Wednesday, May 20, 2009


England in autumn applies orange lavishly with broad brush strokes. Dripping and splattering all shades of sunset, it spreads throughout the landscape: beech trees a golden or coppery shade, through to fiery oranges and rusts in London parks, interspersed with reds and golds. The bright colors make up for dull skies and flat light and just occasionally are picked up by bursts of sunlight that set the whole landscape on fire.

In South Africa too orange is the colour of autumn and winter, but here it is in the details, a fine brush picking out highlights: aloe flowers, wilde dagga, tekoma (Cape honeysuckle), gazanias. As soon as the first autumn showers wake the plants from summer slumber they burst into bloom: first the wilde dagga providing nectar for the sunbirds whose iridescent green flits between them and the tekoma.

Later on the aloes will provide scarlet exclamation points amid the winter green, and at the end of winter pincushion proteas provide a full stop to the orangefest. You can see why nature is sparing with her bright colors over here.

The bright winter sunshine picks up the oranges and intensifies them into glorious Technicolor – no need for a broad backdrop of orange which would dazzle and blind. We feast our eyes on the cooler green of new winter growth and then look for sparkle and joyous abandon to the shocking oranges of the flowers around us.

We’re feasting on oranges literally too. The fruit are already in season, cheap enough to buy several kilos and eat one for breakfast every day, but soon they will be piled high in the supermarket in 5kg bags for R8 each.

That is when we start drinking freshly squeezed juice, make orange sorbet to freeze for the summer, make marmalade or just eat them by the score, for breakfast, lunch and snacks. They are my secret weapon against winter ills and children who don't like vegetables are happy to eat them at any time of day. Naartjies too for school lunch boxes – all the varieties parade through the shops. At the moment it is the loose skinned tangerine, but our best clementines aren’t here yet, we have to be patient a while longer. Vitamin C and colour to cheer us through the winter, even when it is a grey rainy one.

Flaming log fires, tall orange candles, fiery sunsets and sunrises, orange silk scarves and fleeces, Le Creuset pots filled with hot casseroles and soups, these are a few of my favourite things....!


  1. What beautiful fall colors; you've made me hungry for autumn! It's so easy to forget that you're living at the other end of the world -- until I realize that you're having your autumn now.

    I love oranges too, but the rest of my family aren't quite so passionate. I more than make up for them, though; I go through one of those bags every week.

  2. my orange press has just died... it's a mechanical one and for weeks i have been making do by gently, gently carefully nudging it into making juice, with the lever flying across the kitchen every so often... now i have had to resort to a small citrus press, the mind that you use for lemons and your hand feels numb after 3 pieces - imagine making juice for 4! i love my orange juice in the morning, nothing but freshly squeezed will do!

  3. Mary - and I've been looking at all the spring flowers and now poppies in all the European blogs and feeling a twang of spring fever!

    Johanna - so sad about the demise of your orange press. I've been using the wooden hand orange squeezer in the picture for several years now - it works well but my hands end up stained orange too, when I'm doing enough juice for the whole family!

  4. Roll on winter! After reading this post I'm in the mood.... and thirsty for a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice!

  5. Oh, how homesick the flowers make me! We had tecomas in our garden too. And do you know the name of the flowers directly above the oranges? We called it a golden shower creeper when I was growing up and there is a huge one growing over my dad's front door in PE :)

  6. Jeanne - yes we call it golden shower too - it has grown enormous and keeps trying to creep in through the garage windows - successfully most of the time!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!