I was 15 years old when I first saw them: a retreating arch of dazzling purple glinting in the early morning sunlight, violet laden branches swaying in the light breeze.

What a sight it was, this avenue of jacaranda trees lining both sides of a Johannesburg street, meeting at the top to form a Gothic vault.

Covering the asphalt on our road was a carpet of purple trumpet flowers, pop, pop, popping as we knocked the air out of them, squishing them with our tyres. Even then, flattened and limp, they were beautiful, staining the road lavender, a damp floral rug.

I was mesmerised then, and am mesmerised all over again every spring in Johannesburg (although, of course, Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg are also known to boast a fair lilac showing of Jacarandas).

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