07 April, 2014

Hearts in stone

 - gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Wherever I go, rocks and stones, follow me home. My signature is a palm size relief map of Africa, complete with our ridge of Cape Fold Belt mountains. If you travel from Cape Town along the Atlantic seaboard to Hout Bay. Drive further up to Chapman's Peak. In earlier years, the most beautiful stretch of road I have ever travelled in South Africa. When the Ungardener was first a tour guide there was an elderly African gentleman, who spent his working day keeping the road clear of fallen stones. 

Our gravel paths

Then a woman was killed in her car by a falling rock. The road was closed, loose rocks removed. How wonderfully, gloriously different was that view, when we were walking along, quietly chatting. Silence, just a brisk breeze and birds calling. Diana is always searching for rocks, and I found Africa! 

D L J stones

My sister found a heart shaped stone, but I have only found our initials. D, then J, as we were travelling across the Karoo on a wedding anniversary. Later Jurg found an L to slot in. D L J. Type-the-sky 

Semi-precious treasure to be found by little people

Our paths and driveway in Porterville are covered with gravel. What we could afford. And allowing winter’s downpours to soak into our garden. Another souvenir of his working days was a litre of tumbled semi-precious stones. Which he scattered amongst the crushed sandstone. To the delight of small children, whose eyes are so much closer to the ground! 

Stones collected in a glass jar

Collection of stones from my glass jar

When I was at school, the Parade was a place to pick thru junk and antiques. There I found this square glass jar, with its faceted stopper. Other women remember a passing stranger who gave them flowers. Faded and gone, but the memory lingers. I was a geology student, heading home on the train, when a young man gave me a handful of tumbled stones. Now the collection has gained a tiny blue circle of sea glass, a few slivers from the chunk of rose quartz, a flake from the sand rose, rounded sea pebbles, a couple of sharply squared off ‘pebbles’, some rough diamonds. 

Limestone from Malta
lava from Ascension Island

I no longer remember where I found my pink bird in flight … The rock with the shell embedded is from my sister, when she visited her daughter somewhere in the Americas. The limestone is the Ungardener’s, from Malta. For once we had a quiet peaceful leisurely holiday (except it was autumn, bird hunting season). The houses on Malta are built of this soft golden stone, and Jurg asked one of the startled stonemasons for a small piece to take home. The red chunk of lava is a piece of Ascension Island, from when we returned on the RMS St Helena

Stone Age tools and sand roses

Those lenses of fine sand, are naturally formed together to create sand roses. Found buried in the Sahara desert. The hand axe and the tiny flaked stone chisel, were both acquired by the Ungardener, somewhere on his travels. What a profound feeling, to hold in your hand, a tool, made and used in the Stone Age. What I felt in the temple at Ggantija on Gozo. Where people once worshipped, 2 thousand years ago. 

Pictures by Diana Studer  

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  1. such a beautiful post, this touched my heart, you have such a beautiful collection and amazing stories for each one, I share your love of stones, take care my far away friend,

  2. Oooo, I love the Stone Age tools. Would love to get my hands on something like that to join my fossil collection

    1. wish he could remember where he found them. Australian Outback? Sahara Desert?

  3. I collect bits of stone and shells too. I never know what to do with them though. Seems a shame to stick them in a drawer. I want to see them to be reminded of the day or vacation when I found them. Your glass bottle is a good idea for me to think on.

  4. I really like the glass bottle, too. It's a great idea for displaying your collection. I might have to borrow that idea! I've never heard of sand roses before--what a fascinating phenomenon!

  5. My husband collected stones when he was little. Now all that is left of his collection is a stone age hand axe lying on the window sill. I didn't know about sand roses, they are fascinating.

  6. Diana, is your main blog this or your other? You're keeping two blogs going, I take it? I love hearing about your world, a sort of frontier life so different to most gardening blogs.

    1. Faisal, while we wait in limbo, and certainly thru 2014 I am running 2 blogs. Hoping that by next year we will have sold the Porterville house ...

  7. Quite a collection...I love your collection of stones from your glass jar the best. I collected rocks and stones as a child and had quite a collection myself...not=w I collect what we dig and put back in the garden...