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I would like to introduce myself. My name is Brigid Jackson. I have been working in the gardening industry since 1992 in the Western Cape. I currently landscape and a partner in an private organic gardening project called Ariston Elemental Organic Garden Project.
To garden naturally you have to be organic. Tending an organic garden is an enjoyable and practical way of caring for the environment naturally. During the last century, many traditional gardening methods were displaced by the “chemical approach”. All creatures great and small and all plants other than crops were regarded as parasitic, if not pestilential. We were led to believe that pesticides and weed killers were essential elements in gardening. This has resulted in a vast industry, based on petrochemicals, that has been detrimental to the environment and has had the effect of polluting our water, destroying wildlife and wildflowers, and contaminating the air we breathe. It has also resulted in food being produced lacking in essential nutrients and contaminated with residues. These practices have undoubtedly wreaked havoc on the ecosystems of our gardens. You may have wondered why there are fewer birds, butterflies, insects and other wildlife. As destructive as human are, they still surprisingly desire to have some wildlife in their gardens, but usually only those creatures they favor – such as some birds and butterflies. Many gardeners have not realised that nature does not operate this way. Every single plant or creature relies on some other for support. Elimination in one section of the environment, even a small area such as your garden, will have a detrimental effect on others. A war against nature is inevitably a war against us.

Gardening as a pastime has been for centuries enjoyed by Princes and paupers alike. Even Nelson Mandela enjoys gardening. It was one of the few privileges allowed to him during his later years of imprisonment. In his autobiography, Mr. Mandela states –

to plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a
simple but enduring satisfaction.

Indigenous trees such as Stinkwood (Ocotea bullata), Yellowwoods (Podocarpus), White Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme), which have been hundreds of years old have been felled to make furniture, boat and bridge building, floors, doors and ceilings. The protea nitida (Wagon Tree) for making wagon parts and tanning. Today, in the whole of South Africa, only 0.25% (yes a quarter per cent) of the country’s surface is covered with indigenous forest. Our grasslands and fynbos are also under threat and many of our endangered plant and bird species only occur in such habitats. Recently the newspapers printed a story on how the farmers are spraying their proteas crops to stop the sugarbirds from feeding on them. Internationally there has been a huge uproar. In addition grass and fynbos form an important part of the catchment areas, which ultimately supply the water to our taps. Some three quarters of all the plants in the South African Red data book occur in the Cape floral kingdom. Tragically, the highest concentration of the Red Data Book species in the world is in the greater Cape Town metropolitan area. It is an alarming fact that the last remnants of South Africa’s indigenous flora are disappearing at an alarming rate. Unfortunately many gardeners do not realise that their well-kept gardens with exotic plants where every insect has been eliminated, have become wastelands with very little life. – Green Deserts.
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