Every autumn I look forward to the rivers of gold that hang from the trees and threaten to weigh down the shrubbery. The magnificent annual display of Canary Creeper (Senecio tamoides) blossoms has to be seen to be believed for the masses of yellow flowers, especially when highlighted by the sun, are a treat.

The prolonged drought must have finally taken its toll of what has been a real stalwart in the garden. I was delighted when the first clusters of blossoms opened and looked forward to weeks of more, along with the bees, butterflies and birds that they attract. Alas, this was not to be.

That ‘river’ of gold remained dry and after only two weeks the blossoms were gone, never having made much of a show at all. The flowering period usually lasts from late March until July. I have missed their delightfully aromatic scent and am left with their fluffy creamy white seeds. Now I might find one or two clusters peeping out in isolated spots, but no more. While the creepers should recover in spring and will hopefully drip with colour next autumn, this year’s autumnal treat was very short!


The winter cold is associated with the end of a vibrant life cycle and a period of dormancy as shown by these leaves and the dead dahlia head:

Leaf litter

Dahlia head

Most of our trees are evergreen, as are the euphorbias and aloes:


Aloe leaf

The aloe flowers are both beautiful and provide important nutrition during this harsh season.

Aloe flowers

Blackjack seeds abound, just waiting to be dispersed.

Blackjack seeds

While self-sown cosmos make a brave start.

Cosmos seedling


We are missing out on one of the highlights of the year, the widespread blooming of aloes that brighten the otherwise drab landscape of late autumn and during the winter months. I had a legitimate reason to drive out of town last week for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown began and noted many aloes blooming along the road towards Port Alfred, their flame-coloured blossoms lifting my spirits enormously. Fortunately, as their flowering season is fairly long I am hoping that the restrictions on our movements will be relaxed further before it ends. In the meanwhile, I am confined to observing the aloes in our garden.

Some have progressed from showing tightly closed cone-like buds like this:

To fully opened blossoms like this one:

The aloes attract birds, such as the Greater Double-collared Sunbird above as well as a variety of insects:

I am interested to see the damage done by ants at the base of some of the tubular flowers:

There haven’t been many bees around yet – perhaps they need the flowers to open a little more. I will be keeping an eye out for them.