Lowveld Botanical Gardens

One of the places I have been very keen to visit here in Mbombela is the Lowveld Botanical Garden.  I had heard that it was really worth going to see.  This last weekend B and I popped in to take a look.

There are two separate entrances and one can be a little confused as to which one to go to when you arrive.

Entrance 1 gives you quick access to the Nelspruit waterfall and cascades

and a really nice looking eatery called Kuzuri Restaurant. We popped in to take a look and the food smelled heavenly.  We plan to try it out soon.

One then walks over an amazing swing bridge and through the rain forest to get to the area serviced by entrance 2

Entrance 2 is closer to the formal gardens and the different types of walks as well as  the Red Leaf Fig Tea Garden where we stopped for scones and strawberry jam.  The food and service was very good.  This venue is often used for tea parties, birthdays and weddings.

Unfortunately when we arrived they were preparing for a party and the radio was loud with cars parked around the venue blocking out the stunning view and the beautiful bird sounds. I hope this was a once off. I will definitely be going back to see because other than that it was an enjoyable experience.

From this point there are various walks in different directions that one can choose from, all seem lovely from the few we did. The walks down to the river involve quite a few stairs but there are also walks throughout the garden that are wheelchair friendly.

We were lucky enough to catch the last of the clivias blooming

The huge variety of plants and flowers allow for all year round pleasure so we will be back many times I am sure.

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Blinkers

When I was a child I watched a movie where a man was released from prison after many years.  It was not like prison is these days with TV. He had no idea about how the world had changed while he was in jail.  I remember wondering what that must have been like for him.  I think I am finding out in a small way.

I never realized how sheltered I have been over the past 5 years living on the farm without TV and no interest in following the news and hardly ever going to the city.

Living in the city now I point out new marvels to B who frowns at me strangely and says I have been hiding under a rock 🙂

Things I have not seen.

Really cute looking cars like this Nissan Juke

Over dressed trees

I was kindly told about yarn bombing by a friend  – never heard of it!

Bent TV’s

well I never!

Another thing is the parkrun.  These have apparently been around for 10 years (worldwide).

B and I have joined up and do our parkrun through a farm nearby every Saturday morning (I walk for now).  Our aim is to get a lot fitter than we are.  I am surprised that I am really enjoying it and look forward to each outing.

For those of you who don’t know much about them, you just register online (for free) – print out your barcode and then go running (or walking) at a parkrun venue. It’s always 5 km at 8 am.  You will, in the course of Saturday, get an email giving you your time, information about the field you ran in and where you placed within your age group and overall so it’s a nice easy way to work on improving your time each week.  For more information see www.parkrun.com

Picture of the Hall’s Parkrun in Mbombela from http://nedbank-lvccrunning.blogspot.com/ crossing the Crocodile river

Is there anything you have missed out on and never knew existed?

How big is your baby?

Spring time is a time of rebirth and renewal and much focus is given to cute bouncing bundles of joy like this one

 

and in our area, babies like these…

(picture of a local postcard)

 

Yesterday I was out looking at other babies.  Subtropical fruit babies.

This is an avocado pear

 

and some baby mangoes

 a litchi

and some oranges (not on the farm we live on)

So here is what I am pondering…………

All of the above fruit trees blossom and start bearing fruit around the same time (spring)

We will be eating the mangoes and litchis by the end of this year  (3-4 months to mature ripe fruit depending on cultivar) yet the avocados and oranges will only be ripe and ready in 6-11 months time (winter fruit for us).

Why would some fruit be able to ripen and mature so fast and others take so long?

Not so Nutty.

In front of Tiny House there is a pecan nut orchard.  When I got here at the beginning of the month they looked like this

and today they look like this

I just love watch everything come to life in springtime.

Today I realized that I know very little about them so I asked B lots of questions as he showed me around the trees.  On the dryer trees I spotted clusters of growth quite high up like the picture below.

These clumps of growth are mistletoe.  I didn’t even know that we had mistletoe in this country and really have only seen plastic kissy ones at Christmas time.  These unfortunately are not so friendly and are semi-parasitic weeds which cause loss of nut yield and make the tree sickly. Mistletoe has to be cut out of the trees.

The trees will flower near the end of spring and then as the flower wilts the nut begins to grow.  It is not a true nut but actually a “drupe”.

