Tag Archives: Paarl

Lilies and peacocks: prolific flowering on the mountain

When you wake up morning after morning and the first thing you hear is the thudding of rain on the zinc roof it is not really conducive to getting out on the farm to run and photograph flowers. Even the dogs stand at the doorway and barely want to get their feet wet.

The weather finally improved on Sunday and late in the day we finally got out onto the mountain. There is so much out there, the rain has made flowering prolific and the frustration is that we must have missed so many flowers that have had their brief moment of glory and disappeared.

There is something about this mountain at the end of the day, as the light fades to the east and the last glow of sunlight flares in a spectacular display of light and colour. There is one huge tree, a bluegum or Eucalyptus that stands in splendid isolation high on the mountain. An alien, it doesn’t belong here and I cannot imagine how it came to survive so high; it must have found a spot where it is slightly sheltered from the howling winds. This evening it made a frame for the setting sun.

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As we descended I caught this shot of the mountains behind us caught in spectacular orange.

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Before us the sun was just about to go down behind Paarl mountain and you can see the mist gathering over the Berg River at the bottom of the valley.

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The light was perfect as we ran up the mountain and captured flowers. There are many that flower like this, at the top of a spike of needle or threadlike leaves and this is a lovely one that we found right at the top of the farm. I couldn’t find it in the book and generally these are hard to identify.

Unidentified spike

Unidentified spike

Another beautiful spikey thing is this white one. Again I haven’t identified it yet – it’s gone into the unidentified folder for when I have some more books and helps.

White spikes unidentified

White spikes unidentified

While on the theme of unidentified shrubs, here’s another one. In one damp and quite shady place there are lots of these, little shrubs covered in white flowers, pretty enough to be cultivated in any garden. And indeed they probably are – so if any reader knows what they are please do let me know.

White flowering shrub

White flowering shrub

The waterfall is pounding away and my theory that at some point it will be flooded with evening sunshine seems likely to come true as the sun needs to be just a little higher and a little further to the south and the whole fall will be lit up for a few weeks.

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I had a lot more luck identifying the flowering bulbs and there are lots of them. Just behind the house the bank is full of these brilliant blue flowers, Geissorhiza aspera.

Geissorhiza aspera

Geissorhiza aspera

And just above it the bank and many roads on the farm are littered with these white stars. I think it might be Strumaria spiralis but I do need to check as the identification is not 100 % confirmed.

Identity uncertain

Identity uncertain

I am completely sure of this one however. It is Baeometra uniflora, known as the Beetle Lily and there are plenty of them in damp areas at the top of the farm.

Baeometra uniflora - the Beetle LIly

Baeometra uniflora – the Beetle LIly

This was a busy run, a lot of flowers needing recording and worrying about more weather to come, and a lot more flowers, I wanted to be sure we’d capture them. One I saw during a quick morning run in the week, in between the showers, is this lovely little pink spike and I was worried that it might have disappeared by the time I got back to that part of the farm again with good light and time to do a long run. But no, here it is and it is known as a Spike Lily, Wurmbea punctata. I love it when we get a really clear identification of something new and there is no doubt about this one.

Wurmbea punctata - the Spike Lily

Wurmbea punctata – the Spike Lily

Another absolutely unmistakable flower and always a treat when they appear, as if out of nowhere, is the lovely Spiloxene Capensis, one of the Cape stars and known as the Peacock flower. We were rewarded by this sight at the very top of yesterday’s climb and before the light abandoned us.

Spiloxene capensis - the Peacock flower

Spiloxene capensis – the Peacock flower

This was much harder to identify and I think it must be the Grass Lily, Chlorophytum rigidum perhaps? It has a very localised habitat and this is exactly the right area. But the picture in the book isn’t great so I would be happy to be corrected.

Chlorophytum rigidum?

Chlorophytum rigidum?

Glorious Sunday Fynbos Flowers

After a golden day on Saturday when we were out all day with no time to run on the farm, we finally set off late on Sunday morning, the dogs and I.  Just as we left the house a light drizzle began to fall and I went back, wisely as it turned out, for a rain jacket.  It was only drizzling as we ran down the drive and then started to climb, but by the time we got high on the farm the weather had closed in.  Somehow this line of pines with the dams below always seems a little Japanese to me – is that an odd thought here in the uplands of Paarl?  Perhaps it is.

The landscape Japaned by the mist and the light

The landscape Japaned by the mist and the light

Luckily the weather hadn’t deterred us and some flowers glow and seem to photograph even better in the rain.  Take this Cyphia volubilis, the delicate white creeper.  There is one on the drive that is climbing all the way up this unidentified and rather plain shrub.

