Where to see the flowers in Cape Town
Whilst a fleeting search on Google will divulge that the spring flowers are found north of Cape Town along the R27, this is not entirely true. There are places in Cape Town where you can see wild spring flowers that erupt at this time of year. Namaqualand daisies they might not be, but they still qualify as spring flowers.
Baden Powell Drive is alive with flowers, at least it was last weekend. Just near the second roundabout after Muizenberg you will find a carpet of white daisies, interspersed with any number of little yellow, pink and white oxalis, pelargoniums, sorrel, gazanias, and watsonias. A litle further along and a spread of cerise vygies graces both sides of the road. Did I mention the arum lilies?
It isn’t a prolific expanse of flowers in Cape Town, this is after all not the West Coast but sand dunes in the city. But on Sunday I went clambering through these to photograph them and had a richly rewarding experience for the clambering. Drive past at a leisurely pace and murmur about their prettiness. But you’ll see a whole lot more if you stop, get out of your car, and scramble in amongst them. I promise at least a half hour of entertainment, and an immediate feeling of expansiveness – not bad for an experience in the city.
But if you miss the flowers on Baden Powell there are other obvious, and not so obvious places you can visit to see them. Head up Ou Kaapse Weg towards Silvermine and little spring flowers are immediately obvious. Even a drive will reveal an expanse of yellow proteas and pink spring flowers. A walk in amongst the fynbos at this time of year yields any number of surprises. Over the next couple of months walks in the Silvermine area, particularly from Gate two, promise to be a bevy of watsonias, daisies, vygies and proteas.
Silvermine’s flowers form part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, and the reserve is part of Table Mountain National Park. Whilst many of the flowers here are fynbos delights, you will, nonetheless, see vygies and daisies.
Without doubt Kirstenbosch, set on the mountains slopes of Cape Town, boasts one of the most spectacular spring floral displays. At Kirstenbosch, the first of the annuals bloom from late July and the gardens are a feast of daisies of every imaginable hue. It helps that all of this lushness is set against the craggy slopes of Table Mountain and that the fynbos section of Kirstenbosch is out of this world. Enter via the lower gate and you’ll see a profusion of Namaqualand daisies in the first beds as you enter the garden. They’re planted in beds that place them at eye level, which is an absolute treat.
The Edith Stephens Wetland Park in Lansdowne Road in Philippi, and the Wolfgat Nature Reserve and Macassar Dunes, are both local nature reserves that are relatively unknown but both of which should have a wonderful display of spring flowers and arum lilies. Edith Stephens, named after the eccentric botanist who donated this land to Kirstenbosch to protect, was once an illegal dumpsite and is now a gorgeous garden park. It often has a feast of succulent Karoo and spring flower displays. It also harbors a primitive and rare fern unique to this area, said to be a relic of the time of the dinosaur.
Wolfgat, named after the brown hyena or strandwolf that was found in Cape Town during the 1840s, has a host of strandveld spring flowers on the edge of a Phragmites wetland. The challenge is to get to see them, as the reserve is closed over weekends. However, it is part of the Baden Powell Drive, and you should see a host of flowers on the side of the road.
The roads leading to Cape Point around Kommetjie are filled with spring flowers in bloom. These paths have the added bonus of incredible views over the sea. And if you drive further to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, you’re guaranteed to see brilliant blooms of spring flowers. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is host to 2 700 species of indigenous plants, and picnic spots and walks through the reserve will bring you up close and personal with spring flowers.
You have only to head up the R27 as far as the West Coast National Park and Darling to find the flowers at their best. The West Coast National Park is 120 kilometres from Cape Town and, at this time of year, a multi-coloured tapestry of flowers.
In particular try and see Postberg, the special section of the park that is only open during August and September but which yields an utterly magical picture at this time of year – there are those who advocate that it is probably the best display of Namaqualand spring flowers, anywhere (it gets pretty crowded so try and go during the week if you can).
Darling is quite literally a startling collection of flowers available at various reserves – Darling Renosterveld Reserve behind the primary school, Tienie Versfeld Reserve on the R315 en route to Yzerfontein, the Darling Groenekloof Reserve, the Contreberg, and the Duckitt Nurseries Wildflower Reserve, just infront of Duckitt Nursery where a farm road will take you through the reserve.
Over and above this already long list of places to see a veritable plethora of flowers that include the critically endangered Leipoldt-se-bobbejaantjie, blue flax, raindaisies, hermannia, yellow spiloxene, snotroesie, pink ixias, bloukappie, butterfly lily, sandgeelgesiggie and a myriad other, there are also the Cloof and Burgherspost wine estates, and two flower shows: The Darling Wildflower Show (17-19 Sept) and the Duckitt Nurseries Orchid Show (16 -19 Sept).