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Aloe, Aloe to Spring

Aloe, Aloe to Spring

Words: Margaret Roberts

Styling: Sandy Roberts

marg and sandy3Aloe Arborescens is a gorgeous Aloe bush that can grow up to 3.5m, even 4m, in height with a mass of early winter flowers make this easy-to-grow beauty so popular. But what intrigues me that the flowers are edible and can also be dried and added to exciting herb and medicinal teas throughout the year.

Also known as the krantz alwyn, this show stopper has the most gentle, beautiful and easy to apply healing gel in those soft leaves that treats all wounds, scratches, grazes, burns, cuts, scrapes and abrasions.

Interestingly radiation burns from the terrible nuclear explosion at Hiroshima in the 1940s, were successfully treated by Aloe arborescens gel – and this is still listed in medical journals after all these years. Because of this interest, plants have been sent all over the world from South Africa, and extracts of the leaves are being used for their exceptional medicinal properties of wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-infection and skin-repair abilities.

The soft mucilage and gel makes a soothing dressing over boils, infected, hot, red swellings and infected wounds. The leaf, cut lengthwise and peeled to expose the gel and placed over the area, is comforting and immediately soothing and healing.

Of the many aloes we grow, Aloe arborescens has remained a favourite, and a tea of the flowers with mint or slices of fresh ginger is excellent all through the year for its cleansing and repairing effects.

It is one of South Africa’s exceptional healing plants, and with the flowers as a tea all year through, we can build health, vitality and energy effortlessly and easily.

Find a space for Aloe arborescens in full sun and enjoy it – it is undemanding and easy.

Cape Gooseberry

bowl of gooseberries in casingsNow is the time to start planting Cape gooseberries for one of the most valuable of the summer fruits! It’s prolific and tough – I call this little treasure a survivor plant as it is so undemanding and so easy to transplant, to cut back and to reap for many months, and I sing its praises continuously as it gives back so much for so little.

As a health food the golden, encased fruits are constantly ripening and can lie under the bushes, ripe and ready but safely sealed in their little parchment cases. Rich in beta carotene and Vitamins C, B & E, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, these delicious little berries will treat kidney and bladder disorders, act as a diuretic, a laxative, and the warmed leaves act as a soothing poultice over swollen arthritic joints and swelling and over sore tense muscles and backache.

And made into a gooseberry tart like my grandmother did, the Cape Gooseberry has to be an unforgettable gourmet feast that each one of us can easily experience.

Today Sandy still makes my grandmother’s gooseberry tart and my grandmother would be pleased, I am sure, as Sandy is the 4th generation to do so.

Recipe: Grandmother’s Gooseberry Tart

Makes one large tart or several small ones


  • 1 packet Marie Biscuits
  • 7 tbs butter
  • 2 cups fresh gooseberries
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar – use brown treacle sugar
  • 1 level dessertspoon custard powder mixed into a little of the milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 level tsp gelatine


  1. Make a crust by crushing 1 packet of Marie Biscuits with 6 tablespoons of soft butter and press into a pie dish or small dishes. Now place the gooseberries onto the crust.
  2. Boil up the milk, beaten egg, sugar, custard powder and salt and 1 tbs butter and simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens. Stir well, then cool. Add the gelatine that has been dissolved in a little hot water, stir well and then pour over the gooseberries. Place in the fridge to set.
  3. Serve with whipped cream. Listen to the oohs and aahs.

For more info

Note: Margaret Roberts has a fine selection of plants and seeds available from her nursery. Her shop stocks a wide variety of their health products that can be posted to you.

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