A month of extremes
It’s been a month of extremes. Work, play, travel, home, pride and a painful fall or two. Nothing like enough time spent running on the mountain but even so, the flowers are still growing and having been away for two weeks it’s time to post the latest photos before we go out to find many more.
My constant running companion since coming to the farm has been Seamus, the Irish Wolfhound. The run is one of his favourite things in the world. Wolfhounds are not long lived and although he remains very healthy his heart is not what it was and the vet has suggested that he should run no more. In truth that’s not quite what happened – he informed us that we would have seen Seamus become depressed and exercise adverse because of his heart disease. Um, no. You probably just haven’t noticed, said the vet. No, Seamus is as joyful and keen to go as ever. Silence. We were told to keep him very quiet for a couple of weeks to give time for the pills to work. The doors are open here, and the dogs come and go as they please – they would have to go a long way to get into trouble. I’ve been more diligent about putting Seamus’s tracker on. While away, in Johannesburg, George or Plettenburg Bay, I’ve been watching helplessly as the message comes in on my phone ‘Seamus has left the safe zone’, and followed him on the iPhone as he visits his friends or inspects the boundary of the farm. One morning he came back proudly bearing the half rotten head of some poor antelope and Tracy, our friend and house sitter had to suffer the horror of washing her own dog from top to toe after she rolled on the rotting bones. Seamus is having the time of his life, heart or no heart. The look of outrage on his face when we head off running without him is something to behold, but when we return he greats us with joy, his outrage put away until he next time. His prognosis is one of delaying the inevitable but in the meantime he enjoys life to the full and the delay may well be a long one.
Back out on the mountain I had wondered for years if we had some unknown gladiolus growing here as the most common, the Painted Lady, Gladiolus carneus, has distinct red markings on its lower petals. And ours do not. This is the first that I’ve seen with the markings, confirming that we don’t actually have an entirely new sub-species, we merely have largely unmarked Gladioli carneus. They are lovely flowers and parts of the mountain are covered with them at this time of year.
Another really wonderful flowering bulb is the elegant Morea tricuspitata. It has a short season and as a result I missed it for years but have been lucky enough to see it on the last two.
I don’t often see completely new flowers any more, but this one emerged on a road we run most days, and I’d never notice it before; Pelargomium triste. I suppose its maroon to black colouring led to it’s name: the sad pelargonium.
I’m not sure what this is – but most likely Metalasia, though I don’t know which one.
Common and very beautiful all over the mountain is the Felicia fruticosa, covering the mountain with splashes of gorgeous purple light.
This is another perennial favourite, this exquisite tiny Erica that is hard to appreciate with the naked eye. It creates ground cover everywhere at this time of year, delighting the eye with its soft grey leaves and exquisite tiny flowers with saw-like seams.
Meanwhile another Erica, Erica abietina flowers all year round but is especially prolific at this time of year and the coral trumpets flash bright all over the mountain wherever Ericas like to grow.
Salvia Africana-caerulea which also flowers all year round saves its prettiest dress for spring is the blue version of this lovely wild sage.
The painted yellowwort, Sebea exacoides, studs the roads with its little yellow clusters.
Meanwhile the lands are heavily studded with the prolific Lachenalia pallida.
Finally, there’s just one spot on the farm where a few special things grow and this delightful fluffy Berzelia abrotanoides is one of those special things.