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Invasive Alien Plant or Symbol of Home?

Jacarandas.

They tower magestically above the streets of Pretoria. Their branches seem to take hands high above the streets to form a canopy of purple flowers for the residents to pass through each day. Overnight the  flowers fall and become a carpet on the road surface making a distinct popping sound when the first cars drive by.

Their beauty have been described by poets in lyrical terms, their flowers are associated with success in exams by students of the university of Pretoria, their colour is copied by artists, and photographers flock to capture the purple haze which covers the city each year during the month of October.

Although jacarandas are not an indigenous plant to South Africa, they have long been associated with the city of Pretoria. The first jacarandas were reportedly planted in 1888 on the grounds of a school in Pretoria.Seeds were imported by James Clarke who then planted the seedlings along the streets in Pretoria. Jacarandas became so popular and widely planted in Pretoria that it became known as the jacaranda city. Today it is reported that about 55 000 jacaranda trees grow in Pretoria.

These trees line the city sidewalks and turn the urban landscape into a purple fairy tale each year during the month of October.

The Jacaranda mimosifolia is native to north-eastern Argentina, where it thrives in the hot humid climate. As of 2001 the tree has been declared a Category Three invasive alien plant, which means, in terms of the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, No. 43 of 1983, that it can be kept only on certain strict conditions in South Africa

The trees in Pretoria were given a special dispensation in terms of which the City was allowed to keep all the trees and replace those that, for whatever reason, were destroyed or died. The reason for this was that the trees are part of the character of the City and the City would thus lose something unique if they were all eradicated.

To me jacarandas will always be associated with home and each year I eagerly await that magical moment when the purple blooms appear almost overnight.

How can I ever see them as ” Alien Invasive Plants”?

Therefore I agree with these words which Nelson Mandela spoke during his first inauguration as President of South Africa:

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld. – Nelson Mandela

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Footprints in The Garden

The success of a garden depends on the number of footprints left in the garden by the gardener.

These words come from a wise gardener who taught me the basic principles of successful gardening.

A week ago two friends and I set out on a roadtrip to Haenertsburg in Limpopo with the specific goal of viewing the Cheerio Gardens which is well known for its blooming azaleas and Japanese cherry blossoms.

On arriving at the gardens we were greeted by a long winding driveway flanked by  a hedge of colourful blooming azaleas. The sight of the driveway took our breaths away and sparked our excitement and anticipation.

The Cheerio gardens have an interesting history, dating back to World War 2 when a young woman called Box ( Sheila Thompson) was sent to Cape Town to serve in the SA signal corps. She fell in love with the indigenous South African bulbs and flowers and brought some home to Heanertsburg to start her own nursery and garden.  When the bulbs were destroyed by bushpigs, mole rats and porcupines, she decided to change direction. She built a wild and beautiful garden, nursing the worn out soil back to fertility organically and planting  trees and plants suited to the climate. She didn’ t believe in interfering with nature and up till today the gardens are never watered, no insecticides used and no fertilisation given to the plants and trees.

Box soon realised that the misty climate in Haenertsburg is ideal for northern hemisphere flowering trees and started to source and  plant them. She wrote many articles on the indigenous flowering plants of South Africa. When one of her articles was read by the personal physician of the Japanese Emperor, she sent him seeds of indigenous blue flowering plants.  He in turn sent her the seeds of the flowering Japanese cherry and some azalea seeds.

Today the gardens lie stretched out over 20 acres of hilly terrain. The azaleas grow on the slopes bordering tranquil trout dams and are interspersed by white and pink Japanese cherries, frothy crab apples, dogwoods, rare camellias and magnolias and rhododendrons. Later maples, liquidambars and oaks were introduced to add to the magic and the colourful display in autumn.

The visitor is free to wander the many pathways winding through the profusely growing plants and trees. Around every corner new delights wait to be discovered. A Japanese cherry dressed like a bride stand  alongside old trees. Fallen leaves covering  a pathway which beckons to be explored. Trout dams lying tranquilly in the sun  reflecting the intense colours of the azaleas. Shady corners to rest weary feet.  Many butterflies and other insects as well as birds thrive in this natural environment.

We spent many hours wandering along the pathways, following the footprints of the gardener who created this  wonderland.

Information and history from http://www.cheeriogardens.co.za

Friendship, a Slow Ripening Fruit

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit – Aristotele 

Thirty years ago.

Three young women meet at a Biblestudy group for young mothers.

A beautiful bud forms on the tree of life. It is called friendship.TT 24

Friendship grows  while babies in nappies crawl happily on the floor. Sometimes the Biblestudy hour becomes chaotic with the sounds of crying, laughing and even fighting babies and children.

They share their joys and  sorrows. They laugh together, cry together, pray together and grow wiser and older together.

Through the terrible twos, nursery years, primary school and teenage storms they stay connected, supporting each other laughing and crying at the children’s growing up pains. Bonds are formed amongst the growing up children too, becoming lasting relationships.

Friendship grows on the tree of life and becomes a green fruit beautiful to look at but not ready to be picked and eaten yet.

The women become mature ladies, taking their place in society and contributing to their chosen careers, community and their marriages. Life brings sunny and rainy days even storms to be weathered.

Through the passing years the slowly ripening fruit of friendship is nurtured by the sunshine of companionship, the rain of giving, the  food of time. Only under these circumstances will it become a ripe fruit to be picked and enjoyed later on.

Eventually the ladies reach a time where children have left home, married  and had children of their own.  Husbands retired and some passed away. Their faces, hair and bodies show the passing of time, but the easy companionship of the ripening friendship fruit grows sweeter.

Now they can enjoy the companionship, the interests shared, the burdens carried together, the laughs and the tears still to come.

Tannies trip a

 

Here they are the three friends in middle age enjoying thirty years of slow ripening friendship fruit.

 

 

 

Do you invest time  and effort in the fruit of friendship? If not I encourage you to do so for without friends life is infinitely more difficult.