Cyphia volubis

Cyphia volubis

A close up reveals the charm and beauty of this delicate flower, notice the tiny pink spots at the centre, and of course the drops of rain, proof of our damp run.

Cyphia volubilis - detail

Cyphia volubilis – detail

All over the farm these yellow shrubs are flowering profusely, it is Hermannia grossularifolia I believe; there are as many as 60 fynbos subspecies but this one looks right, it belongs on these sandstone slopes and is flowering at exactly the right time of year.

Hermannia grossularifolia

Hermannia grossularifolia

Another flowering shrub is this one that I’ve posted before, unidentified until a friend pointed out that it is the common Tickberry (thank you Gilly), which used to be called Chrysanthemoides monilifera but is now correctly identified as Osteospermum moniliferum.  This shrub, although included as fynbos, is not unique to the fynbos region but grows happily, wild and in gardens, all the way up to tropical Africa.

Osteospermum moniliferum

Osteospermum moniliferum

An oft-posted winter flower was the wild rosemary, Eriocephalus africanus and I though it would be interesting to post it now that it has gone to seed.  With so many seedheads one can understand why it is so prolific on the mountain.

Eriocephalus africana - gone to seed

Eriocephalus africana – gone to seed

The light lent itself perfectly to capturing the magnificent white Erica which I believe to be the plukenetii.  It could be the coccinea, but the book says that particular subspecies does not exist in white and this is most definitely white.  Magnificent with its protruding anthers.  This is a common Erica and occurs all over the farm in many colours.

Erica plukenetii (?)

Erica plukenetii (?)

At this time of year the lands are full of flowers among the buchu.  The overall effect can be hard to photograph although this field of senecio high up in the lands gives a good sense of the colour and effect even on a dark day.

The lands full of flowers, primarily Senecio

The lands full of flowers, primarily Senecio

Saving the best for last.  One of the loveliest sights on the farm occurs at this time of year when this particular Leucadendron turns coral coloured. One of the interesting things about the Leucadendron family is that although less flashy than the protea to which it is related, it tends to be highly localised, fussy and choosy about where any particular subspecies will grow.  This appears to be Leucadendron tinctum, the name giving away the remarkable change in colour at this time of year.  The shrubs are everywhere in the higher parts of the farm and the effect is magnificent, one of our all time favourites.

The magnificent Leucadendron tinctum

The magnificent Leucadendron tinctum

 

I hsd planned a long run covering most of the farm, but by the time we reached what we call the look out it was raining heavily, I was tired slow and a bit sore after a lot of travel and show jumping on Saturday. The dogs were soaked and had been very patient as I took photos on the way up, not that they care, they happily sniff and hunt although Seamus, who misses us when we are gone, never left my side. So we put away thoughts of fynbos and plodded a little wearily down the hill to lunch, a fire and an afternoon in front of the TV.

A spring weekend

I have been away too much over the past few weeks and am overjoyed to be back on the farm for a few weeks before I have to do any serious travel again. The last post talked about the Bulbinia fragens, the harbinger of spring. Spring here does not arrive over many weeks as it does in Europe. Within one unseasonably warm week I have returned to find the farm full of new flowers. This is building up to the height of the flowering season for Fynbos and the next few months are going to see an explosion of life. I’m already struggling to keep up – this blog will be quite long and I’ll be trying to keep regular posts so that we capture as much as possible of what’s happening on the mountain.

I’ve been looking out for this flower – it’s a dear friend, one of the first that made me realise the special nature of our fynbos bulbs. This photo is quite deceptive as this is a tiny iris-like flower – each petal not much bigger than my fingernail. This is Moraea tripelata and it has started to flower all over the farm. I spotted it first thing when I went running with the dogs on Saturday morning.

Moraea tripetala

Moraea tripetala

Peter then took us up to see the work he’s been doing clearing alien vegetation, especially the Port Jackson trees that choke the river. Every winter when the planting on the farm is done he attached this for a few weeks. Two winters ago we cleared around the waterfall and what was a chocked up watercourse that you couldn’t see is now full of vibrant fynbos life. He has just opened up this area, so dense with trees that you couldn’t get into it and has found the spot where the two rivers that run through the farm meet, before tumbling down the mountain to add their waters to the mighty Berg River that runs through the Paarl valley below us.

Clearing alien trees along the river

Clearing alien trees along the river

The place where the two rivers meet

The place where the two rivers meet

In the late afternoon I took some guests on our first “Flower safari” of the year. All we did was walk down the front drive and we were enchanted with the profusion of flowers we came across, many old friends that we have posted before, and quite a few new ones.

