Tag Archives: Leucodendron

A spell of good weather and a burst of new flowers

It has been a gorgeous week on the mountain, with new flowers popping up all over the place.  We had a damp start and one morning when it was too wet to run but the dogs and I have had several stunning runs all over the farm and this morning’s weather is glorious so as soon as this blog is finished we’ll be out there again.  Next week we are expecting a big storm and our running might be curtailed, so this weekend we are keen to do as much as possible.  Poor Jemima Chew is limping and on anti-inflammatories so she can’t come and howls in outrage when we leave.  They would go in any weather; for my part I don’t mind the damp mist at all but the pouring rain is not my thing.
Talking of being rained under I’m deluged with work at the moment so haven’t had much time for research.  Luckily some things just jump out of the book – instantly and clearly recognisable and this is one of them.   Oftia africana, widely dispersed throughout the Cape and apparently flowers all year round though seems to prefer the spring flowering here on the mountain.  it is coming out all over the place.
Oftia

Oftia

Pelargoniums and Babinias are also everywhere, the latter flowering decorously in groups under trees and the former peeping out from thick undergrowth along the roads.
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As we climbed up the mountain we saw this Erica with tiny white bells on it, despite my best efforts you can only just see them in this picture.  The same variety seems to come with pink bells as well and sometimes they grow side by side
Erica with tiny white bell-like flowers

Erica with tiny white bell-like flowers

I can’t find this shrub with a yellow flower in the book so its gone to the unknown album and I’m hoping to get to Kirstenbosch Botannical Gardens this week or next to get some help with these and possibly some additional reference books in preparation for the continued spring explosion.
Unidentified yellow flowering fynbos shrub

Unidentified yellow flowering fynbos shrub

There is no difficulty recognising the Microloma tenuifolium, it’s tiny bright coral flowers jump out of the tangled thickets at you.  Normally you see them like this one curling and creeping around a wild helichrysum.
Microloma tenuifolia

Microloma tenuifolia

But yesterday we saw this unusual sight, the Microloma has gone and wound itself round and round this bit of bush and is flowering as a massive head of colour.  Amazing!
Microloma tenuiffolia

Microloma tenuiffolia

The Lobostemum continues to blossom all over the mountain, often they are pink, or pinky-blue.  In this particular area at the top of the farm they are all blue.
Lebostemum with blue flowers

Lebostemum with blue flowers

Finally as we ran down the mountain we came across this magnificent Lucodendrum.  Later in the spring these yellow flowers will turn the most beautiful shade of coral.  There are masses of them and we look forward to their arrival at the height of spring.
Leucodendrum

Leucodendrum

Babinia Fragrens, the Harbinger of Spring

I got home on Tuesday morning and of course my first thought was to get up on the mountain and see new flowers though I didn’t achieve it until late in the day.

Every year as we reach the end of July, the coldest and wettest six weeks of the Cape year, a flower emerges that is for me the harbinger of spring.  Like hearing the first cuckoo, I always note where and when I see the first Babinia fragrens.  These crocus-like flowers cover the farm, they are everywhere – and the bulbs are particularly loved by porcupines.  Last year I was running up a steep hill on the farm when I came across a 300 metre stretch of road where a happy porcupine had wandered up and dug up every single plant to munch on the bulbs.  There are plenty to share and it was fun to think of him happily crunching not far from the house in the night as we slept.

Babinia Fragens, the first of the year

Babinia Fragens, the first of the year

Next up was this delicate white flower.  I didn’t get a great picture of it – I think it’s a Cape Snowflake, to give it it’s common name, but will pop it into the research folder and see if we can get a better shot.  These are quite common so I’m sure we’ll see more.

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Opposite the Cape Snowflake, the water was tumbling in huge volumes down the waterfall in the evening sunlight – there’s been a lot of rain while I’ve been away.

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One of the other wonderful sights of late winter and early spring is the Lebostemum.  Another very common flowering shrub which flowers now and for several months.  I have tried several times to transplant these to the garden, but they have a long fragile tap root and even very young ones invariably die.  They are magnificent shrubs and flower in blue, pink or anything inbetween.

Lobostemon fructicosus

Lobostemon fructicosus

We wanted a good view of the sunset and went to the highest point of the farm on a road we don’t often run.  This wonderful combination of Protea nerifolia and Protea nitida blocked our route at one point and forced a detour.

