Weather and spring flowers

When you live in the Western Cape and you want to live an outdoor life, you need a certain amount of faith in the weather forecasters. My preferred forecaster is http://www.yr.no, the Norwegian weather service. Don’t ask me why they should be so good, but they are, and at a very local level. Yesterday they said that although it would rain most of the morning here on the mountain in Paarl, in Stellenbosch it would be clear from 9 am to midday. So although the rain was pounding down on the farm roof when I woke up at six am, I confidently went with my horses to a show and didn’t get wet at all. This morning on the other hand, the forecast predicted torrential rain all morning, clearing later in the day. I took myself off to the office and knocked off some overdue work until about 4pm, and as the rain dried up, went out for a run with the dogs. Perfect.

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I can never really believe that we’ll find still more new things when we go out, even when I haven’t been out for a while. But now I know that, at this time of year at least I am missing things by not getting out more often. The farm was glowing in the grey, transparent, late afternoon light. We first came across some weeds in the cultivated land. I don’t know the name of this purple weed but you see it everywhere at this time of year in cultivated parts of the Cape. I’ve read a great saying that a weed is any plant growing where you don’t want it to grow and it is certainly true of this quite pretty, but unloved flower.

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The other weed that is not a fynbos flower yet I still enjoy is this simple Lupin. I believe it may be South American in origan, though I might be quite wrong about that. It grows in and around the olives and doesn’t seem to invade the fynbos, so we forgive it and allow it to flourish where it pleases.

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There are so many new fynbos flowers to record and not easily identifible. I have some work to do here and will post a few with detail to come later. But first here is Salvia africana-caerulea which grows enthusiastically all over the farm. I very nearly had a row with a far more knowledgeable gardner and botanist, garden designer, and above all a great friend, who brought us to see his wonderful new garden in Stellenbosch this week. He told me that one particular Salvia he’d planted was Salvia africana. It can’t be, blurted I, because it has brown flowers. Salvia african has blue flowers. I can assure you, he replied, that Salvia africana has brown flowers. Well, thank goodness for the reference books. There are TWO Salvia africanas, one, Salvia africana-lutea has brown flowers. Salvia african-caerulea which grows wild on the sandstone slopes of the Western Cape has indeed got blue flowers. Phew.

Salvia african-caerulea

Salvia african-caerulea

There are moments of beauty that stay in ones mind forever and one special view in this marvellous Stellenbosch garden was such a moment. You look down through some magnificent old and new planting to a road far below and that road which leads off into the unknowable distance is lined with magnificent borders of indigenous planting, and on the dirt road, scattered randomly yet forming a path that draws you onward, are hundreds of yellowy-orange Namaqualand daisies, sown by Henk. A moment of absolute magic, one of the loveliest sights I have ever seen.

Back on the farm, more prosaically I was hoping the Lachenalia would still be around and found plenty growing on the roads at the top of the farm. I cannot exactly identify them, these dont fit the descriptions in my book so I have to take it to the encyclopedia, along with a number of today’s collection.

Lachenalia - subspecies to be confirm

Lachenalia – subspecies to be confirmed

This magnificent spike of pink Erica was worth recording, if only for its unusual shape.

Erica

Erica

All over the Cape the Arum lilies are flourishing and we see them in unusual places here on the farm as well.  They love these ultra damp conditions.  I photographed this one right at the top of the farm near a spot we call the lookout – a place where I have never before seen Arum lilies grow.

Arum Lily

Arum Lily

Quite a few flowers I saw today are difficult to identify and need more work. So I am posting them for the record We will find names for them another day

 

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The light was amazing while we were out today, glowing towards the rest and shining off the overloaded dams in the valley at Buffet Olives and Nederburg.

 

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