First of all we came across this tiny white gladiolus. I first saw it at the top of the bank, which gives an idea of scale.

Unknown gladiolus

Unknown gladiolus

Then I realised they are growing along the side of the road. I cannot find this one in my book at all – not even in the bulb encyclopedia. I’ve done this before, failed to identify a flower and then realised I’m not looking properly at the description, so if I do realise what it is, I’ll post it. It is quite enchanting, with a delicate fragrance, like so many of the gladioli.

Gladiolus unidentified

Gladiolus unidentified

Then we came across another example of the bell like pink Erica that I posted last week, this time a lot closer to home.

Erica with pink bells

Erica with pink bells

There are masses of these on the drive, and masses of what I guess to be Erica daphniflora, in colours of green, white, red and a particularly vibrant pink.

Erica, probably daphniflora

Erica, probably daphniflora

Erica, probably daphniflora

Erica, probably daphniflora

The Oxalis are still flowering away, these ones in white and pink profuse along the bank and the lands still covered in the yellow ones.

Oxalis

Oxalis

The next new find was this Erica – you can see it’s quite distinctive in the way it grow and flowers and the little white bells have the brown anthers exposed at the end. This was very attractive in the late evening light.

Erica, unidentified

Erica, unidentified

Another new find is this flowering shrub which is common all over the farm. I have always assumed it to be Cape Confetti, but with my evolving botannical eye I think it is more likely to be Adenandra villas, possily . I’m sure I will have many more occassions to photograph this stunning shrub.

Cape confetti - coleonem album or adenandra villas?

Cape confetti – coleonem album or adenandra villas?

As I was showing our guests one of the Protea nerifolias along the road we saw this little bud. We were delighted as it means these glorious proteas are going to continue to flower for some time.

The bud of a Protea nerifolia

The bud of a Protea nerifolia

The Felicia is such a wonderful flower. This is the first one I have seen this year and it will flower from now until the summer, along with the Lobostemum it is one of our commonest shrubs. That makes the first sighting of these pretty lilac flowers with their yellow centres no less exciting, both for their own sake and the promise of more spring flowers to come.

Felicia filifolia

Felicia filifolia

This warm weather won’t be with us for long, with temperatures expected to plummet during the week. Luckily up here on the mountain we almost never go below 5 degrees, so the flowers will be safe. In the valley below it can freeze, but the moutain seems to hold the heat of summer and protects us from the coldest weather.

We are coming into the best season for sunsets. Yet another amazing sunset this evening as I was finishing some more traditional gardening and the mountains behind turned a glorious orangey-pink.

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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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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

Flowing Water and Fowers – 28 June 2013

Home.  The desert sands of Qatar behind me at last.  It was a shock to return to glorious green after the thick humid sandy air of Doha.  It seems it’s done nothing but rain since we left home three weeks ago and the farm has a rich sodden feel to it, with water roaring through the river and tumbling down the waterfall.  The roads are in need of maintenance, full of rivulets and potholes but the seeds I planted in the garden before we left have all sprouted into healthy young plants and the fynbos is settling into a winter burst of life.   Seamus, the senior wolfhound, is joyous at my return and cannot bear to leave my side.
The dogs and I went for an evening walk, inspecting some of our usual routes, the dogs looking for new smells, and me looking for new flowers.  We started down in the stream below the house that leads to the damn.  The banks are lined with Arum Lilies at this time of year.  Just as the luminous grasses have disappeared the lilies flower along the rivers and roads all winter and their beauty speaks for itself.  We have a few months of them ahead, and there will be a lot more pictures to come.
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Arum Lilies
The great thing about this blog is that it focuses the mind on home, on the magnificence of this land and the plants that grow here.  I’ve seen Chasmathe all over the Cape, they remind me of the Montbretia that grown wild in Ireland, another South African wild flower that grows all over Ireland’s verges and banks in the summer.  At first I thought it was the same flower but Montbretia doesn’t grow in this part of the world, it belongs further north in a summer rainfall area.  This Chasmanthe is lovely, another of the anchors of a certain time of year, this winter time, when growth is rich and lush and yet only a herald of things to come.
 
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Chasmanthe, most likely floribunda, but to be verified

When we moved to the farm eight years ago this little red creeper was one of the first flowers to awake my interest in fynbos. The flowers are tiny, smaller than my little fingernail and they appear suddenly in midwinter, winding around the stems of thicker fynbos. Despite their tiny size the jewel-like coral jumps out of the greenery and draws the eye. We will have them until mid-spring or later, all over the farm.

