It was spring equinox this week, inspiring this collection of spring sightings in the garden to bring a cheering lightness to lift our spirits.

I am sure we can all do with a little lightness, so without further ado, here are some recent photos reflecting something of the revitalising energy of springtime.

Wild pomegranate flowers, South Africa

Tubular bells

Glowing in afternoon sunshine a posy-like cluster of flowers of the wild pomegranate (Burchellia bubaline), which are popular with nectar-seeking insects and birds.

A double-collared sunbird at birdbath, South Africa

Iridescent elegance

The brilliant colours of a double-collared sunbird in bright morning sun, as he shows off his long bill before drinking at a bird bath in the garden. The relatively broad ‘red collar’ and the long bill make me think this is the greater double-collard sunbird, but as there can be quite some variation it might be that it is the southern double-collared sunbird.

A female double-collared sunbird and Cape white-eye drinking at bird bath, KwaZulu-Natal

The odd couple

A female double-collared sunbird drinks companionably alongside a Cape white-eye. I think this is the female greater double-collard sunbird, but as for the male in the photo above, it may be that it is a southern double-collared sunbird.

Fly pollinating flowers of the confetti spike-thorn (Gymnosporia senegalensis}

Monochrome in green

In the springtime the masses of pale green tiny flowers of this plant are abuzz with flies attracted to the nectar and pollen. This was not an easy plant to identify, but we think that it is most likely Gymnosporia senegalensis (formerly Meytenus senegalensis), the confetti spike-thorn.

Flower of the wild bush violet, South Africa

Purple violet

The bush violet (Barleria obtuse) has a rather charming scrambling habit, and although its small flowers may look delicate Barleria are hardy plants.

Seed capsules of the krantz aloe.

Time capsules

The winter-flowering krantz aloe (Aloe arborescens) goes to seed in the springtime. Not every flower is successful in ultimately forming a seed capsule, but this flower spike still bears several capsules that are separating from their papery covers.  

Carpet of fallen leaves from deciduous trees, South Africa

Spring fall

Many of our indigenous deciduous trees only drop their leaves at the end of winter, and so dense carpets of fallen leaves can be a feature of springtime. The red leaves have fallen from one of the Combretum trees.

Flowers of the Natal bottlebrush, South Africa

Show stopper

One of the first trees to bloom at the end of winter into spring is the Natal bottlebrush (Greyia sutherlandii). The nectar is popular with honeybees and other insects and many birds, particularly sunbirds, are attracted to the nectar. Vervet monkeys also enjoy nibbling on the flowers.

Striped skink sunbathing, KwaZulu-Natal

Sun worshipper

A striped skink extending a foreleg while basking in the spring sunshine.

Pair of striped skinks sunbathing

Good companions

Two striped skinks enjoying the sunshine together.

Mauve flowers of the wild sagewood

Heaven scent

The flowers of the wild sagewood (Buddleja salviifolia) vary in colour – they may be a pale mauve as in the photo, or a deeper almost purple or a pale creamy white. They are another early spring bloomer and the flowers have a sweet almost sticky scent and they attract many pollinators. Although I have not tried it, the leaves can be brewed to make a herbal tea.

African dusky flycatcher perching

Quietly confident

The African dusky flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta) is a relatively modest presence in the garden. They are tiny and usually solitary birds.  In our garden we often see an individual perching on a branch from which to hawk insects.

Hybrid Barberton daisies in flower


A hybrid of the Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) looking more dishevelled than usual

Pale yellow flower of a hybrid Barberton daisy

Daisy face

A glimpse of another colour variation of the Barberton daisy in the garden. Enjoying sunshine and responding well to being watered, these gerberas start flowering in the early spring.

Red-eyed dove perching

Bird’s eye view

This red-eyed dove (Streptopelia semitorquata) spent time every day during early spring perching to rest or preen in a Buddleja near one of the bird baths.

Flower of the purple broom, South Africa

Pollinator appeal

A member of the milkwort family, the lovely flowers of the purple broom (Polygala virgata) attract many enthusiastic pollinators, including wasps and carpenter bees. The plant is a generous self-seeder and each season I pot up seedlings to relocate to other spots in the garden.

New leaves of the copper-stem corkwood in springtime

New life

Freshly unfurled leaves, such as these of the copper-stem corkwood (Commiphora harveyi) evoke spring as much as any flower.

Flowers of the wild pear in springtime, South Africa

Massed celebration

Another early-spring flowerer, the wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia), despite the resemblance of the flowers to those of the pear family, is in fact a member of the Malvaceae (mallow) family. As the flowers mature they brown to attractive beige, and the dried petals act like wings when the ripe seeds eventually fall and float off from the stems.

Weeping anthericum in flower, South Africa


The weeping anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae) is supposed to be a summer flowerer, but several plants growing in a sheltered spot in our garden manage to flower during the winter into the spring.

Most people, or so it seems, have a favourite season (some people even like winter!), but it is the cycle of the seasons that lends each season its piquancy. As is often observed, were it not for winter we would not appreciate summer.

In these pandemic times even the seasons are freighted with concerns about associated behaviours that may result in increasing infections. We can only hope that as more is learnt about the virus more people heed the need to be considerate of the welfare of others.

The passing of the equinox has tipped us inexorably into the next season whether we like it or not. I am writing this hoping you keep safe. This season shall pass.

Posted by Carol