Orchids at De Kelders/Gansbaai

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Originally posted on roncorylus:
We went to De Kelders and Gansbaai this afternoon to search for orchids and were rewarded with a couple of lifers!  I must admit, however, that it was only due to Lester’s expert knowledge that we…

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Dr Di Marais wins Mayoral Award for Environmental Conservation

The Hermanus Botanical Society heartily congratulates Chairman Dr Di Marais on winning the 2018 Mayoral Award for Environmental Conservation. The awards ceremony took place on 4th October.

Di’s award is richly deserved. She has worked tirelessly to promote the priceless botanical assets of the Hermanus area, vigorously defending the Society’s constitutional mandate to promote the integrity of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

She has chaired the Hermanus Botanical Society for four years. The international scientific community has benefitted by her facilitation of the digital recording of the entire plant species of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

Her enthusiasm motivates a growing team of volunteers to increase and disseminate their knowledge of the Cape Floral Kingdom within the local community.

Under her editorship, Society members wrote and published the acclaimed guidebook “Fernkloof Nature Reserve”.

Her latest project, the new Research Centre at Fernkloof, will be officially opened in December. It will serve as a general information hub for the public, host environmental courses and be a satellite centre for the Millenium Seedbank Project of Kew Gardens, London. 

 Deirdre Richards

Di Marais portrait

Di Marais

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The Flower Festival

Its amazing how quickly a year passes and the hard working members of the BotSoc are once more called into service to set everything up and decorate the Fernkloof Hall in magnificent splendour.  Even the weather conspired against getting all the specimens in, but the Specimen room looks great and is full of interesting blooms.  Sandy and Liz spend hours there and one has to admire their dedication.  (Unfortunately they got so involved with putting up the ‘watching water’ prints that they even hung a few of them upside down!  Good thing there was somebody there to correct their mistakes – but that is just me being cheeky.  These two ladies never make mistakes with the plants!!)

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Botanical Art with Barbara Pretorius

Leonotis leonurus

The Fernkloof Hall was overflowing on Friday evening with both HBS members and guests looking forward to learning more about botanical art as interpreted by Barbara Pretorius.

Barbara has been painting flowers for thirty years or so.  She loves plants as a whole life form. The colourful petals attract your attention in the first instance, but Barbara was at pains to demonstrate that close examination of the shapes and textures of other plant parts such as corms, stems or leaves brings great rewards. She taught us that looking at the living world though an artist’s eye opens another whole dimension to the enjoyment of our floral kingdom.

She brought copies of her delightful book with her, in which she relates snippets of fascinating historical and medical information relevant to the plant she has chosen to illustrate on each page.

It being the HBS’s traditional Soup and Sherry evening, the audience then turned to the difficult decision of choosing from the variety of delicious soups on offer. That problem solved and with a glass of sherry on the side, long-standing and new members enjoyed chatting to each other with the companionship of a shared interest.

The photo included here is from Barbara’s book.  The HBS has a copy in the library so please contact our librarian, Ann Mapham, if you would like to borrow it at any time.

Di Marais

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Flower frenzy on De Mond se Kop

This gallery contains 48 photos.

Originally posted on roncorylus:
This morning I had the singular pleasure of accompanying eight ladies on their walk up the Zig-Zag path and on to De Mond se Kop in search of interesting plants.  We were not disappointed. A bitterly…

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The Human – Baboon interface in Rooiels

Baboon 1 - Copy

The HBS hosted the much anticipated baboon talk by Joselyn Mormile on Friday 22 June. The packed-to-capacity hall gave an indication of the interest in the subject and the Q&A afterwards revealed the various concerns in the community. (The glass of excellent wine at the door may have had something to do with the turnout as well.)

Joselyn’s PowerPoint presentation discussed the preliminary findings of her interdisciplinary PhD work on the Rooiels baboon troop. She briefly covered their social system, diet, spatial ecology and an interesting graph showing no real rise in the troop size over a 15-year period. In this particular troop, road-kills are keeping their numbers in check. Other surprises were the misinterpreted facial expressions. Baboons communicate primarily through body gestures and facial expressions, the most noticeable (and misunderstood) being the submissive fear-face which involves pulling the mouth back in what looks like a wide toothy grin. Joselyn pointed out that if a dog did that it would be interpreted as a threatening snarl whereas the baboon is showing submission & fear. An aggressive or threatening baboon uses an eyelid signal – raising eyebrows and revealing pink skin.

Regarding the human-baboon conflict and coexistence, it is very clear that the individual has to adapt their lifestyle and take certain measures to baboon-proof their homes; baboon-proof latches, window bars, trellidoors and special bins to mention but a few.

The heart of the problem is that baboons get easy rewards foraging in urban environments and as their home ranges diminish we can expect to encounter them more and more in our living space.

Gilly Louw

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Platbos

There’s always lots of enthusiasm on a BotSoc walk: eager observers all of the wonders that bless us in the Overberg, experts in the Latin genus, species and family and those of us who dabble around the edges using a mongrel mengsel of English and Afrikaans common names.

On the May 2 Platbos walk, though, there was an added something going on: forests sprites, wise tree Ents or something druidic. Who knows, but what a magic morning it was, a breeze in the upper canopy, a sky flitting in and out of grey, the soft crunch of forest floor underfoot and our voices ringing out at each new wonder.

Frank commented that Platbos is not a very healthy forest, stressed as it is by exposure, poor soil and lack of water. It’s not the usual afromontane forest tucked into a damp and protective fold of a kloof. Its own brochure describes it as an enigma, with Celtis, Apodytes and Olinia dominating the tree mix and with many of the usual afromontane species absent. The sandy alkaline soil is dark with the history of dead trees and many of the species are a mix of the living and the dead. The new springs from the old creating an intricate intimacy of shapes, one generation nursing along the next, new growth folding and squeezing out of the old in a process called facilitation. Along with this dank, dark process of life support the brochure suggests that the early morning mists during the summer mornings help the forest survive the heat of the dry season. The extensive presence of Old Man’s Beard is probably a measure of all this stress but it does add a special spooky wistfulness to the atmosphere.

Adding to the magic of the forest are layers of vegetal texture: polka dot lichens paint the bark, particularly of the white stinkwoods. In other places bark is covered in dense bobbly moss which in turn supports little colonies of strap-leafed ferns and frilly families of pretty round leaves we couldn’t identify but which looked liked baby spekboom clusters draping over the branches.

An old Japanese tradition of forest bathing, — immersing one’s soul in the nurturing atmosphere of the forest as a healing balm — has gained global cachet as our world seeks alternatives to all the ills we’ve created. For the 25 HBS members who bathed I’m sure we’ll soon crave a return to the special enigma of Africa’s southernmost forest. I’m imaging an overnight in one of their camping sites. Who knows what sprites may come out to play and perhaps not just the leafy kind but the furry ones too, all listed as residents we did not meet — not yet.

Submitted by Dale Lautenbach

Apologies for the late posting of this article – I was away.   Ed.

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