31 March, 2015

How I blog, my blogging tools

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

I began blogging at Elephant's Eye in June 2009. Between Blogger and Wordpress, Blogger won with David Kutcher who gives technical support and encouragement on Google Plus and his blog Confluentforms.

Iron Bridge on the Berg River near Porterville

Daily - I moderate comments. Check Gmail (for spam, and) to retrieve where the spam filters have been TOO enthusiastic. Stats at Blogger include referrer spam (which David K says is harmless, ignore it). StatCounter - Came from (which blog or website brings me traffic?) - Exit links (did you click, what?) - Downloads (why THAT image?) I read about 100 blogs via Feedly.

25 March, 2015

Our False Bay garden hidden behind building chaos

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

We are promised six weeks for the renovations. For April's Wildflower Wednesday (March is Spicebush) and End of Month View (March) I will walk slowly round the garden and take a fresh set of THIS is Where We Begin photos. Today I lurk, plan and remember March flowers in our Porterville garden.

Celtic knot sandblasted across the bottom pane of the bathroom windows

We (including an unconcerned Aragon and a despairing Chocolat) live, eat, sleep and wash in the main en suite and guest room. The bathrooms have sandblasted Celtic knots for privacy below and ours has a wonderful view across the mountains (with some 'hedge' planned across the immediate neighbours).The second bathroom and kitchen are concrete shells. The living room waits and waits for the last window.

17 March, 2015

Nearer God’s heart in a garden at Rustenberg

- gardening for biodiversity 
in Cape Town, South Africa

This year I hoped to gather rare plants for our new garden but the Rare Plant Fair has been postponed. Maybe next year? In April we will go the Plant Fair at Kirstenbosch for indigenous plants.

Nearer God’s heart in a garden. With the whole verse.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth, -
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

We saw this verse displayed when we went to Rustenberg Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch for the Rare Plant Fair in March 2009. In 2008 I was so engrossed in the plants, that I didn't even realise, that there is a serious garden there.

Enchanting work
in this brick-paved path at Rustenberg

10 March, 2015

Mountain fires and rainbows

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

On the 3rd of March Cape Town was the hottest place on earth 42C (107F)! It was cooler at only 33C (91F) on False Bay. 'The sky would crack and split and thunderous crashes would rearrange huge blocks of air as though the universe itself were in the throes of some vast quake' from Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout. One almighty clap of thunder on the 4th of March started another fire at Cape Point. Fires began on Sunday 1st March and fire crews and spotter planes monitor for flare ups. RIP Hendrik Marais whose helicopter made a forced landing.

When we moved in, the mountain burnt on the other side of the valley. We walked in November 2009 in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains in search of fire flowers. With the efficient disaster management which began after Cape Town's huge fires in January 2000, I am encouraged to read a botanist's calm explanation of why and how fire is good for fynbos. At the Porterville museum is a San Bushmen exhibit with the shaman doing a rain dance. 'Male' rain is hard and destructive, causing flooding. 'Female' rain is soft soaking into the soil, so the grass can grow, for the animals they hunt. For the crops the women gather. To heal our burnt mountain.

Groot Winterhoek November 2009 flowers after fire