Diana Lawrenson

— Writer —

Diana Lawrenson Pages to Places Blog

Welcome to my blog that takes you from pages to places. Come and discover some quirky, little-known, or loose-but-relevant links from books to places around the world. You might even like to add a book suggestion of your own to the topic.

30 May 2017 | Kirstenbosch Gardens, South Africa


My strelitzias have begun to bloom, a sign Kirstenbosch Gardens, South Africawinter is close. Soon a host of suburban gardens will spike with the orange and indigo bird of paradise flowers, so common they’ll arouse little comment. The strelitzia memorable to me is Mandela’s Gold that has yellow sepals instead of orange. I saw it flowering at the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town a few months before Nelson Mandela died. Upright, able to withstand tough conditions, and rare, like the man.

The Kirstenbosch Gardens nestle at the foot of Table Mountain. The day we visited was sunny, enhancing swathes of bright blooms that made us gasp. Elegantly plumed guinea fowl, oblivious to visitors, picked their way delicately across healthy lawns and through flower beds. A couple of tortoises ambled along…and stopped.

Much of the Garden’s plant life was familiar, given both South Africa and Australia share the heritage of Gondwanaland. The range of South Africa’s indigenous proteas, pincussions, leucodendrons and other heat-tolerant plants seemed endless. It was a feast of mix and match ideas for the garden.Kirstenbosch Gardens Pages to Places

Table Mountain with tableclothTable Mountain is the reason the plants thrive. Moisture-laden winds from the west blowing in from across the sea hit the mountain, rise and pause, creating a tablecloth of cloud. As the ‘tablecloth’ moves slowly eastward, rain falls in far higher quantities on the mountain’s eastern side – where the Kirstenbosch Gardens are – and the plants show their appreciation.

Back home I’ve put a yellow pincushion plant in a hot part of my garden. So far it’s growing well. I’m giving it sufficient water in the hope it will bloom prolifically by the strelitzias.

Kirstenbosch GardensPages to Places

  1. What a lovely garden!

  2. Had a picnic at Kirstenbosch Gardens many years ago. A lovely, tranquil place in a not so tranquil country. I always look forward to the strelitzias blooming too, Diana.

    1. What an apt description, Ella.

  3. As usual, a wonderfully written and interesting blog post, Diana. Terrific photos too.

    1. Thanks, Corinne. Do visit the Gardens if you’re in South Africa.

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