From Gifkommetjie to Rustenberg

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

Hiking among wildflowers
and in the mountains
around Cape Town

In November I hiked Gifkommetjie at Cape Point. Natural forest is rare in Cape Town. We hiked a steep path down into the forest of white milkwoods. The 'milk' is latex. Argan and shea are nut oils also in the Sapotaceae family. Sideroxylon inerme is not endangered but - may not be damaged or felled. Predatory mites live in the leaves and protect them from being eaten by insects.

Sideroxylon inerme  milkwood
Sideroxylon inerme milkwood 

Coastal trees. Most of the green in the pictures is milkwood. The Post Office Tree in Mossel Bay and the Treaty Tree in Woodstock are National Monuments. An excellent firebreak! It was a humbling walk as I bowed my head under the branches.

Milkwood forest at Gifkommetjie
Milkwood forest at Gifkommetjie

We stayed carefully above those rolling boulders. Lime gold and green Albuca. Glossy gold with burgundy flames Zygophylllum flexuosum. Dividing our path Chrysocoma coma-aurea.

The gif or poison of Gifkommetjie is Euphorbia caput-medusae. Golden daisies of Cullumia squarrosa which also grows like Medusa's head writhing with snakes. Helichrysum crispum tiniest yellow and white flowers.

Othonna arborescens with monkey beetle, or a red heart. Arctotis aspera white flowers green leaves. Arctotis stoechadifolia has cream flowers with grey leaves.

Two purple daisies soft Amellus asteroides with bluish leaves, and fierce Senecio arenarius. Enchanting bud opens to a dazzling white strawflower Helichrysum retortum.

Gifkommetjie flowers in November mostly daisies
Gifkommetjie flowers in November mostly daisies

Mystery teardrop seeds might be Lessertia. Scabiosa africana flower and habitat. Sandstone rocks topping the ridge.

Nemesia affinis blue and white with purple and yellow details. Pelargonium cucullatum paler than usual strong purple. Succulent vygies in mauve Lampranthus emarginatus and Pink Aizoon paniculatum.

Roella ciliata in blues. Buchu covered in tiny white flowers Agathosma ciliata. Yellow Aspalathus carnosa and purple Dipogon lignosus pea flowers.

Between the beach and the long path back up Gifkommetjie rocks, was a sweep of Barbie pink Orphium frutescens with twisted anthers for buzz pollination. Mind the flooded path, they prefer LOTS of water. Smaller and drier relative is Chironia baccifera. Salvia africana-lutea after the burnt orange flowers fall, the purple bronze calyx remains.

November flowers at Gifkommetjie
November flowers at Gifkommetjie

We went to Stellenbosch for my first love Rustenberg. Set against the perfectly manicured topiary and the Greek temple pool house, the lawns had kindly encouraged patches of lawn daisies and something yellow.

Love Rustenberg garden
Love Rustenberg garden

Imagine living here, a good book, under a shady tree ... looking at that!

Rustenberg garden
Rustenberg garden

Tucked tightly within a university town Stellenbosch Botanical Garden has a new curator and it has a fresh polish to it.

Stellenbosch Botanical Garden
Stellenbosch Botanical Garden

Old Nectar opened that day. Una van der Spuy was a doyenne of Cape Town gardening. Below the garden is a busy road, they have built a gabion wall, filled with sandbags and planted with Crassula multicava - a sound barrier for the ear and the eye.

Old Nectar
Old Nectar

He is tired of a big camera and is using a new cellphone. From Suther Peak looking down to Hangberg fishing village, Hout Bay harbour, and across to Chapman's Peak Drive.

Hangberg to Chapman's Peak Drive from Suther Peak
Hangberg to Chapman's Peak Drive from Suther Peak

Turn to your left and the upmarket houses of Hout Bay. The three peaks across the centre are Little Lion's Head, Judas Peak at the end of the Twelve Apostles, with Lion's Head at the back.

Hout Bay to Lion's Head from Suther Peak
Hout Bay to Lion's Head from Suther Peak

We hike with U3A each week.

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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Comments

  1. Beautiful scenery and flowers.

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  2. I can see why you love Rustenberg and the Stellenbosch Botanical garden - lush! It's always a revelation to see the flowers from your hikes. Euphorbia caput-medusae can be found here but I've never before seen its interesting blooms.

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  3. What beauty! The mountains point to the sky, hinting that the geologic history of this area must also be a fascinating tale.

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    Replies
    1. Table Mountain sandstone lying over granite or Malmesbury shale. Giving us different flowers depending on where we walk.

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  4. Oh my goodness, yes, I can imagine sitting there with a good book in that idyllic location! Especially this time of year, when you are green and growing and we are gray and wintery. Thanks for taking us to the botanical gardens and on your excursions and adventures. :)

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  5. It's all so beautiful with your wildflowers and views. I especially liked seeing the gardens and it's always good to learn a public garden is given fresh attention. The house and garden at Old Nectar look so classically South African, I just loved seeing your photos!

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  6. Wonderful tapestries of blooms. I can see why you love Rustenberg garden. Your milkwood reminds me of our native milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. That also has a thick, milky sap. P. x

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    Replies
    1. I see Asclepias is dogbane family (wish I hadn't read that explanation)
      Still need to track down a milkweed for our African monarchs
      http://pza.sanbi.org/gomphocarpus-physocarpus

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  7. Such a joy to see all those colorful flowers during this season when my world is white.

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  8. I'm sorry we missed Rustenberg Gardens while in Stellenbosch, it is an interesting area altogether, and we needed more time. I also love the Old Nectar...those wonderful Cape Dutch gables. Your wildflowers are all flourishing despite your recent drought conditions.
    I just love the view of the mountains.....for me, there are so many memories tied up with this unique place in the world.

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  9. Both gardens and nature in your post today - very enchanting.
    Elke

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  10. Lovely seeing the plants growing naturally and also in those fantastic gardens, Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Sarah x

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  11. Lovely to see the sunshine and pretty flowers, it is very gloomy and windy here just now. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, dear Diana.
    Amalia
    xo

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  12. I knew if I came to your site I could see something green and cheerful. It is grey, cloudy and depressing outside (USA, southern middle Tennessee). At least we have now passed the winter solstice and I can look forward to Spring. Loved your pictures.
    Thanks for cheering me up!
    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

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  13. The gardens are divine, and it would be good to spend time in them with a good book, but my preferred fantasy is hiking in the spectacular landscape around CP. Thank you for sharing is a bit of a cliche, but in this case it expresses my sentiments exactly. Happy New Year to you, Diana.

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  14. Gifkommetjie, what a name! First time for me to hear it. I miss Cape Town now. That side of the world, Cape Point, anywhere at the berg is so beautiful. I once went on a media tour and saw all the beauty on the Table Mountain, the dams, the tunnel, the flowers were my highlight. I love your flower images.

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