JUST ME :: and a stack of blank pages

:: Living creatively ::

About me

This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play. The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is. I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away. When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!

Monday, February 29, 2016

An African Moon in December

Black Pilot Lettering pen ink sketch of a full moon over my garden in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa

Sketching again...

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a Joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?
- By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Aloe peglerae

Parker fountain pen, black ink and W&N watercolours on Bockingford 300gsm watercolour paper

All the Aloes are in full flower and the winter got all 3 of my Aloe ferox, burnt the flowers brown. This is Aloe peglerae, which I saw in the veld on the way to Magaliesburg, endemic to South Africa occurring only in Gauteng and one other province (North-West province). It is listed in the Red Data list of South Africa as an endangered species on the extinction queue if not protected or grown for ex-situ conservation.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bulbine frutescens (Balsemkopiva)

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Bulbine in a container on my patio (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

Commonly called Bulbinella, which is incorrect as Bulbinella is a completely different species, Bulbine is effective in preventing skin infection, healing and soothing cuts, rashes, insect bites, burns, cold sores, pimples and other skin problems. Its clear and soothing gel forms an invisible ‘seal’ over the wound, protecting against bacteria and providing ongoing relief and healing throughout the day. When you work in the garden, cuts and scrapes are inevitable and picking some of this Bulbine in my garden and applying it straight away has saved my bacon many a time!

It is a very attractive succulent indigenous to South Africa which needs little attention, and thrives in most soil types and in most weather conditions. The juice from the leaves is used in creams, and can also be applied to eczema, burns, rashes, fever blisters and stings etc. I often use it on cuts and scrapes I might pick up while working in the garden.

This native of South Africa occurs naturally in the Orange Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and parts of all the Cape Provinces.

Afrikaans: balsemkopieva, copaiba, geelkatstert, katstert

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sunrise over No. 84

W&N watercolour and ink sketch in Moleskine 200gsm sketch-book

Sunrise over our smallholding (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Arums - Cloak of Silver-white

W&N watercolours on Daler-Rowney 300gsm

Arums in my garden

Unfurl your cloak of silken white
Reveal your secret wand upraised at length
And not unlike a star you shine serene
To exalt the autumn-tide with silver cups*.
- Unknown

White or common Arum Lily (English); Wit varkoor (Afrikaans). The striking arum lily “flower” is actually many tiny flowers arranged in a complex spiral pattern on the central column (spadix). The tiny flowers are arranged in male and female zones on the spadix. The top 7 cm are male flowers and the lower 1.8 cm are female. If you look through a hand-lens you may see the stringy pollen emerging from the male flowers which consist largely of anthers. The female flowers have an ovary with a short stalk above it, which is the style (where the pollen is received).

These plants are native to Southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Young Aloe ferox

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
In my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

My experience is that this aloe (A. ferox) spreads easily from seed – from my original three plants, I now have over ten. They have sprung up all over the garden, obviously from seeds dispersed by the wind and birds. The only problem is that some of them are in unwanted locations and now I have the job of moving them to more suitable spots. But a chore I’m going to enjoy!

Aloe ferox (also known as the Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe and Tap Aloe), is a species of arborescent aloe indigenous to Southern Africa.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Graptoveria "Fred Ives"

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

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A succulent given to me by a friend a couple of months ago growing in a pot in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

Category: Succulent
Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrops)
Origin: Mexico (North America)

x Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ – A beautiful and durable succulent plant that produces large clumps of rosettes to 8 inches tall by nearly 1 foot wide with broad bronze and pink succulent leaves atop short stems with 1’-2’ long branched inflorescences bearing red-orange centered pale yellow flowers in summer. Plant in full to part sun in a well-drained soil. Little irrigation required.

