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....!