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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