Platbos indigenous forest | Africa´s Southernmost forest | Baviaanspoort Hills, Grootbos Road between Gansbaai and Hermanus

Platbos Articles

In Celebration of Trees

- essays that pay tribute to all that

trees do for us and more -

We invite you to contribute your memorable moment shared with a tree. Please email them to : info [at]

Moving Moments by Isaac Reddy

Although by yet another more derogatory name I knew you by, scattered all over the Natal North Coast … for three years at Kidds Beach I saw you once more, at the centre of my life. Majestic in your naked, stripped down state, dark and shadowy. Brilliant in your red-orange flame - burning like red hot Arabian daggers - and, when so often my paint brush I would pick - your glory left me frozen and my paint wasted - you glorious, beautiful Coral Tree.

The Bladdernut by Viv Gardener

It tickled my interest when I read that the "bladdernut" tree is the tree of the year. This took me back to two years ago when I had a "moving moment" with a tree of that very name.

My mom and dad had both passed away and we decided to scatter their ashes in the Kirstenbosch Gardens where they had spent many a happy time communing with nature. We entered at the top gate, settling on a very pretty garden bed in the shade of a beautiful tree.

With the sad deed behind us, we sat on the bench under this tree for our tea. It was then that I discovered this was a bladdernut tree and that lightened the moment.

My mom had always had a weak bladder. She knew every "Ladies Room" (as she called them) all over Cape Town for fear of being caught short!
She had a wonderful sense of humour and even on this very sad occasion we had to smile that of all the trees in the Kirstenbosch Gardens we had picked her resting place - under a bladdernut tree.

For me this was not only a moving moment but a lifelong special connection.

Hornbeams by Dr John Prestwich

I have had a couple of lovely moments with trees myself. Felt a particularly strong connection with something called a hornbeam; standing resplendent in its full acid-green, early summer glory in Kew gardens in London. Many months later in Ipswich, facing the viva for my membership exam, pretty damn anxious, I came across another one in the grounds of the hospital and calmed myself down by having a chat to it and giving it a hug. Passed the exam too.

Bark the Tree by Tim Parr

I dreamt as I crossed the bridge of belief to get to the top of the hill - to my surprise looking me in the eyes was the queen of the impossible. She said "Hey Broer" she said "Broer" three times, it's true. She said "I've got a mission for you, and all you gotta do is pay attention to a tree that I want you to meet. So I was walking in the forest at the top of the town, I went up there to watch the sun go down, and I walked past this tree when suddenly this strange feeling came all over me. It was like this tree was trying to communicate with me, so I decided to wait... and I wait... and I wait... The sun goes down, I miss my date... but still no sign from this tree, and a start to think well maybe I'm going crazy... but then I heard a twig break, I spun around, turned my head ,and there's this tree looking at me and this is what he said:

"Hey Buddy! Did you know I love to party, and every now and then I like the taste of a good beer, have you got any here? Well, if not so what, come a little closer, I wanna whisper something in your ear. My name is Bark, and I'm from the tribe called the Standing Nation. Pleased to meet you face to face. I never met any of the Human race, but I saw you in a dream, and it would seem we were meant to meet in this place. I'm old as the hills, about 2003, not that age matters to me any more, but my mother - Mother Africa, Mother Nature, she is older than ancient, ever patient, but her patience is wearing thin. You humans, you've gotta find a new way to begin, you gotta learn to chill, be still, rest, unwind, do your best to find a little bit of peace 'o mind, a little calm, ammunition to disarm all of this tension in the world- and did I mention, no one said that it would be easy, but no one said that it would be hard. So be a wild card. Take a chance. Learn a new dance. And instead of doing things that are mindless, cultivate kindness, and don't break my branches, don't chop me down, rather give me a hug. Chances are I'll take away your pain and fill you up with love. Not on my own, but with the help of the sun and the moon and the stars above. I'm not a gangster, I'm not a thug. I'm a tree. Pleased to meet you. With love, Tim Parr 2008

For the Love of Trees by Sandra Steytler

My mother taught me to love trees - the Silver Birch in the back garden where I lived as a child in England, at the gate the Horse Chestnut, with its shiny brown conkers, good ammunition for kids, the Copper Beech and the Monkey Puzzle Tree in the school grounds.

Then when I came to the Cape 45 years ago, I fell for the Flowering Gums until I learnt better. Then at Kirstenbosch I got to know the Yellowwoods and the Stinkwoods and the Bladdernut. Then finally, when I started mountaineering in the Bain´s Kloof mountains, I came across the Kershout, the Kliphout, the Spoonwood, the Rooiels, the Witels, the Waboom, as well as the Bladdernut, to mention a few. But two trees I admire passionately, both wind-pollinated, the Breede River yellowwood (Podocarpus elongatus) and the Mountain Cedar (Widringtonia nodiflora) because, unlike their sisters, (P.falcatus and P.henkelii and W. cedarbergensis and W. schwarzii), they can survive in the fynbos and resprout after a veld fire. This I have seen in the Bain´s Kloof mountains.

Once in these mountains a leopard followed us along the path by moonlight for half an hour, coughing 10 coughs at a time then silence for a while. Shortly afterwards we discovered he had deeply scratched the bark of a Waboom (Protea nitida) near our campsite, to mark his territory. We had intruded.

The Old Oak by Sarita Waller

I remember the old oak in my Grandmother´s front garden. My cousin and I would gather in its shade, play hide and seek while chasing around its trunk and hang from its thick branches much to our Gran´s dismay. We would host fantasy tea parties for the neighbourhood kids beneath old faithful and challenge each other to climb to its highest point. At night I would fall asleep to the sound of wind blowing through its branches. Sadly, the old oak made way for a garage and with it the dawn of a new, more fast pace of living and our care-free nature loving childhood seems lost forever.

But fortunately my love and respect for nature and especially trees would continue thanks to this my very special first relationship. Then, many years later, while a student in the North West, a seemingly magical tree outside my hostel room window, would transport me back to those innocent times on the Cape Flats. I would watch students pass unable to withstand the attraction of this marula tree. In its shade students would enjoy a game of cards, snack on its delicious fruit and yes, even fall asleep … and steal a kiss!

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