A short walk in Tokai revealed a treasure trove of indigenous flowers, starting with the familiar Crane Flower:
Ursula K. Le Guin tells us that it is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end. We had an end in mind for our journey south that was particularly good to have – a celebration that was worth travelling all that way for. So far I have shown you glimpses of various things along both ways of our journey that made those passing kilometers interesting and the journey feel like a holiday in itself.
Join me in the feast that lay ahead: a selection of sweet and savoury eats to enjoy on a sunny afternoon in the garden of a home with beautiful views and in the company of delightful people. The proteas on the paper serviettes are an apt motif in this area where they grow in abundance.
These arum lilies were picked locally, where fields of them are blooming next to the road, in ditches and damp hollows.
Take your pick.
Who can resist these?
The children made a bee-line for these luscious strawberries.
While grapes in both this and the bubbly form went down well with the adults.
Of course there was cake too!
Finally, after much talking and laughter; congratulations and enjoying each other’s company, the afternoon light took on a softer hue; the clouds gathered over the mountain tops; inside lights were switched on; and the guests began to take their leave.
The Giant Honey Flower or Cape Honey Flower, Melianthus major, is an indigenous perennial shrub with fascinating – almost pre-historic-looking – foliage.
One needs to treat it with care for its attractive blue-green leaves exude a strong, and unpleasant odour when bruised or broken and the sap is toxic.
Apart from the attractive foliage, the tall, dark rusty-red flower heads are also eye-catching.
The flowers spikes appear above the leaves in spring.
These maroon to rusty reddish coloured flowers produce an abundance of nectar and are pollinated by birds.
These buds hold the promise of considerable beauty that I was too early to catch.
Melianthus major is indigenous to the drier areas of the southwestern and eastern Cape, although the attractiveness of this plant has assured its introduction to many other parts of the world.
The genus Melianthus means ‘honey flower’, from the Greek meli, meaning ‘honey’ and anthos, ‘flower’, referring to the nectar-rich flowers. The species name major, is Latin for ‘larger’ as it is the largest of the species.
What a joy it is to see so many beautiful flowering plants this spring! The Bontebok National Park did not disappoint. There were many examples of the strangely shaped leaves of the Melianthus major (Cape honey flower). I will feature this plant and its flowers in a later post:
The Cape Sweetpeas (Podalyria myrtillifolia) nodded in the breeze all over the park:
One cannot help admiring the eye-catching Heliophila africana (Sunflax) growing close to the roads:
Then there are the beautiful purple patches of this Erics spp.:
There are swathes of the bright common sunshine conebush (Leucadendron salignum):
I will leave you with this carpet of attractive white African daisies:
Even though the Bontebok National Park in the Western Cape is the smallest national park in South Africa, it is perfectly suited to day visitors. Having said that, I would enjoy spending a few days camping there in order to better appreciate the rich diversity of fynbos growing there – and stand a better chance of seeing a bontebok!
The park was established at the foot of the Langeberg mountains in order to protect the bontebok from extinction: we saw three at the entrance on arrival [lesson learned: have one’s camera at the ready] and from there on saw them only in the distance! There is a lot more to enjoy in the park than the bontebok though and so we marvelled at the scenery, the birds and the flowering plants such as this bitou (tickberry) bush:
Look at this beautifully open vista:
Some visitors enjoy fishing in the Breede River:
Others enjoy walking along some of the trails:
The Breede River flows tranquilly through part of the park:
There is so much to see that this will have to be continued!