Monthly Archives: August 2013

Flower of the Day: Spiloxene capensis known as the Cape Star

As we have a profusion of amazing flowers, and in particular flowering bulbs at the moment I shall post a “flower of the day” for the next couple of weeks.  Today’s is the lovely Cape Star which has suddenly emerged all over the farm.  Well named both literally and figuratively, as it looks like a star and is a real star of the flowering season.

Spiloxene capensis, the Cape Star

Spiloxene capensis, the Cape Star

A spell of good weather and a burst of new flowers

It has been a gorgeous week on the mountain, with new flowers popping up all over the place.  We had a damp start and one morning when it was too wet to run but the dogs and I have had several stunning runs all over the farm and this morning’s weather is glorious so as soon as this blog is finished we’ll be out there again.  Next week we are expecting a big storm and our running might be curtailed, so this weekend we are keen to do as much as possible.  Poor Jemima Chew is limping and on anti-inflammatories so she can’t come and howls in outrage when we leave.  They would go in any weather; for my part I don’t mind the damp mist at all but the pouring rain is not my thing.
Talking of being rained under I’m deluged with work at the moment so haven’t had much time for research.  Luckily some things just jump out of the book – instantly and clearly recognisable and this is one of them.   Oftia africana, widely dispersed throughout the Cape and apparently flowers all year round though seems to prefer the spring flowering here on the mountain.  it is coming out all over the place.
Oftia

Oftia

Pelargoniums and Babinias are also everywhere, the latter flowering decorously in groups under trees and the former peeping out from thick undergrowth along the roads.
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As we climbed up the mountain we saw this Erica with tiny white bells on it, despite my best efforts you can only just see them in this picture.  The same variety seems to come with pink bells as well and sometimes they grow side by side
Erica with tiny white bell-like flowers

Erica with tiny white bell-like flowers

I can’t find this shrub with a yellow flower in the book so its gone to the unknown album and I’m hoping to get to Kirstenbosch Botannical Gardens this week or next to get some help with these and possibly some additional reference books in preparation for the continued spring explosion.
Unidentified yellow flowering fynbos shrub

Unidentified yellow flowering fynbos shrub

There is no difficulty recognising the Microloma tenuifolium, it’s tiny bright coral flowers jump out of the tangled thickets at you.  Normally you see them like this one curling and creeping around a wild helichrysum.
Microloma tenuifolia

Microloma tenuifolia

But yesterday we saw this unusual sight, the Microloma has gone and wound itself round and round this bit of bush and is flowering as a massive head of colour.  Amazing!
Microloma tenuiffolia

Microloma tenuiffolia

The Lobostemum continues to blossom all over the mountain, often they are pink, or pinky-blue.  In this particular area at the top of the farm they are all blue.
Lebostemum with blue flowers

Lebostemum with blue flowers

Finally as we ran down the mountain we came across this magnificent Lucodendrum.  Later in the spring these yellow flowers will turn the most beautiful shade of coral.  There are masses of them and we look forward to their arrival at the height of spring.
Leucodendrum

Leucodendrum

A spring weekend

I have been away too much over the past few weeks and am overjoyed to be back on the farm for a few weeks before I have to do any serious travel again. The last post talked about the Bulbinia fragens, the harbinger of spring. Spring here does not arrive over many weeks as it does in Europe. Within one unseasonably warm week I have returned to find the farm full of new flowers. This is building up to the height of the flowering season for Fynbos and the next few months are going to see an explosion of life. I’m already struggling to keep up – this blog will be quite long and I’ll be trying to keep regular posts so that we capture as much as possible of what’s happening on the mountain.

I’ve been looking out for this flower – it’s a dear friend, one of the first that made me realise the special nature of our fynbos bulbs. This photo is quite deceptive as this is a tiny iris-like flower – each petal not much bigger than my fingernail. This is Moraea tripelata and it has started to flower all over the farm. I spotted it first thing when I went running with the dogs on Saturday morning.

Moraea tripetala

Moraea tripetala

Peter then took us up to see the work he’s been doing clearing alien vegetation, especially the Port Jackson trees that choke the river. Every winter when the planting on the farm is done he attached this for a few weeks. Two winters ago we cleared around the waterfall and what was a chocked up watercourse that you couldn’t see is now full of vibrant fynbos life. He has just opened up this area, so dense with trees that you couldn’t get into it and has found the spot where the two rivers that run through the farm meet, before tumbling down the mountain to add their waters to the mighty Berg River that runs through the Paarl valley below us.

Clearing alien trees along the river

Clearing alien trees along the river

The place where the two rivers meet

The place where the two rivers meet

In the late afternoon I took some guests on our first “Flower safari” of the year. All we did was walk down the front drive and we were enchanted with the profusion of flowers we came across, many old friends that we have posted before, and quite a few new ones.

First of all we came across this tiny white gladiolus. I first saw it at the top of the bank, which gives an idea of scale.

Unknown gladiolus

Unknown gladiolus

Then I realised they are growing along the side of the road. I cannot find this one in my book at all – not even in the bulb encyclopedia. I’ve done this before, failed to identify a flower and then realised I’m not looking properly at the description, so if I do realise what it is, I’ll post it. It is quite enchanting, with a delicate fragrance, like so many of the gladioli.

Gladiolus unidentified

Gladiolus unidentified

Then we came across another example of the bell like pink Erica that I posted last week, this time a lot closer to home.

Erica with pink bells

Erica with pink bells

There are masses of these on the drive, and masses of what I guess to be Erica daphniflora, in colours of green, white, red and a particularly vibrant pink.

Erica, probably daphniflora

Erica, probably daphniflora

Erica, probably daphniflora

Erica, probably daphniflora

The Oxalis are still flowering away, these ones in white and pink profuse along the bank and the lands still covered in the yellow ones.

Oxalis

Oxalis

The next new find was this Erica – you can see it’s quite distinctive in the way it grow and flowers and the little white bells have the brown anthers exposed at the end. This was very attractive in the late evening light.

Erica, unidentified

Erica, unidentified

Another new find is this flowering shrub which is common all over the farm. I have always assumed it to be Cape Confetti, but with my evolving botannical eye I think it is more likely to be Adenandra villas, possily . I’m sure I will have many more occassions to photograph this stunning shrub.

Cape confetti - coleonem album or adenandra villas?

Cape confetti – coleonem album or adenandra villas?

As I was showing our guests one of the Protea nerifolias along the road we saw this little bud. We were delighted as it means these glorious proteas are going to continue to flower for some time.

The bud of a Protea nerifolia

The bud of a Protea nerifolia

The Felicia is such a wonderful flower. This is the first one I have seen this year and it will flower from now until the summer, along with the Lobostemum it is one of our commonest shrubs. That makes the first sighting of these pretty lilac flowers with their yellow centres no less exciting, both for their own sake and the promise of more spring flowers to come.

Felicia filifolia

Felicia filifolia

This warm weather won’t be with us for long, with temperatures expected to plummet during the week. Luckily up here on the mountain we almost never go below 5 degrees, so the flowers will be safe. In the valley below it can freeze, but the moutain seems to hold the heat of summer and protects us from the coldest weather.

We are coming into the best season for sunsets. Yet another amazing sunset this evening as I was finishing some more traditional gardening and the mountains behind turned a glorious orangey-pink.

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