10 October 2010
Karoo Desert Botanical Garden
Date: 3 October 2010
Location: Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, near Worcester
Walkers: Michele and Helen
We took a drive out on the N1 to Worcester in order to visit the Karoo Desert Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of the town, in a little valley at the foot of the Hex River Mountains. Once through the entrance gate we followed the circular road though the garden, pleased to see that all the pathways and different sections of the garden were nicely signposted and labelled. We also picked up a map from the office.
Leaving our car at the upper parking area, our first visit was to the Spring Annual beds. This meant... daisies!
Even though their season was close to over there were many beautiful specimens. Note: Just a reminder that you can click on any photo to bring it up bigger. Really worth doing on these flower shots... the inside of daisies are amazing.
We could sense immediately that this garden was full of treasures.
We saw all sorts of different and interesting flowers. I didn't make much effort to identify plant names, instead just enjoying the variety and colour.
We ambled around the network of paths.
There was a lot of thorny acacia, especially on the edges of the garden.
This huge euphorbia was a focal point. It had flowers!
Many paths were made with the local shale, laid with lovely swirly patterns.
I recognised this as an Erythrina but not one I'd seen before. Erythrina acanthocarpa. What an unusual colour combination.
Wasn't long til we reached the Vygie beds. Aah, the vygies...
The were magnificent! The purple one almost made our eyes hurt it was so intense and vibrant. I've never seen so much purple.
I preferred the paler pinks. So pretty!
We skirted past the Crassula beds, admiring the various forms of these succulent plants.
The slopes near the restaurant and entrance are the oldest part of the garden, with fully mature bush. I loved the mix of plants and the subtle colours here.
A sign warned us about tortoises, and we saw several during the course of the day, busily going about their important tortoise-business.
As we headed back we took the Karoo Adventure Trail up the hillside, towards the newly-planted Quiver Tree Forest.
We were very intrigued by the tall shrubs covered in pink flowers and a puffy papery sort of fruit. I've no idea what they were!
As we got higher we walked through the Great Karoo bed, the Xhosa Medical Garden and the newly planted Maze. These areas are still being established, so probably need a few more years til they look their best.
We could see Worcester town centre in the middle distance.
We spotted many aloes, especially in the Eastern Cape bed.
We should make a point of visiting the garden again in winter, which is the flowering season for many aloes. They must be impressive in flower.
As we continued round the hill we could see down to the nurseries. Seems they have quite an operation here, propagating over a thousand different species, mainly succulents and bulbs. Guided tours can be arranged... could be interesting... maybe next time!
The Nama kookskerm is at the top of the hill.
The Cliff-dwelling Succulent beds were full of fascinating things.
I particularly loved the euphorbias and other prickly things.
There were many succulents that looked like fat little fingers.
The last sections we explored were the Richtersveld and Southern Namibian gardens right at the top. It was very arid up here, with extraordinary - and extraordinarily weird - plant forms.
I loved both the stem and the leaves of this tree aloe.
This one's called Pachypodium, common name elephants trunk.
The flowers were pretty, but the thorns simply terrifying.
We'd completed our circle through the garden, and decided to head down to the grassy lawns for a picnic before heading out on the track we could see on the opposite hillside: the Shale Trail.
(Part Two of our day at the Karoo Desert coming soon)