A Jacaranda Stroll, Without Jacarandas

This is my third summer in Joburg and I’ve yet to write a post about jacarandas. The jacarandas bloom around October or November, and the Jozi suburbs become shrouded in purple for a couple of weeks. We need to appreciate jacaranda season while we have it. Jacarandas are an invasive species in South Africa and the public is banned from planting new ones.

A couple of weekends ago, I thought the time had finally come for my jacaranda post. My friend Jackie scheduled a late afternoon jacaranda photo stroll through Saxonwold, Joburg’s leafiest and most jacaranda-filled suburb.

I showed up ready to shoot purple, but there was very little purple to shoot. It’s been a weird jacaranda season in Joburg this year; the blooms came late, and in some places they hardly came at all. We seemed to have missed the peak in Saxonwold.

All was not lost though. We didn’t have jacarandas, but we did have a lovely, warm evening and great light. And fortunately Jackie planned the walk around the Anglo-Boer War Memorial, one of Joburg’s most beautiful monuments.

The Anglo-Boer War Memorial, on the grounds of the Museum of Military History in Saxonwold.

I’ve driven past this monument dozens of times but never stopped to photograph it before. Our failed jacaranda mission gave me the perfect opportunity to examine the monument from all sides.


From below.


Best of all, I was with a fun, quirky group of people. We all forgot about the jacarandas and just enjoyed the moment.

I didn’t pose this shot, I swear. I happened to be messing around with Instagram when Jackie decided to photograph Manuela in her panama hat, and Gianmarco started a spontaneous five-minute meditation.

I can’t remember who decided to hail the ice cream scooter. It was a great idea though.

One last shot of the monument.

After our walk we headed to the Zoo Lake Bowling Club for a drink. We arrived just in time to see flocks of ibis swooping in to roost for the night.

Ibis Instagram. And look: There is one blooming jacaranda tree on the far right.

All in all, a perfect afternoon and evening. Even without the jacarandas.

As I was writing this post, I suddenly remembered that I took a bunch of jacaranda photos in Melville last summer. I had intended to write a post about them back then, but life intervened and I never got around to it.

I hunted down last year’s jacaranda pictures on my hard drive. They’re better than I remember, and some of them are quite special. Here are a few.

I had forgotten all about this, but that was the last walk that Jon and I ever took together. I’m really glad I dug up these pics.

This post, like our Saxonwold jacaranda stroll, didn’t turn out as planned. But somehow things always happen the way they’re supposed to.

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  • Reply Owls November 28, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I love jacarandas. They are so beautiful in Mexico City in the Spring.

    • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      They’re beautiful in LA, too. I used to go there every June for a work event and loved flying in amidst all the purple trees.

  • Reply Yonit November 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Jacaranda time in Joburg is my favorite time of the year, I feel so privileged every time I drive into a purple tunnel!

    • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Purple tunnel — I like that!

  • Reply Charles Visser (@CharlesVisser1) November 28, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I was astonished, until this post, that you’ve never done anything about the jacarandas. Next year I promise to show you the best jacaranda/joburg skyline shot ever. You’ll need your SLR though. This is not for beginners and I’ve been begging pros to take it for years but either they are too lazy or the light is not right.

    • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Yeah, I’ve mentioned the jacarandas in previous posts but never appropriately “covered” them until now. I would love to see the best jacaranda skyline ever. If you show it to me I will let you use the pics (with a proper credit, of course). Haha!

  • Reply Gail Wilson November 29, 2012 at 7:09 am

    So sorry I did not make this outing, however I do feel that the Jacarandas in Kensington did “perform” a little better than most areas – got a few shots but missed the company.

    • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      We missed you too, Gail 🙂

  • Reply asterisk November 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I can’t believe they’re considered a pest. The Jacaranda’s in Sydney look stunning right now! Kim*


    • Reply Jeroen November 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Beautiful shots again – I do miss my purple Melville street!
      I think jacaranda’s are officially classified as ‘alien’ rather than invasive, as they don’t breed that fast, unlike some foreign shrubs that are taking over parts of SA. Problem is, there are lots of them, and just like the alien and fast-growing blue gumtrees (eucalyptus, taken here from Australia for the mining industry) they apparently suck up lots of water, disturbing Joburg’s underground water management.

      • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        Thank you for the clarification! The term alien does sound more sensible than invasive.

    • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      Yes, they are beautiful. As explained in another comment, the problem with jacarandas in South Africa is all the water they suck up. It’s a pity though, as they have become part of the culture here.

  • Reply catherine November 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for the beautiful shots, I have always wanted to see the jacarandas in bloom and now I have!

  • Reply Debra Kolkka November 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    The jacarandas were beautiful in Brisbane this year and now we have the poincianas. I didn’t know jacarandas were invasive.

    • Reply 2summers November 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Well, apparently they are not “invasive” but rather “alien”. They use too much water for the natural environment here in SA.

  • Reply Jeroen November 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    A handyman in Joburg once told me that during apartheid it was difficult to get good hard wood from abroad due to the economic blockade of SA, and that they then started to use home-grown jacaranda wood for construction and furniture.

  • Reply amelie88 November 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    How beautiful! I had never heard of this kind of tree. From far away they look like purple cherry blossoms. 🙂

    • Reply 2summers December 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Yes, the flowers do look similar to cherry blossoms!

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