The Best Spots To Enjoy South Africa's Spring Wildflowers
Photo Cred: Pexels

It’s almost Spring… and we have a list of the best spots to enjoy South Africa’s wildflowers!

 

South Africa (16 August 2022) – The phenomenon of South Africa’s wildflowers occurs each spring when the arid, dusty earth of South Africa’s west coast bursts into fields of colourful flowers. White, purple, pink, red and flaming oranges create a tapestry of colour to create an annual phenomenon worth seeing.

Fynbos, vygies, daisies and nemesias are some of the hundreds of indigenous species that burst into bloom along South Africa’s western coast each spring. It is hardly surprising that thousands of visitors enjoy tours to the area between August and September each year to take photographs and marvel at this natural wonder.

The Best Spots To Enjoy South Africa's Spring Wildflowers! 
Photo Cred: Pexels

The bulb capital of the world – Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape – has already started transforming into landscapes of colour as springtime beckons. What’s more, the experts reckon the well-timed rain here could extend the flower season this year.

There are few better places to experience this incredible bulb diversity than at the Hantam National Botanical Garden, says former garden curator Eugene Marinus. This South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) garden is situated just outside the town of Nieuwoudtville in the Namaqualand.

“Every year is different,” says Marinus. “This year, the rain came a little later than usual, with another follow-up downpour taking place recently. And with more rain likely in the coming weeks, this could make the flowering season longer than usual.”

He believes the best time to visit will be from mid-August to mid-September.

Why you should add Nieuwoudtville to your flower-watching trip

While the West Coast is traditionally known as the place to enjoy the spring flowers, the Nieuwoudtville area should be added to any flower lover’s trip, he says.

“There are big differences between the two regions. While you’ll enjoy strandveld, sandveld and renosterveld species along the West Coast, you’ll find unique renosterveld species growing in Hantam. So you really should visit both.”

The Nieuwoudtville area is home to 1 350 species of flowers, with more bulbs per cubic metre than anywhere else in the world. Around a third are threatened with extinction.

“The endemism here is phenomenal. There are four different geologies – sandstone, tillite, dolerite and karoo – that all converge in a 20km radius, and these ecotones are why it’s so unique.”

Returning ‘home’ to the Hantam

As the founding curator of the Hantam NBG, Marinus (who no longer works at the garden) is now returning to his Hantam’ home’ for a month. Working with the national Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc), the West Coast BotSoc branch and SANBI, he’ll be offering tours in the garden between 15 August and 15 September. A flower specimen display organised by BotSoc between 19 and 28 August will also showcase the diversity. BotSoc is a not-for-profit civil society organisation working to protect South Africa’s indigenous plants.

Marinus says it’s not only the incredible multi-coloured hills and valleys that should encourage people to visit.

“It’s also the individual brilliance of some of the species. Like the ‘Perskussing’, which is a fascinating plant. It’s one of just five species pollinated by a special long-tongued fly. And the colour is very unusual, with incredible markings on it.”

Even more than that, the Hantam National Botanical Garden tells the story of the geology, the culture of the region, and how people here have interacted with plants over the centuries.

“Last year, after the lockdown ended, people flocked to the Hantam garden,” Marinus says. “In fact, the number of visitors here doubled from the previous year. And these were all South African visitors. South Africans are now seeing what our country has to offer – especially the Namaqualand. They want to get out of the cities, to enjoy the open country and the clean air. And our Hantam region offers them this.”

The Best Spots To Enjoy South Africa's Spring Wildflowers! 
Photo Cred: Pexels

Sources: The Botanical Society of South Africa 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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