Festive Fynbos: Deck the halls with boughs of fynbos

Festive Fynbos: Deck the halls with boughs of fynbos

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree …

When I was a child we lived in Namibia, it was before the days of artificial Christmas trees, and pine trees were simply not available, so for Christmas my parents brought in a branch of the indigenous South African tree, Kalahari Camel Thorn (Acacia Eribola). We stripped its leaves and decorated it with our favourite decorations and it was beautiful. As we discovered, the pods of this tree also make lovely decorations when painted. Did you know that this tree is regarded by the San of the Kalahari as the Tree of Life? How appropriate then to use this tree to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Necessity forced us to be creative in Namibia, but now it is a conscious eco choice to go green, and not artificial or alien pine tree green, but indigenous green. Other suggestions for Christmas trees are any of the Yellowwoods, Cape Gardenia or Cheesewood, which can all be kept in containers and used over and over – a Christmas Tree that brings joy year-round, how wonderful. I have a beautiful Yellowwood growing in my garden which I intend festooning with lights this Christmas – The Engineer (to whom I am married) looked less enthusiastic as he knows he is the one who will have to climb the ladder.

This week on Facebook I saw some gorgeous small Christmas trees, suitable for an apartment, or small home, made from succulents. Take a look at www.goodshomedesign.com for generally good ideas, but particularly the ‘trees’ which you can make from South African succulents ( www.goodshomedesign.com/succulent-christmas-tree/).


Welcome, welcome … tis the season to be jolly

Make your guests feel welcome by hanging a stunning fynbos or succulent wreath on your front door. In local supermarkets I have seen some exquisite ones, but you can also make your own.

I am truly excited by the website topiary.co.za and suggest you go and drool over it, and contact the owners Andrea or Kate Semple (email asemple@mweb.co.za). All their decorations are handmade from indigenous foliage and fynbos by local disadvantaged women in Grabouw. They have the most beautiful trees, topiaries, candles, angels, stars, reindeer, balls, pyramids and wreaths. We are going out to Napier this weekend to celebrate my father’s 85th birthday and a diversion to Grabouw is definitely on the cards.


Baubles for The Tree

Christmas baubles collected over the years, those made by the children, bought in foreign countries, or given by friends, evoke wonderful, nostalgic memories. I intersperse mine, collected over 40 years of marriage (to the said Engineer), with beautifully shaped seedpods and seeds. I would suggest you look at the inspiring website lifeisagarden.co.za for ideas.


The Festive Table

 Oh this is my best, I just simply love decorating the table so that it looks really festive. In an attempt to handover to the next generation I have delegated “The Table” to my daughter (oh why didn’t I rather delegate the dirty dishes?). This year, apparently, fynbos (ericas, pincushions, proteas) and indigenous foliage will form the center piece of our table, with candles surrounded by fynbos, in our case buchu, as we have an abundance of it growing on our property. If you use that “green stuff” (Oasis) the flowers will last until the New Year celebrations are over.


Wired for Christmas

You could also support local enterprises by stopping and buying some of the beautifully made wire fynbos flowers, that local wire artists are selling near traffic light intersections. These make wonderful gifts or they can be used to decorate your table. They are referred to as, ‘Marobot neMawaya’ – Traffic lights and wire – I just love that. Also try streetwires.co.za and visit their shop in Cape Town.


To each and everyone of you a blessed Christmas with your family and friends. I look forward to sharing some of my indigenous and water-wise gardening tips with you in the new year.

Shannon Paul

As a young adult I loved the mountains, hiking, the fynbos, rocky shore, and the indigenous flora and fauna of South Africa, so it was natural when our children came along that we raised them to be mountains kids and to be passionate about their environment. A choice that influenced both their careers. Having taught English for many years I enjoy reading and writing, and my garden in the country is my passion and our refuge. Here we organically produce our own bottle olives and oils from our olive orchard and grow many of our own vegetables and herbs.