aloe, aloe ‘allo again…

22 07 2012

There are amazing views to be seen all through the year in Limpopo (our home province).  Although winters are dry and trees lose their leaves, the scenery is not ever completely dreary. One of the amazing groups of plants that livens up a winter landscape is the aloe.

There are a number of routes throughout South Africa that look their prettiest at the time of the year when the regional aloes flower.  There are a host of different aloe species in South Africa, and they flower  in different floral patterns, at different times of the year and for varying lengths of time. 

We have at least sixty aloe plants around our house, so that our verandah view looks like this:

Numerous uses exist for aloe in the medical world.  Aloe vera is probably the most well known, but other  advice, such as using aloe on superficial burn wounds, or for warts, is heard of too.

Our garden aloes are just beginning to flower and we have seen a whole new sphere of use for aloes.  One poor little aloe has been stripped and chewed to the core: when things get very dry in the winter, even aloes (with a rather bitter taste) provide good sustenance with their fleshy leaves and excellent ability to retain water.

garden aloes, wood 017garden aloes, wood 018

We knew to look out for the birds, and have had some lovely sightings of both collared and white-fronted sunbirds.

croppedMid July Lissataba DeonCamera 222

compressedMid July Lissataba DeonCamera 096

Common bulbuls, yellowbellied bulbuls, blackheaded oriole are among the other birdy visitors who seem to be paying our garden a lot more attention than usual while our aloes are blooming. We have also seen the birds ripping the blooms to shreds.  So not all appreciate leaving beauty undisturbed!

Insects frequent these useful plants: they are full of nectar, and we have seen ants, bees and a couple of other bugs hanging around the blossoms.

croppedbeeMid July Lissataba DeonCamera 073

We were completely delighted to see this visitor to our close-by aloe:

copyright_lizzard_aloe

He was looking for sun, food and yellow happiness-bliss.  Slipping through all the stamens, he was hunting bees.  The smallest things can bring such entertainment!

garden aloes, wood 006

I just love that there is never a time that things are totally lifeless.  There is always a spark of joy, such as a vibrant spear of orange-flame, which gives life to so many aspects of nature. 

There always remains a thread of hope, strong enough to cling to, even when hope is not apparent. Look for the small signs… one may be surprised at what you find!

Personally, we have a fondness for aloe-flowering season.  We got engaged at the Walter  Sisulu Botanical Garden, in their gorgeous aloe gardens, with sunbirds and a cape robin to cheer on the special moment.  The vibrant coloured  spikes point towards the One who makes all things possible.

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