Hiking battles and our Neighbourhood Farm

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

Hiking among wildflowers
and in the mountains
around Cape Town

In March his group hiked up to Blokhuiskop (seen from our bay window) from where he could look down to our beach.

Looking down to our beach from Blokhuiskop
Looking down to our beach from Blokhuiskop

We hiked along Steenberg at Silvermine. Coming down the 'steps' we found a life and death battle. Too late for the Black Girdled Lizard's tail-biting defence. A successful hunt for the Karoo Sand Snake. We took our photos and circuited carefully alongside the path.

Tail-biting defence of the Black Girdled Lizard
Tail-biting defence of the Black Girdled Lizard

Cordylus niger Black Girdled Lizard. Psammophis notostictus Karoo Sand Snake.

Karoo Sand Snake
Karoo Sand Snake

Lobelia coronopifolia deep blue with white flashes. Gladiolus brevifolius is hooded, its lower tepals with various delicate markings.
Roella ciliata banded in blues.
Distant stream of cars on Ou Kaapse Weg. Saltera sarcocolla in electrifying pink. Gnidia juniperifolia (4 x 2 petals and calyx).

Steenberg Ridge Silvermine March flowers
Steenberg Ridge Silvermine
March flowers

He had a turn at trail blazing, stabbed by burnt ends of branches. Eina!

Silvermine battle scars from trail blazing
Silvermine battle scars from trail blazing

Hoof print of a small antelope. We walked slowly down to Smitswinkel Bay. Polygala myrtifolia with tassels and purple veins. Psoralea pinnata fountain bush grows with wet feet.

Leucospermum conocarpodendron with leaf nectaries. Kiggelaria africana fruit. Coral fern Gleichenia polypodiodes. Serious thorns on Gymnosporia buxifolia.

Erica ericoides with dark dangly bits. Tiny furry Erica parviflora. Spotted blister beetle on Osteospermum monilifera. Hibiscus aethiopicus low on the ground.

Phylica ericoides. Struthiola ciliata with an eight spiked central crown. Kniphofia uvaria. Wine dark sea edges to Cotyledon orbiculata leaves.

Smitswinkel Bay March flowers
Smitswinkel Bay
March flowers

He was on Klaasenskop and along Cecilia Ridge.

Klaasenskop
Klaasenskop

We walked along a sadly dry Silvermine River. Erica multumbellifera little cherries. Erica abietina. Erica ericoides dark dangly bits. Berzelia lanuginosa.

Camphorbush Tarchonanthus littoralis (the female I wanted in the garden with fluff for bird's nests). Cunonia capensis (rooiels) flower and its butterspoon. Fresh dark Cape myrtle leaves Myrsine africana.

Tall ivory umbels Hermas villosa with large and decorative leaves. Yellow crab spider lurks on Helichrysum cymosum. Stoebe cinerea flower and the bush so striking once backlit by sunshine.

Tall Bulbine praemorsa. Vivid Indigofera filifolia. Muted Indigofera cytisoides spikes. Sky blue Pseudoselago serrata.

Silvermine River Walk March flowers
Silvermine River Walk
March flowers

We walk up to Slangkop from the Catholic church past a Eucalyptus avenue (water guzzling invasive aliens, but the beekeepers like them). Here we saw Brunsvigia orientalis (which had been disappointingly mown down or dug up from the firebreak at Smitswinkel)

Glowing red Leucadendron salignum leaves. Golden Serruria villosa. Extravagant Protea cynaroides. Olea capensis ironwood with tiny fruit.

Silver leaves and fluff -  kapokbossie - wild rosemary Eriocephalus racemosus. Salvia lanceolata with colour from the persistent red calyx. Blue Lobelia setacea.

Erica corifolia dark dots on bract tips. Creamy Erica mammosa. Yellow daisy Arctotis breviscapa. Dusky pink Tritoniopsis dodii.

Slangkop  March flowers
Slangkop
March flowers

hike with U3A each week.

At our Neighbourhood Farm. Infrastructure paid for by the Department of Agriculture. Also at primary schools, with the largest and latest in Ocean View. For irrigation they use three well points. Water is filtered and treated with UV light. The white blob, about the size of my thumb, is a Rain Bird which monitors and cuts off irrigation as needed. Behind the tanks you can just see the roof of the hospital and the car park - from there they harvest stormwater to recharge the groundwater they use. Skills training, employment, sustainable food. Also BYO container for zero waste groceries - the nuts, seeds and dried fruit I put in our muesli.

Neighbourhood Farms False Bay Hospital
Neighbourhood Farms
False Bay Hospital

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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Comments

  1. Life and death for sure! Every living thing must eat but sometimes the rawness of it is shocking! What an amazing hike! The trail blazers certainly have some battle scars! Your views and plant life are just amazing, such a brilliantly beautiful land to live in!

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    1. That poor lizard haunts me, swallowed alive and helpless. Horrifying!

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  2. It is hard to imagine that snake eating that Black Girdled Lizard. The lizard looks tough and not very appetizing.

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    1. The lizards are fascinating when we see them perched on rocks guarding their territory. I suspect the lizard might prove softer than he looks (some people use crocodile handbags?)

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  3. What a scrumptious compendium of wildflowers! I love the spotted blister beetle on the osteospermum. I have been trying to no avail the last two years to buy some potted osteospermum. No luck, as the beautiful plants get sold out so quickly.

    Our garden has quite a large number of small lizards. It is heartrending to see decapitated lizards from time to time as our two cats hunt them. But to see one swallowed alive and helpless . . . that's would take time not to be haunted by such a sight.

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    1. In the garden we can rescue lizards from the cats. But not that - nature red in tooth and claw.

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  4. Your wildflowers are a joy! I hope your husband's battle scars weren't as painful as they looked in the photo.

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  5. You enjoy the most fascinating hikes! Such glorious wildflowers, and a snake and lizard battle! However, next time I suggest the trailblazer wear sturdy, long pants!

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  6. Your wild flowers never fail to amaze me, you have such a wealth of varieties. It looks as though the poor lizard wasn't the only casualty of the walk, those are some mighty battle scars the trail blazers picked up!

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  7. Oh gosh, those legs look painful--but worth it to see all those beautiful wildflowers! I can't believe the view from your bay window: That's stunning! The first scene with the snake and the lizard is both sad and fascinating at the same time.

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    1. The view up to Blokhuiskop, what I see, is a mountain ridge. I haven't hiked up there to see his view.

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  8. Leaf nectaries! I learn so much from your posts. Here yesterday two Elgaria multicarinata (Southern Alligator Lizard) clamped on to each other, fighting to the death. I could not look.

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    1. I recognise Leucospermum leaves as distinctive, but only learnt this week the what and why.

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  9. A wonderful hike, Diana. Arthritis and the like would prevent me from participating, so I am happy to enjoy it vicariously. Such beautiful March flowers. P.x

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  10. Poor lizard, but lucky snake. Beautiful flower pictures!

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  11. I can't believe the variety and beauty of the flowers in your part of the world. And it seems that nature can be cruel even in the prettiest of places.
    Amalia
    xo

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  12. Such a wonderful walk...but what scars. Hope everyone is now recovered. Those wild flowers are breath taking.

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  13. You sure are adventurous! So how's the climate in South Africa?

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    1. Kind and mediterranean (with a possibility of drought)

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  14. I'm enjoying this latest botanical / scenic hike with you all. The views and wildflowers as you get into Autumn and us (where I now live) finishing the last month of Spring! Hearing Eucalyptus as "water guzzling invasive aliens" makes me smile. Each visit I make to southern California, particularly San Diego, I imagine how much better their town would look with their own native trees and chaparral instead, with all Eucs erased into mulch...

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  15. The photographs of the snake are interesting and disconcerting. It looks long. And so many flowers. You put so much work into these posts!

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  16. That is quite some view from your bay window.

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  17. It always interests me to see your beautiful wildflowers and dramatic hiking trails, but also to see the similarities and differences in approaches to environmental issues and conservation. One big difference is that we are in a water-rich area, so water conservation consciousness is low; the biggest employer in my rural town is a subsidiary of Nestle Waters that "mines," bottles and exports water from our glacial aquifers. Invasive plants are a big concern here. I've recently been involved in putting together a brochure about invasive plants for our local residents and giving talks to try to educate people. The idea of people growing invasive plants because the (non-native?) bees like them rankles. We also have some efforts here to educate people about native bees as much more important pollinators than imported European honey bees. Some local communities in my state have been adopting ordinances that ban single-use plastic bags, forcing stores and customers to look for alternatives.

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    1. Yesterday someone said - but the birds like the berries! Deep breath, Diana - before I tried to say gently THAT is exactly why it is INVASIVE. Sigh.

      If the alternatives to plastic are 'bioplastic' that is a fresh set of problems, greenwashing microplastic.

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    2. I tell people that after the birds eat the seeds, they fly off into the forest and roost. Passing through the bird's digestive system prepares the seeds to germinate and then the bird poops it out, enclosed in a nice little packet of fertilizer to give the seed a good start in life!

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