JUST ME :: and a stack of blank pages

Monday, July 11, 2016

Kei-apple botanical - and a Chameleon

Ink sketch and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm – Kei Apple tree and a Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleonidae – (Chameleo dilepis)

The Kei-apple, Dovyalis caffra, is well known all over the eastern parts South Africa, common in open bush and wooded grassland, and often near termite mounds. It is a thick, shiny, spiny shrub up to three metres in height. The branches are armed with straight, robust spines up to 7 cm long. Fresh, ripe fruits are rich in Vitamin C and pectin and, following the example of the Pedi people who squeeze the juice onto their pap (porridge), they make an excellent addition to a fruit salad and to muesli and yoghurt. Nature seems to know best when to give us the right foods to boost our immune systems in preparation for the onslaught of winter colds and ‘flu.

Last year my trees also bore an abundance of fruit for the first time ever and I ascribe this to the fact that we get heavy frost here in Tarlton (South Africa). It has taken almost seven years for my trees to reach just over three meters tall and I was absolutely thrilled to have the fruit. Of course I had to try them but they really are too acidic, with a slight hint of sweetness, to enjoy on a full-time basis. And I’m therefore also not surprised at all that Torti, my Leopard Tortoise, did not touch any that had fallen on the floor. But they look really beautiful displayed in a dish!

And the Chameleon didn't seem to have any problem with the huge thorns! I was really thrilled to see him in my garden as these lovely creatures seem to be getting scarcer and scarcer.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Plant for the Planet

W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm (135lb) Smooth heavy-weight sketching paper, from my imagination, no preliminary sketching.

“One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.”
—U.S. Department of Agriculture

Plant for the planet, plant for the people. Planting trees is a simple way to protect and support the local environment, agriculture, water supplies, community development and health, as well as the world’s climate.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A gate in the Karoo

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
 
Many visitors to Karoo National Park in South Africa access the Park by car as this allows them the freedom to explore the park at their own leisure. Instead of heading to your destination on the main tar roads, try something different – like a drive along the gravel. But be warned – there are many gates to open en route!

The Park is a convenient stopover on the N1 route between Cape Town and the interior of the country. Cape Town is situated about 500km south of the Park. Johannesburg is situated about 1 000km north of the Park.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Euphorbia cooperi

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Euphorbia cooperi (or Lesser Candelabra Tree, Transvaal Candelabra Tree, Bushveld candelabra euphorbia), is indigenous to South Africa. Found in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Swaziland up to Messina in the Limpopo Province, prefers well-drained soils and is mostly found in rockier places, often on granite outcrops and in rock cracks or in wooded grassland and thorny scrubland, in planes and in steep hillsides on north-facing slopes. This spiny succulent grows 4-7 m tall and produces small yellowish-green flowers in spring and summer.

I had this one in a pot in my garden, but unfortunately it succumbed to frost one severe winter.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bushveld tranquility



Artline200 Fine-point Black ink pen and W&N watercolour in my Moleskine 200gsm Nature Journal

The Limpopo river, the second largest river in Africa, flows in a great arc, first zig-zagging north and then north-east, then turning east and finally south-east. Then it serves as a border for about 640 kilometers (398 mi), separating South Africa to the south-east from Botswana to the north-west and Zimbabwe to the north. There are several rapids as the river falls off Southern Africa’s inland escarpment. In fact where the Marico River and the Crocodile River join the name changes to Limpopo River. The waters of the Limpopo flow sluggishly, with considerable silt content. Rainfall is seasonal and unreliable: in dry years, the upper parts of the river flow for 40 days or less.
- Info Wikipedia

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rose of friendship

Black ink sketch and watercolour  on a sketch pad

Long associated with beauty and perfection, red roses are a time-honoured way to say express love and affection. Whether it’s for a birthday or just to express appreciation for someone, there’s no better way than a red rose to express your feelings.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Aloe route

Ink sketch and W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

This is the road I take (I call it ‘my aloe route’) when I go to visit a friend in New Thorndale just on the other side of Magaliesburg (Gauteng, South Africa). There are dozens of Aloes along a certain rocky outcrop and in winter it’s a wondrous display when they all flower.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Grass Aloe


Watercolour sketch of A. cooperi in my ‘Nature’ Journal



In the hope of reaching the moon
men fail to see the flowers
that blossom at their feet.

- Albert Schweitzer

I found a large clump of Grass Aloes not far from home on the road to Magaliesburg (South Africa), flowering profusely after all the veld fires we had this past winter, spread out over the charred landscape, providing bursts of red colour.

