Friday, December 30, 2011

Kogelberg Nature Reserve

 Mimetes culcullatus at the Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

Termite mound at the Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

  Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

  Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

  Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

 Kogelberg Nature Reserve July 2009

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.

In July of 2009 I spent 24 days in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa (RSA).  As you probably know, July is a winter month in the Southern Hemisphere, corresponding to January in the Northern Hemisphere.  But it is January as you might experience it in southern California.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  After 6 days in Cape Town, I spent 6 mostly sunny days in the beach town of Hermanus.  On my last day there I drove to the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, where I hiked for 3 hours.

From the website: Lying within the southern extension of the Hottentots Holland Mountain range about 90 kilometres south-east of Cape Town and 8 kilometres from Kleinmond, the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve has managed to remain largely unspoilt, in no small part due to its ability to remain relatively isolated in its position along Route 44. This isolation has helped protect it's floral wealth and keep it clear of alien vegetation. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve is filled with generous mountain peaks, craggy kloofs and valleys along which several tributaries of the Palmiet River run. Kogelberg Nature Reserve, often touted as the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, has exceptional quality fynbos held within its 100 000 hectare expanse.

From my journal, 7-20-09:  I hiked for 3 hours at the Kogelberg Nature Reserve along the Palmiet River, which was brimming with water.  The river valley was completely untouched, the fynbos pristine.  The mountains, valley & river were very beautiful.  It was as lovely as any place I had seen in the USA.  The sun was very hot.  Even the breeze was warm.  I tired quickly.  Since I was seeing more of the same, I finished off the litre of water, ate some food & turned around after 90 minutes.  I drank another litre of water as soon as I got back to the guest house.  I had been sweating profusely.  When it was raining in Cape Town, many said I had come at the wrong time of year.  But after those hot days on the Whale Coast, I knew that it was best to come in the dead of winter.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fernkloof Nature Reserve

Lobostemon montanus July 2009

Leucadendron salignum July 2009

Pelargonium July 2009

 Phaenocoma prolifera July 2009

Protea longifolia July 2009

Protea longifolia July 2009

Saltera sarcocolla July 2009

 Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus, Walker Bay July 2009

Click here for more photos from Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

In July of 2009 I spent 24 days in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa (RSA).  As you probably know, July is a winter month in the Southern Hemisphere, corresponding to January in the Northern Hemisphere.  But it is January as you might experience it in southern California.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  After 6 days in Cape Town, I spent 6 mostly sunny days in the beach town of Hermanus.  I chose to stay there mainly because I wanted to see Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

From the website: Fernkloof Nature Reserve covers 1800 ha in the Kleinrivier Mountains above Hermanus and ranges in altitude from sea level to 842 m. In late 1957, the Reserve was proclaimed by the Provincial Council of the Cape. It protects coastal and fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest. There is no other place on earth where so many different species can be seen growing in such close proximity. In Fernkloof 1474 species have thus far been collected and identified.The name of the principal vegetation type of this region is derived from the Dutch word 'fijn bosch' which is the collective name for a myriad of evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, often rolled - but also includes woody plants with hard leathery leaves, usually broad, often rolled.

From my journal, 7-16-09:  At the Potting Shed Guest House, I had a breakfast of fruit salad, porridge (oatmeal) toast with plum jam, yogurt & rooibos tea.  I walked the cliff path to the centre of Hermanus.  Men were repairing thatch on the roofs of several houses.  Later in the day I drove to Fernkloof Nature Reserve.  It was amazing, hallucinatory.  Almost all of the plants & flowers were strange & unusual.  So many plants had yellow flowers & foliage that the landscape gave off a golden glow.  It was far more dense & diverse than the Harold Porter Botanical Garden.  There were many Protea & Leucadendron flowers, plus ferns & trees by the stream in the kloof (ravine).  I saw colorful birds with long, curved beaks (Malachite Sunbirds) feeding in the Protea flowers.  Birds with 16-inch tail-feathers like scissors (Cape Sugarbirds) were bathing in a small pool beside the path on the mountainside.  In flight, they looked like airplanes trailing banners.  Frogs were singing in the seeps.  On a recently burned slope, there were many seedlings.  I hiked for 3 hours.  In retrospect, it was the most amazing place I visited in South Africa.  7-18-09: I returned to Fernkloof Nature Reserve.  I took a different path than I had before, this 1 around Lemoenkop (Lemon Hill).  There were spectacular views of Walker Bay.  The day was cooler than the previous few.  I wrote down plant names from many flowers in labeled bottles in the visitors’ centre.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden

Asparagus rubicundus July 2009

 Erica coccinea July 2009

 Erica coccinea (yellow form) July 2009

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden July 2009

Leucadendron cones July 2009

Metalasia muricata, foreground & throughout. July 2009

Mimetes cucullatus below & Protea cynaroides above. July 2009

Click here for more photos from the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden.

