South African aloes flower over a long period, but by far the greatest number are winter-flowering. And right at the moment one of the regents of the land, Aloe marlothii, marches proudly across the hills a few miles from here. I posted extensively about them here. Above they can be seen, their spreading yellowish flower-spikes carried nearly on the horizontal. Of similar stature but even more spectacular is its cousin from further south, A. ferox, with flame-red candelabra carried vertically. In the photo below from July 2008 two A. ferox hybrids (with yellower flowers than the type) flank a young A. marlothii in the bed below the guest bedroom’s gable.
The red and orange globes in the above photo belong to a red-hot poker, one of the few winter flowering species, and so it too usually gets frosted. I say ‘it too’: unfortunately we are lucky to see this sight one year in five, for usually the frost destroys the aloe buds before they bloom. For the last two years heavy frosts have caused severe dieback of the leaves as well, and this afternoons photo shows that our aloes are a sorry sight at the moment.
I would love to move them – but where to? The fact is that even when their glorious leaves have had their dried tips cut back, like last-year’s leaf facing the camera, the aloes remain dramatic and sculptural. And when there IS a good year… oh, how worthwhile it is then to have them! And so, even as we survey the carnage, we dream of a better winter next year…
This post links to Wildflower Wednesday, a tradition started by Gail of Clay and Limestone, where on the fourth Wednesday of the month garden bloggers around the world celebrate the wild flowers of their piece of Eden.