Trees of Jo’burg


I love my city of trees. Johannesburg is one of the largest man-made forests in the world, if you look from space. Of course many of these trees are not indigenous to the area or even to southern Africa, but still I love them.

Various roads have trees for different weeks.  Corlett Drive and Lower Park Drive have those ghostly trees, with white areas on the bark, when they green it’s a joyous sight.  

There is a road I used to travel daily to work for many years, through Melrose, and for a few weeks it is a pale purple tunnel, full of jacaranda blue/purple, beautiful in the morning, but at sunset almost magical in the purple light.

There is a strip of Jan Smuts that has towering pin oaks and when they flower they are truly magnificent, although generally hard to appreciate as you have to watch the traffic so carefully in that section.

Just a block up the road from where I live is a set of flowering fruit trees, alternately pinky-red and white.  Every spring for a few days they truly enchant me.

The lovely umbrella shaped trees in the islands between the left and right of William Nichol don’t really flower, but I often look longingly at their gentle wide shade on a hot summer’s day. These trees don’t get watered, they just survive on their own.

At the Rosebank library, there are the Kapok trees, with those weird spikey trunks and boughs, and the startling pink and white flowers, and in autumn the pods break open spilling while fluff and those precious big seeds.

For me winter in Joburg, means spectacular sunsets, with bare trees starkly outlined against the various colours of sky as you drive or look west.  Our trees have a beauty then that is so different from the dry looks of daytime.

But spring changes all that. Those trees become alive. This year the Rhus in the garden was the first, showing a green haze long before any of the others. Now other trees are filled with small green leaves, daily creating more and more shade.  From my bedroom I look out to the spruit and there I watch the willows, their gnarled boughs so stark in winter, now sporting long graceful tendrils of palest green, dancing in the breeze as though they are happy.

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