In July of 2009 I spent 24 days in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa (RSA).  As you probably know, July is a winter month in the Southern Hemisphere, corresponding to January in the Northern Hemisphere.  But it is January as you might experience it in southern California.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  It rained on 3 of the 6 days I was in Cape Town.  But then it changed.  On the 7th day, I drove to Hermanus.  Along the way, I stopped at the Stony Point Penguin Colony & the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, both in Betty's Bay.  The day was as beautiful as the garden.

From the website: This beautiful, secluded garden is set between mountain and sea, in the heart of the Cape Fynbos region within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.  It consists of 10 hectares of cultivated fynbos garden and 190.5 hectares of pristine natural fynbos. The Garden Estate is the natural part of the garden with several kilometres of nature trails providing scenic views of forests, mountains and coastline.

From my journal, 7-15-09:  I left Cape Town at 11.  It was an easy drive down the coast, especially beautiful along the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.  I came upon a troop of baboons in the highway & had to stop.  Different sections reminded me of Big Sur, the Amalfi Coast & the west shore of Flathead Lake.  But the plants were weird & wonderful.  I saw the Stony Point Penguin Colony.  Penguins were nesting very near the boardwalk.  There were also Hyrax.  I went to the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden at Betty’s Bay.  I hiked the zigzag  (switchback) trail on the mountain behind the garden.  It was fantastic, with many Protea, Erica & Leucadendron blooming.  I saw an amazing bird with an orange breast & green feathers.  I was so happy there.

Stony Point Penguin Colony July 2009

Spheniscus demersus (African Penguin) Stony Point Penguin Colony July 2009

Friday, December 9, 2011

November Garden Pictures

Cascadia Garden November 2011

Hakonechloa macra 'Albo Striata' November 2011

Magnolia ashei November 2011

Felis cattus 'Mimi' November 2011

Rosa nutkana November 2011

Click here to see more November Garden Pictures.

November 2011 had the most beautiful fall color of any November I can remember.  The month started out mostly dry & windless.  Leaves remained on the trees & shrubs later than normal, developing rich shades of red, yellow & orange.  November 2011 was cooler & drier than normal.  The average monthly maximum temperature was 49.3F/9.6C.   The normal average monthly temperature is 50.9F/10.5C.  The highest temperature was 62F/16.6C, the lowest 27F/-2.7C.  We had 5.16 inches of rain, 1.41 less than normal.  It rained lightly on 18 days, moderately on 8 days & heavily on 3.  There were 15 cloudy days, 14 partly cloudy days & 1 sunny day.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Entrance & Greenhouse July 2009

 Leucadendron July 2009

Leucospermum July 2009

Phylica pubescens July 2009

 Protea July 2009

 Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden July 2009
 
 Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden July 2009

In July of 2009 I spent 24 days in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa (RSA).  As you probably know, July is a winter month in the Southern Hemisphere, corresponding to January in the Northern Hemisphere.  But it is January as you might experience it in Los Angeles.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  It rained most of the 6 days I was in Cape Town.  Perhaps the greatest place in Cape Town is the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on the eastern slope of Table Mountain (Taffelberg).  The garden was established in 1913 to conserve and display the flora of southern Africa, the first botanical garden in the world to be devoted to a country's indigenous flora.  Kirstenbosch lies in the Cape Floristic Region, in a specific ecosystem known as Fynbos. The Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.  I visited the garden twice.

From my journal, 7-11-09:  Mark called.  He set the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden for 2, arrived at 1:30.  We drove to his friends’ house in Dieprivier.  Wolfgang drove us to Kirstenbosch.  The weather had been fine when Mark & I left De Waterkant.  It started raining lightly in Dieprivier.  It was raining hard at Kirstenbosch.  We toured the greenhouse, which held a great variety of succulent plants.  We had tea in 1 of the restaurants, then saw some of the gardens in lighter rain.  But it was too wet to stay out very long, or take any pictures.

