How to bring Mother Nature to your door

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest
Photo by Maurício Filho on Pexels.com

Outside the window to my left there is a nest in our mulberry tree. Both parents are back and forth constantly, carrying wormy morsels for consumption by two tiny, hungry baby birds. I have been watching this beautiful process for about three weeks now, starting when I noticed the two adults putting the final touches to their compact little nest, right in front of the glass doors at one entrance to our house. If I wanted to I could clear the distance between the entrance and the tree in two or three strides, stand on the bench just beneath it, and reach up and touch the nest. At first I thought I was surely mistaken: why would they build so close by? Had they not noticed that there are people living here, using this very entrance several times a day? Not to mention our cat (okay, he’s elderly and has never climbed that tree, but he’s often in the area), and that all things considered they had best find another spot?

 

But they persevered. Days later it became clear that there were eggs in the nest, with one adult spending a lot of time sitting there with his or her mouth open, (I think they take turns) and awaiting sustenance. The other parent’s job is then to fetch and carry food, to make sure that the other doesn’t go hungry. And then suddenly there were babies. We couldn’t spot the babies at first, but there was clearly some feeding of little ones going on, with both parents involved and alternating between sitting, finding food and generally fussing around the area in a parent-y kind of way.

 

The birds are Karoo Thrushes, common in Johannesburg gardens and preferring shady, woody areas under trees, where they can forage for insects, spiders and other small creatures.

 

Within a few short weeks this particular little family has flourished, despite several thunderstorms (typical of Johannesburg at this time of the year) which could knock the sturdiest of birds’ nests sideways in no time. Each time, I waited with bated breath whilst rain and hail poured down and wind howled, with loud thunder claps and lightning flashes enough to make your heart skip a beat.  As the storms abated I would peer out and noticed with relief that the little nest was still in tact with one parent, soaking but stoic, still huddled down, covering and protecting the young ones beneath.

 

The first time I first saw the babies was beaks- up, mouths wide open, awaiting the descent of the morsel held in the parent’s beak as he/she alighted the nest. Even more special was the first time I spotted their little bobbing heads, faintly downy and backlit by the morning sun behind the tree, creating a bright little fuzzy halo of newly forming feathers.

 

The past five years (almost exactly to the day) has seen many special wild creatures visiting our garden, some even making it into the house. Spiders: some of them venomous, frogs, herons (which catch and devour the frogs and goldfish in our pond), a tawny eagle, an owl, a small snake, flying bats, scorpions, a variety of wasps, bees and butterflies, damsels and dragonflies, and of course an endless variety of garden birds.

 

How to bring Mother Nature to your door? I can’t say exactly, but no doubt our organic garden (no chemical fertilizers or pesticides) helps to create the right environment. But more than that: perhaps the secret ingredient is love 🙂 The people living here and holding this space do so with love and commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle and to ‘treading lightly upon this earth’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My mid-summer garden: Circa January 2019.

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In my garden: Cucumber vine (early stages of fruiting)

 

My garden has breathed a sigh of relief, following some impressive afternoon thunderstorms, so typical of Johannesburg at this time of the year. Many a seedling wilted and died last month, after weeks of unrelenting, frustratingly rain-less heat which rendered even the toughest of our garden plants (aloes and crassulas) gasping for relief. January 2019 has offered some rainy respite, bringing with it a sense of fresh renewal and the garden has responded accordingly. Not that we haven’t had some failures: seeds lovingly planted have mysteriously not produced (I have learnt to accept that this sometimes is just so), seedlings have shriveled and expired in the heat, and our lovely lettuce was set upon by some bug or worm with a very large appetite. In this case I have been determined not to use chemical insect repellents, and thankfully our preferred organic alternatives are slowly making an impact.

Please enjoy the pictures to follow. Each one snapped by me earlier today:

 

 

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Borlotti Beans

 

 

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Perfectly ripe red apple

 

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Comfrey, red Salvia and Origanum

 

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Tree stump and Bulbanella

 

 

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Agapanthus and bee, with white Alysum in background

 

 

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Cycad (new growth in centre) with pond in background

 

 

 

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Vietnamese Coriander: pungent and delicious

 

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Our garden angel, with Rose Quartz. Pond reeds in background

 

 

 

♥♥♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Loving my garden: nature at my fingertips

 

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In my garden: ornamental grasses

“….Everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”— May Sarton.

Autumn 2018 in the Southern Hemisphere will begin on Tuesday 20 March. I am in awe of the splendour of my garden as we reach the last few days of our glorious summer weather here in Johannesburg. I am grateful for the hail and rains that have fed my garden; the breathtaking lightning and thunderstorms so typical of our Highveld weather. I am grateful for the sunshine that has helped bring out the best of what the garden has to offer: herbs and veggies in abundance, flowers on their best display, insects, spiders, frogs and lizards, birds and birdsong. I am grateful for our hard work and patience (yes, we have had to help our garden along over time, helped it to recover from the years of neglect, built up the impoverished soil that we inherited when we took this property on just over four years ago). And nature is a marvel, because it will come back. The joy and abundance that I experience as I look out from my back door makes every moment of hard grind feel worth it.

 

I trust you enjoy the pictures below. Each one snapped by me today or yesterday 🙂

 

 

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Blue Felicia Daisy

 

 

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Kiepersol (Cabbage Tree), Aloes and Comfrey
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Spanish Daisy with Ladybird

 

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Pond Grasses
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Variety of Succulents

 

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Transvaal Aloe (and our cottage at the back)

 

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Crocosmia aurea

 

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Porkbush and Pelargonium

 

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English walnut: ready to harvest

 

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Bulbanella and Spanish Daisy

 

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Pink Gaura Butterfly Bush

 

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Succulent in Flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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