Walk Report – Oct 2018

Yes, our Botsoc Kogelberg monthly walk was indeed scheduled for the third Saturday of October – the 20th to be precise. And yes, a small group of faithful walkers did arrive at the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens at 09:00 on that day. Things were going swimmingly – except for the wind, blowing great guns. A short conference ensued and consensus reached almost immediately. ‘Rain we can manage’, noting that our walks haven’t been rained out for years, but this wind is not worth it. So we promised each other that we would get together the next week and went home.

We did meet the next week, not on the Saturday but on Sunday, 28th. The reason was a visit to our part of the world by members of the West Coast Branch of the Botanical Society under the leadership of Chairman Hedwig Schlabig. After our very happy outing with members of the Kirstenbosch Branch in September, it was great to make the circle even wider in October!

An easy ramble to Disa Kloof

At our visitor’s request we limited our walk to the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens where they were keen to get some of our ‘local knowledge’. The route took us through the delightful little bit of Afrotemperate forest on the way to Disa Kloof and the waterfall – which never fails to delight visitors, and us. Then it was ‘over the shoulder’ of Bobbejaanskop where we were greeted by a magnificent mountainside flowering of Leucospermum cordifolium which Ann Bean and Amida Johns’s wonderful guidebook, Stellenbosch to Hermanus Wild Flower Guide, calls ‘the Pincushion’. Yes it is The Pincushion, no doubt about it. It seems to be enjoying a particularly good season this year. It was party time for its special friends, Cape Sugarbirds, Promerops cafer.

Leucospermum cordifolium, The Pincushion

Also in fine fettle this year, as you may have noticed in the veld between Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay, is Pelargonium cucullatum aka Wildemalva. This ubiquitous and beautiful purple flowered shrub is doing what it does best this year – flourishing in previously stressed areas, where drought and fires have taken their toll. It’s an excellent pioneer plant species, growing quickly, flowering profusely, producing seed rapidly and providing shelter for slower growing plants that will emerge in the second stage of plant succession.

Meanwhile Mimetes cucullatus, Rooistompie, are showing their splendid new red inflorescence leaves, revelling in the after effects of the wettest winter for several years.

By the way, that specific name cucullatum in the case of Pelargonium and cucullatus in the case of Mimetes is taken from the Latin word for a ‘hood’. In the case of Pelargonium it’s the cup shaped leaves that earn it the moniker and in the case of Mimetes it’s the hood-like red inflorescence leaf that looms over the stamens. So now you know if you didn’t know already.

Ixia dubia, Kalossie, and friends

But as we all know, paying attention to the small stuff pays. A tiny, exquisitely blue Lapeirousia corymbosa, Koringblommetjie, in the middle of the path had us bent double to admire it. Happily a previous walker had surrounded it with a little wall of stones to protect it from unwary hikers. Nice. Meanwhile it’s that time of year when Ixia species make their appearance. They don’t bloom for long, two to three months maximum. October happens to be the best month for them. Our star was Ixia dubia.

Aristea capitate

Still with the family Iridaceae, but going big this time, Aristea capitata is in its stately blue flowering season, complementing that equally stately member of the bloodroot family Haemodoraceae, the golden yellow cylindrical inflorescences of Wachendorfia thyrsiflora.

Wachendorfia thyrsiflora

Another one to look out for in October is the commonly named, in Afrikaans, ‘Oktoberlelie’. It doesn’t only flower in October, but if you’re going to find it hiding under Dune Strandveld bushes your best chance is indeed in October, the Green Wood Orchid, Bonatea speciosa, and so we did.

Oktoberlelie, Green Wood Orchid, Bonatea speciose

A leisurely cuppa at the Red Disa Restaurant brought a relaxed, chatty ramble in our favourite garden to an end.

Tim Attwell