Purples and pinks

As Esther Hoffmann in ‘A Star is Born’, Barbra Streisand’s sings ‘Everything’.  The words of this song, one of my all-time favourites, came to mind when I saw these Tibouchinas: surely even Esther Hoffmann – and Barbra Streisand! – would have been satisfied…?

Tibouchina tunnel

I want to learn what life is for –
I don’t want much, I just want more.
Ask what I want and I will sing
I want everything, everything:
I’d cure the cold and the traffic jam
If there were floods, I’d give a dam
I’d never sleep, I’d only sing
Let me do everything, everything!
I’d like to plan a city, play the cello
Play at Monte Carlo, play Othello
Move into the White House, paint it yellow
Speak Portuguese and Dutch
And if it’s not too much
I’d like to have the perfect twin:
One who’d go out as I come in

Politsi panorama

A year ago I posted on Tibouchinas – both our local ‘wild tibouchinas’ and the real thing, including this species: Tibouchina granulosa. It is worth reading as an introduction to today’s show – and not only because it lead directly to the opportunity to visit these spectacular trees!


I had heard of this magnificent garden, but the invitation to come see it for myself followed as a direct result of the above post. I guess it helped that over the years I had taught six of the owners’ grandchildren, and consider their son and daughter-in-law to be good friends… but I did not know that the family read or even knew of my blog!

Last February passed all to quickly and I never got there… but this year, as I drove down to Tzaneen and saw along the way examples of these pink and purple trees, I undertook to phone and invite myself. However before I did that the typically forthright invitation from Dawn arrived: Hi Jack, if you want to see the tibouchinas here you better make a plan!!    I did, and we were entertained not only to a stupendous sight, but a ditto view, not to mention delicious cake and tea (in that order) whilst looking across the view from their terrace…

View from Terrace

If you consider that each of these is a tree of substantial size, you will realise how vivid this slope is. Politsi, where we find ourselves, is an amazing valley on the edge of the escarpment. Look back to the photo above the close-up: my garden lies somewhere behind the neck on the left of the picture and the Dap Naude Dam which I wrote about here lies beyond and to the right of the highest point; behind that highest point the Forest Drive snakes down. Politsi is claimed – I’ve not been able to confirm this – to have the 2nd highest rainfall in South Africa. It lies high enough above the Lowveld to escape the impossibly humid heat of the area, yet is essentially sub-tropical. This makes the valley ideal for growing macadamia nuts, avocados and semi-hardy ornamental plants which are marketed to Gauteng, where the country’s wealth is concentrated. It also makes for spectacular gardening.


Dawn had obviously read my blog with more attentiveness than is usual. Whilst I was photographing the above close-up, she announced gleefully that she had found a mistake on my blog. (She was also a teacher in her day, and it shows…) And so, Dawn, I dedicate the correction of Cythna Letty’s name (I had spelt it Cynthia in this post) to you; Cythna Letty was an amazing woman whom you greatly admire. I join you in that admiration, and thank you for a wonderful morning!

Tibouchina drive


    • It is much more complicated than that, Diana. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Revolt_of_Islam She is named aftr the heroine of a Shelley poem, but why is difficult to fathom. Her mother, who had 11 kids by two marraiges – and it seems Cythna’s father a drifter if not a rotter – but she was a remarkable woman who was an artist, obviously a romantic, and managed to educate her children more or less single-handedly. It seems she is worthy of study in herself!

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