Here in KwaZulu-Natal the winters are dry. The wild grasslands are golden but are brightened by wild flowers, and the remnants of woodland and forest have their flowering trees too, some of which we are fortunate to have in our garden.
These photographs were all taken in our garden during June and July. Most of the flowers are orange, and so particularly cheerful and warming. They provide sustenance to a variety of birds and other creatures during the tough winter months.
A representative of the forests and the forest margins is the Tree Fuschia (Halleria lucida). Its intriguing flowers grow in clusters directly from the stem. I have posted on this tree before, but could not resist showcasing it again. At this time of the year it is alive with the buzzing of bees attracted to the flowers and it is also visited by sunbirds, bulbuls, whiteyes and other birds, as well as by Vervet monkeys
Also of the forests and woodlands but of the understorey, is the low-growing shade-loving White Paint Brush (Haemanthus albiflos). Its flowers with their showy stamens also attracts many bees
Also growing on the forest margins is the ultra-cheerful Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata), a tenacious little creeper than can climb several metres high in supporting vegetation
An early harbinger of spring is the Natal Bottlebrush (Greyia Sutherlandii), which is putting forth flower buds even before the winter leaves have fallen and long before the new leaves of spring. It is a small tree with a rather gnarled appearance and it grows naturally in mountainous terrain
And here is a winter-flowering Kniphofia – a newish addition to our garden, photographed with the pale yellow bark of a Fever tree behind it. Unfortunately, I can’t find my notes on which Kniphofia (known as Red-hot Pokers) it is. (It might be Kniphofia praecox?) What I do recall though is that the genus is named after J.H. Kniphof (1704-1763), a professor of medicine at Erfurt University. Therefore, the name ought to be pronounced Knip-Hofia (with a hard ‘K’), rather than “Nif-Fofia” as is commonly the case. Not sure that this will catch on though,
Though not orange, the flowers of the Ribbon Bush (Hypoestes aristata) are nevertheless cheerful. The shrubby and hardy Ribbon Bush flowers indefatigably from autumn through to late winter. Its flowers are favoured by bees and other pollinators. You might be able to see how the pollen collected by the bee in the photo is purple
Another cheerful and hardy favourite is the Wild Dagga (Leonotus leonurus), which occurs naturally in grassland habitats. It is frequently visited by sunbirds while flowering. I leave the tall flower spikes to go to seed and it self-seeds readily. I gather up the seedlings in the spring to transplant or to put in pots to give away to friends
And on the subject of seeds, is this not an attractive seedpod? Not a flower I know, but it is most decorative. It is the pod of the Dwarf Boer-bean (Schotia capitata). When ripe, the woody pod splits to reveal the seeds, which appear to be relished by Vervet monkeys
And also flowering in winter is the very showy Crane flower or Bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
And to end, two hybrids of the indigenous Barbeton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), daisies to warm any heart even in winter
After a truly glorious sunny day today, the weather forecast is that very cold weather is on its way this weekend with unseasonable but very welcome rain on Saturday, and snow on the mountains. We might need more than cheerful flowers to keep us warm this weekend!
Posted by Carol