Namibia receives its rain in the second half of summer; from the Kaiser's birthday (27th January) to the end of April. Sometimes it doesn't.

So the indigenous trees are all specially adapted to long winter dry spells of no rain at all when they sleep.

The garden is on a hill facing East. This means hot sun on early morning cold (below zero) plants in winter which things tend not to like much.

I've put in some dry stone terracing using skills learnt from the Yorkshire Dales which has quite effetively stopped our soil washing into the road when it rains. It rains real rain here, often 2cm in 20 minutes.

The two trees - back left Monkeythorn) and right (Black Monkeythorn) - are varieties of acacia indigenous to the country but not to Windhoek. They come from the wetter Caprivi region. Acacias are leguminous and have very long tap roots so they look after themseves once established. These have now got their roots well into the damp layers of mica below.

Our masked weaverbirds, interestingly, will only nest in indegenous trees

Front left is a tree aloe but not an indigenous one and centre left is pink hibiscus. when its in flower its pollinated mainly by sunbirds and the amazing proboscis moths equipped with a nectar hosepipe twice their body length.

Knoppiesboontjieboomtjies and Klokkliesboontjieboomtjies
No knoppies or klokkies here, just acacias (though they do have boontjies)

A decoction from its roots is good for hemorrhoids, a poultice of its leaves will cure cattle of blindness, its flowerbuds, when pickled in vinegar can be used as capers, cattle feed on it during droughts and a fine one where I walk regularly smells strongly of the Wildebeest that use it as a rubbing post.

And the Afrikaners make coffee from ts roots, but then the Afrikaners make coffee out of pretty well anything.

Its the Witgat tree ('white bottom'*) and you must not cut it down or your calves will be only bull calves.

This one is a good deal older than the house and probably even Windhoek. After 14 burglaries we fenced the garden but left carfully made gaps for it

*'gat' in Afrikaans means 'anus' but any literal translation from Afrikaans is a dangerous business because it's a language where almost every word has almost any meaning. It all depends on context.

No whistles

A few feet from each other we have two other indigenous trees, the Knoppiesboontjieboom and the Klokkiesboontjieboom, which are two entirely different species. One, linguists will recognise, has knobs on and the other, bells.


Maerua flower
The Knoppiesboontjieboom is also known as the Maerua which gives its name to the area in which we live. In spring it is covered with delicate flowers with a fine scent extraordinary long stamens and is the larder of two pairs of dusky sunbirds who cannot tolerate each other.

Later in the year it becomes the larder of millions of caterpillars of a small white butterfly which will, in just a few days, turn every one of its leaves into slimy green shit and then die of hunger and fall off. Only then can our Maerua relax and start living.
The flower of the Knoppiesboontjieboom.

It produces a seed pod (below) that is rather like a boon with little knops on
Our knoppiesboontjieboom in summer
The Maerua is one of many species endemic to Namibia and so is rare and protected. This seems to mean little however as many were bullozed near here to make way for a more than usually depressing shopping mall, called 'Maerua Lifestyle Centre'. I suppose Knoppiesboontjieboom Lifestyle Centre would not sell quite so much designer underwear.
At home

The klokkiesboontjieboom (Markhamia acuminata) is native to southern Zimbabwe and Caprivi which get a bit more rain than we do.

Its done quite well this year because of the good rains here rain (the guage has indicated that our edge of the desert has had twice the average rainfall of Yorkshire this year).

It's flowered this year but the boons didn't set. It's a prepubescent klokkiesboontjeboom

Our first klokkie