Thursday, 24 November 2016

My not so secret garden

The garden at Towerwater is changing on a weekly basis with fruit ripening, vegetables growing and the rose garden preparing for a second flush.

The variety of fruit ripening in the domestic orchard makes for an exciting fruit season at Towerwater. The vegetable garden will change with the onions coming out, freeing up beds for tomatoes.

The mealies are at last looking like they will reach the height I had wanted for display in the vegetable garden. The white and purple brinjals that survived the snail onslaught can be planted out.

The flower bed at the bottom-end of the vegetable garden is abuzz with bees collecting nectar and pollen. There is no secret about what they are doing in the garden. The only secret is where they come from. They can travel up to three kilometres to collect their nectar.

With the thick yellow pollen around their knees, they look as though they might be wearing bright yellow wellingtons. I wonder sometimes if they keep in mind how far they have to fly to get back to the hive with the load of pollen that they have collected.

All my lettuce and basil seedlings were completely devoured by the snails. I bought some replacement plants for the herb garden but when I arrived at the bed where I wanted to plant them, I noticed a Raucous Toad hiding silently between the clay clumps.

Blending into his surroundings, he secretly waits for his next prey. I secretly hope it is a snail or slug. I decided to play his game and pretending not to see him, started on the next bed. My activity so close to home made him decide to move to his next-best secret spot. When he was out of sight, I turned my attention to the bed where he had been hiding and planted my new basil, tomato, parsley, sage and celery plants.

I sowed some new mixed lettuce seeds and hoped that my secret Raucous Toad will protect the future seedlings against the marauding snails. I could hear the Cape lizard in his ‘secret’ spot under the green lavender bush where he was watching my every move.

The untidy mess of grass seeds and twigs on the lawn under the oak made me look up. I saw the Cape sparrow couple ‘secretly’ building their nest. They flew to the next tree when they saw me looking up into the tree and pretended to be busy with something else. I pretended not to see the mess on the neat lawn and carried on with my gardening tasks. They immediately went back to building their nest.

The resident Cape Bulbul is my constant companion in the garden. I do not know if he simply enjoys my company or if he only wants to make sure that I am not messing up his garden. His movement when I go into the area of the garden where the Bulbuls nest gives away the reason why he watches me so closely. He is only making sure that I do not discover their nest. So I pretend not to notice his nervous body language when I get near and move away as quickly as possible.

As I move away, I can imagine him wiping the sweat off his brow, giving a sigh of relief that he has managed to keep the secret location of their nest.

I spend my days in the garden pretending not to be aware of the secret activities of the creatures that call the garden home. They spend their days believing that their secret lives are still secret.

I only smile to once again enjoy the not so secret lives in the garden.


  1. A masterful glimpse through your eyes into the 'behind the scenes garden'. Thanks for sharing and inspiring a different level of garden experience!

  2. In my next life I hope to meet a partner who has the same love of antiques,gardening, experimental cooking and liqueur making and the natural world. That would be my happy life.
    Thank you Thys for a lovely blog!!

  3. Thank you Ann, that is a huge compliment!


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