Monday, October 31, 2011

I can almost smell the pungent...

... aromatic tang of the karoo in my nostrils when I look at this miniature gem: Arctotis adpressa has haunted me for nearly two decades. Unquestionably the hardiest of its genus, I first found it forming a huge mat (2 m. across!) on top of Hantamberg, in January of 1994: I scrounged a few dubious looking seedpods, and of course, they did not germinate. I found it again here and there along the Roggeveld plateau, where it is not terribly rare..but always in off season until a decade or so ago when I obtained some fresh seed that grew for Bill Adams of Sunscapes, the only nursery in the world that propagates and sells this that I know of (except, of course, for a few garden centers in the Denver area that buy this from Bill).

I am sure as I type this that tens and thousands of mats of this are blooming gloriously in the high Komsberg, on the ridges of the Niewveld mountains, on those magical high places of the High Karoo where I have spent just a few days now and again, and which nevertheless are branded on my memory and haunt my sleep. If I could only muster a few extra lifetimes, I would gladly spend one or two of them up there, in the wind, with that incredible biodiversity of bulbs, succulents, little shrubs and herbaceous treasures everywhere.

The picture above was taken last year at Denver Botanic Gardens. The one below at a private garden in Golden where it thrives.

I have a few husky specimens in my garden at home (not enough): like so many other gems I have collected, this hovers on the fringes of cultivation in America, and is by no means certain to persist. You should get one from Bill next spring! He sells them far too cheaply.

Some say autumn is a lovely season, and I guess I have to agree. The fall color was spectacular this year. But if I were a rich man, I would be treading the Eriocephalus and wandering the kloofs and koppies of the Great Karoo right now...and perhaps forever.


  1. Who might have an Eriocephalus to trade for a Rosmarinus that we keep hauling in and out each year?

    How was that Pawpaw?

  2. I no longer have the high altitude Eriocephalus I once germinated. (Drats). I especially miss the tiny form from Ouberg north of Graaf Reinet. We cut open one pawpaw that was turning yellowish two days ago: not quite ripe. Seed looked viable, however! One is turning brown and soft on me today...I shall try it after lunch! The big one is still bright green!


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