(picture of pecan from Wikipedia)

Health benefits of Pecans

  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Antioxidants present protect against cancer and infections
  • Pecan nuts are rich source of vitamin E and are therefore great for skin health
  • The nuts are very rich sources of several important B-complex groups of vitamins
  • The nuts are also rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

I will definitely be making pecan nut pie soon and I also enjoy putting them in my banana bread and salads. Do you have any favorite pecan nut recipes to share?

Honey hunny

While I was away at the iNyoka Gallery opening B gave me a call to see how things were going and mentioned that he had a present for me. Now that in itself is quite unusual (not in a nasty way) as we are not big gift givers and tend to stick to birthdays for that kind of thing.  My mind rushed in two different directions.  Firstly a few flashbacks to hideous gifts I have received from beaus in the past like garish plastic gold earrings when I don’t ever wear gold, or a dress two sizes too big or a kitchen pot 🙂 Then secondly I got really excited because I am a girl after all and I LOVE surprises and thoughtful gifts.

By the time I got home he seemed to have forgotten though so I just kept quiet hoping that something would just pop up.

On opening the fridge to prepare dinner I spotted a large tub of margarine. Now I really can’t stand margarine and believe in the goodness of butter and had thought that I had brainwashed  trained B enough to get him off the darn stuff.  I opened my big mouth and started my “margarine is plastic” speech when he gently told me that the tub was my gift.  What???  Really??  I gingerly opened the tub hoping against hope that it did not contain margarine.

Surprise surprise guess what I got!  This man is so precious and knows me so well!

Organic litchi honey from the litchi orchards from one of the farms. Still in the comb.

Now most of you who follow my blog will know this is such a “me” gift.

I have spotted quite a few bee boxes on the farm that we stay on and B told me that one of the farm managers is very interested in bee keeping and that they have very many hives which they use on the farms.  Currently, they still have to bring in extra bees for all the pollination of 350 hectares of avocados and also about 100 hectares of litchis but they hope to eventually have enough of their own.

Because they are still splitting hives and multiplying their bees they do not harvest much honey at all so I was really lucky to get a bit.

Also, attached to this gift, was the promise of me going to learn how to split hives and do some beekeeping which I have been keen to learn.  I can’t wait!

I will most certainly take my camera and share with you all when I go.  Now I need to think of all the questions I want to ask the bee expert. Let me know if you have any bee questions you would like answered.

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

On Saturday we attended the Wild Horse Festival in the small arty town of Kaapsehoop which is about 15 minutes outside of Mbombela, perched on top of a mountain.

 This sleepy village boasts amazing views over the Lowveld as well as some beautiful wild horses that freely roam around town, over the hillsides and in the nearby forests of pine trees.

Gold was discovered here in 1882 but the deposit was poor and most miners moved off towards the richer areas of Pilgrims Rest and Barberton. This led to the decline of the small town until it was repopulated by artists and folk looking for a peaceful weekend retreat.

This weekend’s festival was held to raise money to take care of the horses as well as a road fund to repair their roads. It was very well attended and we had a wonderful day browsing the market stalls, watched horses getting shod by blacksmiths, eating a most delicious mutton curry and watching rugby before heading home.

There is a good choice of accommodation in Kaapsehoop as well as many things to do in the surrounding area including horse trails, hiking, a visit to the nearby Kruger National Park, or a trip along the Panorama Route to name a few.

If you are ever in the area it is well worth a visit.

 

Hello Nelspruit!

The city of Nelspruit (newly named Mbombela)

It’s quite a change moving from a tiny town to a city again, albeit a small city.  I am not a city girl so I am glad to say we have found a house to rent on a farm about 10 km’s from the city where we don’t hear traffic and still get to hear the occasional African Fish Eagle call.  We decided to get a small place so that we can save our pennies for our farm. And so we found Tiny House.

Tiny House

 It’s really very tiny but steeped in history (built in 1946) and has lovely Oregon pine floors and high ceilings. We have a stunning view over a sloping pecan nut tree orchard to the mountains and hills in the distance. What is also great is that we are still near the Kruger National Park so I can get my fix of wild animals and the game reserve.

This area has a fantastic history of a gold rush, a tragic war, trade routes and of course Jock of the Bushveld, Tsetse fly, malaria and sleeping sickness all played a roll in hindering development for a long time.

We have spent this last weekend unpacking, but will be out exploring from next week. I can’t wait.