If a jacaranda blossom drops on your head, it’s good luck for your exams. This is a truth known to students from Joburg to Harare who have spent many an hour running around looking for that elusive blossom to splat on their heads having perhaps left it a bit too late to do well through more prosaic methods like I dunno, actually studying.
The jacaranda is not native to SA and is from South America. It was looked down upon and strictly verboten to plant any more until our trees started being decimated by the good old shothole borer and the jacaranda wasn’t considered to be such a bad invader because they’ve managed to withstand the evil bug. But those of us who’ve gotten stung by the bees that adore the carpet of blossoms have thought twice before planting one in our gardens.
Going around looking at jacarandas during our daily walks is something the husband and I enjoy. Especially trees that have bougainvillea growing in them (also invaders from South America) which are especially gorg. “Aren’t they vulgar?” so said lovely bookish friend, Michele Magwood who has the MOST AMAZING display of bougainvillea outside her house. There was much chuntering in our neighbourhood when a new family moved into our road and cut back the jacarandas and annihilated the boug in that particular tree. You mess with the foliage on your pavement at your peril, people will fight you.
I might have stood and shouted and said a few rude words myself when I saw the amputated limbs of the trees and the rapidly wilting tendrils of bougainvillea. And now I see that the city of Joburg has also been cutting back the trees in one of my fave roads which necessitated a Tourette’s level bout of swearing on our one walk last week. Remember what I said about being weird? I am not letting it hold me back.
It’s not just the blossoms I love, the pods of the jacaranda are an important feature of our Christmas decorations, I collect more and more of these each year to paint and put large bowls of them around the house and I know lots of people put them on their Christmas trees. I also have difficulty throwing the pods away so soon there will be no room for people at Christmas, just piles and piles of painted jacaranda pods.
Going to find a spot to check out the purple haze is very important. We usually go to the Westcliff Hotel, if you want to drop in, remember that it gets very popular at this time of the year so make sure you book. Other spots that have good views are Marble restaurant, Hyde Park Southern Sun and the new Radisson Red in Rosebank as well as Copper Bar (only open on Thursdays to the public – you need to book.)
I saw that friends had taken a scooter tour to go and check out the blossoms a couple of weekends ago which sounds like a stunning idea joburg360.com/. Another possibility is to take a Red Bus tour. If you have any other favourite spots/methods of viewing jacarandas, I’d love to hear them…
We shouldn’t forget that trees were not planted in the townships during the apartheid era and are very much a feature of the old white suburbs of Joburg. Trees cost a shitload, so if you want to gift a tree go to https://trees.org.za/gift_a_tree/.
Book recommendations: I was watching an episode of Graham Norton a couple of weeks ago and saw Sophie Ellis-Bextor on it (remember “It’s Murder on the Dance Floor”??) She is stunningly beautiful and came across as being very personable on the GH show so I bought her memoir. Unfortunately, just because someone can sing, doesn’t mean they can or indeed should write a book. What a disappointment – the chapter on hair – no, just no. I did not finish the book and moved to a page-turning thriller by Mary Kubica called Local Woman Missing which had a satisfying twist and is the perfect holiday read.
Film/TV recommendation: The Guilty on Netflix with Jake Gyllenhaal. Intense and suspense-filled with the feel of a one-man play. The protag is thoroughly unpleasant and there were a few moments where I wanted to stop watching, however I’m glad I persevered as it has a helluva reveal and that end scene with Jake is sublime – I really felt like he produced an Oscar winning performance in this one.
In bookish news – South African author Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize for his novel The Promise. HUGEST, hugest congrats to him!
Gail Schimmel’s book launch was cancelled due to a bomb scare at Rosebank Mall (What The Actual F??!!) It has now been moved to the Parkview Golf Course which delighted the husband. How very convenient was his response to this as if it had been arranged to suit him. It’s on November 10th and Schim will be chatting to the fab Sue Nyathi about her wonderful new domestic thriller Never Tell a Lie. It should be very jolly and I hope to see as many of you there as poss. YOU HAVE TO RSVP to email@example.com (that is me talking to me.)
Have a great week everyone, sending many virtual jacaranda blossoms to fall on the heads of students writing exams! My love to all of them and to the parents whose nerves are also shredded. Happy reading xxx