Today, we all live in the “global village” that Canadian professor Marshall McLuhan first spoke about in the ’60s. That’s why people like me can work from remote places like this for people anywhere.
In this world made small by technology, quite a lot of my paid work comes from Europe and some from the US. I love the global perspective that I get through this work. But I am still thrown by the insistence of so many writers in those Northern Hemisphere countries – when they are writing for global audiences – on talking about “spring”, “autumn”, or even “fall”. They will usually be talking about a meeting or a decision, very often concerning low-income countries, most of which are in the Southern Hemisphere – and nothing remotely related to the seasons.
Strange, hey? At first, I saw it as some kind of arrogance (even the seasons were more legitimate in the North, it seemed). Now I see it as a habit, one that could be quite endearing if wasn’t so confusing for readers in the South. So at this time of the year, I’ve seen quite a few uses of “spring” pop up in documents.
After winter in the North, I’m happy that it’s spring there. But it is most definitely autumn here in the South, and believe me, after our summer, we’re happy that it’s autumn.
My cousin, Vick, sends me pictures of the stunning “Lady Night” tulips blooming in her London garden. And my sister, K, reminds me of the tulips and daffodils that grow like weeds in her Geneva garden. In spring that is. Both of them have also sent me pictures of their snow-covered winter gardens.
And then I look around and take conscious note of what is flowering and fruiting in this frost-free, summer-rainfall area as winter approaches.
There’s not much leaf fall here. It’s too warm for that, and the oranges and reds of deciduous trees never fail to delight me when I am visiting colder places in autumn. But there is a lot of orange here right now. It comes from the things that are flowering: among them, bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae), gazania, and wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus).
A party of colour
Not all is orange. The Euphorbia crown of thorns (E milii) is a riot of red. The ribbon bush (Hypoestes aristata) is in full purple haze. What we believe is a streptocarpus from Pondoland is sneaking out dainty blue blooms. The arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), wild daisy (Osteospermum), and camellia join the party with dashes of pure white.
The clivia nobilis are beginning to flower: the clivia miniata will follow in winter and spring. The Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) continues to throw out gorgeous flowers, mostly in orange, which are fabulous in a vase. On the good advice of the woman at the farmers’ market, use only the tiniest amount of water, just enough to cover the tips of the stems; otherwise, they rot.
The amantungula (wild plum, Carissa macrocarpa), which followed fragant white flowers, are dripping off the trees. All kinds of wildlife love these, and even humans are fond of them, but the fruit has to be very ripe: just a trace of milkiness makes them bitter. There’s not much leaf fall here. It’s too warm for that, and the oranges and reds of deciduous trees never fail to delight me when I am visiting colder places in autumn. But there is a lot of orange here right now. It comes from the things that are flowering: among them, bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae), gazania, and wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus).
We grow both indigenous and non-invasive exotic plants in the newer beds that hug the old naartjie (heavy with fruit now) and cherry guava (just finished fruiting) trees. These beds are behind the house, and far from the indigenous forest that lines the garden.
The roses are putting on a beautiful autumn show in this part of the garden. We never use poisons on these roses; splashes of “worm wee” now and then, and sprays of garlic and chilli, when needed, seem to help. So we have lost a few, but those that remain are survivors in an area that’s not really known for roses: they are more successful, usually, in places that get frost.
Roll on, summer … uh, winter.