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Monday, August 31, 2020

Spring 2020 Flowers Video

We have not yet been on our official annual flower excursion yet, but a quick drive up the West Coast for a few hours this past weekend proved to be so much fun.   

Sometimes a photo just does not justify the true beauty of nature.  My video footage is not the greatest, but I'm still discovering all the new features of my new video software #FilmoraPro -  while I am having endless fun this year in the flowers.  The drought has departed and the flowers have arrived, saying thank you.  

This is truly a wonder of nature and a must-see.    

Take some time out, stop, smell the flowers, and give your soul time to catch up with you.


Thank you to my wonderful husband, Alex and our beautiful family for joining me in the fun!

Join the Facebook Group: 
West Coast Flowers of South Africa

#Flowers #Spring #Spring2020 ##WestCoast #SouthAfrica #Langebaan #Postberg #Cederberg #BiedouwValley #Namaqualand #Daisies #FilmoraPro

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Boschendal Lane


(The Boschendal Lane Champion Karri Gum Trees)
(Myrtacaea: Eucalyptus diversiclour)
Karri Gum
Alternate common name 
Karriebloekom (Afrikaans)

The Boschendal wine estate perfectly positioned in the fertile mountain valleys and popular amongst wine lovers in the cape. The name Boschendal broken into Bos-en-Dal, or wood and valley, reveals this breathtakingly beautiful area, Situated between the Simonsberg and Drakenstein mountains. We were heading towards the Winelands, approximately one hour outside Cape Town. Passing Stellenbosch and on the way to Franschhoek, this is South Africas second oldest wine estate, dating back to 1685. Boschendal is a place were generations of families have worked and steeped in history, with its dated heritage buildings and manor houses, we were automatically transformed back in time.

With a host of activities, guests staying in the cottages can enjoy farm living and access to hiking trails, MTB trails, horse riding, cellar tours and wine tasting to name but a few.

(The Boschendal Lane Champion Karri Gum Trees)


We visited on a warm sunny summers day excited by the prospect of yet another encounter with some magnificent trees. Tree hunting is exciting as one never quite know what to expect. We were only day visitors, so access to the farm would be limited. We had no knowledge as to where to locate the trees on the estate. Luck was on our side, and after some negotiating with the manager on duty, we were escorted to the now-famous Boscendal Lane.

A huge lane of Karri Gum trees lines the road to the old manor house on the estate. This grove of trees is estimated to be over two centuries old and recorded as the tallest trees in the country by virtue of their overall size index. Standing a staggering 50,4m tall and with a crown measuring an impressive 33,6m these are gigantic beasts indeed. What makes these Champions more impressive is the number of trees that form a wall-like fortress with more than twenty trees dominating the landscape.

(The Boschendal Lane Champion Karri Gum Trees)

We were under an escort, so we did not get enough time to connect with these colossal giants, but this gives us more reason to return to savour some quiet quality time in their presence. Who knows we may book a cottage and spend the weekend enjoying this magnificent wine estate and all the magic that it has to offer. Could not think of anything better than watching the sunset and sipping on some of the finest wines in the country right here amongst this splendour.
(The Boschendal Lane Champion Karri Gum Trees)

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Kindergarten Giant

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Moreton Bay Fig (Moracaea: Ficus macrophylla)
Common name Australian Banyan

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in the Western Cape, driving along Rhodes Drive take the UCT off-ramp and proceed to the upper campus. This delightful specimen has established a foothold in the UCT Educare Center, vigilantly minding the children at play.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Originating from the eastern shores of Australia here stands a true Champion, Moreton Bay Fig or Australian banyan (Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla). Its common name is derived from Moreton Bay in Queensland, Australia, a strangler fig by nature, with seed germination usually taking place in the canopy of a host tree and the seedling lives as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground. Enlarging, then strangling its host, eventually becoming a freestanding tree.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

We owe a debt of gratitude to the UCT's online communications head and long-time tree lover, Rethea Deetlefs, who has immortalized this majestic tree. Alerting the Dendrological Society of South Africa about this remarkable giant, it was shortlisted by the Champion Tree evaluation panel and listed as the Kindergarten Giant.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

