The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Tshwane (BEST) project aims to measure the contribution to ecosystem functions and services by native plants in urban contexts. The native garden at Future Africa is one of two native patches that have been implemented on the project, the other being at the Javett Art Centre on Hatfield campus.

Some of the native plants went into dormancy and shed their leaves between June and July. The irrigation was switched off the beginning of June and only partially resumed to once every two weeks since August (due to the rising temperatures experienced). In spite of the currently flowering Freesia grandiflora and Aloe greatheadii, the garden is quite bare and many plants have turned brown. Popular expectations are for gardens to be green all year round, and the native garden is challenging this cultural custom, requesting an appreciation for life and dormancy of native species. In August the dead leave matter will be gradually pruned to make way for new foliage that will appear with the rising temperatures and spring rains.

Entomology student, Agata Morelli, has been seasonally collecting insects in the garden in March and July this year. She has experience challenges with pitfall traps filling up with water and finding feet on the control and comparison sites for insect collection. The collection will recur in September for the spring period. Prof Sole and Prof Pirk from the Department of Zoology are overseeing this honour's project.

A MSc in Landscape Architecture student, Martine van der Walt, will consider the ecosystem functions provided by native plants in urban contexts in comparison with non-native commercial plants, specifically the refugium, climate regulation and soil formation functions. She will also monitor how these native species fare in urban environments in terms of plant plasticity (adaption to temperature and moisture extremes). The student is supervised by Dr Breed from the Department of Architecture.

A MProf student in Landscape Architecture, Garrick Nileson, have taken carbon soil samples in the native and non-native garden areas and the control areas in June. Since the soils were imported for the newly developed native and non-native garden areas, the samples serve as baseline carbon samples at this point for future comparison. Dr Breed along with Dr Stoffberg from UNISA, a carbon expert, are supervising this project

Feesia grandiflora, currently flowering since July.

Feesia grandiflora, currently flowering since July.

Many of the native plants turned dormant and brown in June/ July, calling for an appreciation for their life and dormancy.

Many of the native plants turned dormant and brown in June/ July, calling for an appreciation for their life and dormancy.

Haplocarpa sp. that often goes completely dormant in the winter months. Note the closed insect ground trap to the bottom right of the plant.

Haplocarpa sp. that often goes completely dormant in the winter months. Note the closed insect ground trap to the bottom right of the plant.