A drive up Kragga Kamma Road towards Colleen Glen may just give you a colourful surprise this time of year. I saw a photo of the stunning aloe fence on Kragga Kamma Road in full bloom on Facebook and just had to go and see it myself. The whole aloe fence is probably a good hundred meters in length and all of it is in flower at the moment, making for a stunning site and beautiful photo opportunity.
I’m not a flower expert so I went digging around the internet to find out what kind of aloe it is. My guess was a fence aloe, but it turned out to be Aloe arborescens.
According to Wikipedia, Aloe arborescens, the krantz aloe or candelabra aloe, is a species of flowering succulent perennial plant that belongs to the genus aloe, which it shares with the well known and studied Aloe vera. The specific epithetarborescens means “tree-like”. Aloe arborescens is valued by gardeners for its succulent green leaves, large vibrantly-colored flowers, winter blooming, and attraction for birds, bees, and butterflies.
I’ve got to say, one thing I have missed most because of lockdown is roadtrips through the Karoo and Gamtoos Valley to see the aloes in full bloom this time of year. At least you can still get a taste of it around Port Elizabeth.
Just as the “normal” Aloes in the Karoo Heartland is done flowering, it’s the turn of the Coral Aloes. A drive through the southern Karoo Heartland (on the N10 just over the Olifantskop Pass from Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape two weeks ago had me stop a couple of times and grabbing for my camera with literally fields of flowering Coral Aloe stretching away from the road.
A carpet of orange
Just more proof that the Eastern Cape doesn’t have to stand back one step when it comes to showing off it’s beautiful flowers in spring.
One of the things I love most about winter is the fact that the aloes are in bloom. Here is Port Elizabeth we are very fortunate that we are surrounded by areas where aloes grow in abundance. Areas like the Gamtoos Valley, Baviaanskloof, Addo region, the Karoo Heartland and the Grahamstown district.
One of my favorite things about this time of the year (early winter) is the fact that the aloes are in bloom. A little road trip through the Karoo Heartland had me stop once or twice to snap a few pictures, but mostly I just enjoyed the sight of them next to the road.
A lot of the flowers are just starting to open up so give it another week or two three and they will be blooming in all their glory.
A deserted beach that was packed during the Jbay Open just a few weeks ago
Enjoying one of the best right hand point breaks in the world
Aloes on the coastline at Lower Point
Jeffreys Bay is seen as the surfing capital of South Africa with Supertubes being rated as one of the top 10 surf spots in the world. Supertubes is one of the best right hand point breaks in the world and one a good day can break over a distance in access of 300 meters. Swinging past there the other day the conditions were flat with no real break. The coastline is still stunning and with the aloe in picture its exactly as one is supposed to imagine the Kouga region coastline, an area where beach and bush meet.
The Karoo is a hauntingly beautiful place. A lot of people may find it boring but most see a beauty that is often described differently by every person. Wide open spaces with blue skies above, a couple of sheep grazing on the sparse green grass around a wind pump filled cement dam, late winter aloes in bloom with a Karoo koppie in the background, farm workers’ children playing in the dust close to a flat roof worker’s house, somebody walking down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and so I can go on. The scene in the picture was taken in the Karoo just north of the Zuurberg Pass. In the background is the 150 year old Ann’s Villa.
Aloes are amongst my favorite flowers, specially because they bloom in winter, so I’m always a bit sad at this time of the year when the flowers start to wilt and disappear.
Although there are still lots of flowering aloes about you can clearly see that the aloe season is slowly coming to an end. I wish they could flower all year round. But saying that, it wouldn’t be as special if they did. Here’s a close up of an aloe flower for those who may have wondered what it looks like.
During the hot dry summer the Karoo veld can be somewhat of a bleak affair, but during the winter it’s a different matter. Aloes bloom in all their fiery glory decorating the landscape like Christmas lights. Aloes, like proteas, are often found in the most unlikely and inhospitable places, growing in hot temperature and low rainfall areas and not needing the delicate hands of somebody with green fingers to nurture it. One of natures natural wonders.
The post is part of the Icons of the Karoo series including Quintessential Karoo, Farm Gate and Sweet Thorn Sunset.