The flowers of Clanwilliam

After reading Amy-Lynn’s post called “The Simplicity of Daisies” over at her blog, I remembered that we had driven up to Clanwilliam last year in August, and that I had taken a pile of photos of the beautiful flowers that we saw there. I’d planned to write a blog post about it, but hadn’t gotten around to it, so I am just going to include a couple of pictures now.

Overlooking the Clanwilliam dam

Overlooking the Clanwilliam dam

From August to October every year is the so-called ‘Flower Season’ in the Namaqualand and the Northern Cape. Normally this is an area that is quite devoid of much floral colour, quite dry, dusty and barren-looking (although there’s lots of succulents, cacti and aridity-adapted plants, if those rock your boat). However, if there has been good rain during our winter season of June/July/August, by springtime vast swathes of the countryside are carpeted in the lushest and brightest colours imaginable.

Flowers and mountains

Flowers and mountains

It’s a glorious feast for the eyes.

The best places are usually around Springbok in the Northern Cape, but that is about 5 hours and 500 km away. So, with petrol costing R10 a litre, we tried our luck closer to home, and thus found ourselves in Clanwilliam.

We arrived in the middle of Saturday morning shopping. In fact, there seemed to be a bazaar or a local church fête going on at the one end of town, so we stopped for some refreshing tea and delicious scones and pancakes. One has to support the local industry, after all! It was all most delightful.

Local church fête

Local church fête

And then we drove up to the Ramskop Wild Flower Garden and Nature Reserve, which we hadn’t even known was there, but one of the elderly ladies serving refreshments recommended that we visit it.

It was soooo pretty.

Ramskop wild flower reserve

Ramskop wild flower reserve

Uplifting yellow:

Yellow flowers

Yellow flowers

Ethereal blue:

Blue flowers

Blue flowers

Shocking pink:

Pink flowers

Pink flowers

Purple flowers:

Purple flowers

Purple flowers

All mixed together:

All mixed together

All mixed together

A bird seemed to be following us around, calling from here, from there, from around the corner, from the top of the tree… and at last I got him!

Beautiful yellow and black bird

Beautiful yellow and black bird

(I’ve just found out that this bird is a bokmakierie or Telophorus zeylonus. It’s so cool when you find out the names of the wild creatures you photograph!)

Overlooking it all, the regal looking quiver trees, whose tube-like branches the bushmen hollow out to make quivers for their arrows:

Quiver trees

Quiver trees

And a stone with some rock art reminded us that the bushmen used to live in the surrounding Cedarberg mountains, and that there are some magical, ancient sites we would love to visit.

Rock art

Rock art

Truly, a beautiful area that definitely warrants further exploration.

19 thoughts on “The flowers of Clanwilliam

  1. Hi Reggie! Followed you over from Amy’s blog. You have some beautiful flower and rock photos (plus love that little yellow and black bird. It’s so hard to get them still and close enough to photograph.) That is cool that you have rock are there from ancient times. Are you in South Africa?

  2. Yes, Reggie is in South Africa Kathy. She’s quite the travel writer too 🙂 Her blog also has some very helpful movie reviews if you’re ever wondering what to watch one evening.

    Reggie, the flowers are so colorful and plentiful. The rock art would be fascinating to check out more closely.

    • Thank you, Amy! 🙂

      I am also fascinated by rock art, but know so little about it, and much of it is in difficult-to-access places too (if it isn’t, it is often vandalised by graffiti ‘artists’).

  3. Hi Reggie,

    Love your wildflower pics! We were also in Clanwilliam and drove out to the Biedouw Valley which was spectacular. But my shots were nowhere near as gorgeous as yours. My favourite is “Ethereal Blue” Aren’t the colour combinations something else? Only in nature could something so diverse look so stunning.

    Here are my pics, as you see so much more general. This year I will try and get a little more artistic ans emulate your close up shots.

    • Hi Alison – welcome to my blog! 🙂 I’m really curious – how did you find me? I had a look at your pics – they’re good! I think I was just lucky with the light on the day. Good luck with your next trip to the Namaqualand.

