One of nature’s wonders

2016-07-19 06:00

WE are in a severe drought. Rivers and streams have been reduced to trickles and some have dried up. Dam levels are low and some towns have run out of water.

The effects can be seen clearly as you drive inland from the coast, with green vegetation turning to golden brown. Except for the green patches of exotic trees that survive with their deep roots, the rest of the countryside has put on its winter coat and gone to sleep.

But it’s in the thornveld that you see the drought’s effects. In the lower Mpushini Valley, there is only parched earth and stark, thorny trees. The Mpushini River, the lifeblood of the valley, has dried up and you wonder how people and animals survive.

But it’s in this inhospitable place that the aloe, which provides nectar in winter for bees and sunbirds, puts on a spectacular display, stunning against the harsh thornveld background. Showing off its racemes of crimson and orange, the aloe is one of nature’s wonders.

Whenever I see the aloe in bloom, I wonder why it hasn’t found a special place in our gardens. It’s a hardy plant and needs no care. But gardeners will argue that indigenous plants are not beautiful. They would rather give care to thirsty exotics and drench them with our precious water. After all, they pay for it.

T. MARKANDAN

Silverglen, Durban

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