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.

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL TREE

This one grows on the pavement outside our garden, so we have been able to enjoy the beautiful purple-mauve blossoms of the Jacaranda – a colour that is very difficult to capture accurately on film.

Jacarandas were brought to South Africa from Argentina in about 1880 for ornamental purposes – particularly for public spaces, such as streets. Those planted along our street look their best when they are in full bloom at this time of the year and carpet the ground underneath them with their lovely blossoms.

Here is a better view of them – the ones on the left-hand side of the street are Brazilian Pepper trees.

The carpet of flowers look very pretty early in the morning, before vehicles have driven over and squished them.

Jacarandas have been planted as street trees in town too. The dark shapes you can see in these trees are seed pods that have already formed.

 

A GLIMPSE OF MY GARDEN

Walk up the front garden path with me for a glimpse of our recently greened-up garden.

Next to the front door is a self-sown Zizyphus mucronata or Buffalo Thorn, known in Afrikaans as the blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie (literally translated as a shining leaf wait-a-bit) tree because of their pattern of two thorns at the nodes, one of which faces backward.  Behind it is an Aloe ferox.

Dahlias – which come up only when the conditions are favourable – brighten one end of the front garden. They didn’t show themselves at all last summer.

Also self-sown are the cosmos that have bloomed for months now. The only difference since the first rain arrived is that the plants are growing taller!

This is one of several self-sown indigenous Senecio spp. which, I have discovered, make long lasting cut flowers – they look pretty in a vase mixed with cosmos.

Lastly, here is a colourful corner in the back garden – an indigenous mix other than a surviving nasturtium that must have grown from seeds dropped two summers ago. None grew last year for it was far too hot and dry for anything to survive.

HOW GREEN IS MY … GARDEN

I keep harping on about the drought, and with good reason for both Howieson’s Poort and Settler’s Dam have run out of water – leaving our town in dire straits. The very light (and little) rain that has fallen has not been enough to provide the much-needed runoff that will make its way to these vital storage dams. Nonetheless, the rain has made a noticeable difference to the vegetation and has been captured in hollows, such as this aloe leaf in my garden

The aloes now have a beautifully green backdrop that provides shelter for the birds.

Our forested garden is becoming rejuvenated: the Natal Fig is heavy with fruit that attracts African Green Pigeons, Red-winged Starlings, Speckled Mousebirds, Cape White-eyes, Olive Thrushes, and many other birds. The pompon trees are filled with swelling buds that will soon provide a beautiful display of pink flowers – and the Cape Chestnut is already blooming!

Fine droplets of welcome rain cling to the leaves of a canary creeper.

It is a pleasure to sit in the shade outdoors and to enjoy all of this green – last December our garden looked apocalyptically brown and skeletal!

A CLOUDY PROMISE

From tantalising mist to clouds. A fortnight ago this column of dark clouds hovered over African Street:

A darkening prospect of rain loomed above Bathurst Street:

The clouds provided a dark contrast to Canterbury House in the foreground and the 1820 Settlers Monument on Gunfire Hill:

The promising clouds continued to boil and puff above the road leading to Stones Hill:

They knitted over the sky to form a widespread picture of hope:

On this occasion the clouds did not deliver their promise. This happens every now and then. Instead, last night and this morning a grey sky has leaked soft drops that make barely a sound and do not even wet the ground sheltered by leaves – yet it is most welcome!