Journey to Clanwilliam's Flower Church
By Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
|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.
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
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.
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.
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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