669Just back from a very special holiday to South Africa and managed to spend a couple of hours at the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.689

The gardens lie on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and cover a thousand acres, much of it natural low scrub or ‘Fynbos’ but a good part of it landscaped and developed into themed display gardens.686

Sadly, although there was much to see, spring was late this year and the temperatures were only just beginning to rise when I was there so the Proteas which I had longed to see were only just beginning.665

However, there was enough to get my horticultural ‘fix’ as these few photographs will show. The main species in flower were the early flowering Leucospermum cordifolium (above) in creamy yellow and peachy apricot and Leucadendron xanthoconus or Sickle Leaf Conebush which is actually an Australian native but is now well established in South Africa.676

I was slightly too early to see the King Protea, Protea cynaroides, in full flower but the tightly packed buds were in abundance just waiting for the temperature to rise before opening their huge and very beautiful flowers.680

The other highlight for me were the Strelitzias in shades of yellow and orange and, in particular, the sunbirds which feasted on their nectar.583

Their beautiful colours flashed in the sunlight and they were a joy to watch as they flitted from flower to flower in search of food. They were remarkably tolerant of visitors and posed for the camera! 681

The Strelitzia regina, so exotic and difficult to cultivate in our climate, grew everywhere  like weeds! They were used in places where we might grow Phormium or Cordylines as their tall stiff spear-like leaves are evergreen and clump forming. 597

Of course, there were vast areas covered with Osteospermums and Dimorphotheca, Gazanias and Mesembryanthemums which brought the beds and borders alive with their bright colours and sheer exuberance.

I was impressed with the little I saw and would like to go back at a different time of year to see the Agapanthus and myriad flowering shrubs and plants which I missed. In the meantime I have some very happy memories and about 300 photographs to remind me!