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
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
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
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
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
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.

 

Elegia stipularis
Elegia stipularis

 

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
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
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
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
Mimetes fimbriifolius at Silvermine near Junction Pool

 

In August our garden got 144 mm of lovely rain!

 

Our hikes are listed on my page.

 

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Pictures by Diana Studer

of Elephant's Eye on False Bay

 

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Comments

  1. So good to be able to visit a restaurant again. The situation is not looking very promising here What a wonderful view from Elsie's Peak and such fabulous blooms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still not going INside for family visits or lunch.

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  2. So you are cutting the lockdown threads one by one while we are tightening them again :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read the news on the Guardian. Our own circle is staying in cautious careful habits.

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  3. I'm glad you were able to get back into something of a hiking routine again, Diana. I was knocked over by that beautiful stand of protea featured in the first photo, and all the more impressed to read that the shrubs previously had been burnt to the ground. I admire all your wildflower - and view - pics. I'm envious of the rain too!

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  4. Oh yes, the Phylica! Wonderful. The sign explaining the fire was very interesting. The recovery after fire, quite impressive. Mimetes, another Wow!

    Have not eaten in a restaurant since early March--may be until next September before we do again.

    Rain--great! :) Here the wildfire smoke has cleared because the wind is blowing it the other way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a last pre-lockdown lunch at our 'restaurant of choice'. Good vegetarian options, outside deck, a short and pleasant drive away. But - haven't braved a return visit. Support local business and employment, but stay safe - hard decisions each time!

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  5. That's wonderful that they documented what happened after the fire. I so enjoy your documentations of plant finds from your hikes. Thanks so much for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. A virtual hike with Scotland, Holland, California (2) and you in Wisconsin!

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  6. Dear Diana,
    thanks for your comments on my Cape Town posts! This Namibia-Cape Town trip was in October / November 2016. That means, we were in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in November 2016. I would never have thought that the proteas had been burned down there a few months earlier. In November there was no sign of a fire. An exciting experiment! (But I believe you, it was a terrible sight to see all these beautiful plants burn!) My husband and I found the fynbos vegetation very fascinating. In August and September a lot more plants seem to be blooming in your area, your photos are wonderful!
    Best weekend regards from Austria,
    Traude
    https://rostrose.blogspot.com/2020/09/summertime-2020-teil-3-juli.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was only a single bed of proteas that was burnt - a ratty scraggly mess of failed plants before. But the other beds were as you saw them.

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    2. Dear Diana,
      okay, I'm reassured that only a small part of the proteas was burned off! :-)
      Thanks for your comment on my post about Devin Castle. You asked me "Did you never find out who the stern lady in the statue was?" No, unfortunately I failed in my internet research. But you are absolutely right in your statement "Wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of an argument with her!" ;-))
      Happy weekend
      Traude
      https://rostrose.blogspot.com/2020/09/alles-einem-tag-natur-und-historie-in.html

      Delete
  7. What beautiful flowers you found on your hike.

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  8. Your photos are so beautiful, I enjoy and appreciate each one, fire really does have curative powers in its destruction,,,lunch out sounds wonderful! Patio dining here only yet,, take care, be safe,

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  9. I know fires can benefit forestland (we have controlled burns in forests near here) but, sad to say, wildfires are destroying homes and lives in this country right now. I enjoyed the virtual hike enormously, Diana, as I rarely leave my home these days. The wildflowers you found are stunning. P.x

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  10. I'm so glad that your restrictions are easing off and you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors. We have gone back into lockdown just when the heatwave that has been plaguing us for weeks is easing off. What a year this is.
    Amalia
    xo

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  11. I'm glad you are able to go out on hikes again. It must been wonderful finding so many fantastic flowers growing wild, it makes what we find on our walks very dull in comparison! The views are wonderful too especially from Elsie's Peak across False Bay. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete

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