Upcoming Talks

Diarise these dates

17 November 2018
17h30 for 18h00
Major Changes in Botanical Art
Vicki Thomas
Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens

Our talk this month will be on botanical art so it seems a good opportunity to at last present our Ethel May Dixie paintings to you, our members. We will also display some of Vicki’s paintings, and others.

From the moment she painted her first flower in watercolour in 1980, Vicki Thomas knew this would be a lifelong passion. Unusually, Vicki immediately started working with botanists, teaching herself botanical illustration along the way, and having works published in many scientific journals, including Curtis’s Botanical Magazine and Flowering Plants of South Africa.

Along with three other artists, Vicki Thomas started the Botanical Society of South Africa, to share information, and was the Western Cape Chairperson for many years. The move to painting larger artworks for exhibitions came with the inspiration of Dr. Shirley Sherwood, who has now bought many of her works and shown them in her gallery at Kew.

Vicki Thomas has had works shown around the world, including the Hunt Institute in the USA, and has achieved gold medal status at the Kirstenbosch Biennale. Having works in the Highgrove Florilegium followed by the Transylvanian Florilegium had a huge impact on her career. Teaching has taken her far too, having taught botanical art at the Universities of Cape Town (Summer school) and Stellenbosch (Hons. Illustration), in South Africa and in the United Kingdom at Hampton Court.

(Picture by M Whitehead, ‘Country Life’)


8 December 2018
Note that this is a Morning Talk
Topic: The New Edition of Living Shores
Presenters: George and Margot Branch
Venue: Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens

George and Margot Branch will present a talk on their new edition of the celebrated book, Living Shores. George and Margo Branch describe themselves as a “beach bums par excellence”. In actual fact they are prolific writers and teachers in the marine community of South Africa. To their scientific skills they each bring an illustrative component. George brings photography and Margot brings art, and together they produce beautiful books to educate and enrich our lives.

Originally published in 1981, Living Shores was for many years the standard reference for marine science students but was also embraced by a popular market for its fascinating insights into marine and coastal habitats and the life they support. After a long absence, this classic has been revived and thoroughly reworked to incorporate the many dramatic changes that our oceans and coasts have undergone over the past few decades.

This book is the first of a two-volume set and examines the different marine ecosystems and how humankind interacts with them. It discusses the evolution of the sea and continents and looks at the ecology of coastal systems, including intertidal zones, beaches, dunes, estuaries, islands, kelp forests and reefs. The book unpacks the relationship between humans and the marine environment, and the consequences of harvesting and mining to meet our needs. It also addresses the impact of climate change, and highlights what can be done to protect our environment.

Richly supported by full-colour photography and numerous explanatory illustrations, diagrams and graphs, this book will prove invaluable to students and teachers but will also appeal to anyone with a fascination for nature and our marine world in particular. George and Margot’s books – great as gifts – will be on sale after their talk.

19 January 2019
17h30 for 18h00
Topic: The most dangerous animal in the world – the mosquito
Presenter: Prof Emeritus JP van Niekerk
Venue: Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens

Prof van Niekerk will share with us the discovery that animals could spread diseases, how yellow fever influenced history, and the latest on winning the battle.

Emeritus Professor JP van Niekerk is a member of the Editorial Advisory Group for the Health and Medical Publishing Group that publishes the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) and several specialist medical journals. He is a former Dean of the University of Cape Town Faculty of Health Sciences. He is the former President of the South African Medical Association, the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the Association of Medical Education. He was also an associate founder of the College of Medicine and former Chairman of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa. He was a member of the task force that developed the WFME Global Standards for Quality Development in Medical Education and the core committee that developed the IIME Global Minimum Essential Requirements for medical education.

He also represented the Free State and Western Province, and in the veteran category South Africa, at squash!

16 February 2019
17h30 for 18h00
Topic: Frogs
Presenters: Dr Andrew Turner, Scientific Manager, Scientific Services, Cape Nature
Venue: Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens

Dr Andrew Turner is the man responsible for the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Speaking at Driftsands Nature Reserve on the Cape Flats, he highlighted the array of new vertebrate species, some of which have yet to be named. The conservation status of the new species must still be assessed. New species include the Karoo rock elephant-shrew, the Swartberg dwarf chameleon and the rough moss frog, and lesser known species like redfin minnows, galaxias fish, sandveld lizards, legless skinks, mountain toads and moss frogs. A group of frogs called cacos is waiting to be formally described.