Out of all the trees I could convince you to grow in your garden, the one at the top of the list forever, from now on, is going to be the Plum.
I've heard the facts about the Marula being the most resourceful tree, or the Olive being perfect for it's evergreen nature and waterwise fortitude. Year-round gifts come from lemon and of course there is no comparison to the delicacy of the Fig.
But when it comes to loyalty, reliability and presence, you know, all the things you come to expect from the creatures you share your life with, then Plum is my queen.
As I'm processing the kilos of plum harvest into various value-added products to use throughout the year I realise something for the first time.
My plum is an active participant of my daily life.
In May, she gets an autumn blush, turning her leaves into a mood setting burnt orange.
Come July she's the only one naked in winter.
In September she’s a louder version of herself with the burst of white blossoms signalling Spring “go-time”.
And until December she keeps me engaged with volume, size and distribution of the gifts she'll deliver at about Christmas.
I spend every Joburg summer day wondering if the rain or hail will assist with a light prune of too many fruit buds, or whether it'll be time to start fighting off the mouse- birds and Loeries.
And then she rests. Just stands there and watches as we carry on with our daily lives, allowing the kids to tangle themselves up in her branches.
She's watched as I’ve changed the garden around her, perhaps too many times.
Watched as we slowly renovated our home to accommodate our expanding family.
She always provides a spot to sit under and chat, sometimes really talk, when friends come to visit.
She's watching the kids as they're growing bigger, giving them a place to play every afternoon before supper.
When Matt and I get the guitar out late at night around the fire when we think no-one is listening, she is, and she’s hearing how rusty we get with every short year that rolls by.
And when I leave the house for supper at a friend, she's normally embodied in a bottle of good, scarlet sweetness to deliver herself further afield, bringing pleasure to the people that I love.
If there is a part of you that wants a plant companion that truly participates in your life, actively, get a Plum.
All you need to do is to put your own roots down too.
Very basic Plum Jam recipe
1 Kilo Cut plums, stones removed
1 Kilo Sugar
2 Lemon pips
Simmer the cut plums in a pot until they are soft and have simmered for about half an hour, on low.
Add the sugar and stir, let it dissolve and simmer for another 15 minutes...or so. Add the lemon pips shortly after you've added the sugar.
Bottle into glass jars.
For every additional kilo or plums you add, add 1 kilo of sugar and 2 lemon pips.