The leaves are broad and stiff, overlapping each other, with concave upper surface, rubbery to the touch, waxy pearly-bronze to purplish yellow-orange to blue green (depending on time of year and growing conditons). Often shading from grey-blue at the centre out to orange-bronze-purple. The purple blush is fairly consistent throughout the seasons. Higher light and heat seem to increase the purple a bit, though.
This is a vigorous plant and is great as a container specimen or in the ground in well-drained soils or raised planters. It is reportedly a hybrid of Graptopetalum paraguayense crossed with a plant in the Echeveria gibbiflora complex.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Echeveria imbricata


Ink sketch and watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book – 8″ × 5″

I’m absolutely mad about Echeverias and have a small section in my garden set aside just for them. My collection started off in the late 70’s when my father gave me three rosettes in a pot, which I transplanted into a rockery and soon they covered the whole area. Since then I have given away hundreds to friends, the geese got out of the pond area and made a hearty meal of them and they’ve survived many of the severe frosts we get in our area.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Winter blues


Black ink sketch and colour wash in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book.

Winter here always has bright blue skies and blue Kingfisher daisies flowering in the garden.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Autumn reds


Black ink sketch with colour wash in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book

Autumn – The colourful month of May filled with red daisies and orange leaves.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spring splendour


Black ink sketch with colourwash in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book

Spring is always a celebration of new light green leaves on the Celtis africana (Stinkwood tree) and sunny Euryops daisies.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fickle (and no, it’s not a plant!)

I sit here before the world, a very fickle person. Somehow I thought that I would be able to quit having so many blogs (I’ve got 28!), keeping only those important to me and deleting the rest. In stead, I make most “private” every now and then, but just for a while before making it public again, confusing the hell out of Google Analytics! On and off. On and off.

The problem is, I can’t stand to see a “public” blog just lying there, with the last post being a year ago. One of my pet peeves is finding a wonderful blog, only to discover that it has been abandoned. I know that one changes, that one loses interest in a certain topic. That’s life. Life changes constantly and what I was interested in five years ago might not be applicable now anymore. But why don’t people then just delete it? Why don’t I just delete it, especially those that don’t get many hits and don’t seem to interest anybody?

One reason could be that I want to keep the blog URL. Once you delete it, it’s gone forever. Another reason is that I just LOVE designing blog templates. I get great pleasure out of designing and manipulating the html code to see what I can come up with. And once I come up with something I like, I don’t want to let go of it! Another problem is, I have s-o-o-o-o-o-o many interests. Art, nature, gardening, jewelry making, collecting aloes and succulents, books and reading, insects, cooking (only of late), animals and wildlife, birds, my chickens, and thoughts on the Universe as a whole. And I’ve got enough thoughts and experiences for each topic to warrant its own blog. I’ve thought of putting everything on just one blog, but I’ve been told that blog readers are very specific. They have their topics and interests, and only want to read about that. So if you’re a chicken-lover and there are many other posts on all sorts of other random topics, they don’t return to that blog.

Another part of the problem as to why I can’t delete any blogs might also be that, in real life, I’m a hoarder. Don’t get me wrong, not as in those “Hoarders” TV programmes, but as in “collecting” things - feathers, stones, pebbles, pieces of driftwood, shells, notebooks, journals, fountain pens, crystals, pieces of wire and wood (there’s always some building project going on somewhere here on the smallholding, so just in case I need it), even cardboard boxes, in case I need to pack something away.

In the décor of my home I’m quite disciplined - I won’t display too much at one time, rather pack away a few things and bring out something new for a change. So there I’m OK, but my MAC is groaning under the weight of files, images, blogs and other useless information that I’ve collected over the years. A lot of it is necessary, like business and personal files, and as for the rest, it’s time for a clean-up. Fairly easy to do, just a bit time-consuming, but then, the internet is so full of wonderful stuff that needs collecting again! Thank heavens Blogger allows you 100 free blogs! lol!

Would you like to see all sorts of other random topics on this gardening blog…? Let me have your thoughts, thanks!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Daisy love in Spring

Watercolour in my Moleskine 200gsm watercolour paper Nature Journal 

FLOWERS ARE ONE OF THE GREATEST INSPIRATIONS FROM NATURE!

Every Spring I revel in the masses of daisies that appear in one corner of my garden – no matter how cold the Winter has been, they’re the first to welcome the warmer weather with their beautiful colours!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Summer Cosmos


Black ink sketch and colour wash in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book.

Summer goes hand in hand with fields of Cosmos flowers every November to March, covering the landscape in pinks, cerises and purples.