RED RED

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt began a verse like this:

Red, red gold, a kingdom’s ransom, child,
To weave thy yellow hair she bade them spin.
At early dawn the gossamer spiders toiled,
And wove the sunrise in.

As red plays an important part in the decorations of this festive season, I thought we could start with a ‘red, red gold’ sunrise as seen from our bedroom window – beautiful enough to make one wish to rise straight away and see what the day holds in store:

The drabness of the South African winter is brightened by the arrival of the aloe blossoms in various shades of pinks, through to orange and hues of red – they are certainly worth a ‘kingdom’s ransom’ at the time for their beauty and cheerfulness:

Proteas too lift one’s spirits:

Once the scarlet blooms of the Erythrina trees are over and the trees shrug on their green foliage, which later turns yellow and then brown before dropping, we are treated to the bright red of their seeds revealed when the black pods split open:

On a practical note, warning signs are red. Occasionally one has to ‘make do’ as here when the planks brought home were too long to fit into the boot of the car:

Lastly, on a more aesthetic note, see how red brightens up this stained glass window:

MORE MOUNTAIN DRIVE FLOWERS

I was enticed off the road by one of these flowers growing in the short grass:

Seen close-up they look like this – note there are at least three insects on this one:

This pretty little flower vied for attention too:

While this yellow flower, growing on the edge of the road, has clearly been feasted upon:

Imagine my delight when I came upon this still unopened Protea thriving some distance from the road:

SOUTH AFRICAN STAMPS: THE PROTEA SERIES

This first day cover features the Third Definitive Series of stamps for the Republic of South Africa that were issued on 27th May 1977. According to the Post Office, definitive stamps are issued here every five to seven years. These contain a set of designs in a full range of face values to provide for the country’s postal needs. This particular series is known as the Protea Series and depicts the wonderful variety of proteas that grow in South Africa.

The stamps were designed by Dick Findlay, who has done the protea family proud with these beautiful paintings.

Here is a list of the proteas:

1c: Protea repens – also known as the sugar bush. It was one of the first proteas described by the botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The common name alludes to the copious nectar it produces, which used to be used as a sugar substitute as well as for medical purposes. There is an interesting reference to how this was made (including a recipe) at http://africanaromatics.com/sugarbush-protea-repens-syrup/. There is also a lovely traditional Afrikaans song that features the sugar bush (suikerbossie):

Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê

Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê

Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê

Wat sal jou mama daarvan sê

2c: Protea punctate

3c: Protea neriifolia

4c: Protea longifolia

5c: Protea cyneroides – also known as the King Protea because of its size. It was proclaimed the national flower in February 1976.

6c: Protea canaliculata

7c: Protea lorea

8c: Protea mundii – named after the 19th century German collector, Leopold Mund.

9c: Protea roupeliae – named after a flower painter of the 1840’s, Arabella Roupell. She is noted for an anonymous set of flower paintings published in 1849 under the title Specimens of the flora of South Africa by a Lady.

10c: Protea aristata – only discovered in 1928.

15c: Protea eximia

20c: Protea magnifica – also known as the Queen Protea.

25c: Protea grandiceps

30c: Protea amplexicaulis

50c: Leucospermum cordifolium – known as pincushion proteas.

R1: Paranomus reflexus

R2: Orothamus zeyheri – known as the Marsh Rose, it is a rare and endangered species.

Coil stamps:

1c: Leucadendron argenteum – known as the Silver Tree.

2c: Serruria florida – known as the Blushing Bride.

10c: Leucadendron sessile

The date stamp is appropriately marked Kirstenbosch, which is a world renowned botanical garden situated in Newlands, Cape Town.

NOTE: If you wish to have a clearer view of the stamps, click on the photograph and enlarge it.