 Unique in its construction and appearance in comparison to its closest rivals just down the road so to speak. The behemoth Arden Garden Moreton Bay fig with its muscular limbs and imposing buttress roots, or the Fernwood Trees with towering column-like trunks, tall and slender like models on the runway, in perfect step.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Elegant and refined the Kindergarten Giant branches out like a fountain, providing pleasant, shade for the centre's playpark.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

We visited during the lockdown period, deserted and quiet, allowing us time to appreciate such a magnificent colossus. It was late summer and hot, the sun was bright and high; nevertheless, the expanse of the canopy provided sufficient shade to savour our time spent.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Another unique quality of the Kindergarten Giant is the myriad of rooting arrangements that adorn this creature like a thick warm cloak. Surrounding the central trunk, disguising its breadth and providing an unusual character for this tree. We have no doubt that it contributes sufficient entertainment for the children as it did for our gathering on the day.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)


Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Content with the understanding that this alien champion tree is protected from the woodcutter's axe, we departed adding to the list of numerous tales this tree must have recorded.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)


Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan



Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan

Friday, August 7, 2020

Cellars-Hohenort Hotel Camphor Tree Grove

Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(The grove of eight majestic camphor trees)

Camphor Trees (Lauraceae: Cinnamomum camphora
Alternate common name Kanferboom (Afrikaans)

Having witnessed the remarkable 300-year-old champion camphor trees, planted by William Van Der Stel, at the Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West.  Standing in front of the manor house and observing these remarkable trees, they will take your breath away. The trees were planted from seeds imported from Java (then under Dutch control) and lined out in front of the manor house.  

We were excited to learn about a similar elegant grove of champion camphor trees at the Hohenort Estate.  

Refined and distinguished, this impressive grove of beautiful camphor trees more youthful by comparison and only 150 years old, are perfectly placed in this internationally acclaimed garden.

The Cellars Hohenort was initially known as the Klaasenbosch farm, an estate that in 1693 belonged to the chief surgeon of the Duch East India Company, Hendrik ten Damme.  The Cellars building was the original wine cellar on the farm, high up on the slopes of Table Mountain, overlooking the Constantia Valley in Cape Town.  In 1906 the farm was bought by Arnold Spilhaus who constructed the Hohenort buildings.

After the death of Spilhaus in 1947, the farm was split into two sections and sold.  Then in 1991, the cellars building was purchased by Liz McGrath, who wanted to restore its historical beauty and convert the estate into a hotel.
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(one of the larger trees in the grove)

Peering over the wall, she admired this remarkable grove of eight Camphor Trees with loving and longing despair. It didn't take her long, she purchased the neighbouring Hohenort Hotel in 1993, re-uniting the two buildings and nine acres of surrounding property. 

After winning a string of international awards for its spectacular gardens, the Cellars-Hohenort estate had finally established itself as an international venue of choice.
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(The Hohenort Estate Hotel surrounded by Champions)

We visited the Cellars-Hohenort estate in winter, the garden was not as well kept as one would have expected, and the path was slippery and uneven. The camphor trees, on the other hand, had us in awe, we spent the morning exploring and appreciating the company of these stunning trees.

In the spring we would love to return in the late afternoon's fading light, with a glass or two of some of Constantias finest wine at hand, watching this magnificent performance, like ballerinas in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, all in perfect harmony.  
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(Ballerinas all perfectly in step)
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(Refined and elegant)
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(The entrance to the Cellars-Hohenort Estate)
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(some scale to these 150-year-old majestic trees)
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(Keanin admiring the size and beauty of the ballerinas)
Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(Wondering through this award-winning international garden, nine acres of splendour)

Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(We will return to replenish our souls)

Cellars-Hohenort, Camphor Tree Grove, Champion Trees, Cape Town, Photo of camphor tree, Alex Aitkenhead, Constantia
(Planted from seeds imported from Java as per the trees in Vergelegen)