There are flowers that bloom outside my back door in October and November each year. They came and go throughout the summer, but it’s in late spring that they put on their best show. Each flower is a masterpiece of geometry and colour: six perfect white leaves, three of them marked by bold yellow slashes, with a delicate purple bruise on top to match the Jacaranda blossoms.
If you’re a gardener, you probably already know that I’m describing the wild iris, Dietes grandiflora. If you aren’t, well, you know them when you see them – they’re common enough across South Africa. Yet I can’t recall noticing them at all until five years ago, when my daughter was born. Somehow, through the haze of sleepless nights and bleary-eyed days, I caught the bright miracle of the iris buds and their opening. Like most new parents, I was prone to alternating fits of maudlin desperation and lyrical insight; the flowers seemed to me a vivid, wondrous, reassuring phenomenon every time I looked through the back door.