The Large Brown Afrikaner heralds the New Year

We love taking friends for walks on the farm and of course I can’t resist pointing out the fynbos as we go, particularly if we come across something new or interesting. I’ve noticed that while I tend to photograph the flowers, thinking of the blog, friends love to take photos of me getting excited about the flowers. Lots of fun photos of bums in the air as we bend over to view something tiny and exquisite, or jumping up and down as I find something new.

I was jumping up and down the other evening as we walked above the waterfall with Anna and Stefan. If there is one species I love to see it’s the Gladioli. They are all lovely graceful things and we’ve seen five different subspecies in this year of blogging, if you include this one. It has an extraordinary habit: during the day it is quite brown and closed and scentless, and in the evening it transforms, changes colour and issues the most delicious spicey almost clove-like scent. This is Gladiolus liliaceus, known as the Large Brown Afrikaner. The ones growing here on the farm are far lovelier than any photographed in my fynbos books. Identifications is quite easy with the pointed petals, the size and the distinctive change of colour and fragrance.

Gladiolus liliaceus, known as the Large Brown Afrikaner - at sunset

Gladiolus liliaceus, known as the Large Brown Afrikaner – at sunset

 

Gladiolus liliaceus during the day

Gladiolus liliaceus during the day

In the same area we also came across these little blue flowers. They look like miniature versions of the purple powderpuff we’ve already seen and though they don’t quite match the descriptions in the book, I’m pretty sure they are also Pseudoselago, possibly sublabra but maybe something else. I’m getting much more confident in my identification of flowers now, understanding the lingo and also the major groupings. If nothing else this project is a wonderful way of getting into the vast botannical world and developing an eye and a little knowledge.

Pseudoselago

Pseudoselago

With the heat I take great care to make sure the dogs get water along the route, even if we are on a short run. They have long coats and struggle a bit during the hottest months, so we run early and late and stop for watering and to cool down. One of Seamus’s favourite places is the stream that runs beneath the shade of several magnificent Cape Hollies or Ilex mitis. These beautiful trees are nothing like the European holly (or at least not to me), they have huge white trunks and glossy dark leaves and live with their feet in the stream while their spreading canopies create the most wonderful darkly dappled shade on the hottest of days.

Seamus rests in the stream at the foot of the Ilex mitis

Seamus rests in the stream at the foot of the Ilex mitis

Table Mountain has spent the last few days buried under its tablecloth of cloud. Yesterday the wind picked up and swept the cloud away and the year ended with a glorious sunset right behind the mountain. This photograph was taken from our balcony just before we left for dinner last night. A magical end to 2013 on the mountains of the Western Cape.

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