7-13-09:  Johan called to say his car was in the garage until 3.  He would borrow a friend’s car.  He came at 12:30.  We arrived at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden at 1.  The plants & the setting against the mountain were beautiful.  The garden was nice, but not excellent.  I had seen many that were better.  The natural area above the garden was very interesting.  I was thrilled to see Leucadendron argenteum (Silver Tree) in its native habitat.  The tree-like Protea nitida was also very interesting.  Many small waterfalls cascaded down the mountain after the heavy rains.  The weather was perfect: cool & partly cloudy.  The flowers made Johan gasp.  We had lunch in the Silver Tree Restaurant at the garden.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Seward Park

Seward Park June 2011

Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange) in Seward Park June 2011

Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) in Seward Park April 2011 

 Rubus spectabilis (Salmon Berry) in Seward Park May 2011

Andrews Bay, Lake Washington, Seward Park April 2011

Seward Park, Lake Washington, Mercer Island March 2011

A hidden valley filled with Polystichum munitum (Western Sword Fern) in Seward Park June 2011

Click here for more photos of Seward Park.

Seward Park is one of the largest, oldest & most impressive parks in Seattle. Bailey Peninsula's potential as a park was recognized in the early 1890s. It was a key element in the plan proposed for Seattle's park system by the famed Olmsted Brothers in 1903. After the city acquired the land in 1911, the Olmsted firm designed Seward Park as the anchor of a scenic boulevard system that runs north for miles along Lake Washington.  Native forest covers about 120 acres on the northern 2/3rds of the peninsula.  It is the largest stand of old trees in the city, including trees of  more than 250 years in a layered canopy with standing snags & large down logs. Friends of Seward Park maintains a list of the many native plants on the peninsula.  Seward park also contains eagles' nests, a 2.4 mile bike & walking path along the shore with excellent views across the lake, an abandoned fish hatchery, miles of forest hiking trails, an amphitheater, rustic picnic shelters & a swimming beach with lifeguards. Seward Park Clay Studio occupies the old bath house at the beach.  The park is also home to the Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center, a partnership between National Audubon Society and Seattle Parks & Recreation.  Click here to read about more parks along Lake Washington Boulevard.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Madrona in Seward Park

 Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park May 2011

 Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park March 2011

 Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park March 2011

  Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park March 2011

 Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park October 2011

 Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park October 2011

 Arbutus menziesii in Seward Park October 2011

There are many places in Seattle to see Arbutus menziesii (Madrona).  Seward Park is one of the best sites.  The largest number congregate on the south slope of the peninsula.  Arbutus menziesii is found on the west coast of North America, from British Columbia to California.  In California it is know as Madrone.  Madrona & Madrone are derived from the Spanish word madroño, which is the common name for Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) in that country.  Arbutus menziesii was named for the Scottish naturalist Archibald Menzies, who took note of it while sailing in the area with Captain George Vancouver from 1792 to 1795.  They circumnavigated Vancouver Island & explored Puget Sound, where the tree is widely distributed.  It is restricted to dry & well-drained sites, usually south or west-facing slopes.  It is a major component of Douglas Fir /Tanoak/Madrona (Pseudotsuga menziesii/Lithocarpus densiflorus/Arbutus menziesii) forests characterized by an overstory of Douglas Fir with Tanoak & Madrona sharing the secondary canopy in varying proportions. Madrona also mixes with Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) & Garry Oak (Quercus garryana).  It surrounds the grove of Garry Oak in Seward ParkArbutus menziesii is a broad-leaved, evergreen tree of up to 130 feet in height. Single or multiple curved trunks support a broad, spreading crown composed of heavy, irregularly-shaped limbs. The bark peels off in tightly curled strips. Once the outer bark is shed, the remaining bark has a smooth, polished appearance. The color of the new bark is pale green but darkens to orange with age. Older portions of the bark become brown & fissured. The urn-shaped flowers are borne in showy, terminal clusters. The fruit is a pea-sized berry consisting of mealy pulp and numerous seeds.  Madrona is a member of the family Ericaceae.  The bark & flowers are similar to Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) another Ericaceae family member.