CAPE FLORAL KINGDOM – SPRINGTIME SPLENDOUR AT ITS BEST
There are few more awe-inspiring geological sites in the world to admire than the iconic view of Table Mountain standing majestic ally astride the Cape Peninsula.
Indeed, the flat-topped mountain was visible on a clear day by seafarers for centuries from over a hundred miles away approaching from the north off the Atlantic coast.
Yet the wonder and awe of this inspirational sight extends beyond into the floral complexity of the smallest of only six Floral Kingdoms in the world with no less than 8 600 plant species recorded to date making the Cape home to the richest botanical biome of them all…
Even more startling within an area smaller than Greater London is the presence of 2 300 plant species comprising of artichoke shaped proteas, tube shaped ericas, reed-like restios, geophytes of many descriptions and a widespread variety of plant forms that collectively form the springtime
splendour of this richly vegetated biome botanically described as ‘fynbos’.
The splashes of vibrant colour and striking patterns within the tapestry of annual daisies and flowering bulbs transform the harsh, desolate, wind-swept summer landscape into a palette of vibrant reflective colour of brilliant red, orange and yellow against a backdrop of soft pastel shades of pale white and pink with a dash of cerulean blue here and there.
‘Fynbos’ by definition, is a collection of plants dominated by shrubs capable of surviving the long hot, windy summer months with little prospect of rain until the cool and wet winter weather, typical of a Mediterranean climate, moves in by way of a striding succession of cold frontal systems to provide welcome moisture and the resuscitation of the plant survival cycle.
Yet the Cape floral experience is far from mono-typical as one explores: from Kirstenbosch’s magnificently maintained botanical gardens of world acclaim, to the scenically rugged and breathtakingly beautiful scenery of the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of the African continent. Then, on leaving Cape Town, the spectacle continues with vast horizon-wide fields of annual daisy displays along the West Coast and Namaqualand and further on to the bulb capital of the world, Niewoudtville on the Roggeveld escarpment.
Here, with an informative flower guide in hand, one can search at leisure for exquisite examples of gladiolus, watsonias, lilies, aloes and orchids, together with diminutive jewel-like succulents, known as stone flowers, dotted about the quartzite strewn plains of the Knersvlakte, all in exhilarating displays of vibrant reflective colour…
It is all here to enjoy along with an abundance of birdlife, possibly with a camera in hand to capture the very essence of what springtime in the Western Cape is all about: a glorious visual composition of unsurpassed and memorable delights!
Little wonder Sir Francis Drake, on his famous voyage of circumnavigation around the world in the 17th century described the Cape as the ‘Fairest in all the World’.
Which simply says it all from the floral perspective.
- Fields of orange, yellow, pink and white daisies interspersed with patches of delicate bulbs
- Enjoying the cultural diversity of the West Coast, Namaqualand and the interior Swartland farming region
- Beautiful coastal and mountain scenery including the rugged Cedarberg mountain range