FENCES

Sneezewood (Ptaeroxylon obliquum) was favoured for making sturdy fence-posts and even railway sleepers in the Eastern Cape from very early on as this hardwood is well known for its durability. Below is an example of a fence no longer in use, yet the sneezewood fence-post continues to carry out its duty.

There are many such abandoned fences in this part of the world. The following photograph shows a suburban fence made up of a collection of sneezewood fence-posts.

While they might look old and bent at different angles, these posts did their job very well and are still as strong as they were when they were first erected during the 1800s. The holes in them have not been bored by insects, but show where the fencing wires were threaded through them. In sharp contrast is a section of a modern fence, common in these parts where a number of game farms or private game reserves have sprung up.

These tall, multi-stranded fences are high enough to keep most wild animals from roaming – yet a kudu can sail over them with ease should it wish to!

MY JANUARY GARDEN 2021

The heat of summer is scorchingly upon us – along with the absence of much-needed rain. Bird baths require filling more than once a day and current restrictions prevent the garden from receiving the watering it needs to flourish, yet most plants are surviving. I have already shown the beautiful blossoms of the Cape Chestnut and the Pompon trees, so will look much lower.

Field Bindweed – so difficult to eradicate owing to their long underground runners – twists its way between the lavender bushes and climbs up the Spekboom. It has a beauty of its own.

The small clump of Gladiolus dalenii has increased over the years and is now providing beautiful colour outside the kitchen.

Numerous butterflies are flitting about – most are too high for me to photograph. Many of them are (I think) Acara Acraea.

All over the garden self-sown Crossberries are blooming.

As are scented pelargoniums.

Lastly, the Plumbago blossoms are looking particularly beautiful right now.

FOUR TREES

Apart from the several flowering trees that are brightening our landscape, here are four interesting trees I have taken note of over the past week. The first one is a very old tree showing the scars of its long life.

This sturdy old tree grows next to a country road I frequent. It is covered with lichen and has produced several tangled branches during its lifetime. Like many large trees, it seems to represent solidity and a determination to face all obstacles.

Then there is a rather pre-historic looking tree that grows on the hills around Grahamstown, the Oldenbergia grandi.

I have featured the flowers of the Burchellia bubalina before. This is a young bush – one of many blooming at this time of the year: along the road, next to rocky outcrops, and on the local hills.

Lastly, here is a windswept tree growing on the edge of the Rietberg that forms one of the hilly borders of our town.

THE TEST OF TIME

This beautiful stone arch bridge supporting the railway line between Grahamstown and Alicedale was designed and built 125 years ago by the South African railway engineer, Guybon Damant Atherstone.

Of local interest is that he was born in Grahamstown on 20th June 1843 and schooled at St. Andrew’s College, which is down the hill from where I live. A real local lad, he was employed by the Cape Government Railways, during which time he completed this railway line in 1896. Having garnered a fine reputation for designing and building railways across the Eastern Cape, he died in Grahamstown on 15th February 1912.

This single arch bridge supports the railway where it crosses the road that wends its way through the Highlands area before reaching Alicedale. As with the photograph above, this view is from the Grahamstown side:

The branch line, which covered 56 km of difficult terrain, closed in 2009. There are now sections where farm gates or fences cross the line which has become overgrown by grass and shrubs here and there. The arch remains firm:

It is a joy to see the workmanship evident in the dressed stone:

The underneath of the arch appears to be clad with bricks – unless these are stones cut to that size and shape:

Here is the view of the bridge from the Alicedale side:

While the railway is no longer in use, the bridge has stood the test of time and still stands proud.

Note: Mr. Tootlepedal, this post was compiled with you in mind.