How blessed we are to have indigenous flowers blooming in our garden during the middle of winter! Even though the aloes are nearly over, they still attract interesting visitors such as Green Woodhoopoes:
The hedge of Crassula ovata at one end of the swimming pool is covered with flowers that are abuzz with bees and other insects:
I look forward to this time of the year when the scarlet blooms of the Erythrina caffra provide a beautiful contrast against the brilliant blue sky. Birds visiting them include Cape Weavers, Village Weavers, Southern Masked Weavers, Cape White-eyes, Common Starlings, Redwinged Starlings, Greyheaded Sparrows, African Hoopoes, African Green Pigeons, Black-headed Orioles, and even Cape Crows:
The Canary Creepers continue to provide the odd splash of bright yellow:
While the orange Cape Honeysuckle is beginning to make a show too:
The chill of winter here is offset by the warm colours of indigenous flowers. The aloes in my garden have almost past their best blooming period.
This is a clump of aloes growing next to our driveway. The trunks in the background belong to one of the tall Erythrina caffra trees that, having lost most of their leaves, are already putting on a show of dark spikes that will soon open to reveal scarlet blossoms.
As you come down the steps leading to the kitchen door, you need to shift aside a little to make way for these cotyledons spilling over the edge. This one is being visited by a Greater Double-collared Sunbird:
Walk around the side of the house and you are met by this array of aloes edging one side of the swimming pool:
Growing in-between the aloes are the green leaves of plumbago – soon to cheer us up with their bright blue flowers. The leaves cascading down from the tree behind belong to a golden shower creeper that in time will produce pretty orange trumpets. The tree on the right is a cabbage tree (Cussonia spp.) and in the shady background are two hanging feeders containing seeds for the birds as well as a nectar feeder.
You may be forgiven if you thought you were growing Aloe tenuior in your garden, commonly known as Fence Aloe or Slender Aloe in English and Heiningaalwyn in Afrikaans. It appears that the group of such rambling aloes now fall under the genus Aloiampelos – a combination of ‘aloe’ and ‘ampelos’, the latter being the Greek description of the climbing / rambling habit of these aloes. Their flowers may appear throughout the year – a boon for the garden. I mostly have the yellow variety.
There is a single red flowering specimen in my garden.
The thin leaves of the A. tenuior are greyish-green with marginal teeth.
The stems arise straight from the root-stock, giving rise to a rather loose untidy appearance that is forgiven as soon as the plants bloom.
The leaves form rosettes at the ends of the spindly branches.
A. tenuior grows naturally on sandy soils in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and in Mpumalanga. Bees are their main pollinators, although I have observed visits by butterflies. We have not enjoyed many of the latter during this year so far.
Humans are not the only ones to use spikes of one kind or another for protection:
A view across the valley with an iconic aloe in the foreground
Vygies blooming next to the road.
A kudu cow in the veld.
What appears to be a young Halleria lucida bush in bloom.
A close-up view of the flowers.
A waterbuck grazing.
A Jackal Buzzard soaring overhead.