21-day lockdown – Day 4 – Creatures in the garden


21-day lockdown – Day 4 – Creatures in the garden

We’ve encountered some interesting (and sometimes quite funny) scenarios when it comes to creatures in people’s gardens. Everything from clients insisting they don’t want any spiders in their new garden, to neighbours who haul out doom and start spraying their soil, because they uprooted some plants and saw that the soil was ‘infested’ with insects!

But as Pitta Joffe so wonderfully put it in her beautiful work ‘Creative Gardening with Indigenous plants’: “A garden has to be alive to thrive!”

Praying mantis

Perhaps a reasonable analogy here is to compare our soil health to our gut health. As many leading health professionals are advising us, getting the microbiology of our gut in balance is one of the fundamentals of overall health, which is why we are often prescribed probiotics if we are given a course of antibiotics. We might not like the idea that our gut is full of billions of bacteria, but these tiny microbes are part of what is keeping our overall health in check, and it is much the same with our soil. Constantly throwing pesticides at our gardens to kill off ‘unwanted insects’ will in the long run have a detrimental effect on the health of our soil, essentially turning our gardens into barren wastelands where nothing thrives.

One of our resident skinks, whom we affectionately call lizzy 1/2/3 etc.. Sunning on our bee-hotel

If this is you then we’d like to suggest you take a new approach to gardening, which is to embrace the biodiversity of your garden and encourage insects to visit it and be a part of it. Not only will this create a healthier environment for you, your family, and your plants, it will also bring in more of the creatures you really do want, such as butterflies and birds.

Larvae of the Citrus Swallowtail butterfly, munching on a Vepris Lanceolata (White Ironwood)

Citrus Swallowtail butterfly on Dietes bicolor

So in this regard – and as we enter day four of the lockdown – we thought we’d share with you some of the creatures we’ve photographed in our own garden over the past three days, and would like to encourage you to go out and photograph insects in your own garden. It should be noted that our garden is completely lawn-free, which has not only lowered our maintenance and watering costs, but has brought in a wealth of wildlife into what is essentially a small suburban space. We’ve done our best to identify each of these wonderful creatures, but for others it’s just a pleasure to have them as part of our garden, even if we don’t know their names!

cricket on bulbine frutescens

we call these “nunu’s”, on our African Dog Rose

crab spider waiting for prey to land on a scabiosa

jumping spider

blowfly on Sunbird Bush (Meturungia longistrobis)

carpenter bee – one of our favourite insects

hornet inspecting the foliage of a Forest Elder (Nuxia floribunda)

Garden acraea larvae, on its host plant Kiggelaria africana (Wild Peach)

Garden acraea butterfly, feeding on scabiosa

Garden Inspector butterfly (dry-season form), again on Scabiosa – if you want to feed nectar to your butterflies, this is the plant!