Generally speaking, South Africans seem to experience summery weather from as early as October through to March, with spring-like weather often being confined to September. More to the point is that trees, birds, flowers and animals do not follow human conventions. Some of the many weavers visiting the garden are in full breeding plumage; I spotted three Pin-tailed Whydahs this morning that are sloughing off their winter tweedy look; Common Fiscals and Olive Thrushes are already flying back and forth to their nests with food in their beaks … ‘officially’ there is still a month to go before spring arrives on our doorstep.

In the meanwhile, here are some pictures from around my garden that are cheering. The first are some petunias that have been flowering bravely despite a lack of adequate water and having taken a battering from the wind that has been blowing fiercely.

The few surviving phlox are making a brave show too, in between the petunias, pansies and some self-sown African daisies.

Around the swimming pool, we are still enjoying the lovely blossoms on the Crassula ovata that attract bees and other insects.

Some of the indigenous Plumbago is coming into bloom too.

Soon the freesia buds will open – a timely reminder of the flowers carried by my mother in her wartime bridal bouquet.

Then there is the jasmine, the heady scent of which fills the garden during the late afternoons and early evenings.


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:

Then there are the lovely blooms of the Crassula ovata or, as many overseas readers know it, the Jade plant:

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:

They too attract an insect or two:


Crassula ovata is one of about 150 species of Crassula native to South Africa. These compact evergreen shrubs grow up to 3 m tall and are looking especially beautiful at this time of the year when they are in full bloom. These ones are growing next to our swimming pool.

These bushes are currently bearing masses of sweetly scented, pale-pink, star-shaped flowers in tight ball-shaped clusters – another winter beauty we are blessed with.


The veld has been tinder dry for weeks as the relentless drought continues. A grass fire, fanned by hot wind, raced through the mountains around our town at the weekend, engulfing us in a blanket of smoke and ash. Today the Mountain Drive area looks bleak and black. Yet, Earth Day is one that encourages us to look at our environment more closely; to get to know it better; to consider what we can do to protect and nurture it better; as well as being thankful for what we have.

How extremely thankful I am for the 4mm of soft rain that we were blessed with during the night!

This has encouraged the canary creeper buds to open – these are the first of what should become a waterfall of bright blooms.

The Crassula ovata is also covered with buds waiting to open.

Meanwhile, the Cape honeysuckle flowers are already providing swathes of bright colour and a useful source of nectar.

The Virginia creeper is showing off its autumn colours.

In keeping with these autumnal colours, it is fortuitous that an Olive Thrush was the first bird to greet me this morning.

Happy Earth Day!