Microloma tenuifolium

Microloma tenuifolium

We could hear the waterfall long before we saw it – with the rainfall we’ve had in June the rivers on the farm are roaring and the land feels replenished.

The Waterfall

As we walked along the new road that leads to the waterfall this enchanting sight greeted us.  I don’t know what to say or even think about the
pelargoniums; though are stunning, charming, and endlessly delightful the sub-species seem impossible to identify.  Our new road is a pelargonium nursery and they thrive here all year round.  At least this one allowed me to take a good picture – gracefully gleaming in the evening light.
Pelargonium - subspecies unknown

Pelargonium – subspecies unknown

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

 

The books have a few pelargoniums but they don’t seem to flower at the right time of the year.  We have dozens and the best I can do is document them and find a real expert.  Some of those that I’ve transplanted to the garden are doing really well, perhaps that will help.  They are endlessly endearing.  My grandmother grew them, pelargoniums and geraniums, nursing them through the Irish winters.  She would have loved this place; not lush like Ireland with it’s dense choking green; more selective; intense; dramatic – she would most definitely have appreciated the drama.  It was her birthday on 22nd June, just after midsummer.   I was in Doha, so missed the shortest day of the year on the farm.  Today is the shortest day we will see this year, and this is the most north-westerly sunset, far over the Paarderberg.
Sunset over the Paaderberg  28 June 2013

By mid-summer this sun will set far to the South of Table Mountain.

My love of botany is definitely inspired by her, and by my stepgrandmother, both of whom were dedicated and knowledgable horticulturalists.  I thought of them both this evening as we descended in the gloom.  Two women, one Irish, one English, both Catholic, both of whom were born in one world war and raised their children through the next.   Gracious women, much loved, characters, who instilled in us both values and manners. They loved their gardens and gardening brought them together, unexpectedly and into a lifelong friendship.  They admired one another and both of them would like to know they are remembered and that they continue to inspire us.  

The Ericas are coming out all over the farm and I have not yet identified this one – a detailed book on Ericas as we as Pelargoniums is most definitely called for. The Erica family runs to 660 subspecies in the fynbos region, so we can’t expect to identify them all, but it will be fun to see how many we have on the farm and I will start a library page on them soon.

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15 May 2013 Misty morning run, sunlit evening departure

Here I am, sitting in a hotel room in London, going through the photos and evoking the memory of my morning run the day we left.  I can smell the wild rosemary and the cool misty air and imagine the rush of happy hounds as they head off to inspect all their favourite places.

The night before I left I had a meeting in Cape Town and driving up the drive at about 11.30 at night a huge presence emerged out ofthe night.  It was such a surprise that it took a second for recognition to kick in .  A porcupine, a large, ungainly porcupine with his quills fanned in outrage as he bumbled off the road and into the night.  What a lovely sighting.  We’ve always known they are on the farm because we see their quills, but our first ever sighting was only a month ago on the same road, so he must have changed his routine and perhaps we’ll see more off him. I didn’t have the presence of mind to photograph him; maybe next time I’ll be quicker.
I went early for my run the day I left and it was too dark to see much or to take good photos.  There are mornings when the valley is covered with fog, lapping at the foothills like waves on the beach. The world below us disappears and we float on the white sea clothed in clear morning light.
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Not such a good day for flowers but I did capture one photo of Seamus looking particularly like himself, standing in his favourite spot.  It’s a little dark, but you get an idea of him.
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Some plants seem to capture the light and glow in the gloom.  One of the is the Leucodendron, a close relation of the protea.  I’ll write more about these when I get home, the farm is covered in them and they are the most elegant of plants.

10 May 2013

Some flowers are at their best in the subtle light of dawn and dusk while others curl up and go to sleep, only showing off their brilliance in the full light of day. I was driving home yesterday afternoon, wondering if I really was going to find enough flowers on this farm to justify a whole year of blogging, when I noticed the bank was studded with pink and white flowers. When I’m out running early in the morning they are all but invisible but during the day they are everywhere, on the banks, on the roads and all over the lands.

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Oxalis Purpurea

These come in a multitude of colours and at least a couple of varieties that I’ve noted here on the farm. What I love about them is that they seem to be the first bulbs to flower each year, showing almost immediately after the first rains. Of all the fynbos bulbs are among the most delightful, highly localised in terms of where they grow, often so fragile that one wonders they can survive at all, hugely varied and the first sighting of a favourite flower each year is always a moment of private joy, very Wordsworth, somewhat hackneyed yet so true. We’ll be having some surprised by joy moments I’m afraid.

