Springtime – Pelargoniums, Proteas and Polygalas

Last week was a bad week for running with the dogs.  I’d hurt my leg and I had to go to Johannesburg on business and then when finally I was motivated to get out there, it rained.  But on Friday evening friends came to do a “flower safari” and it is always wonderful to see the mountain through their eyes – the wild beauty of it and the spectacular blooming of the fynbos all the more marvellous.

Sunday morning came with glorious sunshine, the dogs’ tails were wagging in anticipation and there were no excuses or reasons to avoid an hour of excercise interspersed with photography.  The morning light as the sun slants over the mountain lends itself beautifully to photos, so we were up at a reasonable hour and the four of us panted up the hill.

I probably repeat this too often, but although this is the 42nd blog this year, I have seen something completely new every single time I’ve been up the mountain and I know I’ve missed flowers as well.  Shrubs tend to bloom for a while, but flowering bulbs sometimes have only a brief moment of glory and the saddest thing is to come back from a trip, head up the moutain and see the withered shape of some lovely thing that we shan’t see again until 2014.

Yesterday we saw old friends and some completely new flowers.  The first to greet us was this coral-pink protea.  The buds have been there for ages and the anticipation was worth the wait when it finally bloomed. It could be Protea eximia, the large leaves with a distinctive border and the black tips of the outer petals seem indicative.

Protea eximia

Protea eximia

There are quite a few of these gorgeous fluffy white flowers just below the area we call the lookout and I think it might be Stilbe vestita.

Stilbe vestita

Stilbe vestita

Some flowers really create the feel of the mountain as there are prolific flowering shrubs all over the place.  I should do a blog dedicated to them.  I caught a lovely image of one, Oftia africana, on Sunday.

Oftia africana

Oftia africana

This pretty blue flowering bulb has been present in the same part of the farm as the Stilbe vestita and I’m also not sure what it is.  Further research will probably find it though, as I have lots of books on bulbs, but not always the time to read them before I post the blog.

image image

This white erica is really amazing – in one small part of the farm it has taken over and at this time of year there is a carpet of tiny white blooms – spectacular.  It’s a flat Erica that grows close to the ground.

Spreading white erica

Spreading white erica

The white Erica in close up

The white Erica in close up

Another Erica we love to see is this one.  It resembles several in the books, most closely abietina which one of my books says grows only on Table Mountain.  A close relation perhaps?  In any case it seems to flower for most of the year, with a brief break only over the worst of the winter months.

An Erica related to abietina?

An Erica related to abietina?

From time to time I post a photograph of the many Pelargoniums on our slopes, they are prolific, there is a variety of subspecies but not that I can identify for certain.

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

Strangely the same is true for this gladioli.  You really would think that something so very common and prolific would be easy to identify.  I often struggle with gladioli and for this one I have been through the Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs several times.  The flowers are pink when in bud and turn pure white as they flower.  On the bottom petals there is a hint of yellow.  They are prolific and flower everywhere the slopes are damp.

Gladiolus - strangely unidentified

Gladiolus – strangely unidentified

A while ago I posted a blog entitled The Red Protea, fascinated by these red “flowers” that were growing on a protea bush.  It turns out that it’s the new growth of the lovely Protea nitida (see the Protea page for a picture of the lovely Protea nitida in full bloom).  Here is the very beginning of that new growth – it does indeed look like a flower in bud.

The new growth of Protea nitida

The new growth of Protea nitida

This flower, growing on a damp road right at the very top of the farm is clearly a member of the pea family, though unidentified at present.

image

Another member of the pea family is Polygala.  There are quite a few of these and I’m not sure which one we have here but they are prolific in quite a few areas of the farm during the spring months.  The little white fringe confirms the identification as Polygala.

Polygala

Polygala

Finally, also at the top of the farm, we saw the first flower of Scabiosa columbaria.  Part of the charm of this flower is that it can survive the hot weather and will continue to flower all the way through the summer months when not much else is happening.

Scabiosa columbaria

Scabiosa columbaria

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s