👣 In summer I always enjoy an early-evening walk on our smallholding. No need to get in my car to find nature, I have 8.5ha right here to explore, hoping to see the Barn Owl or some Guinea fowl, but always enjoying the Bluegum trees and beautiful grasses and wild flowers along the way.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Fennel weed

Camera : CANON EOS 550D

Taken along the roadside in front of our smallholding (Gauteng, South Africa)

Foeniculum vulgare

This weed is often seen along our roadsides here in South Africa and is also found in gardens, waterways, wetlands, open woodlands, pastures, grasslands and disturbed sites. It is an upright and perennial plant with branching stems and fern-like leaves, usually growing 1.5-2 m tall, but sometimes reaching up to 3 m in height.

Even though our smallholding hasn't been ploughed over for many years now (we just cut the existing grass), I did find a few on the property and man, I must tell you, trying to pull it out is impossible! It had to be dug out (luckily there were only three) and it had a huge root system - maybe due to it being cut down to ground level every time we cut our grass. Close-up the plant is very attractive, but as an overall picture, it looks a bit messy.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a significant and widespread environmental weed. This species can form very dense infestations that crowd out other vegetation. It is able to out-compete small native shrubs and ground-cover plants and is likely to reduce the amount of useful habitat available to native animals. It is of most concern along waterways and in wetlands, but can also affect remnant native vegetation in farming areas. However, it is palatable to livestock and is generally not seen as a major problem in farming areas.

This species originated in southern Europe, the Azores, the Madeira Islands, the Canary Islands, northern Africa (i.e. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) and western Asia.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Tarlton landscape

Acrylic painting on Giverny 240gsm acrylic paper - 12" x 9" unframed - done on location in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa)

Not far from us a friend has a dam on his smallholding. When we visited, it gave me a chance to try my hand at some Acrylics, no sketching beforehand.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Saturday thought - Dancing fire angels

Veldfire in Tarlton

Fire in
her eyes
and ice
in her words;
the dancing fire angel
what you get.

Friday, 9 September 2016

My Plekkie, my omgewing - Tarlton

Ek woon al 41 jaar in Tarlton, Gauteng, aan die grens van die Noord-Wes Provinsie in Suid Afrika, op 'n 8,5ha kleinhoewe op die R24 tussen Krugersdorp en Magaliesburg, waar die natuur meeste van my sketse inspireer.


Uitsig vanaf die tuin na die voordeur deur die Halleria lucida (Boom Fushcia) 

Voordeur vanaf onder die Karees 

DIE OMGEWING TARLTON is geleë half-pad tussen Krugersdorp en Magaliesburg, grensende aan die 'Cradle of Humankind' (Wieg van die Mensdom) wat 'n 'World Heritage Site' verklaar is deur UNESCO in 1999, en is 50km Noord-Wes geleë vanaf Johannesburg in Suid-Afrika se Gauteng-provinsie.

Die gebied beslaan 474 vierkante-myl en bevat 'n komplekse reeks grotte, insluitende Sterkfontein-grotte, waar die 2.3-miljoen jaar oue fossiel Australopithecus africanus ("Mrs. Ples") gevind was in 1947 deur Dr. Robert Broom en John Robinson. 

Die ondergrondse meer diep in die Sterkfontein-grotte, en wat die oorsprong van die Magaliesrivier is wat 15km verder by 'n oog in Maloney's Eye (sowat 5km vanaf Magaliesburg) uit die grond uitborrel.

Om en by 5km van ons af, is Maropeng, met 2500m² se uitstallings van fossiele en klip-gereedskap miljoene jaar oud, met 'n ondergrondse bootrit deur gange van soliede ys en voorstellings van vulkane en Antarktieka, restaurant, koffie-winkel en curio winkel. Maropeng bedoel "om terug te keer na die plek van oorsprong" in Setswana.

