A Tree at Westdene Dam

by | Nov 3, 2020 | Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds, Parks/Nature Reserves | 17 comments

Today is Election Day in the United States. I had been thinking I could be sort of normal — write a blog post, go about my day, etc. My vote has already been cast, after all. I’m a hemisphere away from America and there’s nothing more I can do. Plus it’s probably going to be a few days before we even know the outcome, and fretting seems fruitless.

But now that we’re finally here — November 3rd, 2020, the day we’ve been breathlessly counting down to for four, interminably long years — I’m a tangled ball of nerves and the thought of thinking or behaving normally seems preposterous.

Before I descend into madness, most likely for the rest of the week, I want to share this picture I took over the weekend of a beautiful tree at Westdene Dam.

Pepper tree at Westdene Dam
A sprawling pepper tree at Westdene Dam.

Westdene Dam is a small dam (lake) surrounded by a public park in Westdene, the next suburb over from Melville. Amazingly I had never been to this park until last Saturday, when I went there for a braai celebrating the Melville Food Program volunteers.

I think Westdene Dam flies under the radar because it’s a small park, and also because everyone seems to associate it with a tragic bus accident that happened there in the 1980s. When I googled the Westdene Dam, stories about the accident were almost all I could find.

It’s a beautiful park though — peaceful and well maintained, with a lovely playground, exercise equipment, and many beautiful trees. I couldn’t stop staring at the pepper tree.

Pepper tree and Westdene Dam
The tree’s sprawling branches reach out toward the dam.
Pepper tree
Another look.

During the braai I also did a quick, silly photoshoot with Tanya and Sean, who organized the Melville Food Program and provided support to so many Melville-area residents during the covid-19 lockdown.

Tanya and Sean Gardiner
Their outfits matched perfectly and looked so nice with the summer-green grass.
Tanya and Sean at Westdene Dam
Tanya and Sean
Tanya and Sean laughing

If you’d like to know more about pepper trees, read this lovely article by Kathy Munro in the Heritage Portal. If you’d like to learn more about Westdene Dam (something other than the sad accident story), read this informative post in the Lagos to Jozi blog.

Pepper tree again

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief U.S. Election Day distraction. I’ll go back to panicking now.


  1. Albert

    It looks beautiful. And a pity that everyone only associates the dam with the bus accident..

    • 2summers

      Yeah. I’ve heard more than one person say they don’t like to go there because they can only associate it with the tragedy. I’ve also heard people say similar things about the Wilds, because of all the bad things that have happened there. It’s sad.

      • dizzylexa

        Pity that people do that, have the same problem with Rhodes Park after the incident that happened there. On another note – hope the USA results will give you something to celebrate.

        • 2summers

          Yes, and same with the Wilds. And I hope so too!

  2. violetonlineisonline

    thinking of you today, all day, night, tomorrow, until hopefully, ugh I don’t even want to write it, BUT HOPEFUL.
    You know I have not been to Westdene Dam for about 12 years. Tried the other day and got stung by not one but two bees en route!

    • 2summers

      Wow, that’s quite a sign that it wasn’t your day to visit the dam.

  3. Charl Durand

    Hehe. Back in varsity days it was a ‘romantic getaway’ for us students across the road at the rather stodgy RAU (now UJ). One tree per couple. ‘Nuff said, but that tree pic rings a bell. We were both just a lot younger then.

  4. Akindele olunloyo

    What a nice-looking tree! Thank you for sharing.

    • 2summers

      No problem, and thanks for your post! It’s the only thing I could find online with information about the park.

  5. AutumnAshbough

    I have Brazilian pepper trees all around my house, planted by the city back in the 1950s. The shade is nice, but they drop leaves all year round, especially in the summer, and those peppers get stuck on your feet constantly. They’re now classified as invasive.

    But I’m keeping mine alive. Especially since my cop neighbor really hates them.

    • 2summers

      Yeah, they’re not native to Africa either. We seem to get a lot of the same invasive trees as California!

      • AutumnAshbough

        We have similar climates. Or so people keep telling me!

  6. Nancy McDaniel

    what a beautiful tree. and a wonderful occasion. And YES about today. Actually, to quote a favorite former President: YES WE CAN!

  7. Peggy Laws

    I have a huge pepper tree at the back of my garden in Kensington and love it. Have been told it is over 100 years old but cant get that verified. Holding fingers and thumbs for your Election results.

    • 2summers

      Such beautiful trees!


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