Protea nerifolia and Protea nitida in the evening light

Protea nerifolia and Protea nitida in the evening light

On the detour we came across this stunning Erica with little pink bell-like flowers in full bloom.  Pink ericas with bell-like or urn-like flowers are like yellow daisies, there are an aweful lot of them and they are hard to tell apart.  Thanks due to Jemima Chew who stood behind them, making them much easier to photograph!

One of the many ericas that flowers with a tiny pink bell-like flower

One of the many ericas that flowers with a tiny pink bell-like flower

The Cape Sugarbirds are in full mating feathers at the moment and they are having a lovely time in areas where the proteas are thickest.  Their tails are so long they can hardly fly – that’s the males of course, the females look drab and take their pick.  I haven’t yet managed to get a really good shot of one but hopefully it’s a matter of time.

I don’t believe we have posted and recorded this protea which is now in full flower.

Protea - indentification will be confirmed in a further posting

Protea – indentification will be confirmed in a further posting

Finally – another sunset.  As dusk gathers and the sun sets you can see the mist from the Berg River gathering on the valley floor.  No wind, the light is stunning and in the far distance table mountain and the whole of Cape Town is covered by a dark wall of cloud.  The rain is coming.

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Pink and Golden Morning 29th May 2013

A week ago we’d had only 10% of the average rainfall for May and I really worried that I’d be blogging about the dry winter and all the flowers we might be missing because of it.  That may still be the case, but probably not because of the lack of rainfall in May, and if the predictions for the first two days in June are accurate, June should be accounted for almost before it starts.
I am learning to be grateful for the rain in Africa, though it doesn’t come easily to an Irish woman. Good rain here comes in 7 – 10 day waves and after a few days a break and a glorious pink and gold morning is truely welcome.  This morning was such a one – blue sky with pink and gold tipped clouds, fresh air and dampness in the scent and on the ground.  Happy dogs released from the contraints of the wet (largely spent on my bed) cavorting in the early light.
On our way up the mountain I saw this lovely pelargonium.  It is quite distinctive though not one I can identify.  We’ll call it the May Pelargonium as date of flowering is very relevant to ID.  It is hard to convey the delicate charm of these flowering shrubs – they flower all winter, spring and summer and I have successfully transplanted a few to the garden.  The flowers tend to be tiny and hard to photograph, in situ they charm completely, epitomising all that is delicate, fragrant and fragile.
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The flowers on the mountain seem destined to confuse me and I have been worried about the Neirine I thought I’d seen.  The petals of the Nerine turn back on themselves and I couldn’t see that in the flowers I posted the other day.  As usual the flowers themselves came to my rescue.  At the top of the farm, beside a path we take almost every time we go out, the same coral petals greeted me this morning, waving in the dawn light and the gentle breeze.  Clearly, so very clearly, a member of the Gladiolus family, although this subspecies is not in my book.  What an amazing colour.  I’m glad it pops up in a couple of different places, it means there are probably a lot more of them on the farm, even if we don’t see them.
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In my attempt to confirm the sighting I tried to climb down this afternoon to get a closer look at the flower on the bank – but failed, the bank got too steep and my nerve failed me.   Heading up the farm in the afternoon light reminded me that at this time of year I miss a lot in the early mornings when these flowers are tightly furled, the colours invisible. During the day they unfurl and show themselves to the light.  The Oxalis stud the entire farm in yellow, white, pink and blue, like stars everwhere.  Their perfection is hard to photograph, the blues and pinks are easier than the white.
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There are friends that enchant every day, and in the increasingly gloomy afternoon light as more rain swept in across the Western Cape, this shining golden yellow Leucodendron with a wild rosemary behind it makes me think again that our wild garden could not be bettered by the work of the best landscape artists.  The shrubs find a harmony of their own.  It is fun to find new things of course, but often the best pleasure is in this greeting of old friends in a new light.
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The dogs gamely followed me down the slope as I tried to find our nerine/gladiolus and I was quite impressed at their tenancity.  Climbing up was easier than climbing down and as we climbed we came across this Erica.  It could be one of several tubular Ericas and I see that the need to acquire more detail reference books is becoming urgent.  This captures it perfectly – it is not the most lovely example of these fascinating flowers, but I like it’s fleshy abundance and they are prolific and will be everywhere soon.
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