13 May 2013

There are days when I bound up the mountain followed by happy dogs, fully of the joys of, not spring as it’s autumn here, but certainly the joys of life and the beauty of this place in the morning light.  And there are other days, probably far more frequent, when the run is more of a plod, as the busy life we lead catches up, sleep is never enough and despite the glories to be found on the mountain it’s an effort to drag myself out there.  Yesterday was one of those other days.

Luckily there was lots to photograph so I had plenty of excuses to stop and to take my time and the usual morning run took much longer than it should have.

The first excitement is that the wild rosemary is in flower.  Like the buchu that we farm it is cultivated for the perfume industry.  The shrub is a little nondescript thing, a few grey tendrils coming out of the ground, until it flowers and then these exquisite flowers emerge at the top of each branch.  Very common, they are all over the place at the moment.

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Eriocephalus africanus or Wild Rosemary
Many of the flowering fynbos have a long season – one of them is the fynbos version of salvia.  It starts to flower in late November or early December and it’s still flowering prolifically now.  There are several of these bordering the roads where we run and they are like friends we great every day for half the year.  Coming towards the end of their season now and flowering as vigorously as ever.

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Salvia chamelaeagnea

As we run, or should I say plod, up the path that goes through the olive groves to the top of the farm, we pass this fearsome, stunning shrub.  I showed this photo to Peter, my husband and he wryly acknowledged that he knows it all too well.  Like many South African farmers he likes to wear shorts and sometimes comes home with his legs ripped to shreds.  This chap is one of the culprits.  But look at what a stunning chap he is.  I actually managed to get a shot of the small thorn-head in focus, grey with tiny spikes of gold set in little balls.  A bigger version could be a medieval weapon of war.  I don’t know what this is, there’s lots of it about and it must be pretty common and I will identify it sooner or later and post the name.

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One of the most varied and most prolific fynbos varieties we have are the Ericas.  You know this species as heather.  The amazing thing about Ericas is that they grow all over Africa and Europe but 80% of the species grow in Southern Africa and there are 660 fynbos sub-species.  Quite a few of these grow on this farm, so there will be plenty of Ericas in the blog.  Here’s the first one, another long standing friend who flowers throughout the hot months, giving us lovely purple-mauve flashes on the mountain when all else is hiding deep underground away from the relentless sun.  I don’t know which of the 660 this one is.  Will have to get a book or two on Ericas – there are plenty more to come.

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One of the 660 subspecies of Erica resident in the region

Finally, there I was, puffing along, when I saw a little group of tiny pink whorls.  Pulled up and investigated.  A little flower head with flowers tightly furled waiting for more daylight.  I drove up later to catch them open.  I haven’t identified it but it looks and behaves like Oxalis so that’s what we’ll call it.  Completely different to the Oxalis I photographed a few days ago with their clover-like leaves, and that is the enduring joy of fynbos.

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Oxalis?

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