Yesterday we had a lovely, long, lazy amble around the koppie (small hill) at the back of our house. Layla rather half-heartedly chased some cattle that had wandered onto our property while Milo, who is as deaf as a doorpost now, completely ignored them. We stopped to examine plants growing out of rocky crevices and pretty wild flowers springing up through the burnt grass. Our neighbours with the big, vicious dogs moved out at the end of last month, without reimbursing us for the vet’s bill I might add! So we have the place back to ourselves, which is great. We can once again walk with the dogs wherever and whenever we like and they are having the time of their lives marking their territory all over again.
The koppie has never had much vegetation growing on it. When Essa lived here, her father took charge of burning firebreaks and every year the koppie was burnt out. For the past couple of years we haven’t burnt out because we thought it might give things a chance to grow. However, when I asked a local nurseryman and retired farmer for advice on how to encourage the growth of more plant life, he advised that we burn out every couple of years as this, in fact, encourages the natural grasses to grow. As we walked about the property he pointed out plants (mostly leonotis leonurus – wild dagga and agapanthus) that were growing in between the clusters of rocks that are scattered about the hill. He suggested that I replicate what happens in nature by planting in and around these rocks as they provide natural protection against fire and wildlife. So we planted quite a lot of indigenous trees and shrubs around these rocky outcrops (tarchonanthus camphoratus – camphor bush; rhus pendulina – white karee; halleria lucida – tree fuchsia; leucosidea sericea– umtshitshi (Zulu); and buddleja salviifolia – wild sage). And we burnt out, taking great care to avoid the new planting. It is now so exciting to see all the trees and shrubs coming into leaf, as well as all the wild grasses and flowers popping up all over the koppie.
I love chameleons; they are crusty and warty, but ever so cute at the same time. I spotted this critter in our courtyard and thought that he had a halleria flower stuck in his mouth. I watched him for a while and realised that it was his tongue and he was actually drinking rain water that had collected on the cement floor.
There is a beautiful Scrub Hare which we see quite regularly now in the garden in the evenings. I’ve named it Thumper after one of my favourite cartoon characters:
Thumper is Disney’s adaptation of Friend Hare from the novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods. The personality and visual appearance of the character was based upon Beatrix Potter’s Benjamin Bunny. The character Thumper first appears in the film Bambi, watching as Bambi is first presented as the young prince to the creatures of the forest. He remarks that Bambi is “kinda wobbly” but is reproved by his mother who makes him repeat what his father had impressed upon him that morning, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. This moral is now known by such names as the “Thumperian principle”, “Thumper’s rule” or “Thumper’s law”.
Did you know that?
This sociable olive thrush (or more correctly, but unfortunately, called turdus olivaceus) always keeps me company when I’m gardening, constantly rummaging for grubs (the bird, not me) and hopping about in the undergrowth – well, that could be me!
There’s definitely something to be said for a lazy life.