Nowadays, when I take a walk through the fynbos, I notice that the West Coast fairies have been very busy decorating their Christmas trees! We normally call this bush the tortoise berry shrub. In spring the strong thorny plants are covered in pretty pink flowers. And then, in December a wonderful berry pops out of each flower. It goes through so many colour changes, starting with light beige, soft green, yellow, followed by the purples until it reaches the final bright red colour. Look at my painting and the photographs and you can see how closely it resembles a beautifully decorated tree in miniature!
I never knew that there were West Coast fairies, but now there is a wonderful book: "Fynbos Fairies" by the poet Antjie Krog and illustrator Fiona Moody, and they have captured our fascinating ethnical community of fairies. The synopsis on loot.co.za reads: "There is a fairy living around each species of Cape Fynbos ----they work and play, they tend the fynbos or make a mess. They laugh, they sleep, they dream - life's busy for your average fynbos fairy in the veld."
The bright red tortoise berries are beloved by fairies, children, tortoises and birds who all love the thirst-quencing astringent tasting little morsels. Mmm, what a neat idea: the baubles on the West Coast fairies' tree are edible! The botanical name of the berry bush: Nylandtia spinosa. The book was published by Umuzi . ISBN 978-1-4152-0022-3