Maropeng van agter gesien 

 Maropeng ingang

Bootrit deur ondergrondse ys-tonnels

Een van die gange in Maropeng 

Nog een van die gange - Evolusie van die Mens

Omtrent 10km vanaf ons geleë is die 1400-hektaar Krugersdorp Wildtuin, met Wit Renosters, Buffels, Kameelperde, Seekoeie, Swart Wildebeest, Zebras en vele bokspesies, insluitende die raar Sable Antelope, Tsessebe, Elande, Waterbokke, Koedoes, Oryx, Rooi Hartebeeste, Blesbokke, Springbokke en Impala, met 'n spesiale 100ha afgekampte Leeu area in die middel van die wildtuin (waar die eienaar, Dirk Brink, so twee jaar gelede deur 'n trop leeus aangeval en verskeur is). Die wildtuin spog met die uitstekende Ngonyama Restaurant en offer ook ware Afrika verblyf.

Ingang na die Krugersdorp Wildtuin

'n Dam in die wildtuin waar ek al menigmaal skilpaaie of ander diertjies en voëls vrylaat.

Skuins oorkant ons plot is die welbekende Tarlton International Raceway, waar 'dragsters' die kwart-myl rekords verbreek en dorstiglik brandstof en buitebande verbrand!

Ons is ook omring deur vele volstruis-plase, vee-, groente- en blomplase, verskeie besighede, B & B's en bloekombome, wat aangeplant is vanuit Australia vir die gebruik van houtpale en -stutte in die vele myne in die omgewing.

Rustenburg is 'n uur se bestuur vanaf ons, Hartebeespoort Dam is so 40-minute ver en die 'Magalies Meander' strek vanaf Tarlton, deur Magaliesburg en deur Hekpoort, Vlakdrif, Maanhaarrand, Skeerpoort en tot by Hartebeeshoek, naby Broederstroom.

'n Pragtige gedeelte van Gauteng om woonagtig te wees!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Cosmos in Tarlton

Every March and November respectively our countryside explodes with colour when pretty pink and white Cosmos flowers bloom in early autumn and then again in late summer. They grow easily in the upturned soil at the side of the roads disturbed by the road scrapers widening the verges.The disturbance actually seems to trigger them into growing prolifically, but over the last decade or so, the municipality doesn't really clean the sides of the roads anymore (well, not here in Tarlton anyway), and for the last 3 or 4 years, the Cosmos has not been as prolific in previous years.

Crawling among the cosmos, taller than me, next to the side of the road to try and get a good shot of these annual flowers was quite an experience! I almost fell in a rabbit hole, got black jacks all over my pants, walked straight through a huge Orb Web Spider’s web before I realised it and even disturbed a family of Partridges, who scared the daylights out of me as they all raucously took to the air!

Cosmos is a genus of about 20-26 species of annual and perennial plants in the famil Asteraceae, native to scrub and meadow areas in Mexico (where the bulk of the species occur), the southern United States (Arizona, Florida), Central America, South America, south toParaquay, and South Africa. They are herbaceous perennial plants growing 0.3-2 m tall. The leaves are simple, pinnate, or bipinnate, and arranged in opposite pairs. The flowers are produced in a capitulum with a ring of broad ray florets and a center of disc florets; flower color is very variable between the different species. Cosmos, along with many of our succulent and aloe species, have become regarded as indigenous in South Africa and bloom in various colours - white, pink, cerise and red - no yellow in South Africa. Having them in your garden ensures a wonderful display of colour during early autumn and summer.

It's against the law to pick the cosmos flowers next to the side of the road, who knows why?? but Cosmos seeds are now packaged and available at most nurseries. Growing them in the garden is easy and they make a wonderful country-style cut-flower arrangement.And an extra benefit is that they seed themselves and will appear year after year.

Miles and miles of Cosmos next to the road in front of our property a few years ago


Saturday, 3 September 2016

A strange sighting!

Did you think your eyes are playing tricks on you? A cow on a shed roof?!

Well, it's actually a cow statue on the roof of the milking shed of a dairy farmer not far from us on the R24 here in Tarlton, halfway between Krugersdorp and Magaliesburg. She keeps watch over all her sisters as they graze contentedly in the pasture below her.

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