Every year from late September to November, Jacaranda trees go into bloom in Johannesburg and Pretoria. This starts a photo frenzy among the photography fraternity with everyone trying to find where the best spot is to photograph these beautiful trees. Facebook, Instagram and other sites become inundated with purple photos. Today I found my best spot but before I get to share this place let me tell you a bit about these trees.
Jacaranda Mimosifolia is it’s botanical name, first seeds were imported by James Clarke and the first two trees were planted in Pretoria by JD Cilliers in what is now the Sunnyside Primary School. There is a plaque there that reads as follows – “These two trees were planted by the late J D Cilliers in the year 1888 and were the first Jacaranda’s to be planted in Pretoria. They were imported from Brazil”. In 2001 they were declared a “Category three Invader” which means they can’t be planted, propagated, sold or transplanted. However the existing Jacarandas will continue to keep us in awe when they bloom.
The first Jacarandas planted in Johannesburg were at Charlton Terrace in Doornfontein. It is also believed that a William Nelson owner of Nelsonia Nurseries in Turffontein grew 30 million trees, shrubs and plants by 1896. He undertook to line the streets of Kensington with Jacarandas, this took 6 months to complete. It is believed to be the first time in South Africa that trees were planted on such a large scale. (Info required from the Joburg City Parks site)
There are a few myths attached to these blooms – one is that if a student has not started to study by the time the blooms fall they will fail. Another is that if a bloom should fall directly on you it is lucky and therefore you will pass your exams. It would be interesting to know if this has been put to the test.
I discovered these beautiful Jacarandas in West Park Cemetery this morning whilst helping with the documentation of graves. Where are your best spots this year?
Enjoy them while they are here.
A few suggestions of great viewing places in the Johannesburg area, Saxonwold, Houghton, Westcliff and of course Kensington.