Morse code makes interesting art

    Morse code is a system, developed by Samuel Morse from 1838, that encodes the alphabet and numerals from zero to nine using dots and dashes, i.e. short and long signals of an acoustic, visual or tactile nature, and can also be employed to encode and decode speech. In the more recent years, artists have used this system to create interesting features and art works.

Morse and Codes are a pair of sculptural arrangements by artist Brigitte Kowanz, in which horizontal neon tube lamps are mounted above one another to form a vertical light sculpture that engages with the subject of light in a multitude of ways. At intervals, black sleeves of varying width block out the chalk-white colour emitted by the lamps, with the illuminated and black sections combining to produce a graphic pattern that spells out the title of each work in Morse code.

At the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Wim L. Noorduin and fellow researchers make minuscule sculptures, curved and delicate, that don't resemble the cubic or jagged forms normally associated with crystals, though that's what they are. By simply manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid, they can control the growth behavior of these crystals to create precisely tailored structures and micro-vessels that encode a letter in Morse code via the thickness of their ripples. The researchers are able to control the size of the ripples by either raising the carbon dioxide level and causing the wall of the structure to thicken or lowering it so that the wall thins out.

See more at Brigette Kowanz and Scientific American.

Inwood Design

Irrigation Technology becomes digital

While the extent of local irrigation company's integration of their irrigation systems with digital devices is limited to their user manual being viewable on a smart phone or a programme run-time calculator app, international companies are progressing fast into digital integration at the touch (or slide) of a button.

Technology advancements have allowed companies like 22seed, Cyber-Rain and Hydrawise to develop and/or promote apps (applications) that use local weather data to determine and set customised plant watering programmes.

Their systems include a physical control unit that is compatible with standard 24-volt AC in-line solenoid valves and is therefore interchangeable with many existing irrigation systems, and an iOS app (downloadable from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store). The app communicates with the physical controller on site via Bluetooth or via WiFi and also makes use of a web application to manage home irrigation remotely.

These apps can flexibly control up to eight watering stations using the cloud-driven weather data, subsequently preventing unnecessary watering, conserving water and saving money. For example, heavy rain or severe heat might trigger a suggested change in the watering program, that is flagged and adjusted on the user's device.

Removal of the traditional physical interface that dictates on site adjustments are done as and when weather changes weekly or seasonally, passes on savings to the consumer by utilising the user's existing mobile device instead, and creates a live and dynamic irrigation solution that is customisable and programmable according to changing local climates and individual landscape needs.

Other developments currently underway extend this apps' use past residential homes and golf courses to include farm irrigation system control for specific crops and drip irrigation system control like those used by strawberry farmers. Users can set up parameters once for a field, including row spacing, irrigation system output and efficiency and planting and estimated harvest dates. That information is stored under the user's registration for future use, allowing for a quick check of the latest irrigation recommendations every time the app is accessed. The app for farmers combines field and system information with data from the nearest weather station to calculate evapotranspiration and the crop's water needs.

Future possibilities for further apps integration could include fertiliser calculators and guides for insect and disease control for farmers too.

Source : Hydrawise, 22seeds and Cyber Rain.

Irrigation Apps

Knysna Loerie

The Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) or more commonly known as the Knysna Loerie, is a large tree-dwelling turaco that is found exclusively in the mature evergreen forests of southern and eastern South Africa.

Within its range, this is an unmistakable bird, although often inconspicuous in the treetops due to its green and white plumage colouring. It has a small but thick orange-red bill, a brown eye etched in a deep red eye-ring, a white line just under the eye that contrasts with the mainly green plumage and a tall green crest tipped with white. The Knysna Turaco is 40-42 cm long, including a long tail, and in flight, shows amazing bright crimson feathers underneath its wings that are believed to be a mechanism to trick and escape predators.

Turacos (the 10 species of the Tauraco and the 2 of the Musophaga) are the only birds to possess true red and green colours, as the turaco's red pigment (turacin) and green pigment (turacoverdin) both contain copper (most birds colouring is a reflection produced by the feather structure).

The Knysna Turaco is usually seen flying between forest trees, clambering around in trees and hopping from branch to branch in search of fruit and seeds, which they swallow whole. They exist usually in pairs or small family groups and noisily defend their territory with a hoarse 'kow-kow' noise.

According to the CITES II, the Knysna Loerie is not globally threatened, but future population projections indicate it will be affected by coastal deforestation.

Source: Birds of Eden

Knysna Lourie

Deep in the forest

A one lane track from the parking lot of Monkeyland just outside Plettenberg Bay, leads the traveler slowly and deeper into the untamed indigenous forests of the Garden Route. Trees arching overhead leave little space for sunlight to shine through, but the air is full of the sounds of happy birds chirping away. At the end of this narrow track into the netherlands is a wonderful nature lover's paradise - Trogon House and Forest Spa.

If the forest calls your name and R&R is on the list of needs, then this spot is the perfect answer for a romantic long weekend away or a week away to relax with the girls. Elevated in the tree tops and using only natural materials, it embraces the forest by means of glass walls and sky-lit roofs, inviting the forest inside and creating a true nature forest experience for every guest.

One of the best treats at Trogon House is their Spa Room - it is a fully glassed room with a fireplace, spa bath and sauna and can be hired out in the evening for a few hours with candles, wine and a food platter to get you in the romantic mood. Being glass on every side, the spa room is tucked away in and amongst the trees, creating a private, peaceful and serene area to relax in and engage with your love or close friends. Imagine the crackling of a wood fire, the echo of the forest around, tribal beats humming gently in the background, the glow of the candles, the bubbling of the Jacuzzi and the steam of the Sauna - a journey further and further into undisturbed calm.

Their Malabar and Tomba Villas are laced in extravagance. The warm colours of the decor compliment the tones of the wooden structure, deck and natural stone accent walls. An African artefact collection that took the owners over 10 years to collect and restore is tastefully displayed amongst priceless antique indonesian furniture and fine silks, making this forest haven similar to what we would dream of as a Balinese tropical escape.

Large fireplaces in the living areas and underfloor heating in the bedrooms and bathrooms take the chill out of the winter air, while the inviting blue pool and shaded deck cools off the summer heat. The wooden walkways that link the two Villa's take one to The Forest Boma where outdoor dining can be done under the cool of the trees on a hot summers day and gently lit by the moon, stars and fire light at night.

Absorb the scent of the forest, observe the dance of the fireflies, and enjoy the serenity of being one with nature.

For more information visit the Trogon House website.

Trogon House

Hot News

Our Resources - revamped

The Gardening Resources section of our website is currently being revamped to include our seasonal gardening tips, our sowing and planting guides and other interesting information in a much more visually appealing array.

Check it out!

Featured Plant

Acokanthera Oppositifolia

Acokanthera Oppositifolia
(Common Poison Bush)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous shrub to 4m with white flowers.

Flowering time :

Winter - Spring

Conditions :

  • Sun / Semi-shade
  • Average Water
  • Semi-deciduous
  • Wind resistant
  • Frost resistant
  • Enriched soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Lady in Red

Winery : Doolhof
Winemaker : Friedrich Kuhn

Description :

A warm, rich Bordeaux-styled wine. This lady is seductive, sophisticated and elegant.

Aroma : This garnet red wine has an intense perfumed melange of red and black fruit with cedar undertones.

Palate : The fruit / oak balance is harmonious with soft firm tannins, cassis and plum flavours producing wine of excellent structure.

Winemaking : The blend includes all 5 of the Bordeaux varieties which are each fermented and matured separately for 14 months in 225 litre French oak.

Food Pairing : Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary.

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mielies
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swisschard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    July's Teaser Answer :
    "Spring Fever"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82