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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Saturday 8 March, 2008: Sunflowers after the snow

After the snow, sunflowers bloom. Here is a very mature sunflower against a bright blue African sky to cheer your day. Today three friends and I paid a visit to the Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre about 35 km outside Pretoria, in a range of hills called the Magalies Moutains. Margaret Roberts is a household name in South Africa. She is a feisty enviromentalist, a sought after public speaker, an author, a successful businesswoman and a proud grandmother. A CV to be proud of.

Behind the bench blooms a bed of blue plectranthus. This is a genus belonging to the mint family, 350 species in the world and 53 of these in South Africa. The name means spur flower and I collect the plants of the species, mostly because they grow happily in the shade under my big trees.
Here is part of the herb nursery at the Centre. I bought another kind of plectranthus and a bay laurel to plant in a pot outside the kitchen door.
Margaret Roberts is a herbalist of note who writes and lectures about the medicinal value of herbs. My current favourite is basil. It grows prolifically in my herb garden under the oak and I eat handfuls in a salad, with tomatoes doused in olive oil for suppers. I have just checked again on its herbal value: good for stomach ailments and an anti-depressant.

Below flourish the lavender beds. Can you see the white butterflies?
An indigenous blue waterlily. Wish I had a pond with goldfish in my garden but it is hard enough cleaning up after Galahad's daily swim in the pool.
Isn't that the most stunning pink bougainvillea! It's the colour a diva should pick for a pink boa to wear at La Scala.
We had lunch under the trees and then on to the book launch of Magaret Roberts' latest book: The forest fairies and the great battle. It's a children's book, beautifullly illustrated and tells the story of the brave forest fairies who take up the cudgels against developers determined to ruin the countryside for the sake of the big bucks to be made from another luxury housing estate. Ironically, we saw so many new developments of exactly that kind on our drive to the Herbal Centre. This area still has small widelife like jackals, duikers (a small mountain buck about the size of a terrier), tortoises and a myriad of birds and insects; all ofwhich are driven out or destroyed by the bulldozers. I guess we do need the forest fairies to do battle all over the world.


Kari & Kijsa said...

Such beautiful photos!! Come on over and leave this post (or another filled with spring fun!) link to share a bit of spring and wash away those winter blues!

kari & kijsa

fairmaiden said...

Thank you for visiting Sea Cottage. Oh me, Oh my, I just love your thatched roof cottage and in AFRICA! I used to dream of living in Africa. When I was 20yrs. old I was stationed to go to West Africa with the Peace Corp to work in the clinics with Mama's and babies in Nutritional Education. But I got pregnant with my first born and they don't let you go with baby. We thought God would open another door, but still hasn't. Now I am so happy here and I have a fear of flying so I probably won't make it to Africa. But I will be happy to visit it through your sweet blog. Glad to meet you.