Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fields of gold

Continuing on our journey we made for Matjesfontein, a local farmstall famous not only for its edibles and old sandstone buildings, but for the spectacular fields of flowers surrounding it.  The first structure you notice before entering the gates is the ubiquitous windpump, a feature of all South African farms in the low rainfall and arid areas of the country.

The flowers seem a little insignificant at first until you get out your car and see the drifts of a bulb popularly called katstert or cat's tail.  You lie down on the ground (with great difficulty) and take a pic and then get totally carried away by the dazzling cadmium yellow blooms gently moving against the backdrop of the deep blue African sky.


Next, you really start looking at all the small beauties hidden below the grass.  Every flower has its own particular variety of pollinating beetle which is attracted only to that flower, either by its colour, markings or smell.

And then there are the bold, flamboyant beauties which do no hiding at all.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quiver Tree Forest

The next morning, after an early start, we arrived at one of only two quiver tree forests in the world.  The forest grows up the side of the mountain and some trees can reach the grand old age of several hundred years.  Water is stored in the the beautifully marked trunks and enables the trees to grow in such arid conditions.

This is a picture from last year's trip but it gives an idea of what the area can look like as different varieties of flowers come into bloom.

Along the way to our next destination we stopped off at the Nieuwoudtville Falls.  These falls are 100 metres tall and are quite a surprise to come across as they originate from the Doring River which meanders along the flatish fields only to suddenly and without any warning drop down into a steepsided and winding gorge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Arriving in Nieuwoudtville

In the late afternoon we arrived in Nieuwoudtville, a small village nestled amongst trees and fields of spring flowers.  This town is rightly called the bulb capital of the world, with botanists and enthusiasts from all over the world arriving during the flower season to immerse themselves in the beauty of the blooms.  Sheets of reflecting water everywhere were evidence of good rains so the signs were promising for excellent flower spotting the next day.

Passing the local garage ...

Setting sun, gleaming water.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Living jewels ...

A few close up pix of some of the most colourful blooms, colours so saturated they dazzle the viewer.  Difficult to believe that such a glorious show lasts for a few weeks only.





Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On to the wildflower reserve in Clanwilliam ...

After lunch we moved on to the wildflower reserve on a hill above the town, overlooking the Clanwilliam Dam.  The sun was high and it was extremely hot so conditions for photography weren't the best but the pix below give some idea of what the flower displays look like.  Of course the varieties and colours change as spring moves on so the views are never the same on subsequent vists during September and October.

When you first enter the garden you are greeted by the kokerboom or quiver trees, so called because the Bushmen (earliest inhabitants) used them as containers for their arrows.


Walking down towards the dam ...



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