Sunday, February 1, 2015

Take two at Tiffindell...(a picture for NEARLY every year in my life)....

Delosperma cf. lavisiae
Occasionally, reality meets expectation more than half way: I'd been to Tiffindell before--but just two weeks ago the weather was so perfect, the variety of plants so stunning (including many I'd not seen there before) and all the good old friends up there I'd hope to see were in prime form. Some days you just want to encase in glass forever. Saturday, January 17 was just such a day! I featured a number in an earlier blog--mostly those from the Ridge to the South of the Ski area. These were mostly taken on the bowl and ridge to the West. Beginning (naturally) with a Delosperma--a cousin of which is well established in American gardens--in fact we have a clone called 'Tiffindell' whose image I will include after these two shots of it in the wild.

Delosperma cf. lavisiae
Another specimen--one is never enough!

Delosperma lavisiae 'Tiffindell'
It is worth contrasting this picture with the two previous ones: surely the plant is charming in the wild, but who anticipated that it would have such flower power in the garden (here at Denver Botanic Gardens' South African plaza). This blooms weeks before the other magenta species (cooperi, Table Mountain) and is considerably more cold hardy. This should help explain part of the justification and rationale for plant collecting if anything would...

Helichrysum ecklonis
Possibly my favorite helichrysum. I take it back--one of my twenty or thirty top favorites. I was chagrined when so many along on this trip were unimpressed with the genus. But then I know people who find rhododendrons ho hum, and sneer at just about anything. For me, the helichrysums of South Africa are endlessly fascinating: I recalled that this grew in large drifts not far down the road from Tiffindell. We arrived at night, so I missed it coming in: but on the way out--there they were: huge pads of them in every shade of sugar pink, rose and white. Groan.
Helichrysum aureum v. scopulosum

 A wonderfully accommodating plant. The typical form of the species is massive, summer blooming and monocarpic. This one blooms early and has lovely silvery rosettes. It's high on the list...

Helichrysum aureum v. scopulosum

 What a treat to see them dotted across the tundra!

View to the south: range after range in the distance
Technically not the Drakensberg proper, a whole raft of dozens of mountain ranges splinter from the main range just south and west of Tiffindell--forming an archipelago of biological diversity that is virtually untapped for North Temperate horticulture: needless to say, all day long I looked up at this vista with enormous nostalgia and longing--knowing (for instance) that 'Fire Spinner' was undoubtedly blooming its bloody head off in the Matterhorn slope of Sneeuberg exactly 200 miles away smack dab in the middle of this picture. You have just caught a glimpse of the tortured workings of my mind.

Berkheya purpurea
A local specialty, well esconced in Gardens since my first visit hereabouts twenty one years ago.

Berkheya purpurea

They were everywhere...

Helichrysum trilineatum
All three morphs of this "species" grew here, cheek by jowl. Here's the green leaf form.

Helichrysum marginatum
I believe I will be showing this fabulous strawflower from most every site on the Drakensberg: it was peaking everywhere. The creature on the left is the local Eidelweiss lookalike: just coming into bloom. Name to be added later...

Crassula sarcocaulis (center) and Ruschia putterillii (top)
This was obviously a reddish flowered form--similar to what I have seen at Wisley. Only hardier I hope! A plant high on my list of desiderata.
Albuca ?humilis
We saw albucas everywhere--in several species. I have not figured them out yet--this one sounded good since it was so small...

Felicia sp.
I haven't keyed this one out either: there were some stunning felicias...

Polygala myriostigma
Incredible  variety of milkworts--this was one of the smallest and most floriferous..

Meant to show the valerian in the middle--I have a better picture later of a larger specimen (different species?)

Nemesia capensis
A particularly nice form of this Nemesia--one of the participants pointed out the wonderful fragrance! It would be an outstanding garden plant (and possibly perennial)...

I had never realized that there valerians in the Drakensberg--another universal group of alpine plants. Not dissimilar to some of our Rocky Mountains species!

Yellow daisies gone wild...
If you do not like yellow or daisies you're out of luck. Stick to Walmart.

Glumicalyx lesuticus?
Quite distinct from the Glumicalyx we saw further north--a plant for nerds to be sure...

