Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gardening and art in Mwadui

Yesterday I finally finished painting the pottery tiles Amanda had left for me. These are for my friend, Sonja who has moved back to SA. The tiles will be baked when Amanda returns in December and afterwards any one of us South Africans going out again in the New Year, will take them home to Sonja! This is the first time I have ever drawn anything so it was quite a challenge. However, I am motivated now to continue with this exciting new hobby when I return to camp next month.
My first solo attempt at drawing, painting and decorating pottery tiles. You can see by the designs that I pulled out all the stops. I sure had fun!

As it's four months since we enclosed our back garden, I thought I'd share photos of what it looked like before and what it's like now.
 Photo taken mid-June with friends at the back of our house
 Our enclosed garden photographed this week
 A closer, wider view of the enclosed garden: note the three cats enjoying the greenery

Before we enclosed the back area with reeds, due to two boisterous dogs in our large garden, the cats weren't able to wander safely outside. Having this cosy area has made a great difference and we spend most evenings out there with our kitties. Often Marnitz joins us and as posted before we've had a potjiekos meal as well as many BBQ's out here. 

One thing we discovered though, was that our youngest cat, Ambrose is able to clear the fence in one swoop if left to his own devices. In fact, one evening something (I cannot think what) spooked him and he did exactly that. Marnitz and I dashed around the outside of the reed walls and there was little Ambrose, crouching in between the roots of a tree just beyond the fence. Two very surprised dogs, sitting about a meter away were just staring at this apparition which had fallen from the sky I yelled so loudly (at the dogs, poor things) that Ambrose took fright once more and sailed back over the fence into the garden where Grant was waiting! 

Last week Grant sent two men from the workshop to add six rows of wire suspended between angle iron stays which they'd welded to the orignal  posts. Facing inwards, we hope this is a deterrent if ever Ambrose should try to clear the fence again! 
 Semunye and Asmani add six strands of wires to the top of our fence

Meanwhile I have sown and successfully grown planters of herbs and sweet pepper seeds just outside my back door. I also brought back a sprig of mint from home in September.  I mollycoddled it in a small tin in my bedroom window until it had eight leaves true. Then I planted it out into a larger plastic container outdoors where it is doing exceptionally well. I have asked  Edward to water it and the other herbs daily while I'm on leave.
Young, strong basil plants grace the rectangular planter; the  round bottle in the center boasts my healthy South African mint, the lush plants in the background bottle are cat-nip (the cats have turned their noses up at this!) and the newly planted bottle in the front will soon sprout sweet peppers and coriander/cilantro. 

Last but not least, I have two sunken bird baths in the garden which, along with seeds that I put out daily, attracts a host of Grey-headed Sparrows, several Spotted Palm Thrushes, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleus, Red-billed Firefinch and the ubiquitous doves. There are also a few resident colorful lizards who rush up to the seeds and nuts for a quick snack. At night we've heard (and also seen while out there BBQ'ing with friends) frogs enjoying the refreshing water of the ponds. 
 The "piece of string" that interested Ambrose in the garden turned out to be a dead baby snake

This week while sitting out while the cats frolicked around in  the garden beds, we noticed Ambrose trying to lift, what looked like, a piece of white string. Eventually I unfurled myself from my relaxed position on the garden chair and walked over to have a look. It was a baby snake, albeit dead as the proverbial doornail. It had been dead for a while, so we couldn't blame Ambrose for its demise!  The fact that we already have a variety [small] wildlife visiting our garden is exciting. It makes you realize that the garden is healthy, inviting and alive 

I hope you're all having a great week.  


  1. Your garden is coming along so nicely; lush and green. I see you've been having lots of fun with your pottery. Good for you. It's always wonderful to have a satisfying hobby or two. xx

  2. Your garden has grown. I so love how you create home around you wherever you are.

  3. What cats can't jump they climb. Like your tile designs.

  4. Nice garden, Jo! But, I can do without the SNAKE!! Of any kind or size!! Eeek!

  5. Oh Poor Ambrose!Hahaa!
    What a scare...Love the backyard!

  6. that snake would have me running screaming to the hills


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