From the Sentinel to Redhill
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Hiking among wildflowers
in the mountains
around Cape Town
In August the Ungardener scrambled up Steenberg Buttress to Lower Steenberg Peak all the way up 504 metres from sea level. Tuesday rain dancers kindly bringing us some rain most weeks.
My fynbos ramble went to Cape Point where the everlasting daisies were tight buds. A fortnight later Syncarpha speciosissima flowers were open at Redhill. The landscape dotted with sunshine bushes Leucadendron salignum in spring golden leaves.
Tiniest of the proteas (zoom in to see the ant for scale) is Diastella divaricata. China flower Adenandra villosa gleaming like delicately glazed porcelain. Vibrant blue of Lobelia pinifolia. You know the blushing bride protea, demure in pink and white? This is her feisty fiery sister in glowing golds. Serruria villosa endemic to the Cape Peninsula. Cerise buds open to white flowers on Anaxeton laeve. Salt and pepper is Erica imbricata. Parasite on roots in red velvet is Hyobanche.
In September he hiked from the East Fort to the manganese mine. Looking across to the Sentinel.
We went up Noordhoek Peak (a gentler circuit than his). Grateful for many eyes or we would have missed this orchid moment. On the sunny side Pterygodium catholicum its hooded head bowed down. On the damp and shady side Satyrium odorum (rising from the promising leaves on earlier walks).
Sweetpea bushes Podalyria calyptrata in a gentle range of pinky mauves with silver leaves (love that but can't keep them alive!) Pelargonium capitatum echoes the pink. A pointed reminder of why we are walking in a group. Leucadendron salignum has weird cone flowers. Bolusafra bituminosa is another in the pea family but with tar scented oil glands on its leaves.
They climbed, with ropes, up the Sentinel in Hout Bay. 331 metres sheer down to the sea. A bird's eye view of Seal Island. Smoke rising from unrest in Hout Bay which they were escorted thru once they were down again.
Thanks to one of our botanical ladies, who also does the mountain climbs, for an Erica halicacaba. Grows on cliffs and named for the Cape gooseberry (from Peru but the fruit grows in our garden) No way I could perch on a cliff to see this growing.
Last week we headed towards Simon's Town, Red Hill and Maylands. Understated notes on our map remind me of Highland Clearance in Scotland, as these farms and villages were obliterated but for names on the map during apartheid.
Large and striking yellow daisies are insultingly called Cape Weed Arctotheca calendula. Monkey beetle on buttons of Cotula orbiculata. Yellow stars of Pauridia capensis (was Spiloxene). Tripteris clandestina with flat shiny flakes of seed. Tiniest bunch of roses is Petalacte coronata with silver leaves (another for my wish list). A taller prouder cousin to the rain daisy is Dimorphotheca nudicaulis. Delicate spikes of understated mauve on Cyphia bulbosa. Striped and spotted petals on Tritoniopsis dodii. Tall purple Senecio arenarius. Babiana ambigua has peacock eyes at the heart of its throat. Mimetes and Leucadendron cover the slope. Glowing in peach Oxalis obtusa.
As we drove up there were hundreds of these glowing golden orange spikes beside the road. I thought Bulbine? But it is Satyrium coriifolium. Spectacular!
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