It is St. Patrick’s Day after all, so what about a song from The New Christy Minstrels?

Green, green, it’s green they say

On the far side of the hill

Green, green, I’m goin’ away

To where the grass is greener still …

We will stick with green, even though autumn is waiting in the wings, and begin  with the counting out rhyme

A little green snake

Ate too much cake,

And now he’s got

A belly-ache!

This green snake, found on the lawn at Royal Natal National Park, didn’t get a belly-ache but had its head neatly chopped off – probably by one of the gardeners.

Several streets of the town I live in are lined with oak trees. Here are new leaves shining in the sunlight.

While prickly pears are not indigenous to this country, they have spread everywhere.

Known abroad as the jade plant for some reason, the Crassula ovata is indigenous here and we have several of them growing in our garden. This one is almost ready to show off its lovely flowers.

Spekboom is also indigenous to the Eastern Cape and grows very easily in my garden.

Lastly, these pods of the Weeping Boerbean (Schotia brachypetala) caught my eye.



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:


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.