Monday, November 24, 2008

My Garden is Alive!

The closest identification we can find for the arachnid above, is the fishing spider. However we found this guy on the garage wall about 300 metres from my garden ponds.
I'm unable to identify the caterpillar pictured above, but I know it will change into a beautiful butterfly if left alone

If you click on the above photo to enlarge, you'll see a juvenile common fiscal previously called a fiscal shrike.It's also known Jackie Hangman: it hangs it's prey on thorns or barb wire fences

A few weeks ago we had a few millimetres of rain, then nothing more. Not a drop. Every morning dawns hot and still; getting hotter as the day progresses.

Here I need to explain: the Free State, a summer rainfall region, often experiences dry weather. Instead of the rains arriving at the beginning of the South African spring, (September), we can wait up to four months before the first decent showers give us relief.

This year, however, we have been greatly blessed. On 15th November, the first rains poured down and down and down. By the end of the weekend, hubby measured 50mm (approx 2 inches). I live in a farming town and the weather plays a very important role. Everywhere we went in town this week, were people with huge smiles on their faces. The co-operative has buzzed with farmers purchasing seed, and planting materials or just standing around chatting, totally relieved that the rains have begun at last.

As for me, my garden is thriving after the showers. The lawn has been mowed for the first time this season; the shrubs and trees have perked up their foliage. The best of all is the wildlife that is flourishing in my own paradise. All around me are signs of activity. My ponds are a visited by Karoo and Olive Thrushes, Cape White-eyes, Southern Masked-Weavers, Cape and African Pied Wagtails, Wattled starlings in their breeding status, Malachite Sunbirds, Cape Sparrows, a variety of Pigeons and Red Faced Mousebirds.

On the house' side of my garden the Cape Robins are stealing titbits from the dog’s bowl; (at least they're eating Megan's diet food, she refuses point blank!) the Hadeda Ibis are probing the soft grass for worms with their long curved beaks; the Black Collared Barbets are enjoying the fruit on my bird feeder.

Everywhere there is life. Everything is alive and rejuvenated after the refreshing conditions.

Very noticeable is the nest-building and courtships being conducted in the garden. The industrious male weavers are frantically building nest after nest to attract the best females; the quiet, unassuming Laughing Dove flies to and from her chosen branch high up in the karee (Rhus lancea) over my driveway , building a rather flimsy nest; the Black Collared Barbets are already feeding young in the sisal nest I erected a couple of years ago in the white stinkwood tree (Celtis Africana) while the brood parasite Diedericks Cuckoo, calls from a nearby thicket (I've yet to catch a glimpse of this elusive bird) awaiting its chance to lay an egg in a weaver or sparrow nest when the coast is clear.

The Laughing Dove sitting on eggs in her very flimsy nest

I don't kill anything in my garden; I leave every living thing alone to allow the food chain to run its natural course. No insecticide or any other poison is ever released in my garden space either. The snails, grasshoppers, beetles, ladybirds, frogs, snakes and all manner of flying insects are safe from human harm in my garden.
The only thing is that I am so sorry for my “slimy” friends who, after a shower of rain, come out onto my patio in their hundreds. (I kid you not). Before anyone is allowed to move their vehicles, I pick up as many snails as possible and carry them to the safety of the flower beds. Of course, this is a source of great mirth to my family and friends alike...
Early last Monday morning my husband was waiting
to go to the city on business.
I went with him, but not before I'd picked up all the snails
that could get squashed under the car's wheels!
One of the hundreds of snails (Thiba Pisana) on the patio
after the lovely rains last week


  1. I love your garden philosophy! I love Spring and time of growth, especially now as we head into a long season of winter. Well, it feels long :)

  2. Hello! What a lovely article. I enjoyed seeing your local creatures. Rain is a blessing even when I think we've had too much.
    Have a nice day.

  3. Yes, Toni, I thought you'd relate. I leave everything alone and am rewarded with the most wonderfully alive garden. Thanks for popping in. Hugs Jo

  4. Hi Dedene, lovely to see you here again! Yes, I can imagine that you can have too much rain! Your country is so beautiful and lush and green. Hugs Jo

  5. Laughing doves look like our Mourning Doves...your snails are positively humongous in comparision to those found in western pa.

  6. Hi Tami, yes, the African Mourning Dove also is similar to the Laughing Dove, but the LD has no band on its neck, and it has speckles on the chest, It is also a gentle and genteel dove compared to many other doves and pigeons here in SA. Phew, I thought "my" snails were tiny, this is an adult, some of the babies are SO small I have to handle them with care not to hurt them. We do get a huge - up to 20cm, snail here in SA (in the warmer parts) called the Land Snail (Glass Gastropoda) which I THINK is native to SA. It has a hard shell which is mustard brown with wavy brown stripes on it. It is edible although the garden snail (my photo) which is alien, is a relative to the snails which served in many restaurants in Europe. I, however, only save my snails ;) Hugs Jo


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo