22 September 2007

Shona Sculpture Garden at Kirstenbosch

The Shona sculpture garden is in Kirstenbosch, but I thought it deserved a post all its own.

The ethnic group in Zimbabwe known as Shona are a Bantu tribe in origin that settled in what is now Zimbabwe about 2,000 years ago. They currently make up about 70% of the population in Zimbabwe. Although stone carvings have been found at the site of Great Zimbabwe (11th C.), the Zimbabwean stone carving that is seen today began in the late colonial period, around the 1950s. Early sculptures depicted tribal and spiritual myths; in later years the sculptures focused on familial groups. Today, Shona stone artists are experimenting with more abstract forms.

Below are just a few of the many wonderful works that are on display at Kirstenbosch.

Lola is a Leo, so she wanted this photo with the lion.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Of all the places Debbie, Lola and I visited during my final trip to Cape Town, it was at Kirstenbosch that I nearly cried. It is a magnificent, breathtakingly beautiful place. If I lived in Cape Town, I would join the Botanical Society and go there frequently. I love it so much.

When we first arrived, we walked up Camphor Avenue. This is an old lane of camphor trees from Hong Kong that John Cecil Rhodes planted. For a good history of Kirstenbosch, see http://www.sanbi.org/frames/kirstfram.htm.

Shortly after we exited Camphor Avenue, we stopped to photograph and admire a particular flower bed, and we heard the pitter patter of little feet. It was two guinea fowl (which are plentiful throughout the garden) running around and around and around that bed and a few others. We decided that it must be a mating ritual, and among the three of us, we must have taken dozens of photos and short videos. I love those dang guinea fowl!

I tried to cull photographs, honestly, but the place is just so lovely. I want to share all of it with you!

The mating race.

Pincushion proteas of some sort. Lots of different pincushion varieties were blooming, and I didn't make note of the names.

DANG, I love these birds!

Castle Rock. All of Kirstenbosch is situated on the eastern slopes of Table mountain.

Phylica pubescens or featherhead.


Another pincushion protea.

More pincushions.

I think this is a Cape Francolin, but I've already packed up my Birds of Southern Africa, and can't verify!

Protea sylvia bud.

Debbie emerging from a path in the woods.

Some type of erica.

A view to Rondebosch and the Cape Flats beyond.

Yet another pincushion protea.



Colonel Bird's bath. There was a Colonel Bird, and the bath is also shaped like a bird. It's fed by a spring.

Small waterfall below Colonel Bird's bath.

The glen.

Debbie in the glen.


Spring flowers. This section represents flowers in Namaqualand.

Strelitzia; what you Yanks call Bird of Paradise.

More Namaqualand beds

Erica baccans or bessieheide.

19 September 2007

West Coast National Park

One of the things I'm so sad that I didn't get to do is travel to Namaqualand to see the spring flowers. Namaqualand is mostly desert, but when the spring rains come, there are thick, multi-colored blankets of flowers. Go to Google images and search for namaqualand daisies, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Still, there are pretty flowers in other places not quite so far away, and we heard (while we were in Cape Town) that the flowers just up the west coast were still pretty. So, on the 2nd day we were down in the Cape, we drove about an hour and a half to the West Coast National Park near Langebaan.

The flowers are in a section called the Postberg Reserve. As we were driving that way, we saw a sign pointing to an Atlantic Ocean viewpoint. We turned left, drove a couple hundred yards, parked, got out of the car and said, "Oh, look. Whales."

Yep, it's whale season down here in South Africa, and we spent quite awhile watching the whales through our binoculars. (Both Debbie and Lola are birders and so had brought theirs, and I bought a good pair here for game viewing.) We believe they were Southern Right Whales, although a nearby sign said they could have been humpbacks.

We drove on into the Postberg and onto a loop road. There were lots of other flower watchers, too, but it wasn't too terribly crowded. We stopped at another place where there was a beautiful little beach and spent awhile there in the sand, sticking toes in the surf, gathering seashells, and taking more photos.

It wasn't quite as spectacular as Namaqualand, but still a very nice outing.

Mist over the Atlantic Ocean.

Field of yellow flowers.

Debbie watches whales.

Lola photographs flowers.