Grass Aloes are an appealing group of deciduous aloes. As the name implies, they grow mainly in grasslands subject to winter fires. Their leaves and colours resemble their habitat, making them difficult to find when not in flower. These largely miniature aloes have very attractive flowers, making them desirable, if difficult, plants to cultivate. Their growing pattern is closely related to the winter fire cycles of the veld here in South Africa, some species responding directly to burning and producing leaves, flowers and later seed after such events.

This interesting Aloe belongs to a group of deciduous aloes known as the “Grass Aloes”, which are adapted to grassland habitat and are able to survive both fire and frost during the cold dry months. They are often burned during winter and then re-sprout with the onset of spring.

This well known grass aloe is commonly found along rocky ridges and rocky slopes on the Witwatersrand and Magaliesberg as well as in mountainous areas of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga. In years gone by it was even more prolific, but numbers have been greatly reduced due to development on the ridges and from harvesting by succulent collectors. A number of different forms are found throughout its distribution range.

Grass fires used to be less frequent in earlier centuries. They were initiated by lightning strikes, on the whole, at the beginning of the rainy season in September and October. These fires were ideal in that they cleared the habitat of moribund grass and other vegetation just before grass aloe species initiated their growth cycles.

Fires are more frequent nowadays and may occur at any time during the dry winter months from May until late spring, October. Plants are as a result, left exposed to harsh conditions for many months before they start to grow. Some species are even starting to appear on the endangered species list.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Echeveria imbricata in terracotta pot

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

 An Echeveria in a pot on my patio (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

This popular and vigorous succulent has 4 to 8 inches wide, tight rosettes of flat grey-green leaves that, when mature, form offsets freely to form large solid clumps 4 to 6 inches tall. It has a branched arching inflorescence bearing clusters of red and yellow flowers in the spring and early summer. Plant in full sun, even in hotter inland gardens, to part sun/light shade in a well-drained soil and water regularly. Although it is is cold-tolerant, it does not do well in heavy frosts, therefore most of mine are planted in terracotta pots for easy winterizing.

This plant is often listed as a species or as E. x imbricata but is a hybrid cultivar created in the early 1870’s by Jean-Baptiste A. Deleuil of Marseilles (Rue Paradis) that resulted from crossing Echeveria secunda with E. gibbiflora ‘Metallica’ and was listed for the first time in his 1874 catalogue.

It has been argued by some that the correct pronunciation for the genus is ek-e-ve’-ri-a, though ech-e-ver’-i-a seems in more prevalent use in the US.

Category: Succulent
Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrops)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red & Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Echeveria x imbricata]
Parentage: (Echeveria glauca x E. gibbiflora ‘Metallica’)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cactus - Cereus jamacaru (Een-nag-blom)

Ink sketch and watercolour wash on Bockingford 300gsm – 8″ × 12″ 

Cereus jamacaru (Queen of the Night, Een-nag-blom)
Classification: Cactaceae
Incorrectly referred to as Cereus peruvianus in South Africa.

The Peruvian Apple Cactus, Cereus repandus, is a large, erect, thorny columnar cactus found in South America as well as the nearby ABC Islands of the Dutch Caribbean. It is also known as Giant Club Cactus, Hedge Cactus, cadushi and kayush. With an often tree-like appearance, the Peruvian Apple Cactus’ cylindrical grey-green to blue stems can reach 10 meters (33 ft) in height and 10-20 cm in diameter. The nocturnal flowers remain open for only one night. Unfortunately this plant has been declared an unwanted “invader” in South Africa due to it’s fast-spreading habit.
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Die Kaktus Cereus peruvianus (of Een-nag blom) is ’n boomagtige kaktus, partymaal tot 10m hoog, wat vir net een nag van die jaar asemrowende wit blomme voort bring. Ongelukkig is hierdie kaktus as ’n ongewensde indringerplant verklaar in Suid Afrika as gevolg van hul gewoonte om uiters vinnig te versprei. Daar is groot verwarring oor die eintlike naam van hierdie kaktus, aangesien Cereus vir heelwat kaktussoorte gebruik word. Die spesienaam, peruvianus, dui aan dat dit endemies is aan Peru, maar dit is ’n botaniese fout. Hierdie plant is eintlik endemies aan BrasiliĆ«, Uruguay en ArgentiniĆ«.

Hierdie een groei langs Solly se kaia op ons plot (Tarlton, Gauteng, Suid Afrika) en hy was verskriklik ontsteld toe ek voorstel ons moet dit verwyder. Nou is hy die dood voor die oƫ gesweer as ek sou sien dat dit enigsins versprei!

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