Tag Archives: Ilex Mitis

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

Roaring waters

We had some turbulent weather last week and I lay in bed morning after morning listening to the rain battering the roof and feeling no desire whatsoever to leave my warm, wolfhound laden bed to go running in the wet coldness outside. Thus is the road to perdition paved with good intentions. Night after night I go to bed and promise myself a morning run. Morning after morning I lie in the snug warmth and don’t go anywhere. Paths go untrodden, flowers unphotographed, dogs unexercised

On Saturday the rain stopped and in the evening we finally ran up the soaking wet mountain in poor light with little to see and charming only to us. We ran via the waterfall, roaring white in the dull evening light.

Today dawned grey once more, but no rain. We were taking the young horse to a show, so there was no chance of a morning run, but after a happy day of showjumping at Noordhoek, I came home to glorious sunshine and enthusiastic dogs. The only possible answer was to go out on the mountain. I’m not sure it could entirely be described as a run. I walked most of the uphill and we made several detours into wilder bits of fynbos to examine and inspect. The dogs were delirious with happiness, noses a-quiver and constantly dashing off into the bush after wild things, real or imaginary.

There was a lot to see: first the pounding waterfall, white with pounding roaring water.

image

We stopped at the weir for a drink (for the dogs, not me) and I took a series of strangely beautiful photos of Seamus. The sun was shining through the trees and catching his coat, confusing the camera. He lay in front of the magnificent Ilex Mitus, the Cape Holly with its gleaming silvery green trunk.

 

Higher up the mountain we ran into fynbos as the light became ever more golden. The pink Protea burchellii and the first Protea nitida of the year. We had to bash through some bush to get to Protea nitida. This colony scatters an area of the mountain on top of the farm and they tend to flower quite late. This is the first of these graceful silver trees to flower.

 

We took a little detour to the stream that leads off our land to the forest and came across some Microloma tenufolia. Never easy to capture, it somehow works well against the lime green leaves of the Lucadendron salignum and you can see the tenuous climber’s twisted stem quite clearly. The colour is amazing, always pinker in a photo than its more coral reality.

 

The Buchu that we grow commercially on the farm is in full flower and on the way down the mountain we stopped and in the perfect light just after sunset caught this flower-spangled shrub by the road.

 

Agthomsa crenulata

Agthomsa crenulata

We had wonderful weather before the rains this week and there is a backlog of blog photos to post, along with splendid tales of the morning light as it hits the Simonsberg, the Paarderberg and Paarl Mountain and of the evening sun as it catches the water in the dams below us and they gleam golden, pink or red and orange. But those are tales for another day.

Water!

As Capetonians know every day this week we’ve woken up to the thud of rain on the roof which is a huge disincentive to go up the mountain. Somehow I have become an African and the sound of rain is welcome, although I will never get over my Irish dislike of getting wet and don’t stand happily in the rain like some of my South African friends. I’m certainly not keen enough to go running in the heavy rain.

This morning the rain was not merely thudding; we had a warning of big storms today and during the night it started hammering and it didn’t let up until around 2pm and picked up again a couple of hours later. When it rains like this our thoughts immediately go out to those who have to cope in informal settlements all over the Cape. It must be hell for them.

Here in Paarl the rivers all look set to flood, any low areas of roads are flooding, and our mountains are disgorging water everywhere. It’s wet, but it’s also stunning and these long winter rains feed the Cape all year and make its fabulous wines and harvests possible. Dams are finally full and the winter is fulfilling its promise.

When the weather cleared for a while at 2pm, perhaps the eye of the storm or the bad rains finally wearing out I put on my running shoes and set off with the dogs to look at the rivers on the farm. The waterfall is amazing, gallons of water a second pouring down, white with fury and pressure. In the interest of a good picture I clambered down to the bottom of the fall to capture this photo. At the top of it you can see a pink flowering shrub – it’s the one I had identified as “purple gorse” but I went back to check and it is an Erica – Erica multumbelliferia.

The waterfall after heavy rain

The waterfall after heavy rain

Erica multumbelliferia

Erica multumbelliferia

The poor old fynbos bulbs are a bit tattered after a week of rain but the same rain that flattens then will only produce more flowers. Meanwhile the Lobostemum seems to glow in the grey light and definitely took the slot of Flower of the Day. Here it is again.

