12 August, 2015

Journey to Clanwilliam's Flower Church

By Diana Studer 
- gardening for biodiversity 
 in Cape Town, South Africa 

Spring Flowers in the Cape. 2015 Clanwilliam Flower Show 27th August to 5th September. We've been north to Namaqualand. August 2010 we went to Clanwilliam. If you are in a hurry you can rush on the N7. Or you can go on the R44 to Citrusdal, short stretch on the N7 until you reach the turnoff to Algeria and the Cederberg. My Cape Fold Belt mountains have flowers to their shoulders in the spring.

Osteospermum oppositifolium in August 2010

When we first crossed the Olifants River this daisy was stretching and yawning en déshabillé. ’Tis a little early for me. Come back later.

Olifants River to the Cederberg in August 2010

The old dirt road, winds along the Olifants River. One of those perfect days in a little peace of heaven. No traffic. Just us two old ducks.

Ducks, going

Across the water you can see the hillside covered in pristine fynbos. The dam irrigates mangoes and citrus trees. Clusters of holiday homes too. 'Clanwilliam dam dwellers wait to lose properties when the wall is raised 13m'. The river widens to the dam past the rock formations of the Cederberg.


Take time to stop, and look, everywhere there are flowers. Gasp making sweeps of just the one type and colour. Mille fleurs where every spot of colour is ... yet another variety.

Lachenalia trichophylla August 2010

We went to Clanwilliam's Flower-church blomkerk and Wild Flower Garden at Ramskop. Each flower show is timed for the best flowers in that area. Happy gardening tourists can see the flowers alongside the road, in fallow fields and sweeping up the mountain slopes above the farms to where the leopards roam. Concentrated display at the show – with the rare varieties only found here. Planted compromise at the Ramskop Wild Flower Reserve.

Bottom left finger and thumb succulent Dactylopsis digitata subsp. digitata
Clanwilliam Flower Show 2010

Since the 1940’s there have been flower shows in this town. In 1971 Kay Bergh founded the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Association. The Old Dutch Reformed Church was renovated in 1972 and became the Blomkerk = Flower Church.

Clanwilliam's Blomkerk Flower Church 2010

 Namaqualand poem

The plants displayed here, are carefully and sustainably harvested, in the wild and on farms. Only with permits from Cape Nature and the Department of the Environment for the Northern Cape, and also counter-signed by the land-owners for private land.

Renosterveld 2010

From the 2010 Flower Show brochure - A dry year. Each year’s unique weather conditions show up different combinations of our rich floral heritage. The rain came late this year. Luscious growth of the fynbos, the nordpolle, Clanwilliam daisies and botterboom – but there are no bulbs this year. Like a chameleon the veld adapts itself to the weather. The exhibition displays the five geological regions, from the misty plains of the West Coast to the vast expanses of the Tankwa Karoo. Table Mountain sandstone and shale with fynbos. Arid Fynbos on the Nardouw sandstone. Cederberg and Bokkeveld clay with Renosterveld. Succulent Karoo on the Knersvlakte. 

Sandveld 2010

All that wandering around looking at flowers makes thirsty. Cup of tea? Rooibos? Perhaps you would recognise it as red-bush tea? Aspalathus linearis grows only in the Cederberg around Clanwilliam. Tea is harvested from plants growing wild on the mountain slopes above farms, or from plantations.

Namaqualand in spring. Flowers everywhere. From the Flower Church we went to Ramskop Nature Garden. In 2014 we explored the Sevilla Rock Art Trail.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer
of Elephant's Eye on False Bay

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  1. Thanks for sharing those photos and your emerges with us. Now I know where exactly the ROOIBOS grow and is harvested.
    All those lovely flowers whether they are wild or not, a taste of paradise.

  2. Hah! Rooibos is a new favorite tea. What fun to know a little more about it and where it comes from. Such a lovely color it is.

  3. the succulent that looks like mittens is amazing, such unique and mesmerizing flowers,,
    beautiful landscape and I could read your writing all day long,,I truly could,

  4. I recognize the Dutch words...lol. And am very familiar with Rooibos tea...although it's not my fav. My Uncle brought back the fascination with it after he visited South Africa...and then it spread like wildfire through out the family....afterwards it became the darling of the tea drinking society...but me well a weak cup of the Roois...was never a treat. That's the way his wife served it, one small, very weak cup of tea...and then you were expected to leave. Giggle...


    1. I prefer Ceylon tea. But I treat rooibos the same - in a mug - let it draw for 5 minutes - and I add milk, no sugar. (Not a fan of dishwater tea, in any flavour ;~)

      Or my own blend

  5. I like the wording "flowers to their shoulders." What a lovely thought! It's always fascinating to learn about your wildflowers--which are so different from ours. Thanks for the tour!

    1. above the shoulders are the rocky cliffs, where the flowers are different again. That is where we find the disas.

  6. It was lovely to catch up on your blog - thanks for the reminder on Coco's blog! Such inspiration.

  7. Is it spring already? That means it will be autumn over here soon. Time flies ...

    1. a few more weeks yet. My poppies are still just leaves, no buds.

  8. An amazing array of flowers...such gorgeous displays and I love that succulent...a cute plant and well named....definitely love a cuppa Rooibos....I really should follow spring around the world...it's a dream!

  9. An old rusty boat surrounded by flowers - a composition of nature or man? Or both? Also love the finger and thumb succulent!

    1. it is 'which human hands have made' but it's a rather nice way of reminding us that Strandveld is by the sea (and Nature!)

  10. How I would love to visit a Flower Church, Diana. Feeling closest to God in my garden goes one step further ... P. x

  11. You live in such a beautiful and fascinating area, Diana. I always enjoy your posts. xo Laura

  12. What a beautiful looking place, those flowers look absolutely divine in there!