Orange is associated with autumn. In our garden this colour is most evident in flowers blooming during March and April, rather than in leaves turning colour on the deciduous trees.

Summer-flowering grassland aloe, Aloe cooperi, South Africa

The last of five flowers that bloomed on our Aloe cooperi, which flowers in late summer

Autumn in KwaZulu-Natal is marked more by a reduction in rainfall, heat and humidity than by an autumn made spectacular by the leaves of trees turning colour in massed displays, especially insofar as most indigenous trees go. Some of the indigenous trees in our garden have only a few leaves changing colour at a time, and others drop their leaves quite suddenly late in the winter prior to the new growth of spring.

Autumn leaf in indigenous garden, South Africa

When this week I went in search of leaves that had turned to orange or red in our garden, this was one of only very few that I could find

Dry leaves of a Tree Fuschia (Halleria lucida)

 Not orange, but at a stretch these leaves could be described as almost russet? Most of the leaves on this Tree Fuschia (Halleria lucida) remain green, but the flowers are most definintely orange, as can be seen in the photo below

Flowers of the Tree Fuschia (Halleria lucida)

 Orange flowers on the Tree Fuschia (Halleria lucida) sprinkled with raindrops from some very welcome autumn rain

The most distinguishing feature of our seasons is the distinct division between the wet and dry seasons. Spring and autumn are both brief transitional seasons. We live in a summer rainfall region – most of our rain falls in summer.  Summers are hot and very, very humid, as in sub-tropical. Winters are dry and temperatures remain mostly mild, with only very light and very occasional frosts in our neck of the woods. Each winter there is snow in the Drakensberg mountains and sometimes in lower lying inland areas too. And I have just heard that the first snow of the season is forecast for the Drakensberg mountains this weekend!

Flowers of the Crocosmia aurea, wet with raindrops

Decorated with raindrops glinting in early morning autumn sunshine is this Crocosmia aurea, or Falling Stars, though here it is usually referred to simply as ‘crocosmia’. The photo featured at the top of this post is also of a crocosmia, showing the arrangement of flowers along the plant’s slender stem

Seedpod of the Dwarf Coral Tree

While looking out for orange flowers in the autumn garden, my eyes were drawn to this seedpod,  splitting to reveal the orange-red seeds within. It belongs to the Dwarf Coral Tree (Erythrina humeana)

Crane flower or Bird of Paradise flower

Of course I could not ignore the Strelitzia reginae, also known as the Crane Flower or Bird of Paradise Flower

Black-eyed Susan vine in flower, South Africa

The confiding little flowers of the twining creeper Thunbergia alata, known here as the Black-eyed Susan Vine

Flower of the Wild Dagga plant, South Africa

Only one of the many Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) plants in the garden is in flower. Oddly the others have not even come into bud yet

Wild Orange Begonia, South Africa

This beautiful little Wild Orange Begonia (Begonia sutherlandii), in a pot on our back deck, is a favourite of mine. I have seen it in the wild in dense forest patches in the Drakensberg mountains, growing in damp crevices and enjoying the moisture from a nearby stream or waterfall

Flower of a potted pelargonium

A bit of a cheat perhaps, as this is a hybrid pelargonium, also growing in a pot on our back deck. Most pelargonium cultivars stem from the wild pelargoniums that originated in southern Africa

Paralethe dendrophilus, Forest Beauty butterfly with wings closed

While photographing flowers I noticed this butterfly resting on a leaf of a Strelitzia reginae. Its markings are striking but its colours are subtle, but then it opened its wings briefly to reveal orange as can be seen in the photo below 

Paralethe dendrophilus or Forest Beauty butterfly in a KwaZulu-Natal garaden

A Forest Beauty butterfly (Paralethe dendrophilus) revealing orange on the upper sides of its hind wings. The orange colouration fits in with the colour theme of this post, as does the fact that butterflies are particularly numerous and noticeable during the months of autumn

Posted by Carol

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