Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Greetings from Cape Town

A visit to Cape Town is incomplete without spending time at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. “Time” might be a couple of hours or it might be several visits over a longer stay. We tend to visit with about the same frequency as we do the Morton Arboretum in our area and for the same reasons: fresh air, good food, exercise, and the opportunity to celebrate God’s creations.

Established in 1913, Kirstenbosch was the world’s first indigenous botanical garden. It is also part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site. Translation: this is a very special place.

The Kirstenbosch logo is the Bird of Paradise. One of their featured plants is Streletzia ‘Nelson Mandela’ which has an all-yellow flower.

On display as we entered were examples of the flora currently blooming. You can see the members of the local vegetation, the fynbos (fine bush), represented on the table. Proteas, Restios (reeds), Heaths, and Agapanthus

All we had to do was to find them blooming as we walked up the garden paths toward Table Mountain.

We chose a very nice day for our trip. The choice was accidental, this side of the mountain happened to have a nice cloud cover, making it a bit cool and very pleasant.

Note the mountains in the background. We would be quite near them at the mid-point of our visit.

We started toward the protea section of the garden. It’s an uphill climb, as you can see from the photo. The grasses in the foreground are restios, the desert-like plants in the center are aloes and euphorbias. Note the slope.

You may be able to find these at a high-end garden center. They are commonly known as “ice plant,” botanically as Delosperma.

This is one of the family of heaths, or heathers, the two names are often confused. Lovely flowers.

The best bloom time for proteas is mid-July through mid-September. Laggards exist and this one posed nicely for me.

The leucospermum is a member of the protea family. They are commonly called the pincushion flower and appear in shades from yellow through red.

Betsy wanted this picture to prove that she had made it all the way to the top of the gardens. The path starting off to the right is the starting point for hikers climbing one of the gorges to the top of Table Mountain. I’d like to say that we took that hike, but I won’t.

Simply beautiful. This interplanting of a large restio and an agapanthus just stopped me in my tracks.

Another member of the protea family is this Mimites.

Proteas have blooms as part of their reproductive process. Some varieties, such as this one, feature foliage more than the blooms.

An interesting shrub, the kankerbosse, is an example of a medicinal plant used by natives for centuries and just recently “discovered” by modern medicine.

Parts of the plant are brewed into a bitter tea and drunk three times daily to treat cancers of the digestive system. It works.

Just in case you thought Kirstenbosch was only about flora, here is some fauna. My aunt, on the farm in Wisconsin, used to raise these, Guinea Fowl, and they tasted quite good. Made an awful racket when disturbed.
My aunt used them as an alarm system as well as a food source.

Camphor Lane, one of the walkways at Kirstenbosch. Quite a stunning finale for our walk.


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