Even though the early mornings are getting ever colder, eating fruit salad for breakfast is a good way to take in those important vitamins.

Sunflowers help to brighten the entrance of our home and bring with them a sense of warmth and sunshine.

Outdoors, our garden is awash with the beautiful yellow flowers of indigenous canary creepers.

This pretty Aeonium shows shades of yellow too.

The nightly temperatures plummeted during our recent visit to the Mountain Zebra National Park so we were grateful to be warmed by a fire in the grate.

It was pleasant too to round off a pleasant day with a soupçon of honey liqueur.



While much of South Africa is covered in grassland, pockets of natural forest survive, such as this one clinging to the steep sides of a gorge.

Succulents such as this Haworthia reinwardtii are rewarding to come across whilst walking in the veld.

Patches of pink brighten up indigenous forests – and our garden – when the Dais cotonifolia are in bloom.

The Cape Honeysuckle is coming into bloom now.

Aloes are also coming into bloom and will brighten up the autumn and winter landscape before long.

The Eastern Cape is home to the Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra), a hardy succulent favoured by elephants and a wonderful garden plant.


It is many years since I walked through the Burnt Kraal area on the fringe of Grahamstown, revelling in the trees, grasses, flowers – and of course the birds. On our way back to the vehicles, I picked up a small fleshy branch lying on the path; it had obviously been broken off – although the parent plant wasn’t obvious in the grassy area. I brought it home and stuck it in a pot to see what it might turn out to be.

Every year this dry-looking stick would sprout green leaves and occasionally a pink flower would appear. The plant has been re-potted three times already and has begun to branch out, producing more flowers every year.

Long thorny spines also appear on the branches.

The tubular flowers are a pretty pink with darker stripes leading to the centres.

As you can tell from these photographs, the leaves are still on the plants when the flowers appear.

The nearest plants to it that I can find in my guide books – and searching through Google images – are the Adenium spp. such as the Impala lily (found in the dry Lowveld vegetation – especially seen in the Kruger National Park) and the Summer Impala lily, which is also restricted to the bushveld, and especially in Swaziland (now known as the Kingdom of Eswatini). Both of these places are very far from the veld where this plant was found.

If anyone has any bright ideas about the identification of this plant, I would love to be able to put a name to it.

Dries at DeWetsWild is the star: he has identified this plant as a Pachypodium succulentum, commonly known as Thickfoot, thanks to the massive underground caudex – a  thickened, underground, water-storing, tuberous stem, which helps the plant to survive during drought periods. This means that I must find an even larger pot for it! Although I had consulted the site Dries recommends in the comments, I was put off by the pale colour of the flowers illustrated there. The name he gave me, however, led me back to my Field Guide to Succulents in South Africa by Smith, Crouch and Figueiredo: the flower in that book is the same colour as mine – they apparently vary from white to crimson.

These plants are endemic to South Africa and naturally occur in stony grassland and along rocky ridges in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape as well as in the western Free State. Do look at for a host of very interesting information about this plant.


Commonly known as strawberry mesem, the Aptenia cordifolia is a soil-hugging creeper that can form dense mats of stems. It is an indigenous succulent that occurs naturally in my garden – and very welcome it is too as it covers the ground that would otherwise be left bare during the drought periods and in this way helps to bind the soil.

The glossy succulent leaves are heart-shaped and vary in colour from pale to dark green. Water cells are scattered on the leaf surface and shine in the sunlight.

Neither my camera nor my cell phone can accurately capture the colour of the bright magenta pink flowers that occur at intervals along the stems.

The flowers attract butterflies, bees, flies, and other insects.

The fruit is a capsule with four lidless chambers, each of which contains a single large black-brown seed with a rough surface.

These plants occur throughout the eastern coastal parts of South Africa, but are so popular in gardens that they are grown all over the country.


Smith Gideon F., Crouch Neil R. Figueiredo Eastrela. Field Guide to Succulents in Southern Africa. Struik Nature. Cape Town 2020.