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Oxalis Purpurea

While photographing the Oxalyis I saw a different flash of white, something I hadn’t noticed before. It’s one of those I’m not certain of, yet so distinctive that I think it must be Stachys Aethiopica. It was quite hard to capture and if I see more out there I’ll try and get a better shot. A very distinctive white flower and the leaves were used medicinally in the past; the common English name is woundwort.

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Stachys Aetheopica

Part of the fun is identifying the plants as it lends a component of detection to my day. Sometimes I’ll get it wrong. When the yellow lobelia I thought I’d identified last week started to show tiny little fluffy seedheads I thought “that can’t be right” and went back to the book. Indeed I should have known better as I grew up with a garden that had lots of senecio in it and this turns out to be Senecio pubigerus.

Protea nerifolia 4/5/2013

Senecio Pubigerus

I have been trying to get a bit fitter this week as I’m riding in a show at the weekend, so for a couple of days I’ve been running twice a day. One evening the light was exceptional, it was too dark to take flower photos but I could not resist a couple of sunset shots and a rare picture of Maebh the Irish Wolfhound standing still. And a picture of the farmhouse as we crossed over the dam wall when it was very nearly dark.

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Evening 4/5/2013

We went back out in the evening for a quick run because I wanted to try and capture the luminous grasses.  These grow all over the Cape and at this time of year they light up the sides of the roads, particularly at sunset.  For identification I’m borrowing a book on grasses.  These photos are taken in the dusk after sunset when it’s impossible to photograph anything else – these seem to be luminescent.
 Grasses at sunset
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Of course the advantage of an evening walk or run is not only happy dogs and beautiful light, but the glory of the Cape sunset.  At this time of year it sets West-NorthWest towards the Paaderburg Mountain range.  By midsummer it will have swung all the say to West South West to set south of Table Moutain.
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At the moment these clusters of white flowers are all over the farm – apparently they are much loved by gardeners, so I shall try to  one or two although Fynbos have notoriously fragile roots and can be difficult to transplant. Crassula Dejecta, though I’m not convinced
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Crassula.
Once the sun has gone down over the horizon at this time of year we only have about 30 minutes to get home before its very dark.  Running down the hill I smelt the distinct odour of animal – an antelope must have been crouching in the grass very near us.  Luckily the dogs, though hunting dogs, are sighthounds and they followed me down the mountain without reacting to the scent.  Having stopped to capture the luminous grasses, we were walking down the steep road behind the house when this last flash of yellow caught my eye.  I can find no reference to these yellow stars in my books but will keep trying.  They are growing out of the wall, and I had to use a flash to capture them – fearing that if I did not do it now, I might miss them altogether.  Ideas or names welcome.
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The yellow stars

Introducing The Fynbos Blog

Most mornings I get up and unless I have other early morning commitments I take the dogs for a run around our farm, situated on the mountains of Klein Drakenstein Municipality in the Western Cape of South Africa.  Because it has a Mediterranean climate with dry summers and wet winters, unlike the rest of sub-Saharan Africa which has wet summers and dry winters, the Cape Floral Kingdom is unique and diverse and known as the 8th Floral Kingdom of the world.  All year as we are out running, me and the dogs, a spectacular botannical feast unfolds before us, and every year I think that I must find a way to share it with a broader audience.  Collectively the shrubs and bulbs of the Cape Floral Kingdom are known as Fynbos.

The year starts, in my mind, at the end of February or early March which is the end of summer in this part of the world.  Typically we have had a hot dry summer, often with no rain at all from early January and the floral life dries and dies by, with only some robust flowers, usually near a source of underground water, surviving the heat and blazing sunshine.  We rarely go over 40 degree here on the farm, but in the valley, in Paarl, it can be 45 on a hot summer day.  Suddenly, before the rains, the mountains burst into life, as Protea Repens, for me the first flower of the new botannical year, bursts into life.

This year I will take a photographic record of as many flowers as possible, starting with Protea Repens, and including a tiny pelagonium that I found nestled by the side of a path, unusal for the time of year.  I will include anything I know about the plant, but I welcome comments as I’m no expert.

Protea Repens is common on the Du Toitskloof Mountain and is commonly known as sugarbush.  It can be pure cream, or the petals can be tipped with pink.  The flowers are narrow and cupshaped.  The shrubs, here on the farm at least, grow in massive quantities and the spectacle of pink and white flowers is a magnificent sight.

There are hundreds of different pelargoniums, worthy of a book in themselves and we have many different species on the farm.  I couldn’t identify this one.

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