Here on the rocky parts of the beach the aloes are in full bloom during January and February. Aloes just love growing against rocky slopes anywhere in the Cape, which makes it one of South Africa's most valuable plants to keep steep mountain glades in place. This morning I noticed that the little protea bush known as "skollie" with its grey-green leaves grows tightly in between these aloes. In this precious Cape floral kingdom there is always some amazing display!
The aloe family has a lot of uses as enterprising folks prepare health drinks and creams and lotions and ointments, which are then beautifully packaged and sold in markets. Of course we also know the South American aloe called "agave" from which tequila is made. Our farmers cut the thick leaves in times of drought, remove the thorns and feed it to their cattle.
My painting is of the aloe mitriformis. They grow wild but I have some in the garden as well as six or so others. The photo shows some of my own aloes. Starting in the top, left to right:
- I call the first one Old Lonely. It has no sideshoots yet. I know in a few seasons there will be yellow florets which are loved by birds.
- Next is Bonny, a stripey one who has eleven babies all around her. This will make a formidable fence one day.
- I call the next one Buster, very strong, but no sight of little ones yet.
- The last photo shows a row of colourful aloes which add a lot of definition to my garden. They look very smug and undamaged after I toppled into them last week when I wanted to investigate a plant behind them. My husband had to help me out and wash my 30 or so scratches and little wounds. I think it is because of this episode that I am nowadays greeted goodbye in the morning with the words: "Now don't do anything funny in the garden today!"