Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In search of lost time: Sani Pass almost 20 years ago....

Sani Pass, January 1994
They have sat there for decades now, in the depths of my closet. A metal box full of pictures I took in 1994 on my first trip to South Africa. A volunteer at Denver Botanic Gardens--Ann Frazier--has begun to scan these transparencies--most of which were shot at the wrong ASA, but through the magic of digital enhancement we can almost recover the original color.  I gaze at these pictures that she accumulates every week with an enormous sense of nostalgia and gratitude. That was my first trip to South Africa. Although I have been up Sani Pass at different seasons and other years, that was my initial exposure to one of the floral wonders of the world. The Delosperma in the picture above is a mystery to me. Something in the lavisiae/obtusum complex no doubt. The Helichrysum in undoubtedly H. confertum--one of the greatest rock garden plants not yet in cultivation. Just look at those big fluffy clouds. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh! (That's a big heartfelt sigh)...

Koos Roux on the summit
 I have mourned Koos recently, and will not repeat my lament--but what a bittersweet pleasure it is to see this picture of him back then. My Cicerone and boon companion.

Senecio seminiveus
 One doesn't imagine senecios growing next to water: this is actually a wonderful rock garden plant and the foliage can be quite silvery as well as this matte green...

Mystery Helichrysum sp.
 I would never have remembered this amazing selaginoid Helichrysum which I've never seen since--wouldn't that be a fun plant for a rock garden?

Sani pass from Sani top
 Looking at those bald hills from a distance, who would dream that they harbor literally thousands of kinds of spectacular plants?

An unknown species of Lizard
My garden mentor, Paul Maslin, was a great herpetologist--so I naturally try and take pictures of lizards whenever I can. I also captured some mysterious red flowered composite (or at least I think it's a composite)--South Africa is like that. Something mysterious wherever you look...

And so it goes--I have not nibbled on a Madeleine, as had the protagonist of "A la recherche du Temps perdu", but seeing digitized and "cleaned up" versions of these old images has just as heady and emotional an impact on me. What a treat to have these nuggets of one's past reappear like magic! Thank you Ann!


  1. As your scans become converted, I do hope that you'll show us more of these treasures. To me the red-budded plant is reminiscent of a Zaluzianskya, often red-colored on the back when the blooms are closed during the day, opening to a different color when these crepuscular flowers open at dusk. There are approximately 60 species endemic to S.Africa, I know this because Wikipedia tells me so ;-)

    Mark McD.

  2. You son of a gun: I'll bet it IS a Zaluzianskya--and a danged cute one too! You're a menace, Mark (if a very good one)...thanks for pointing that out!

    Wikipedia wouldn't lie, would it?

    1. I've grown and flowered a few Zaluzianskya, totally delightful little night urchins, each lasting only a couple years. Wikipedia never lies.

    2. The Lizard on the picture looks like a Pseudocordylus species.
      Sani Pass is very nice.Was also in 1994 there.


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