Proteas, Montinea and another glorious sunset

Most of this Sunday it drizzled, a slow cold Irish-type drizzle, the kind of soft grey day we don’t often get here.  We huddled up in the study before a blazing fire and watched Andy Murray win the tennis at Wimbledon.  He wrapped it up pretty quickly, and by the time he’d finished it wasn’t yet dark and I felt in need of exercise after a cold damp weekend, so I put on some running shoes, to the delight of the dogs, and set off up into the mountain with pounding paws and wagging tails leading the way.

I hesitate to say we see something new every single time we go out, but it does feel like it.  On Wednesday we came across this Montinia caryophyllacea by the side of the road as we ran up the mountain.  I’d taken a picture of it, but these white flowers are hard to photograph when there isn’t enough light.  Today was a bit better, though I still need to go up in full daylight to get a better picture.  There seems quite a lot of it coming into flower so I’m sure we’ll find more in better light.
Montinia caryophyllacea

Montinia caryophyllacea

That part of the mountain is covered with Muraltia heisteria – it’s not supposed to be flowering at this time of year but this does seem a perfect match.  They are lovely, the colours vibrant in the evening light.  We’ve seen these before; their vibrant colour means they deserve the occasional picture as they are long flowering and dominate the winter months.
Muraltia heisteria

Muraltia heisteria

I’m learning to question everything, and although our Protea nerifolia does come in cream as well as pink and this is probably nerifolia (looking at the leaves) we need a bit more research to be sure.  It’s a lovely flower and there are hundreds of these shrubs flowering on the farm at the moment.  The house is filled with vases full of proteas, leucadendrons and oddly enough the most wonderful camelias which thrive in the acid sandstone and decomposing granite (and lots of good compost) of the garden here and flower all winter long.

Protea (nerifolia?)

Protea (nerifolia?)

Quite quickly it was far too dark to take good pictures of flowers and although I saw the first of one of our favourite late winter shrubs, we will have to wait another day for a photo (that’s today’s new flower).  As the sun dropped behind the Paarderberg mountain, we trotted quietly down the montain, remembering to turn around from time to time to see the glow reflected in pink and orange on the moutains behind.

There is something emotional about a sunset.  This evening the air was completely still, quite rare here in the montains.  After a rainy day, the sky cleared and the sun broke through, flooding the mountains with colour.  The river and dams in the valley reflected the deepening sky.  The smell after the rain is clean and scented with flowers and rain, washed and pure and you want to breathe deeply, happily.  We were so glad to be up there this evening, thanks to Andy who polished off his victory  in time for us to catch this glorious sunset on the night of his even more glorious victory.

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