Would you believe that it was a scraggly-looking Ginger Bush (Tetradenia riparia) that clinched the choice of our family home? Well, that and a dining room large enough to accommodate our eight-seater table. The latter was the ‘head’ reason to purchase the house in spite of its dilapidated state and sadly neglected garden. The ‘heart’ part was the Ginger Bush nodding in the breeze at the wooden gate. It ‘sold’ the house to me by opening my mind to its potential to become the family home we were seeking.
Why the Ginger Bush? Why not the size of the house, its proximity to schools, or the neighbourhood it was situated in? Yes, those aspects were important too – later. One feel of the slightly sticky green leaves between my fingers unlocked an olfactory aromatic memory that took me right back to the garden of my childhood in a second.
It reminded me of the soft lilac blooms that made such a brave show during the dry winters; it made me think of my mother; it seemed to invite us in to this strange place; its familiarity suggested that, after weeks of house-hunting, all would be fine. That Ginger Bush touched my heart and made me feel quite at home in what was still a strange town.
The original Ginger Bush succumbed a long time ago to the periodic droughts we experience in the Eastern Cape. It lives on though in the several other Ginger Bushes throughout the garden: whenever a branch broke off I would stick it into the ground – most of these have taken root and grown.
Our garden is very dry at the moment. Several of the aloes are now past their prime. It is the time of year when the bright green leaves of the Ginger Bush have already turned yellow and are starting to fall off. In their place the buds have been steadily growing.
Before long we will be treated to the lilac blossoms again.
As a matter of interest, this indigenous Ginger Bush is no relation of the culinary root ginger, but is a member of the mint and salvia family.
We love our home and have spent many happy years here. In my heart, I will always thank the Ginger Bush for bringing us here!