Category Archives: ECOLOGY






It doesn’t seem to matter which charity book sale you attend, when or where, but you can count on finding a pile of that familiar rectangular, bright yellow bordered magazine. Often in mint condition, and dating back to the Year Dot – obviously lovingly kept in a cupboard or garage, evidence a lifelong subscription to the magazine. I note on the May 1988 copy I bought on Saturday ( Vol 173, No. 5) that 1988 was their Centennial Year. That’s an achievement, for a magazine devoted to the sciences, travel, and photography.
At various points in my life I’ve been a subscriber, or been gifted with a year’s subscription. And my 12 copies are stacked neatly on the shelf, for future reference, or to read that fascinating article on undersea exploration that I don’t have time for right now . And of course, during my next Marie Kondo book blitz off the pile goes, to a charity book sale.
Yes, I know we’ve got Google etc. etc. but nothing beats paging through the magazine’s gorgeous photos, and beautifully illustrated pictures/charts/diagrams on a topic you had never thought of or encountered before. Why, only this morning, over my mid-morning cup of coffee, I discovered an article on Fleas: the Lethal Leapers. I’ve now learned a whole lot of facts I rather wish I didn’t know!
But kudos to Nat Geo for keeping the flame of enquiry burning – may they live long and prosper.




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Readers of my blog will have seen from recent posts, Cape Town is struggling through the worst drought of 100 years. To add to our woes, we’re experiencing a very hot summer. For example, today’s temp is 36 degrees Celsius. Way too hot for me. I positively drool over blogs from the Northern Hemisphere showing snow pics.
Anyway. On Sunday I managed to spend a wonderful five hours in my favourite place, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. KBG have their own water supply from high up on Table Mountain, so the gardens are watered and present a restful oasis of green. There are benches placed under shady trees and shrubs, little secret leafy bowers, wood-chip paved windy paths leading to yet another cool, green shady spot.


And of course, the trees. Magnificent tall trees, in avenues, clumps, groups, pairs, scattered throughout the grounds of the garden, which is large – ‎528 hectares (1,300 acres). Because I live up the coast in a very windy coastal area, trees do not do well up here. Those that do grow are generally stunted and warped by the wind. Consequently, I suffer from tree deprivation. For me, one of the chief attractions of the Garden are the variety and number of trees.

After soaking my weary body, mind and spirit in Kirstenbosch’s green balm, I drove home relaxed and smiling, healed from my hectic week. If you’re hot and frazzled, I heartily recommend the Kirstenbosch Cure.










Look at my daily tomato crop ! Amazing! Steady, too. I pick a handful of ripe or nearly ripe little tomatoes every morning. They’re tangy, sweet and flavourful. All this from one heroic tomato plant growing in my bathroom drain. See my previous post on the topic.

The Universe is truly amazing – Thanks, I’m appreciative and grateful.
Whatever your circumstances, why don’t you plant a tomato plant today, whether in a small pot on your windowsill, or in garden soil, and watch what happens. My plant has thrived in a hot, sunny corner which affords it some shelter from our buffeting summer South-Easter wind. So if my plant has performed so splendidly in less than ideal circumstances, I’m sure you’ll be able to grow your own.
Let me know how your garden grows?





Sometimes everything works in your favour. Just for once!  Such was the case when Nina & I visited the Postberg Flower Reserve within the West Coast National Park  last  week. The Reserve is only open during Flower Season, in August and September, when our fabulous Spring wildflowers pop out. So I thought I’d share our lovely day with my readers. And also to show the more positive side of South Africa instead of the usual drama and disasters that blights our country.

Firstly here is a  pic of my faithful photographers standing in a field of flowers.  As I have said before  we’re the perfect combo – she likes to take pics and I  like to go on outings

.I couldn’t resist this pic – the carpet of purple flowers was gorgeous. Thanks to the strangers who provided perspective for Nina’s pic.


This was the one and only patch  of cerise flowers we saw – a genuine shocking pink!

Not so dramatic, but still beautiful.  If you look carefully at the two close-ups you will notice more tiny flowers in the pics. The white background is a mixture of sand and pulverised shells.


What a glorious day we had!






GATHER YE ROSEBUDS etc, but in my case:SNAILS

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where’s the Escape Route?

I wonder how you start your day?

I’ll lay you a small bet you’re not out in your garden, poking around in the undergrowth with your trusty braai-tongs, SNAIL HUNTING in the cool, early morning hours. Let me tell you that snails emerge from their shelly homes while the dew is still on the leaf, and they come out brandishing their knives and forks, starving for greenery …. my greenery, my plants – what’s left of them, that is. Those snaily jaws are munching manically every morning and not only on the plants, but on the paintwork on the walls and patio. If my entire house disappears,  it will be due to the ravenous molluscs. So out I go, cursing steadily while bending my aching back, but its Woman versus Garden Pests, and the war is on. My daily harvest fills up an empty 500ml yoghurt carton. Daily, mind you. The reproductive power of the snail is truly terrifying. Sometimes I wonder if my garden isn’t infected with a genus of super-snail that will eventually munch the rest of us out of existence. Forget about changing climate, Fukushima, political mayhem and the rest of it. It’s the snails that have got me worried!




I heard a fascinating radio programme on Sunday morning which related how the Little White Butterfly migrates from the Kalahari, right across Africa, to end its journey (and its life) off the Mozambique coast, and sometimes, as far away as Madagascar.  Apart from the mind-blowing physical feat of such a tiny insect flying thousands of kilometres what is even more astonishing is that nobody has managed to work out why they do this.

As a rule, animal migrations are connected with moving to better grazing areas (the great annual migrations of antelope across the African plains) or returning to birth places to breed – think of turtles or salmon.  But: the puzzling thing about the butterfly migration is that they breed immediately upon hatching from the chrysalis stage, and having laid their eggs upon the Shepherd’s tree, (also their hatching location) they then flex their wings, and fly off to their doom, 2 000 kms later.  It’s inexplicable. Lepidopterologists are scratching their heads. I’m shaking mine in amazement.

A FaceBook page has been opened so that members of the public can post reports of time, location and other data when the butterfly swarms – do we call them swarms? flocks? clouds? *I don’t know – arrive in their neighbourhood. By collating this data, it’s hoped to learn more about  the phenomenon. If you’re interested the link is:

Thinking about butterfly migrations leads me to Barbara Kingsolver’s most recent novel Flight Behaviour, which deals with the Monarch Butterfly migrations in North America. Having seen a marvellous TV documentary on the myriad orange butterflies, and the spectacle of roosting insects  creating vast swathes of orange trees in evergreen forests, and marvelling at the phenomenon, I was dead keen to read the book. Furthermore, the blurb indicated that the migrating butterflies had a transformative effect on those who witnessed their flight over the continent, and I thought: what a wonderful theme for a novel, the healing and transformative power of nature! But alas! I abandoned the book after the first 30 or so pages – the characters were so plain awful, I just could not bear to read any more about them and their miserable lives. Yes, I lack staying power and fortitude, I bow my head in shame, but – hey, guys! Life’s too short to read dreadful books. Sorry, but there it is.

*I am enchanted to discover that there are a number of collective nouns to describe large numbers of butterflies:  rabble, flutter, swarm, kaleidoscope, rainbow or swarm of butterflies.  A rabble of butterflies? doesn’t sound right, somehow, whereas ‘A rainbow of butterflies’ is sheer poetry. Take your pick! (thank you, Google, for the info).


Filed under ECOLOGY