Impossible thing with December hikes

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

From Alice in Wonderland - the Queen said - "Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

When we walk on our beach I pick up plastic. I collected a pile of blue buttons. I was convinced they were manmade! All the same size and pink, blue and white. Some with frizzled out blue edges. Jelly on top with a hard support inside. Then we found one nearly alive with blue tentacles ... it is Porpita porpita a hydroid not a jellyfish, called blue buttons.

Blue buttons Porpita porpita
Blue buttons Porpita porpita

Cormorants basking in the sun on the rocks at the beach.

Birds at the beach
Birds at the beach

Hiking among wildflowers
and in the mountains
around Cape Town

In December I did one Fynbos Ramble to Silvermine Waterfall. Pink Erica multumbellifera and lime green Erica urna-viridis. Harveya purpurea has a yellow throat.

Proteas. Shrubby Leucadendron laureolum. Tiniest pink protea Diastella divaricata. Oh my Mimetes fimbriifolius is a Pensinsula endemic.

Proteas and ericas in December at Silvermine
Proteas and ericas in December at Silvermine

Bulbs. Pink Watsonia borbonica and salmon Watsonia tabularis. Tritoniopsis parviflora in yellow and maroon. Red buds open to yellow Ixia dubia with a dark heart. Dilatris pillansii and Dilatris cormybosa distinguished by the length of their stamens.

December bulbs at Silvermine
December bulbs at Silvermine

Daisies. Shrubby Athanasia crithmifolia. Shimmering yellow Edmondia sesamoides.
Russet bud unfurling to a yellow daisy Ursinea paleacea. White Metalasia compacta fades to grey. White Metalasia divergens has pink buds.

December daisies at Silvermine
December daisies at Silvermine

Everlasting. Straw flowers. (More daisies) Ivory Syncarpha speciocissima and white Cape Snow Syncarpha vestita with monkey beetle.

Silvermine in December Syncarpha
Silvermine in December Syncarpha

Fierce pink Pelargonium cucullatum. Delicate maroon and rose Pelargonium longifolium. Pink and white Lachnaea grandiflora. Rain splashed clusters of Psoralea pinnata. Roella ciliata and the Peninsula endemic Roella triflora.

Blue flowers in December at Silvermine
Blue flowers in December at Silvermine

Liparia splendens with ant. Succulent Lampranthus bicolor orange opening to yellow. Succulent sour fig Carpobrotus edulis with bee. Spikes of lemon Microdon dubius. Even here high up on the mountain beyond the urban edge an Australian invasive Melaleuca hypericifolia.

Orange flowers in December at Silvermine
Orange flowers in December at Silvermine

He has been on weekly hikes but only this picture for the blog. Standing at the trigonometrical survey beacon on Little Lion's Head with the end of the Twelve Apostles behind.

On Little Lion 's Head
On Little Lion 's Head

We hike with U3A each week.

He went to the Waterfront to charge our electric car. And to see The World. A strange way to choose to live in 165 residences. For the super rich with a choice of holiday homes and private jets.

The World (ship)

Flowers with ants and bees and beetles. Remember when they used to have to wash a layer of squashed insects off the windscreen? When we were kids.

The insect apocalypse is here. The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years. “With each generation, the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation takes that amount as the norm.” There are 12,000 types of ants, nearly 20,000 varieties of bees, almost 400,000 species of beetles. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. An extinction of seed dispersal and predation and pollination and all the other ecological functions an animal once had. If you look at the world’s mammals by weight, 96 percent of that biomass is humans and livestock; just 4 percent is wild animals. Maoxian Valley in China each person covers five to 10 trees a day, pollinating apple blossoms by hand! “Clinging to survival in a devastated world, and trapped in an ecological dark age,” entomologist David Wagner adds, “the survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs.” Lister chalks up the Puerto Rico rainforest decline to climate change, which has already increased temperatures in Luquillo by two degrees Celsius.  

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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Comments

  1. I do remember flies on the windscreen and it's amazing how quickly they disappeared. Over just a few years. The future as depicted in the German study does not bear thinking about.

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    1. That article has been giving me nightmare since I read it.

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  2. It's amazing what you find on the beach, and the wildflowers--stunning! Sadly the reduction in insects appears to be noticeable just about everywhere, and I, too, remember many more insects when I was a child.

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    1. It is frightening to look back and realise the difference!

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  3. @Diana Studer
    Thank You for all the shares, for the Nature and to the Nature,
    A Nature lovers tribute to Nature
    Thanks Again

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    1. Enjoy - I have vivid memories of a (blog) walk along the Berlin Wall in a butterfly reserve.

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  4. I love the Blue buttons... perfectly formed. Many of your wild flowers are similar to our .. I love them all but especially the succulent Lampranthus... which is not familiar to me ... orange & yellow ..delightful.

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    1. Double the delight when buds and petals are so different.

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  5. We've been hearing of a significant decline of insects in the US too. Gardeners here have previously focused on the declining bee and monarch butterfly populations but it's clearly broader than that. The impact this will have on the entire ecosystem is frightening (not that our current government administration will pay any heed).

    Even in summer, your flowers are astounding. I can only hope some of those bulbs will migrate to the US someday. I grew Watsonia in my old garden but I've had a hard time finding those bulbs since moving to my current location. I planted a Psorlea pinnata of my own several months ago and look forward to seeing it bloom.

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    1. You are so successful with our wildflowers. My watsonias are still sulking - will have to see if at least the bulbs survive, and I could try moving them?

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  6. Seeing all your fynbos photos, after reading an Italian's recent vacation posts not far from your corner of the world, and it's on my way-in-the-future travel list. The uber-yacht, no comment on how the other half lives. Waterfalls still? Summer is our rainy season, and we rarely see them!

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    Replies
    1. Where we stopped for tea, there was a tiny pool in the stream bed with a pair of frogs. But no water in the river, or waterfall.

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  7. That photo of the Cormorants is a keeper.
    Amalia
    xo

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    Replies
    1. There will be more from today's beach walk.

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  8. I also collect garbage, whenever I am on the beach, but I have never found something so special. Looks great!
    Regards
    Elke

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  9. Beauty and melancholy, all in the same post. That is life, too, isn't it?

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  10. During the most recent summer here in France I was musing since all the windows were open and unscreened, why are there just a few insects indoors for the whole season? The fig tree bears little fruit (suspect a shortage of wasps which are necessary to pollinate the fruit from within the fig). Hedgehogs still visit, but less (they need to eat tons of insects). The Anthropocene has been with us for awhile and is continuing . . .

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  11. I enjoy seeing all the diversity of your flora and appreciate the way you give proper names to everything too. I find am drawn more and more to the yellows - though so many of my potted plants veer towards pink or lilac -might have to change that!
    And then the downer came with the dreadful statistics of insect loss - I remember windscreens thick with them and my nature trail walks as a child always finding some critter of interest. At least the Ungardener is seeing The World!

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  12. A blast of gorgeous colour on this winters day. I was talking to my sister recently about the many cruise ships which she has been on. I happened to mention The World, she had not heard of it and gave me a look that said I think you have the name wrong. How marvelous to see it on your post. Myra and I will explore its luxuries when we win the lottery this year.

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    1. This is like buying a condo overlooking Central Park. Not only - if you have to ask the price you can't afford it, but also you have to be approved by the existing residents. It is an UNinspiring name.

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  13. Thank you for showcasing the wonderful diversity in flowers in your part of the world. What a treat and a privilege to be able to observe them at first hand. In my corner there are insects a plenty.....but we are an the edge of the Somerset Levels, and from the one who washes the car by hand...we still have plenty of bugs too. The decline in wild plants and insects is a consequence of unsustainable population increase, but few want to talk about that topic.

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  14. I was so sad to read about the insect apocalypse. We've been noticing the exact same thing here on the highveld. how I wish for the days when you could find chameleons wandering around in the shrubs and see masses of butterflies. Even the bees have become less. I remember lying on the grass with my kids only a few years ago watching the bees gathering pollen on their little legs. If we don't do something soon, our grand children will never experience that wonder. I will never understand how human beings can have so little respects for our Mother Earth. Why must we take what she's given us and always destroy it with our greed. It's beyond me and some people just don't get it. They use those awful chemicals to get rid of the gogos and don't have a clue how it impacts the bigger picture. So sad.

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