August lockdown hikes - fire and water
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Cutting the lockdown threads one by one. We went to walk at Kirstenbosch. Braving a restaurant for the first time - sitting outside on the terrace, tables widely spaced, sanitised again and again.
In 2016 this bed was burnt to destroy the diseases affecting protea bushes. It was horrifying at the time to see everything burnt to the ground.
|After fire recovery at Kirstenbosch|
I chatted to the horticulturalist then and he promised me a Veld and Flora article (only available in print, sorry). Now there is a winding path among flourishing tall shrubs.
|Kirstenbosch Fire and Fynbos|
Hiking among wildflowers
in the mountains
around Cape Town
When we walk from Elsie's Peak along Brakkloofrant there is a section which feels weird. It has somehow missed each wildfire, and for once we are dwarfed by very tall protea bushes. Fynbos is mostly open with scattered mid-sized shrubs, and pockets of indigenous forest tucked deep in the kloofs.
|Brakkloofrant has a section which has not been burnt for years|
On Brakkloofrant we found vibrant Drosera cistiflora. Golden orchid Satyrium coriifolium. Babiana ambigua with its zigzag eye. Toothy lush young Othonna quinquedentata. Knowltonia vesicatoria has green berries. Osteospermum moniliferum covered with yellow daisies.
|Brakkloofrant August flowers|
Such a joy to look out across False Bay from up on Elsie's Peak. Wide views! Deep breath. We walk masked, and carefully spaced out.
|From Elsie's Peak across False Bay|
Each walk has one signature species which says Look at ME! Wide slopes carpeted with cherry red bracts of Elegia stipularis, before the restio flowers open brownish.
On Elsie's Peak the cherry red was dotted with tiny white stars of Thesium viridifolium. Cherry stripes on white for Adenandra. Amphithalea ericifolia pink pea flowers and silvery leaves. Oh my ears and whiskers! On an opening bud of Leucospermum conocarpodendron. Rounded Erica viscaria and dangling Erica plukenetii.
|Elsie's Peak flowers in August|
We had to step carefully across a stream, which was quite dry during the drought years. From the Mule Track which crosses above Kalk Bay, looking from its fishing harbour across to Simon's Town.
|Leucospermum conocarpodendron above Kalk Bay|
Along the Mule Track. Cullumia setosa russet buds opening to yet a Nother yellow daisy. Polyarrhena stricta pink buds opening to white. Pink Metalasia.
My goal was this tall silver pea Xiphotheca fruticosa. Salmon with yellow eye Oxalis obtusa. Lemony Romulea flava.
Silvery feathers of Seriphium plumosum. Blue and pink Lobostemon glaucophyllus. Bronzed dead bracken Pteridium aquilinum (we don't often see autumn colours in fynbos). Pelargonium cucculatum leaf delicately lined with red.
|Kalk Bay Mule Track August flowers|
At Silvermine we walked to Junction Pool. Mimetes fimbriifolius (limited to the Cape Peninsula) silvered pink defying grey clouds. We were mesmerised by the swirling sand grains as a spring bubbled up. Silvermine waterfall living up to its name.
|Mimetes fimbriifolius at Silvermine near Junction Pool|
In August our garden got 144 mm of lovely rain!
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Pictures by Diana Studer
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