Visit to South Africa TOW Part 1

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 02 Oct 2003 21:07:27 PDT
Dear All,

I'd like to say a few words about the rest of the time we spent in South 
Africa. So many of people we met as well as the ones we knew from before 
were so kind to us providing food and/or lodging, information about where 
to go, and opening their homes and bulb collections to us. And they were 
very patient with all my questions. We considered ourselves very lucky! 
There is something quite wonderful about being with people who share your 
passion. I've had that experience before when I was in New Zealand, 
Australia, and visited Lauw in France. I highly recommend if you are 
traveling to try to meet fellow bulb enthusiasts.

Rhoda and Cameron McMaster who treated Bob and me with such kindness the 
last time we visited arranged for us, Patty Colville and Lauw de Jager to 
spend the weekend with them after the Symposium was over. This was 
especially thoughtful since Rhoda and Cameron had newly moved to Napier and 
were moving again in a few weeks to another house. Cameron was to go back 
to the Eastern Cape before they moved so they were really busy.

They arranged for us to go to visit Boskloof and be shown around the 
property by the owner Thys de Villiers. Boskloof is between Caledon, 
Stanford and Napier and is mountain fynbos with the "highest concentration 
of Erica species on earth" (quoted from the brochure.) We paid Thys to show 
us around in a jeep. He proved to be a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic 
host and was sure we found bulbs as well as Ericas. He didn't ask us which 
part of his property we liked the best however as he was afraid he wouldn't 
like the answer. The day was sunny and warm and there wasn't much wind, 
even on the top of the mountain. He had predicted we'd be cold so I wore my 
long underwear and was very sorry!

First Thys showed us a lot of plants on some adjoining renosterveld. There 
were some nice Babianas, some beautiful pink Drosera cistiflora (we saw 
this quite a lot but I never tired of it), Gladiolus liliaceus, and Moraea 
tripetala among other things. But the plant I loved and had never seen 
pictures of before was Aristea teretifolia. My husband's picture of this 
with the digital camera was so much better than either of our slides which 
made it pink.

Our host took us to see Gladiolus alatus, Spiloxene capensis and then we 
got in the jeep and started serious exploring. He showed us transition 
areas between renosterveld and fynbos where we saw a Bobartia species, 
Romuleas hirsuta, and a lot of Wachendorfia. Then we went on to the fynbos 
where we saw a lot of flowers in the protea family in bloom, many Ericas, 
and some special bulbs. We got our first chances to capture Geissorhiza 
ovata. I had failed on our last trip as it seemed they were always 
overexposed and we also saw our first Gladiolus debilis, one of my 
favorites. The star of the day was Gladiolus bullatus which is quite rare 
and a challenge to grow even though we later met an IBSA member with a pot 
in bloom. Cameron has taken a really wonderful picture which I hope he will 
add to the wiki when he has time. As we were wandering around exploring we 
found Witsenia maura in bloom which was a treat after our pbs TOW on woody 
Irids. We decided that we should create a wiki page where we could put the 
pictures of all the bulbs that grow there so that Tys could begin to get as 
enthusiastic about them as he is about the Ericas. I was to create it and 
didn't get around to it until today. I've just added one picture to it so 
far, the one of the Aristea but encourage Cameron and Lauw to fill it up if 
they have pictures.…

The following day we went to a really nice Flower Show at Cape Agulhas, the 
southernmost tip of South Africa. On the way we saw large patches of 
Gladiolus tristis and Watsonias. Afterwards we drove to Arniston were we 
were treated to lunch by a friend of Rhoda and Cameron's and outside her 
house on the rocks overlooking the ocean found Gladiolus cunonius in bloom 
and a Massonia in seed. We thought it was M. pustulata but were advised 
that M. depressa is found there. It was quite interesting with the large 
pods. It was becoming really clear that even in a bad year we were going to 
see flowers if we were willing to put a little effort into looking for them.

