It is an icy, grey day during which winter is stamping its feet in a determined fashion to freeze out any idea of spring unfurling in the wings. What better way of beating the winter blues than focusing on red:
In search of a change of scenery, we decided to drive down the steep winding Woest Hill Pass which leads to the Southwell road that eventually takes one to the seaside town of Port Alfred. The pass has been cut through the side of the mountain, exposing the layers of rock:
Along the way there are still many aloes in bloom:
One passes game farms, pineapple farms, quarries, goats and cattle. On this particular day we were fortunate to see roan antelope:
I was fortunate to spot a herd of impala ewes through the roadside grass and scrub:
I was still watching them when an impressive impala ram nudged his way into my view:
There is an aloe growing next to a street I walk along regularly that has rapidly become covered in what is known as White Aloe Scale (Duplachionaspis exalbidais) which is a species of armoured scale insect.
White Scale insects are immobile once they lock themselves into place to pierce the plant and begin feeding on sap for their nourishment. They do this by sucking the sap through a fine, thin feeding-tubes. From a distance it looks as if the leaves covered in what appears to be white fluff.
As you can tell from the first photograph above, if the infected plant is left untreated, all its leaves become covered with millions of scale.
What is interesting is that these creatures actually space themselves equidistant from one another on the leaf surface to ensure they have sufficient space to develop fully without being crowded out – although I think the earlier photographs suggest that their idea of crowding is very different from ours!
All is not doom and gloom in our drought-stricken garden for we have been blessed with several aloes blooming, of which this is one:
Both of these indigenous plants provide important sustenance for bees, butterflies, ants and other insects. I also have a minute patch of ground close to where I sit in the mornings in which I nurture petunias and pansies. These cannot be watered very often so are doing their best under trying circumstances to provide daily cheer: