Sunflowers Reach for the Stars

Plant Abundance

An absolute riot is one way to describe Chatelaine Cullinan’s micro-farm in suburban Howick. Sunflowers reach for the stars, purple zinnias are a buzz with bees, brown cucumbers (yes, brown) twirl along fences, plump butternuts climb the walls and chickens cluck contentedly.

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Riot might conjure up images of disorder, but this is incorrect – Chatelaine knows exactly what she is doing – patterns and colour are what she loves most.

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It is a bit of a surprise to find an unkempt meadow lurking behind an ordinary pre-cast wall, where most neighbours have mown lawn. “We need fodder for the chickens, so we naturalised a bit” Chatelaine tells me “why waste time and energy mowing lawn when the butterflies and birds far prefer a meadow?”

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When she moved into this garden, not that long ago, it was a green desert. Her partner Dave is a farmer, but more of a monoculturalist…

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