Friday, February 24, 2012

Montagu Nature Garden

Aloe microstigma Montagu Nature Garden July 2009

Crassula rupestris & Euphorbia caput-medusae Montagu Nature Garden July 2009

Montagu Nature Garden July 2009

Langeberg Mountains from the Montagu Nature Garden July 2009

 Veltheimia capensis Montagu Nature Garden July 2009

Click here to see more photos of the Montagu Nature 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.  After 6 mostly rainy days in Cape Town, 6 mostly sunny days in the beach town of Hermanus, 6 days of variable weather in the small town of Bredasdorp on the Agulhas Plain, I spent 6 warm & sunny days in Swellendam.  My time in South Africa ended on the 24th day, when I flew from Cape Town to London. On my 4th day in Swellendam I saw the Montagu Nature Garden.  This garden is located in an environment known as klein karoo.   Klein karoo is found north of the Langeberg Mountains, fynbos is found to the south.

From my journal, 7-30-09:  I drove to Montagu through Cogman's Kloof Pass in the Langeberg Mountains.  As I entered Montagu, I saw signs for the nature garden.  There was an easy, winding path up a small, very rocky hill with many succulent plants.  I saw 3 species of Euphorbia, several Crassula & Aloe.  I also saw a red pea with inflated pods (Sutherlandia frutescens) & Veltheimia capensis in bloom.  The views of the Langeberg Mountains were stunning.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Marloth Nature Reserve

Protea aurea Marloth Nature Reserve July 2009

Metalasia Marloth Nature Reserve July 2009 

Elegia Marloth Nature Reserve July 2009 

Fynbos on the Langeberg Mountains at Marloth Nature Reserve July 2009 

Fynbos on the Langeberg Mountains at Marloth Nature Reserve 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 southern California.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  After 6 mostly rainy days in Cape Town, 6 mostly sunny days in the beach town of Hermanus, 6 days of variable weather in the small town of Bredasdorp on the Agulhas Plain, I spent 6 warm & sunny days in Swellendam. On my 3rd day in Swellendam I went to the Marloth Nature Reserve.

From the website: Marloth Nature Reserve lies in the majestic Swellendam mountains, between the towns of Swellendam, Ashton, Barrydale and Suurbraak. The reserve is 14,123 hectares (34,900 acres) in extent and adjacent to the Swellendam State Forest. Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa and has many interesting cultural-historic features. Marloth Nature Reserve is named after the pioneer botanist who, together with a deputation of Swellendam residents in 1928 petitioned the Minister of Lands and Forestry to set aside a part of the mountain as a nature reserve. During 1981 the reserve was enlarged to include the rest of the State Forest land. The vegetation in the nature reserve is predominantly mountain fynbos with patches of afro-montane forest. The fynbos includes several species of protea and more than 25 species of erica. The original forests covered a much larger area but over the years exploitation for timber for the local furniture and wagon industries, and fires, reduced them to isolated patches in the damper kloofs (ravines).

From my journal, 7-29-09:  I drove to the Marloth Nature Reserve, which was very near Swellendam on the slopes of the Langeberg Mountains.  I walked through fynbos on the lower slope, then through forest beside a creek in a ravine.  There were tree ferns (Cyathea dregei) near the water.  2 juvenile baboons screeched, thrashed branches & stared at me from a tree across the creek.  I remembered a friend's story about being attacked by baboons in Hong Kong.  I picked up a big stick & carried it with me until I left the forest.

Friday, February 10, 2012

January Garden Pictures

Sunrise from the Cascadia Garden January 2012

Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy' January 2012

Agave toumeyana January 2012


Helleborus x hybridus January 2012


 Paeonia suffruticosa January 2012

Click here for January Garden Pictures 2009-2012.
Click here for January Bloom Times 2008-2011.

January 2012 was colder & wetter, with much more snow than normal.  The mean temperature was 39.7F/4.3C, 2.3 degrees lower than normal.  The highest temperature was 55F/12.7C on January 1, the lowest 26F/-3.3C on January 15.  Total precipitation was 6.83 inches, 1.26 more than normal.  Total snowfall was 9.6 inches, 8.2 inches more than normal.  There were 2 fair days, 6 partly cloudy days & 23 cloudy days, with light rain on 21 days, rain on 9 days, light snow on 7 days, snow on 3 days, sleet on 1 day & fog on 22 days.  2.4 inches of snow fell on January 15, then 0.1 on January 16.  That melted on January 17.  6.8 inches fell on January 18, then 0.3 on January 19.  Seattle was pretty much at a standstill on those 4 snow-covered days.  The 2nd snowfall lingered as slush for 3 additional days, making driving & walking difficult.  I didn't leave the house for 5 days, except to shake snow from the branches of evergreen shrubs.  There was 1 large broken limb on Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Tempelhof' & several broken branches on Senecio munroi in the sidewalk garden.  Someone had dumped a heap of frozen snow on it from the roof of their car.  I cursed them for that.  Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold' leaned at an alarming angle under the weight of snow, but returned to an upright position once it had melted.  The last big snowfall, in December of 2008, caused much more damage to the garden.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

Euphorbia mauritanica (Melkbos) Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009

Haworthia pumila Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009 

Struthio camelus (Ostrich) with Langeberg Mountains in the distance at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009 

Klein karoo & the Elandsberg Mountains Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve 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 southern California.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  After 6 mostly rainy days in Cape Town, 6 mostly sunny days in the beach town of Hermanus, 6 days of variable weather in the small town of Bredasdorp on the Agulhas Plain, I spent 6 warm & sunny days in Swellendam.

On my 2nd day in Swellendam I visited Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, following the Rooikat Trail.  From the SA-Venues website: Set in a part of the country known as the arid Robertson Karoo, the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve lies in the Breede River Valley.  Given the name of the nature reserve - Vrolijkheid means happiness - this must have been the site of much gaiety in the past, and it certainly remains the focus of pleasure in the heart of the Little Karoo, where it gives much pleasure to visitors - the beauty of the landscape dominated by succulents, dwarf trees and shrubs like the melkbos. The valley is surrounded by high mountain peaks, often shrouded in mist, which makes hiking, walking or just general rambles through the rugged landscape a favourite pastime for all who come here. A circular hike, known as the Rooikat Trail, meanders up around the Elandsberg Mountains and can take up to eight hours.

From my journal, 7-28-09:  I drove toward McGregor on paved roads for over an hour.  Just outside the town I stopped at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.  I hiked for 2 hours through klein karoo.  There was Acacia karoo (Thorn Tree) not more than 8 feet tall, Aloe microstigma at only 2 feet, a few small shrubs, & many succulent plants, mostly groundcovers.  There were many Euphorbia mauritanica (Melkbos) with succulent stems.  It was quite different from fynbos.  The trail went along fairly level ground through a valley in the low Elandsberg Mountains.  It was still cool in the morning.  The sun was veiled by thin clouds.  It was very pleasant.  I startled an Ostrich, which ran off to join 2 others on a nearby hillside.  They watched me intently for a short time, then started grazing.  I wouldn't have thought it exciting to see an Ostrich.  But to come upon 1, unexpectedly, in the wild was wonderful indeed.