Lobostemum fruticosus

Lobostemum fruticosus

I’ve noticed over the years that after heavy rain the birds are always very active and it was true today with birds calling and flitting all over the place. Best of all was an outraged Malachite Sunbird who had clearly decided the weir belonged to him and and him alone; he called furiously while flitting from branch to branch. There is another who loves the scented flowers by the house and who sits on a high branch outside the backdoor shrieking with rage on spring mornings when we emerge. One day I must capture him on film and post him on the blog, the emerald green colour is extraordinary and fully merits the name.

Higher up the weir is also pouring water and upstream from the weir the pools look amazing. You can see the gathering water and the magnificent trunk of this beautiful Ilex Mitis, the Cape Holly, with its foot in the stream.

Ilex Mitis, the Cape Holly with his feet in this permanent stream

Ilex Mitis, the Cape Holly with his feet in this permanent stream

While I was running merrily around the farm Peter was far more concerned with the dam, which looked like it might overflow and possible breach the dam wall which would be a disaster. He had sent the farm staff home – not much they can do in this weather, and spent the afternoon digging out above the wall to make sure we’d be safe. Fires a stiff drink and comfort food all needed at the farm this evening.

Magnificent Proteas, more water and some new finds

There is a lot to share so today’s blog is all flowers and less about the run.
Up until now I’ve been going by the flowering dates shown in my reference book but I’m now not so sure.  I know from the records I’ve kept over the years that the different weather can mean flowering even in the garden here can vary by a month or six weeks from year to year, so why not the fynbos.
Stachys aethiopica, for instance, is supposed to flower in August and September, in the early spring.  But we saw one in May and there are small groups of them in different areas at the moment.  They are unmistakeable with their flower reminiscent of a pelargonium and distinctive mint-like leaves.  Indeed they are a member of lamiaceae, the mint family
Stachys aethiopica

Stachys aethiopica

The red gladiolus has cropped up in a few places.  There was one by the road when I left in early May that was easily photographed.  The latest two are high on the bank above the drive, but worth sharing even if the photo isn’t great.  The nearest possibility is gladiolus priorii, though in that case the flowers should be dull red and these are a vibrant scarlet.  It should also have a distinctive and easily visible yellow throat and I can see no evidence of that in our flower. I will look again as the size, shape and flowering season fit.  I need to look a little closer if one appears in a more accessible area.  If not, we’ll have to wait until next year to be sure.
Gladiolus - unamed

Gladiolus – unamed

The dogs and I had a wonderful run today and we visited the weir to see how much water is flowing.  This is always a lovely place; the whitish trunks of the Ilex Mitis or Cape Holly, are magnificent and the permanent water flow makes it a favourite of the dogs.
An ancient Ilex Mitis with its feet in a permanent stream

An ancient Ilex Mitis with its feet in a permanent stream

Jemima Chew enjoying the water in the weir

Jemima Chew enjoying the water in the weir

While I’ve been away the magnificent protea trees have come into flower.  They are tall and have spikey white flowers and silver leaves.  I believe they are Protea nitida.
Protea - probably nitida

Protea – probably nitida

Near them stands this delicate pink protea.  It is probably a nerifolia, though the flowers are barely bearded and a paler pink than most of the nerifolio on this farm.
Protea nerifolia - a very pale pink specimen

Protea nerifolia – a very pale pink specimen

Flowers found in the forest that abutts the farm are included in our blogs as they are on our regular running route.  We’ve seen Ursinia paelacea before and there is lots of it along the forest roads.
Urisinia palaecea

Urisinia palaecea

Not everything is easily identified. This little clump of yellow daisy-like flowers is lovely and quite distinctive but I can find no record of them. Suggestions welcome.

A mystery flower - yellow daisy-like flowers are the hardest to identify

A mystery flower – yellow daisy-like flowers are the hardest to identify

 

As we ran into the forest the path is lined with Leucadendron salignum.  There are hundreds of these all over the farm.  At this time of year they glow in the dark, another plant that seems to absorb the sunlight and render it back to us on the darker days.  Today was bright and they gleam in the early winter sun.

 

 

Leudadendron gleaming in the winter sunlight

Leudadendron gleaming in the winter sunlight