This not about the novel of the same name by Alice Walker … just in case you thought it might be.

Purple tends to be a colour that people either take to or dislike intensely. I am reminded of this whenever a discussion turns to beetroot – that is a vegetable that people seem to love or hate. I have reacted negatively to purple furnishings and clothes before and yet there are numerous purple flowers I enjoy. One of them is bougainvillea:

These flowers come in a variety of shades and, as purple is a gradation of blue and red, the hues labelled ‘purple’ vary enormously. Anyhow, this colour bougainvillea – or perhaps a little darker and more vibrant, was the first to greet one when turning into the driveway of our farmhouse in the De Kaap Valley in the then Eastern Transvaal – now Mpumalanga. I still associate the purple varieties of bougainvillea with my mother standing outside her kitchen ready to greet us with open arms when we had travelled from afar to visit her for a while.

Of course lavender is a favourite plant in many gardens. It being fairly hardy, I am able to grow several different varieties here in spite of the vagaries of the weather. The plants are attractive in their own right and the flowers are a boon for bees – pretty to me, yet nothing like the splashes of colour that come from some commercially grown lavenders such as this one bundled up for sale!

Purple dye used to be expensive – I read that the first dyes came from shellfish – and so the colour has long been associated with wealth and royalty. The apparent rarity of it in nature has lent purple the qualities of luxury, power, and ambition along with grandeur, peace, devotion and even magic. Purple has held a supernatural aura for centuries. And yet, we seem to be blessed with a wide variety of purple flowers in this country. I recently featured the beautiful hues of purple in the blossoms of the puzzle bush/deurmekaarbos. We also have vygies and jacarandas.

The sea lavender blossoms are welcome and last for ages.

I also think of the wild impatiens, the butterfly bush, salvias, plectranthus, African violets and a number of others I have yet to identify – such as these lovely flowers blooming in the Karoo.

Purple is an eye-catching colour that combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. This was brought home to me when I came across this back copy of what used to be a favourite magazine while I was in a ‘sorting’ mood:

How sad it is that this, along with several other magazine titles, is no longer published!

Of course I cannot leave without reminding you of this delightful poem:

Warning – Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


THE SNAIL – William Cowper (1731-1800)

To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall,
The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall,
As if he grew there, house and all

Within that house secure he hides,
When danger imminent betides
Of storm, or other harm besides
                                                Of weather.

Give but his horns the slightest touch,
His self-collecting power is such,
He shrinks into his house, with much

Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own
                                                Whole treasure.

Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads,
Nor partner of his banquet needs,
And if he meets one, only feeds
                                                The faster.

Who seeks him must be worse than blind,
(He and his house are so combin’d)
If, finding it, he fails to find
                                                Its master.

This poem came to mind after seeing so many snails moving about the garden and in the streets after our recent rain – a change from coming across empty shells!


I came across this lovely poem about a dandelion this morning and think it is worth sharing:
With puff of breath
entwined with a wish
my energetic breath aims out.

Out toward dandelion.
And like sacred flying fairies
the little seeds take flight.

Ready to plant firmly
in break of day.

Thank you dandelion
for roaring with airs whisper
to move in grace
to go into Mothers soil
and bring a dream to sprout.

StarBG © 2017

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), familiar to many the world over, are hardy perennial that grow in most areas in South Africa. That they continue to survive in our long drought is proof of their hardiness! I like their bright yellow flowers that pop up all over the place when nothing else dares to bloom. Although I have not tried them, freshly picked leaves contain important vitamins and minerals.


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone … W.H. Auden

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered …Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death … Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Then as if a mirage at sea a village of ramshackle homes
Single story on a sandbank all with gardens of the strangest design
A flea farm, gooseberry bushes and butterflies in net cages … Michael Wolf

The Mushroom is the Elf of Plants … Emily Dickinson



The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved – loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. – Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

One positive spin-off from this pandemic is that I am almost ‘forced’ to devote time to sorting through, sifting through, and clearing a lifetime’s accumulation of things. Not that we are planning to move, or even to renovate, but these days of confinement are conducive to such tasks – especially when the ongoing drought means that gardening is not a healthy or worthwhile option! Among the mundane have been some interesting and serendipitous finds. Take the quotation from Victor Hugo above: this is so appropriate at a time when we are socially isolated and have to rely on electronic means of communication; when we cannot see our loved ones in the flesh or give them a hug.

Then, only a day or two later I found this poem slipped between papers in a file I was about to toss into the black garbage bag. Actually, it caught my eye when it floated out and landed face up on my study floor:

I think “And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans” is particularly appropriate during this uncertain period in our lives, as is “And you learn that you really can endure … that you really are strong”. So many of us have had to endure so much, yet we know that we must make the most of what we have and keep looking towards that uncertain future with a positive frame of mind.