Tag Archives: Aristea capitata

An auspicious day

A lovely run last night at the end of an auspicious day.  My nephew Beckett James Grey Mulhern was born in New York.  Birthday the 21st of October; an autumn child, harvest festivals and pumkins, the trees in Ireland wonderful shades of red and gold as you drive down Wexford roads to the Opera Festival.  The huge full moon.  October has always been a happy month in our family.

I remembered to take a couple of whiffs of the inhaler before we left the house which meant the lungs were clear to convert oxygen as needed and we fairly bounded up the mountain in the fading evening light.  As we climbed higher I could hear the baboons calling in the forest.  Maebh and Jemima Chew heard them too and shot off to explore.  Luckily they decided not to go too far and quickly came back to Seamus and to me as we climbed higher.  I have a new weapon against wandering wolfhounds – you can see it in this photo of Leucadendron tinctum in which Meabh elegantly arranged herself in the background.

The cones of Leucodendron tinctum with Maebh in the background

The cones of Leucodendron tinctum with Maebh in the background

The white you can see on her collar is a tracker.  I found it online, it’s German, works brilliantly in South Africa and tracks your dogs live when they go missing.  When the wolfhounds wander we get incredibly worried; we know they can travel a long way and dogs have been lost on this mountain more than once. Shouldn’t happen with this cute little piece of technology which links to the iPhone.

The baboons used to come down into the olive groves and even as far as the gum trees behind the house.  I haven’t seen them for quite a while, they really hate the wolfhounds.

One of my favourite flowers, Aristea capitata is in full flower at the moment.  There is a colony on the driveway and the blue spikes are a joy to behold.

This was one of the special evenings.  No wind, the end of a hot day with a dampness in the air that cooled us as we ran higher.  Lovely light.  When we stopped for a drink at the weir Maebh, who was in a modeling mood today, stood in front of the Ilex Mitis as I took a photo of the white trunks gleaming in the evening light.  With her dappled coat she almost disappears.

Maebh and the Ilex Mitis

Maebh and the Ilex Mitis

Paarl holds an iconic place in the South Africa psyche and the two huge granite rocks that stand above the town to the west are unmistakable to anyone who knows the Cape.  Maebh, once again, stood for a moment to watch as the sun slipped away behind the rocks, which happens just at this time of year.  Soon it will be setting well to the west, over Table Mountain.

Maebh watches the sun setting over Paarl Rock

Maebh watches the sun setting over Paarl Rock

There are so many flowers in bloom that it’s hard to know where to begin.  One is this tiny Pelargonium, I don’t know what it’s called but I do like the pink tinge to the end of the petals.

Another is a favourite, the spikes of Microdon dubium.

Microdon dubium

Microdon dubium

Talking of dubiums, some new bulbs have emerged.  This is Ornitholagum dubium.  It flowers in just one place on the farm and there it flowers copiously.

Ornitholagum dubium

Ornitholagum dubium

This one I’m less sure of – Bobartia I think, possibly Bobartia indica.

Bobatia indica

Bobatia indica

The farm is covered in this one, charmingly known as Lady’s Hand, because the petals, bent back in greeting, resemble the hand of a delicate girl waving a hello.  Cyanella hyacinthoides.

There’s a plethora of peas on the go at the moment and this is Aspalanthus cordite, unmistakable with its grumpy spiky leaves.

Aspalanthus cordite

Aspalanthus cordite

I love this shrub – Passerina cormybosa.  They are supposed to be pink and yellow, while we have some that some that seem to be white as well.

There is masses of Lobelia along the roads, this one I think is Lobelia coronopifolia.

image

Lobelia coronopifolia

Another flower that is to be found absolutely everywhere and is flourishing in the garden as well is Scabious africana.  This one is particularly pretty.

Scabious africana

Scabious africana

Windy Mountain

Spring is turning into summer on the mountain and the wind is howling at night and most of the day.  There is an afternoon lull but already, at 7 o’clock in the evening, I can hear it picking up outside the office and later it will whip around the house and rattle the roof.

I spent the weekend in George, along the famous Garden Route at a Horse Trials, the Western Province Championships.  We had fun, didn’t win any big prizes, but spent the weekend with our friends and got to gallop fast over solid fences which is the most fun you can have on a horse.

On Friday morning I went for a run in the suburbs of George and enjoyed sightings of fynbos flowers that have adapted to the urban environment.  Here on the farm I know only of one place where the Gladiolus maculatus blooms and that’s in July.  Looking at the book I see they are winter flowering but I saw them, or something very similar, in a spot of suburban wasteland as I ran past.  Perhaps I should have taken a closer look.

When I don’t take them running often enough the dogs get bored and take themselves off for their own runs.  Sometimes they are gone for hours and we get increasingly worried about them until they come home, panting and joyful, terribly pleased with themselves and usually soaking wet as they’ve stopped for a cooldown in the dam on the way back to the house.  Several dogs have disappeared on the mountain that we know of and we worry and worry when they are gone, we go looking for them and calling them for hours and never see a sign.  Last time I checked there was no tracker available that would work here in South Africa but recently I heard of one, so I searched again and found it in Germany.  It arrived today and has now been attached to Maebh.  She and Jemima Chew often go for a quick hunt in the evening, and sometimes Maebh and Seamus go off together, but for some reason, never the three together.  If Maebh has a tracker, we’ll know where to find them.

I know better than to think I will get any photos in this wild wind, but I’ll see what’s there and where to go when the wind drops.  They say in Cape Town that if you don’t like the weather today, don’t worry because it will be different tomorrow and the change in weather is heralded by the wind dropping to that incredible stillness on the mountain that I’ve so often written about.  When that happens we will pick a moment of good light to catch the latest spring flowers. In the meantime there is much to catch up on.  Last year I failed to name this blue flower so I posted it on ispot.  The experts suggest it might be Aspalathus cephalotes subspecies obscuriflora.

Another pretty thing I couldn’t identify is this white “flower” which is tiny and turns out to be the seedhead of Ursinia anthemoides which I photographed in August but hadn’t posted, much more interesting to post the two together now.

I love these fluffy heads that must be Stilbe, I think vestita.

The other fluffy flowers that I photographed some time ago and never posted are the wild buchu plants that grow on the farm.  Our crop is buchu, Agathomsa crenulata and hybrids thereof, and Agathomsa betulina.  These are used medicinally and in the food flavouring and perfume industries because of the powerful essential oils that have an intense note of blackcurrant.  I occassionally post photos of the buchu we farm which is indigenous to the area.  This is a genuinely wild buchu, probably either Agathomsa imbricata or capensis.

As I was running down one of the roads I noticed that it was bordered by shrubs of Salvia africana all in flower and would make a wonderful photo.  Being in a hurry I put it off only to find when I returned that a spring wind had blown the flowers to shreds.  They are tough and they flower all year but the best display is in a wet spring.  They are stalwart friends on the mountain with an exceptional colour and fortunately enough remained for me to capture some of the flowers.

Summer is Helichrysum season and it begins with this Helichrysum patulum.  We have several subspecies of this wonderful and resilient plant on the farm and they deserve a page of their own.

Helichrysum patulum

Helichrysum patulum

Along the drive the Crassula fascicularis has come into flower.

Crassula fascicularis

Crassula fascicularis

Finally, one of my top favourite flowers has emerged, the lovely spikes of Aristea capitata, unmistakable and one of the first flowers I identified when we bought the farm and I started running here.  These are prolific in damp areas and I hope they will be spectacular this year after the wet winter.  We’ll have more photos of them over the next month.