Knowing that a few of you are so sensitive you may not have been getting much sleep since I promised this blog some weeks ago, So I shall interrupt my interminable accounts of the fantastic Central and Northern European botanic gardens I visited over the last month with a longing look back at this extraordinary and underrepresented genus of composites that is so prominent throughout much of South Africa. I start with the first of the reds: Helichrysum vernum is largely restricted to the northern Natal Drakensberg--mostly in what the locals there call the "Little Berg'--or middle elevation sandstone formations. This blooms earlier than the next two species--I photographed the specimen above in October of 1998. I don't believe this is currently in cultivation. It is one of the most spectacular daisies ever--and more is the pity! It varies from near crimson and scarlet to the rosy red above.
|Helichrysum ecklonis (Photograph by Todd Boland)|
|Koos and Kobus|
I received an email from a friend telling me that Dr. J.P. Roux, curator of the Compton Herbarium at the South African National Botanical Institute at Kirstenbosch was killed in a bicycle accident on Sunday, May 12, 2013. His son, now 19 years old (this picture was taken some time ago!) was also injured but will live. Dr. Roux was the authority on South African Pteridophyta (that's ferns and fern allies) and a great deal more. He was an extraordinary horticulturist who created the Drakensberg Botanical Garden in Harrismith, which unfortunately was de-commissioned in the late 1980's. I had a chance to walk this garden with Koos not too long after it had been jettisoned by SANBI and it was in wonderful shape still in 1994: sweeps of rare bulbs and choice alpines grown to perfection. A few years later entropy set in, and now it's pretty much back to nature. Some day I must scan those pictures and give this garden and Koos (as he liked to be known) a proper tribute. No one (except perhaps Olive and Burtt) knew or loved the Drakensberg more than he did.
|Koos surveying Helichrysum pagophilum in Lesotho|
|Koos admiring Mohria vestita and Cheilanthes ecklonis on Platberg|