Monday the forecast was for rain and we hoped it wouldn't rain, but it did. 
We were to go to Jim Holmes' nursery and we did. But it wasn't much fun as 
it was really wet and cold. We still ventured out taking cover in his 
greenhouses from time to time. We understood that other International 
members went on Saturday when the weather was delightful (for us too on 
Boskloof) and spent most of the day so maybe one of them can comment. Jim 
grows a lot of wonderful things and Lauw especially was disappointed since 
he was leaving the following day and it was one of his last chances to take 
flower pictures. We then went to Gordon Summerfield's house where we looked 
at bulbs in the rain. He has some under cover however. More on that later.

Rod and Rachel hosted us a number of times during our stay: before the 
conference, days we dropped people off at the airport, and at the end. 
Tuesday we took Patty to see their small holding at Brakenfell. We had been 
there before, but it was interesting to see all they had done in the 
meantime. As more and more areas get developed Rod and Rachel are planting 
out more and more rescued plants. When seeds are cleaned some of what is 
left is scattered around as well so we expect every year there will be more 
to see. On the day we were there Gladiolus ringens was in bloom. And the 
bird perch was blooming too. We never observed that on any of the plants we 
had seen blooming on our last trip. The area next to them had burned last 
year and they were able to stop it before it burned their property. So now 
there were blooming bulbs on the other side of the fence in the burned 
area. One really gorgeous Lachenalia I admired they were growing in one of 
their tunnels, Lachenalia anguinea.

Another IBSA member, Henry Pauw and his wife Helga, offered to let us use 
their beach house in Betty's Bay. Before we went there we spent a night in 
Stellenbosch with them and got to have more than one look at Henry's bulb 
collection and to talk with him about how he grows bulbs. Henry took us 
exploring in Stellenbosch and then for a drive. He was disappointed because 
we were still a little early for very many flowers, but we did find flowers 
in bloom including a nice Romulea and of course some Oxalis.

Betty's Bay is a very beautiful area and although we didn't see a lot of 
bulbs, we saw penguins and had several wonderful walks and once again saw 
fynbos. It was while we were walking in Harold Porter garden we were 
delighted to meet delegates Pat and David Victor. Before the rain made us 
decide to retreat to the gift store they told us about what they had done 
since the Symposium ended and suggested we visit Drayton and the garden in 
Caledon which we did the next day.

Drayton as I mentioned in another post was one of my favorite places. I 
wished other delegates could have gone there too, but the more I thought 
about it wasn't sure that it would have been good for 90+ people to be 
tramping around such a small spot. I have made a wiki page for Drayton and 
added some of the wonderful flowers we saw. My list is over 30 things and 
obviously I don't have pictures of all of them. Time constraints allowed me 
only time to add Aristea biflora, Babiana purpurea, many gorgeous forms of 
Gladiolus liliaceus, three species of Oxalis that I think were different 
and I am happy to entertain suppositions on identity of, Spiloxene 
capensis, and Watsonia meriana. If anyone else went to Drayton and has 
pictures to add please do. Hopefully I'll get some others added on another 
day if I can find some time. There were some nice Moraeas there and you can 
see Wachendorfia paniculata if you look hard enough. None of the digital 
pictures of it turned out very well of it.…

After that we went on to the Caledon Garden and agreed with the Victors 
that it was a very nice place to visit. We spent quite awhile walking 
around and were pleased to meet Bill Squires who was a UK delegate to the 
Symposium. We were very enthusiastic about Drayton and told him to be sure 
and go the next day when the flowers would be open. It was such a nice 
feeling to be in a foreign country and to keep running into people you felt 
were friends.

Our last day in Betty's Bay we went for a lovely walk along the beach and 
caught the flower show at Harold Porter which wasn't nearly as nice as the 
one at Agulhas. Then we went back to Gordon Summerfield's for lunch and our 
second look at his large collection of bulbs. We had such a great time 
discussing and looking at bulbs. I was reminded of what I have learned 
about my native plants and that is if you grow from seed from many 
different places you can have wonderful variations in the same species: 
size, time of bloom, color, markings, etc. Gordon is growing a whole lot of 
different Spiloxene capensis and I was fascinated by the variations. We 
also had one more visit with the Pauws when we returned our bedding from 
their beach cottage and were so glad for the excuse to see them one more 
time and to see if any more of Henry's flowers were in bloom.

To be continued.

Mary Sue

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