Veld flowers

So far this summer we have had quite a few cloudy days and lots of lovely rain.  Not our normal blistering heat – but warm balmy humid days.  The result is really thick green lush bush.

When you look at the picture above you really don’t see many colours, so it is quite surprising when you walk around and look closely at how many stunning spring flowers are blooming.  I snapped a few on my daily walk.

 

 

 

Quite spectacular really.

A crying tree – The Weeping Boer Bean

Although, when looking at the bushveld, is seems rather monotone (oranges and browns and greys in winter and greens and browns in summer), there are a myriad of colours hiding away for those who look closely.  In springtime especially there is quite a bit of red.

A favorite tree of mine is one with the most beautiful red flowers.  They stand out because they seem to shine brightly in the sunshine.  This is due to the copious amounts of nectar they exude – coating them in a sheen of sticky honey – so much so that the nectar drips onto the ground under the tree.  That is why it  is called the weeping boer bean.

Scotia brachypetala has quite a few other names too which help describe it.

  • Parrot Tree – the nectar attracts a lot of birds
  • Drunken Parrot Tree – excess nectar ferments and can have a mild narcotic effect on some birds
  • Weeping Boerbean – the name we use here – weeping due to the nectar dripping and bean because it is a leguminous tree
  • Huilboerboon – is the Afrikaans name (huil = cry)
  • Tree Fuchsia – totally different family to the fuchsia but has similar flowers (ballerina flowers)
  • African Walnut – the roasted seeds are edible.
While the tree in my garden pictured here is only about 3m tall, these trees can grow to about 22m high with a spread of 15 meters.
Not only is Schotia brachypetala an exceptional ornamental tree, it also has a number of other uses: A decoction of the bark is taken to treat heartburn and hangovers (good to know 🙂 ). Bark and root mixtures are used to strengthen the body and purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, as well as for facial saunas. The seeds are edible after roasting, Both the Bantu-speaking people and the early European settlers and farmers are said to have roasted the mature pods and eaten the seeds, a practice which they learned from the Khoikhoi. The bark can be used for dyeing, giving a red-brown or red colour.
Here are some pictures of the flowers
In the picture below you can see the gooey nectar. Also the bean pod in the middle of the flower and some ants busy collecting nectar.

Spring on the mountain

Each time I go up the mountains here, I am totally floored by the amazing plants in bloom.  Besides the flora being totally different to that of the surrounding lowveld, there are new things to see in every nook and cranny all year round.

It’s the first time I have been up when there has been a significant amount of cloud cover and also my first time in early spring.

Our national flower, the protea, is in full bloom.

Sue enjoying the view midst small protea plants.

Transvaal bottlebrush

other little bits of colourThis little plant was growing in a crack in a rockSome kind of wild cucumber type vineClivias growing in the fork of a tree

Coral tree bloom (we have these all over the place right now – not just on the mountain)

It was super having Rose with us as she could tell us just about every Latin name for each and every plant – I want to be able to do that one day – she’s awesome.

I can’t wait to go up the mountains again, yet I know they will look so very different again.  We noticed that there were hundreds and hundreds of clivias in the forests on the slopes of the mountain – I want to go up when they are in flower – what an awesome sight that will be. Now I just need to find out when they flower here.

 

Art group activities

This week the group learned how to paint on foil. Although I didn’t participate in the group activity I found it very interesting to watch the pictures develop. Again, I was very surprised at the results. The foil gives the paint a metallic touch. I was surprised that acrylic paint would even stick to foil.  Here are a few examples of the results.

Mark

Thelma

Wendy

Angela

I did a small amount of work on my hornbill with oil paints.  After working with quick drying acrylic it’s rather frustrating to have to wait a week every time I need to add a new layer, however, it’s a slow life I have chosen so I must learn to be patient.

I don’t think I have too much more to do other than some white feathery layers on his head and chest. After doing all I could do on the hornbill for the evening I started a new acrylic just for fun.

I did not draw at all and just started with paint at the top of the canvas and worked my way down.  All I need to do on it now is add a tree or two and some finer detail in the foreground.  Quick and easy.

A few other acrylic paintings were worked on too. Both Mark and Wendy are busy with interesting subjects (see below)

Mark

Wendy

After class as I was carrying both my wet paintings I tripped over a rock in the pitch dark and fell flat on my face. Now I have some sand detail on the paintings to deal with next week.

Barter and trade seem to be working their way into the group.  A few weeks ago, Thelma bartered for one of my paintings – and I got a foot massage and pedicure voucher for my efforts – a fair trade indeed.  This week, Angela traded a bottle of wine for Thelma’s foil artwork.