An aloe a day keeps the drought away

JUSTICE SERVED: Franziska Blöchliger

If you’ve 10 or 15 minutes to spare after you’ve stocked up the larder at Park and Shop or dropped the kids off at school, do yourself a favour and drive down Ladies Mile to Homestead Way where a pleasant surprise awaits you at the end of the road.
You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the striking succulent garden on the verge outside the home of Trevor and Lynne Taylor.

I was tipped off about this garden by Pauline and Malcolm Pearce who live near the Taylors.

They probably had the pleasure of watching the transformation of a patch of brown lawn being dug up and laboriously transformed into an entirely different landscape with the focal point being 15 stately, well-displayed aloes.

There are also smaller aloes, vygies, other drought-resistant plants brightened by clumps of orange daisies.
Mr Taylor said what had prompted him to create his succulent garden was partly due to the drought and partly the love he has for his tall, eye-catching aloes, which he had bought some years ago in Tulbagh.

“Initially I put them into seven or eight pots but when we returned to the Cape after several years in Durban, I found they were seriously pot-bound and planted them outside… but rather pushed up against the wall.

When I noticed that the outside grass was dying and the aloes were not making a statement, I decided to do something different.”

It was the beginning of two months pleasant hard labour, digging up the grass, bringing in soil, shopping at various plant nurseries and getting a load of rocks as well as small stones to make a path “like a dry river bed”.

The second phase of his project, he says, will have to wait till after the fibre optic team have laid their cables. He hopes to limit the damage to his garden by removing the path of white stones, digging a trench himself and persuading the team to use it.

Having seen the devastating result of uprooting the bank of magnificent bougainvillea in Maryland Avenue, I hope he succeeds. Although the plants were put back fairly quickly there are great gaps now on that slope.

It could be that the Johannesburg owners of the property have been advised to replace the plants.

That will be an expensive exercise.

Ribbons for Franziska

March 2018 was the third anniversary of the rape and murder in the Tokai Plantation of schoolgirl, Franziska Blõchliger. Judging from the renewal of coloured ribbons fluttering on the fence close to where she was suffocated and strangled, people have not forgotten the terrible act which deprived her of a normal life and her parents of their beloved daughter.

I never had the heart to examine the many cards and letters that appeared on the fence in 2015 and have since disappeared.
However, when I stopped by the other day what still came through strongly was the enduring message of solidarity silently expressed in those old and new ribbons.

Had a grave stone been erected on that spot it might have been easier for motorists to miss or ignore what happened to Franziska. You cannot drive along Spaanschemacht River Road and see the multitude of ribbons and not recall how a teenager on an autumn afternoon run met a cruel death.

Mysterious red flowers

Last week I spent a lot of time driving in circles around the top end of Tokai Road until I noticed some of the “yielding” motorists were giving me strange looks. I couldn’t tell them I wasn’t nuts (yet). Only trying to identify the red flowers in the beautiful little circular Victorian garden that recently appeared at the roundabout where Steenberg, Orpen and Tokai roads meet.

The outer area has been defined with small stones within which there is a low green hedge protecting a couple of aloes and the mysterious red flowers.

Somebody please tell me what they are.

Sadly when we drove round the island on Sunday morning after a lovely walk at Silvermine – I’ve never seen so many swimmers in the dam or dogs cavorting at the edge of the water – I was shocked to see lots of glass all over the road. A motorist had not only driven into the metal barrier at the roundabout but also ploughed into the little hedge.
Not too badly but still what a shame.

Dinner in the dark

A friend recently experienced the difference between a blind date and a blind dinner when he and fellow Claremont Rotarians were treated to “Dinner in the Dark” in the Salt River premises of the Society for the Blind.

They were led into a completely dark restaurant to eat a meal cooked and served by the blind. They had to top up their own glasses (without spilling) and find their plates.

“Comments afterwards included how difficult it was to identify what we were eating and how we all seemed to be speaking far louder than usual. It proved a very real experience which made us appreciate how our 1.4 million blind and visually impaired people – of whom 230 000 children – have to cope.”

The society offers “Dinner in the Dark” to organisations as a team building exercise.

They also have a coffee shop serving excellent coffee and a shop which sells quality hand-made chairs and baskets.
That’s where we had our sturdy “double-bed” dog basket made which somehow has survived the teething troubles and love of chewing of three of our four Labs.

Love and car keys

One good reason to get married is that you always have someone to blame when you can’t find your car keys.

fionachisholm@iafrica.com