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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Imagine living here, a good book, under a shady tree ... looking at that!
Tucked tightly within a university town Stellenbosch Botanical Garden has a new curator and it has a fresh polish to it.
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.
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.
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.
We hike with U3A each week.
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