TWO AUTUMN LEAVES

Most of the trees in my garden are evergreen. The curled up, stressed looking leaves of the Dais cotinifolia are beginning to turn yellow and will be shed over the next few weeks. The Natal fig is also stressed through lack of water and is shedding leaves, although it is never bare. The Erythrinas are rapidly losing their leaves, which turn yellow and then brown very quickly before carpeting the ground nearby. We tend not to get the showy autumn colours so prevalent in photographs taken in the northern hemisphere. The closest I can come to that is the Virginia creeper:

In sharp contrast to that is the sun shining through these leaves close by:

This is autumn in my garden.

FRANGIPANI

Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) are popular, especially in older gardens in this country and have been here for so long that it is easy to think they belong here. However, like a number of ornamental trees here they are exotic, apparently originating from Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. They are fairly innocuous as alien vegetation goes.

Their popularity in tropical and sub-tropical gardens probably stems from the sweet fragrance of their flowers which last throughout the summer.  Here you can see a cluster of buds about to open.

These ones open to a pale creamy pink.

While others are a dark pink.

The attractive trees are covered with long leaves.

 

TRAVELS PAST

It appears that we will soon be able to make self-drive day visits to national parks: no overnight stays, so it will be a case of ‘local is lekker’ and good fortune for those who live within easy distance of one. I would like to be first in the queue, yet can imagine the long row of vehicles driven by people who live much closer to the Addo Elephant National Park who have also been champing at the bit to get into the wild once more. I will have to be patient for a while longer. Meanwhile I can recall some past adventures relating to other aspects of this country:

Driving along the Blaauwkrantz Pass on the road between Grahamstown and Port Alfred.

Visiting the Fingo Milkwood Tree, in the Peddie district of the Eastern Cape, where on 14th May 1835 the Fingo (now known as Mfengu) people, having entered the (Cape) Colony from across the Kei River, assembled near this umQwashu tree [a White Milkwood – Sideroxylon inerme] and in the presence of the Rev. John Ayliff declared their loyalty to God and King. One cannot help wondering if they understood what they were doing.

Stopping at Gariep Dam, bordering the Eastern Cape and Free State provinces.

On the way to the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves – a must to visit!

Enjoying the view of Hout Bay, near Cape Town in the Western Cape.

There are so many interesting places to visit in this country – it is time to get out and to explore!

A GROVE OF TREES

We have been restricted for too long. I yearn to see trees again: trees that cast shadows; that have space around them; that call one to look at their leaves, to feel their bark; trees that nestle into each other; that sing with the wind; that provide shelter … I yearn to see the sky stretch to horisons far away … I yearn to be able to walk unfettered by a mask or social distancing or being bound by a time restriction no-one can adequately explain. I yearn to be out in the open, to feel the breeze, and to be with people who mean so much to me.

 

NATURAL PATTERNS

There are natural patterns all around us which both draw our attention and by which we recognise things, such as a zebra or a tomato plant rather than thinking these might be a bushbuck or parsley. I think we absorb the patterns we see in nature as part of our recognition of the world we live in so that we can appreciate our surroundings and understand what things are. Some patterns are subtle while others are bold, beautiful and quite remarkable to look at.

Think about spots for a moment. Look at the variety of spots that make up the coat of a leopard:

Then there is the pattern of spots on the belly of this African barred owlet:

Should you mention stripes in nature, I immediately think about zebras. You can see any number of these animals and you will recognise them as zebras, yet look closely enough and you will appreciate that while their pattern is familiar, no two zebras look exactly the same.

In the bird world, the African scops-owl makes good use of stripes to help it blend into its environment.

Patterns of ripples are created when water or wind pass over sand, or water runs through sand:

I find the patterns of spirals and cracks present in wood are especially beautiful and interesting: