by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Hobbit houses of wood and stone with green roofs. I have admired Kogelberg's Oudebosch eco-cabins since they won architectural awards.
Cape rock thrush. Elegant papa. Frazzled mama with 2 teenaged FEED mes. We stopped for a vegan lunch in Hermanus. Delicious spicy barbecue Buddha bowl with a rainbow of baby carrots and corncobs, broccoli and courgettes, beans and sugar snap peas, red bell peppers, roasted chickpeas, barley, falafel, humus.
Living wing, bedroom wing, courtyard (home to three-striped mice) and covered verandah. We fell asleep to the frogs calling. As at Rocher Pan we had a waterless toilet. Saving water and avoiding contamination of the nearby wetland.
I was wary of what we would find after January's fire on the Palmiet River Walk. Given Cape Town's drought and water restrictions it was wonderful to see green slopes rolling out on all sides and a healthy flow in the river. Intrigued by these billowing rocks which looked like a huge batch of yeasty bread dough rising.
As we walked back to our cottage, I paused, and held my breath, while he photographed the agama over my shoulder. We also saw a thumb length youngster.
Five eco-cabins share a swimming pool filtered by a generous wetland, reeds and gravel and frogs.
On the second day we walked up that long valley, which was our view as the light changed thru the day. Sun, and clouds, a little rain, a wonderful sunset. Oudebosch (old forest in Dutch) is deceptive from below. Green yes and it looks a fairly gentle climb. We followed and crossed the river. Halfway we reached that gash of rocks down the mountainside. Mother Nature showing her strength as the winter rain buckets down. Then the path surprised us as we folded in to deep forest. We were heading to that patch of light, thinking it was the crest. Not a chance, only a huge fallen tree opening a clearing. The path got steeper, and slippery with fallen leaves on last night's rain. We turned back. Next time ... we will take lunch with us.
Again - summer - drought - and SO many flowers! Ericas. Proteas and yellow male and female Aulax, leucadendrons and Van Riebeeck's almond hedge Brabejum stellatifolium. Bulbs red Anapalina and Watsonia, blue Nivenia. Amongst the red and yellow swathes of leucadendrons a pink Pelargonium. Two blue Roella. Overwhelmed by the endless variety. Even the slope of white everlasting daisies was two different plants, one with long silvery leaves, the other with teensy crumpled leaves.
Red black and white trumpets is an endemic Retzia capensis, the lonely only member of the Retziaceae family. After fire they will return from the roots. Some individuals are hundreds of years old!
Serious hikers (we met a father and son) spend a full day hiking up then down Leopard's Gorge to Harold Porter NBG. We drove along the coast. Walked in the garden and up Disakloof where the boardwalk asks walkers to bow in respect to the gnarled old tree.
As I was photographing the red Erica I noticed the carpenter bee.
... I hadn't reckoned on how bare the bones would be. A marriage, a birth, a death. This wasn't a life. It was nothing like it. Life's what happens in between ... These tiny things that change the world, minute by minute, and for ever. These perishable moments, that are gone completely, if we don't take the trouble of their telling.
- from Jo Baker's The Telling.
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