View of Hexriver Mountain range from the shale trail

This section includes:

  • Amaryllid bulb bed displaying autumn flowering amaryllids e.g. Brunsvigia orientalis and Boophone disticha.
  • Spring annuals that turn into a spectacular display of colour from August – October. There are alos a great variety of aloes in this section.
  • Shale Trail is a 1 km steep hike with lovely views
  • Southern Namibian Garden, currently under construction.
  • Richtersveld/ Gariep area, South Africa’s mountain desert, displays plants with unique survival strategies e.g. Pachypodium namaquanum. This theme now covers a larger part of the Garden and also includes plants

Amaryllid Bulb Bed

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Various geophytes (bulbs) have been planted in the linear bed next to the Index Nursery glasshouses. The bulbs mostly belong to the Clivia family – Amaryllidaceae.

The best time to see these unusual and colourful bulbs is during the autumn months (March – May). First to flower are the boophones in February and last to flower are the nerines. In most cases the leaves appear after flowering. Flowering depends on moisture and carbohydrates stored in the bulb from the previous growing season.

When visiting this area you will see river stones in the bulb beds. These have been placed there to prevent the nocturnal African porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) from digging up the bulbs and eating them.

Brunsvigia orientalis remain dormant during the summer, thus conserving their energy until autumn, when the underground bulbs produce large showy flowers. After flowering, large flat strap-like leaves are produced. Early morning dew condenses on these flat strap-like leaves thus supplying the plant with additional water.

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Brunsvigia orientalisBoophone disticha and Crossyne guttata are amaryllids displayed in this section.

Spring Annuals

 Namaqualand daisies

Annual daisies announce the beginning of spring. Masses of Dimorphotheca sinuata (Namaqualand daisy), Ursinia calenduliflora (berggousblom) and Ursinia cakilefolia (glansoogmagriet) are planted in this section. These two ursinias are endemic to Namaqualand. These spring annuals last from late July till Mid October.

 Ursinias

Spring annuals are made up of several genera and species of indigenous plants. The floral tapestry of Namaqualand spring flowers is made up of Namaqualand daisies, ursinia, heliophila (sporrie), arctotheca and osteospermums.

Rather than facing stressful summer conditions, annuals die, leaving behind thousands of tiny seeds for the next spring. With a short lifespan, annuals need to invest large amounts of energy in reproduction. Some annuals, e.g. the Namaqualand daisy, Dimorphotheca sinuata, produce two types of seed. One falls near the parent plant and germinates rapidly. The other has wings and is dispersed by the wind further away from the parent plant. The non-winged seeds have a long dormancy period, enabling the species to survive during periods of low seed production.

This section has the widest variety of aloes in the garden including:

  • Aloe vanbalenii (Van Balen’s aloe) with its creeping stems and yellow flowers
  • Aloe castanea (Cat’s tail) with its distinctive long snake-like inflorescence
  • The stemless Aloe cryptopoda and the Coral aloe, Aloe striata
  • Various varieties of Aloe arborescens named after the curators of Kirstenbosch

Shale Trail

View along the shale trail

The Shale Trail is one of two hiking trails in the natural area of the Garden. The trail is fairly steep at the beginning. Named after the dominant rock in the Garden, Malmesbury shale, the trail is approximately 1 km long and will take about 30 minutes to walk. The trail starts near the upper parking area. It is a circular route that ends near the spring annual beds, slightly to the right (east) of where one started. See the map for orientation.Worcester vygies in flower

The trail is well worth hiking throughout the year.

In spring the whole area suddenly bursts into a colourful display of reds, yellows, pinks and purples. Vygies(mesembs) include Drosanthemum speciosumLampranthus haworthii and Ruschia caroli. Yellow flowering Pteronia incana and Haworthia herbaceaflower during the same period.

Summers can be colourful too – the botterboom (Tylecodon paniculatus) gives colour to an otherwise barren landscape. In summer temperatures can reach 43°C and it is recommended that visitors who intend to hike start early in the day.

Autumn flowering bulbs include Brunsvigia josephinae and Haemanthus coccineusConophytum ficiforme (Buttons) and various oxalis species in flower in May.

In winter Aloe microstigma brightens up cold winter days with its orange yellow inflorescence. The Hex River Mountains in the distance, along with most mountain ranges in the area, are usually covered in snow in the winter, creating a lasting impression.

View from shale trail with Aloe microstigma in the foreground

Items to take with you when hiking include: water bottle, sunscreen, hat, hiking shoes, sunglasses and a long sleeved shirt in summer to stop your arms from getting sun burnt.

oxalis

Both the Shale Trail and the Grysbokkie Trail in the natural area of the Garden are open to all our visitors. The trails are walked at visitor’s own risk. Please take note of the Gardens rules and regulations.

Southern Namibian Garden

This area is still under construction, the euphorbias have been taken out and transplanted at the lower parking area. Keystone plants for this area will include Cyphostemma juttaeCyphostemma currorii and Welwitschia mirabilis. The site faces west and is ideal for cultivating plants from the arid regions of southern Namibia.

Richtersveld/Gariep Section

A large section of the garden has been set aside for the Richtersveld/ Gariep area as it not only focuses on plants from the Richtersveld, but also includes plants growing along the Gariep (Orange) river as well. The Richtersveld can be described as South Africa’s mountain desert area in the dry Northern Cape, bordering Namibia. Here one finds endemic halfmensPachypodium namaquanum and the endangered giant quiver tree, Aloidendron pillansii.

Pachypodion namaquanum (Halfmens)

Halfmens means ‘half human’ in English. The Afrikaans common name was given because the silhouette of the halfmens on the distant hill looks like people standing against the setting or rising sun.The geology of the region is unique and very old. Deep valleys and different soil types have aided plant evolution, resulting in considerable plant diversity.

This section also include other fascinating plants such as the quiver tree (Aloidendron dichotomum), maiden’s quiver tree Aloidendron ramosissimum and the sought after Pearson’s aloe, Aloe pearsonii. There are also beautiful flowering pelargoniums, shrubs, and bulbs. Each plant has its own fascinating survival strategy in this ancient mountain desert kingdom.

Richtersveld section with mini quiver tree forest

The Afrikaans and English common names (kokerboom and quiver tree), were given because the San (Bushmen) hollow the branches out, cover the one end with leather, to make a quiver (koker) to carry their arrows.

Today the quiver tree is one of the plants used as an indicator of climatic change. Recent research done on the quiver tree revealed that quiver tree populations have already been impacted negatively by climatic change. Data revealed that populations in the north are slowly dying out. Some large quiver trees still survive, but they just do not seem to be able to germinate under these abnormally warm conditions. Quiver tree populations are slowly shifting their range southwards, moving away from the equator.

Visit our plant information website to read more about plants in our Garden.

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