There is no dramatic recolouring of the landscape here. Instead, autumn in our garden is heralded by the subtle fullness of the Natal figs:
These attract African Green Pigeons and Redwinged Starlings by the dozen:
The aloes are swelling in readiness for their winter blooming:
Black-eyed Susan creepers twine around other plants to provide bright colour:
Other splashes of colour come from the plumbago:
Canary creepers and Cape Honeysuckle:
While self-sown butternuts ripen on their vines.
In these years of severe water shortages, I bless the indigenous plants that simply ‘get on with it’ and do their best.
During my walk through the grasslands of the Drakensberg I came across the beautiful Thunbergia atriplicifolia (also known as the Natal Primrose). The creamy yellow flowers made me pause a while and admire both it and the view of the mountains stretching away into the distance.
Once home, I freshly admired the patch of Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) that seeded itself near our swimming pool some years ago. These tubular yellow flowers put on an attractive show at this time of the year. The vine is self-seeding and seems to look after itself – probably because it is found growing in gardens and along forest margins throughout the Eastern Cape.
Even these lovely flowers are currently outshone by the spectacular display of the masses of golden yellow flowers of the Canary Creeper (Senecio tamoides). This creeper is also indigenous to the Eastern Cape. It grows along forest margins and has no problem establishing a dominant presence in our garden – in fact, during its non-flowering period, I pull masses of it off the trees and prune it back quite severely.
It is looking beautiful at the moment though and seems to glow brightly in the autumn sunlight, attracting bees, butterflies, Sombre Bulbuls, Village Weavers, Cape Weavers, Greater Double-collared Sunbirds, Black Sunbirds, and Cape White-eyes.