinkblaar.

Sixty tree list from "The Tree House"

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Kiepersol tree

Trees are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence. They will stand after we are dust. They teach us, and we tend them. 
 - Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor 

My Kiepersol (Cussonia paniculata subsp. sinuata) in April 2012, just starting to show signs of winter 

Even though most websites say the Kiepersol (Cabbage Tree) is an evergreen tree, that has not been the case with mine here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa). Above is my Kiepersol in April, just before the winter, and below is my Kiepersol last week (Sept 2012) - it was completely bare, looking almost dead, but now sprouting new leaves and heads. 

Over the years it has changed from a single head to four or five, each consecutive winter frost taking its toll. Below you can see a new head forming on an old branch. 

New head and leaves 

Here it is also forming two new heads on an existing branch - so this one will have three heads. 

I planted my 50cm little Kiepersol in 2006 and within a year it had doubled in size. Two years later, in 2009, it had doubled in size again, growing to an impressive 3m within three years. 

My Kiepersol in December 2007 

My Kiepersol in 2009 

My Kiepersol in Feb. 2010 

At the beginning of 2010 it still had only one head and was almost 4m tall, beautifully thick and lush. 

My Kiepersol in summer - November 2011 

During the winter of 2011 it was severely frosted down and in spring sported three new heads, to my utter dismay! My beautiful Kiepersol now seemed destined to take on a completely new look! 

My Kiepersol at the end of Sept. 2012 - almost thought I'd lost it but now sporting brand new spring leaves. 

To date I've had a lovely trouble-free relationship with my Kiepersol. The only problem I've ever had was two years ago when ALL the leaves were sticky - extremely sticky! I gave the whole tree a thorough once-over, thinking it might be a kind of fly laying its eggs on the leaves, but apart from the stickiness there was absolutely no sign whatsover of any insects, no discoloration, no holes, nothing that I could see. And a Google search has also not revealed anything useful. 

Mountain Cabbage tree - Cussonia paniculata subsp. paniculata 

There are two subspecies of Cussonia paniculata. The smaller Mountain Cabbage tree C. paniculata subsp. paniculata has leaflets without lobes and has a limited distribution in Eastern Cape (see pic above) and rarely exceeds a height of 3m. C. paniculata subsp. sinuata forms a larger tree with deeply lobed leaves and is more widespread. This is the form more commonly found in cultivation and the one I have in my garden. They can grow up to 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m). 

Cussonias belong to a large family Araliaceae, which include Ginseng, Ivy, and several indoor plants. It is also closely related to the parsley family (Apiacae) which includes several popular vegetables and herbs such as carrots, fennel and parsley. 


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Chook (and Doris)

W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm (135lb) Smooth heavy-weight sketching paper 

This is Chook, my other rooster (besides Artemis) and he’s a Silky x Bantam, and almost twice Artemis’s size. But he runs like the wind if Artemis should even just look in his direction! Out of my 8 hens, he’s got three that dare to defy Artemis and hang out with him – Doris, Babs and Ginger. They’re actually very brave, because besides incurring Artemis’s wrath, Chook is rather large and almost squashes them while “having his way with them”!


Chook: You know what the problem is? The fences aren’t just round the farm. They’re up here, in your head. There’s a better place out there, somewhere beyond that hill, and it has wide open places, and lots of trees… and grass. Can you imagine that? Cool, green grass. 

Doris: Who feeds us? 

Chook: We feed ourselves. 

Doris: Where’s the farm? 

Chook: There IS no farm! 

Doris: Then, where does the farmer live? 

Chook: There is no farmer, Doris. 

Doris: Is he on holiday? 

Chook: He isn’t anywhere! Don’t you get it? There’s no morning head count, no farmers, no dogs and coops and keys, and no Artemis and fences!

Doris: In all my life I’ve never heard such a fantastic… load of tripe!


Friday, 21 September 2012

Dressed for Summer

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
~ Helen Keller 

I felt all bright and breezy today, so Hedgie's Nature Journal is dressed in brand new summer finery (I hope you like it!). Unfortunately Blogger doesn't provide much of a choice and I'm thinking of somehow customising it myself or getting a Custom Domain which might offer more creative themes. And so is Nature. Bright and breezy I mean, and sporting new summer finery. As the Northern Hemisphere heads into their Autumn, all my trees are sporting new buds and blossoms, new seedlings are popping out and even the Hydrangeas have woken up!

My Chooks are enjoying the sunshine and the new-found greenery. Being free-range, grazing the lawn and eating insects makes out a big part of their diet and while the grass was all brown and dried up, my garden suffered greatly as they ate anything green in sight! The funny thing about my chickens is that they won't eat any greens I prepare for them - I've tried everything, followed recipes from some wonderful chicken blogs, but no go. I've tried hiding it in other food, disguising it and coaxing them to take it from my hand, but they're determined to stick to the lawn. 

I've lined up some chores for this summer and one of them is up-grade my hen house and chicken run. I saw a chicken coup make-over on the internet, complete with little lace curtains in front of the windows and nest boxes. Now isn't that grand!

Another chore on my list (I'm a great list-maker, but at least I DO get through it, most of the time!) will be to landscape the area inside the chicken run. The run and hen house were constructed in a great hurry when I accepted a hen and ten babies as a gift early one morning, with nowhere to house them. An area next to the garage was fenced off and Solly and I started with the make-shift house. 

 A few poles in the ground, a couple of sheets of galvanised sheeting found in my 'scrap heap' and the basic structure was complete.

Then came the interior - all that was needed at this stage was some straw for ground-cover and a nesting area where Mommy could feel safe with her babies.

The chicks have all grown up into 8 beautiful hens and two lovely roosters, so now it's time for this 'temporary' arrangement to become a beautiful 'new' addition to my garden. 

I will be incorporating plants that will be able to withstand their onslaught on anything green and also some shrubs and small trees for some shade. Of course I'll be using Lavender (I like the English Lavender) and Sage as well as Geraniums, which they don't eat.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

They do have free access to the garden, but on the odd occasion that they have to be kept in, I would like it to be in beautiful and comfortable surroundings.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

Windmill Palm Sept 2012
Not being a palm tree lover, I nevertheless planted my Windmill Palm in November 2006 on the advice of my local nursery. I like trees that can play host to lots of birds and their nests and as far as I was concerned, palm trees didn't fit this category. I especially dislike Date Palms, but I had my arm twisted, once the nurseryman told me it requires no pruning and is generally pest and disease free, and  although this palm is native to temperate and subtropical mountainous areas of Asia including southeastern China, Taiwan and the Chusan Islands, I agreed to plant the Fan Palm in my bathroom courtyard purely for ornamental display and I can honestly say I'm very glad I did!
Fruit of my Windmill Palm

 Windmill Palm fruit as it opens (this was 3 days after the above photograph was taken)
The Hemp palm or Windmill palm as it is commonly known (Trachycarpus fortunei), are dioecious evergreen palms with a stout, fibre-covered solitary trunk bearing rounded leaves palmately divided into linear segments. 

Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants (so this palm is said to be dioecious). They are densely arranged on 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) long branched stalks called an inflorescence. The windmill palm's bright yellow inflorescence erupts from a packet-like bud in late winter and early spring and is held within the crown. On female plants the flowers are followed in late summer by round or oblong blue fruits that are about 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in diameter. Mine bears the yellow flowers but has never fruited, so I presume it is a male. In older individuals the fibers on the trunk sloughs away to reveal a smooth ringed surface. The Windmill palm is one of the most cold hardy palms available. It is beautifully compact and grows to heights of 20-40 ft (6.1-12.2 m) so no wonder it survived our very frosty winters here in Tarlton!
The coir-like hairy trunk
Now I get to the reason why I say I'm very glad I planted it. It is in full view from where I sit in the bath. This private courtyard is fully walled so in summer the folding-sliding doors are always fully open. From here I have watched the Cape Wagtails (Motacilla capensis) rear several sets of babies, the courtyard always offering a safe haven as they fledge, walking around the courtyard until they can manage to fly over the wall and into the garden. The youngsters would play, giving mock chase to one another, scrounge around for little insects and sometimes wander into the bathroom for a quick inspection. The Wagtails have hollowed out a beautiful chamber in the coir-like fibers of the trunk and lined it with soft grasses and feathers and have been using it for a few of years now, warm and safe from the elements

View of the palm from the bath

My OC Robin also just loves this courtyard, flitting from branch to branch in the palm, to great consternation of the Wagtails, who always try and scare him off but he firmly stands his ground or obligingly moves to the Olive tree for a while.
The weavers also make use of the long fronds of the palm leaves by snipping off a piece at the base and then flying off, tearing off long strips for their nests as they fly off. At first I was worried that it would damage the palm but it has had no significant effect. And they have provided me with hours of delightful watching as they sometimes struggle with the strips, often firmly clamping it in their beaks and flying backwards, tearing it off after a couple of attempts. I've even watched to birds fighting over the same strip, having a mid-air tug-of-war.
I can really recommend this lovely palm for your garden, trouble free, doesn't take up much space and South African birds love it!

The Palm in 2006 when I planted it (far right, in case you miss it!)
 My palm in 2009


Monday, 17 September 2012

Journal of a Season

“I am enamoured of my journal!” 
- Sir Walter Scott 

For half the year my garden lives a life of it's own. Then it's Spring and I can savour the blooms of successes - and cut my losses. Anything that gets killed by Winter doesn't get re-planted, I'm not a sucker for punishment! 

Pic from an old 1970's 'Victoria' magazine 

 I try and record most of everything that goes on in the garden from new plantings to removing dead items, which birds are new or just visiting or nesting, deaths and births, what the chickens or hedgehogs are up to and I also do sketches of new lay-outs in my Gardening Journal or new features I might want to add. 

This way I get a preview of how it might look and also scribble reminders of when the Bougainvillea or Clematis has to be trimmed back. It's really a scrapbook-in-progress of my house and garden combined, also containing new building and decorating projects as well as (on-going!) renovations. 

Insects play a large role in my garden and I have quite a collection of beetles, moths, butterflies and scorpions. And something some people find a bit weird - I have a large collection of skeletons and skulls of rats, birds and lizards. Whenever I find something dead, I place it in a bucket, wait for it to decay and then pick out the skeleton, wash and clean it up and leave it in bleach for a couple of days. Voila! A perfect specimen, which I showcase in plastic boxes. 

Exoskeleton of a scorpion I found in my garden. 

A few skulls from my collection (below) - the left one is that of a Kestrel, the two top right ones are from rats and the bottom one on the right is from a Laughing Dove. 

My journal also serves as inspiration for some of my sketches and watercolours, like the White Eye that frequents my garden on a regular basis. 

Cape White-Eye - Pen and ink sketch with colour wash in my Moleskine 'Nature' Journal 

My favourite pencil (below) for jotting down notes is made of a twig with lead inserted into the front. 

Writing things down not only acts as a 'release', reducing stress but also allows for a moment of contemplation that allows a clearer perspective on events to emerge. In high school my friends would make fun of me - you're doing your man diary again! So I was always trying to translate experience into words. 



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