Books for Nature Lovers
Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants (Revised edition)
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Review By: South Coast Herald - 7 December 2012

There has been a lot written about indigenous versus invasive alien vegetation just lately, particularly down here on our coast. 

Ther can be no two ways about it, indigenous is good, invasive alien is bad. 

As far as gardening is concerned, I can only say from personal experience that an indigenous garden can be a delight, not only from the floral side, but from the faunal side too, because you would be amazed at just how much is attracted to a natural garden. 

With all of this in mind I came across a new book the other day, Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants, a South African Guide, * a truly delightful publication that really does spell it out for the amateur and the professional alike. 

This is the second edition, the first was 10 years ago, but is has been completely updated and of course, the past decade has seen an explosion in interest in indigenous gardening and this is reflected in the book. 

It deals with the seven different garden types or biomes of South Africa – here on the coast we all have forest gardens – and to my delight, looks at some of the beasties and nunus you’ll find in you garden, including birds and butterflies. There are also comprehensive notes on plant propagation, potting, pest control and many other necessary topics. 

The plants are then dealt with in colour-coded sections: trees (small, medium, large); shrubs (small, medium, large); accent plants; climbers; herbaceous perennials, ground covers and bulbs; water gardens; and annuals. 

Each entry or page, and there are well over 300 of them, has the various names, from botanical to local, a description, uses in the garden, other uses, cultivation and natural habitat, as well as the flowering time, height and width and a distribution map. 

Of course there are many hundreds of really good photographs too, covering all the species. 

It’s a glorious book and apart from indigenous gardens and gardeners, it’s good as a general reference guide as well, and with Christmas just around the corner, too. 

Now, to reader Fred Sabbagha of Margate and the titanic struggle he observed between a spotted bush snake, a thrush and a Natal robin. 

Firstly, we’ve seen a bush snake being strafed in a tree so it clearly is acceptable behaviour, but we’ve never seen a bird as small as a thrush do a raptor on a snake. Well done, that’s a first for me. 

Fred also commented that he had seen these snakes climb straight up a vertical clinker brick wall. Well, our snakes (we had two in The Hide the other day) have been known to go straight up the side of our wooden house, treating the horizontal quarter-rounds as steps, and even better, straight up the wooden supporting piers (our house is four metres off the ground). 

So, you’re not safe, even up a pole. Cheers! (and think of that book for Christmas). 

121 Soutpansberg Road
South Africa