Helichrysum splendidum
I've seen this thriving in New York for Ernie Demarie--America's foremost grower of African plants.
I suspect he'll be reading this and will smile when he sees my acknowledgment!
Helichrysum ("fairy gtarden")
This picture does not capture the astonishing miniature charm of this helichrysum I've never seen before. It is positively MINISCULE: it would make the ULTIMATE fairy garden plant (I know, I too am gaggin). Check out the next two pics if you don't believe me!
Helichrysum "Fairy Garden"

Helichrysum "Fairy Garden"
This glowers are barely 3 mm across! Cute as HECK..
Euphorbia clavarioides v. truncata
This fabulous cushion euphorb grows far to the north and south of here--but seems to grow with special glory on the East Cape alpine. A small specimen with yellow seedpods and latex from where baboons no doubt sampled them...
Euphorbia clavarioides v. truncata
A closeup of the wonderful ripe red pods...
Euphorbia clavarioides v. truncata
I've seen a few almost this size in Colorado--alas, cold winters eventually seem to get them. Maybe this higher form will work!
Euphorbia clavarioides v. truncata
A final shot. The plant behind is Helichrysum trilineatum no doubt.
Euphorbia clavarioides v. truncata
Here Oxalis obliquifolia decided to grow in the middle of the clump!
Helichrysum trilineatum (wooly race--on top) and [bottom] Euryops candollei
First shot of the fabulous local specialty: Euryops candollei is pretty much restricted to a narrow belt around Tiffindell and the neighboring East Cape mountains--the ericoid gem of its genus....

Euryops candollei
This one is going into seed...

Euryops candollei
Trip participant Linda Hill photographing a dense mounding specimenl..
Euryops candollei
I had to take the picture too!
Euryops candollei
A young specimen to give you a sense of the wonderfully beaded foliage!

A lovely grass...
Guess you had to be there: there were wonderful grasses everywhere...

Senecio seminiveus
A green leaf form of one of my favorite senecios--we've succeeded with this on and off for years.
Dierama cf. robustum
And of course there are Dierama...
Geranium cf. brycei
I am not 100% sure of the identity: this splendid species has a restricted range in the high Drakensberg...this should make a wonderful garden plant.
Closeup of G. brycei

Geranium magniflorum
We have grown this for decades now in Denver--a fantastic garden plant which (alas) has not gotten firmly into the trade.
Sebaea sp.
South African Gentianaceae are mostly yellow--or white. This was the local rep.

Kniphofia hirsuta
It may not be so dazzling in this shot, but do check the first three pictures in my earlier blog to see what this does in the garden. I believe my 1994 collection established this in the Northern Hemisphere horticulture.
Kniphofia Northiae
Obviously moved from the meadow nearby--it shows what a fabulous garden plant this giant Kniphofia can be in cultivation. Also introduced in 1994,,,

Tiffindell from the Ridge to the East
A few shots from different vantage points showing the lodges and the setting--a wonderful place to visit!
Tiffindell : field of Kniphofia caulescens in center...

Tiffindell : field of Kniphofia caulescens in center...
Every glimpse seems a bit different as you wander the slopes...
Tiffindell : field of Kniphofia caulescens in center...
I shall let you imagine the marvels in that field of Kniphofia--Linda Meyer photographed numerous sunbirds there closeup.

Tiffindell: field of Kniphofia caulescens in center...
Eumorphia prostrata
Another local specialty: this should make an oustanding evergreen groundcover if ever properly introduced.
Eumorphia prostrata
closer view
Same Eumorphia prostrata from further way.

Ruschia putterillii
A closeup of the last flower of spring on the giant ruschia of the Drakensberg. We have an extremely vigorous form of this which I believe is a hybrid with R. hamata, given to us in 1989 by John Lavranos--a great Greek botanist who lives in Portugal. This form is slower growing and denser.
Ruschia putterillii
Another view of a gnarly shublet on the rock...
Ruschia putterillii
And the moster of the hill--nearly 18" across. I have seen them a yard across a few miles away.
Senecio macroglottris?
There are at least four species of pink Senecio all over the Drakensberg--one lovelier than the next. Only S. polyodon seems firmly established in cultivation (we saw that one on Baboon Pass in south central Lesotho)..

Senecio macroglottris?
Another one...

Senecio macroglottris?
This especially fine flowered form grew in moist swales ane even along the stream.

Stachys hyssopifolia
Alas, the smell is unpleasant. But otherwise an outstanding groundcover that was common around the lodge.
Stachys hyssopifolia
Growing with Forget-me-not...

Stachys hyssopifolia
And here the Stachys is growing in the wild on rocks...
The bar up the hill--you have to climb to get a drink here! It was closed during our visit (drats)...
And I finish with a bulb I recalled growing around the vlei (South African for marsh). I was thrilled that it was still there--although the Ski area had expanded a way towards the vlei. But they have done so in the best of taste. The rooms were surprisingly elegant. I wish I could have stayed all summer. South Africa I love you!


  1. Good grief …
    I'll be damned …
    Bugger, bugger, bugger …
    Very acceptable, Mr. K. …. VERY, VERY ACCEPTABLE!!!!

  2. Yep, I'm smiling, thanks for the props. And those photos, they are so wonderful! Nice Berkheya macrocephala in there too. I think the senecio is S. macrocephalus, its hardy here, but I had no idea it liked water that much. I have tons of seed if I haven't already sent some to Mike K. Keep those photos coming, I look forward to learning more of your latest SA adventure. Ernie


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