  4. it is such a pleasure to have been introduced to your blog. Your photos are beautiful. I can feel the nourishment of those lovely flowers even through all those pixels!

    Ancient rock art is one of my strong interests – but i dont know much about South African stuff. Is this ancient art in your picture… what they call San paintings? Or is it more recently done? I have a book, but it’s very’heaavy’. Cant get beyond the first few pages before falling asleep.

    • Hi Linda

      You know, I am not sure whether it is ‘ancient’ rock art! It looks too good, too clear, not faded enough by the sun or the rain. So I wonder about that. If we ever get a chance to visit Ramskop again, I’ll try to find out (mental note to self!). What a pity your book is so ‘heavy’ – personally, I find such-like scholarly tomes too pedantic for my liking. I tend to skip over the bits that contain scientific analyses, excessive geological details, and evidence given by other researchers in the field – I always head straight for the photos and the stories of personal experiences and particularly enjoy reading about the things that go awry. ;-P Hm… so I guess I tend to gloss over the FACTS. Hm… that’s not a good thing, is it? Hm…

      But there is A LOT of rock art in Southern Africa. I’m sadly very uninformed about it, although I live here. I’m going to remedy that!

  5. Oh yes – give me pictures and stories every time! But I have a terrible tendency to struggle with all this left-brained stuff, in a desperate attempt to understand… (like ‘The Tao of Physics’ that I have never managed to read right through, but understand the pictures instantly). In the autumn, I am hoping to begin an MA in Arts & Ecology – that’sif I can work a miracle and manage to raise the funding – and already I am worried about coping with all those scientists. I must keep your blog to the forefront as an antidote, and remember to laugh at myself! Cheers 🙂

  6. Hi, Reggie~~
    I’m in British Columbia, Canada. I found you via your comments on Flandrum Hill’s blog. Amy is an old friend of mine from when she lived out here many years ago.

    • Hi Joan – welcome! Please let me know the title of your blog – I really love Amy’s one, it’s so chockablock full of interesting snippets about the world of nature. I haven’t been to Canada yet, but from what I’ve read, it’s a magical, beautiful place, and I hope I’ll be able to visit sometime!

  7. Good morning, Reggie~~
    Yes, Amy’s blog is incredibly informative as well as artistic. I love living in Canada; it truly is a beautiful country, with much diversity of landscape and people. In contrast to the U.S., where I grew up, the U.S calls itself a “melting pot” while Canada is a “mosaic.”

    I don’t have a blog of my own. I’m just having fun following those of other people. I sometimes get caught up in following names of commenters to other blogs and end up staying up very late some nights reading them.

    Are you doing Amy’s Scavenger Hunt? I’m trying to, but have misplaced my camera, somehow, after taking photos at a nearby lake on Saturday. I must hunt for it diligently today!

    Have a great day!

    (By the way, do you happen to know how your time zone relates to those of North America? I suppose I could “google” it, eh? Amy’s on Altantic Time and I’m on Pacific Time.)

    • I agree, Mike. Actually, these flowers only appear in spring (and only if there’s been good rains). Once the scorching heat of summer arrives, you won’t see many of these spectacular and colourful fields of flowers anymore. So, I prefer SPRING! 🙂

  8. As I scrolled down looking at the flowers and remembering just such displays in the (formerly) Southern Transvaal, I stopped with the bird at the bottom of my screen – entranced by the image, the sense memory of it, and, before reaching for my ancient copy of ‘Roberts: Birds of South Africa’, the name, “Bokmakierie” came back to me, the close relative of the Gorgeous Bush Shrike. I hadn’t said the word in so long, “bok-makierie”, and it’s voice comes back so clearly as if I were ‘at home’ again in my beloved bushveld. Thank you, Reggie, for bringing a word to my lips that means so much to me.

    • Aw, you’re so welcome, Larooby. I’m glad I could ‘bring you back again’ to the bushveld.

      I did not know there were such masses of flowers in the Southern Transvaal? I thought it was more localised in the Western Cape during spring? I am curious – do tell me more? And are you no longer living in South Africa?

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