Beautiful Brunsvigia gregaria

Protect and save the beautiful Brunsvigia gregaria currently flowering in St Francis

Plants that beautify the Kouga area – Yvonne Craig

Brunsvigia gregaria flowering in St Francis

Individual Brunsvigia Gregaria

It is that time of the year again when one of the special plants of the Kouga area has raised its beautiful pink inflorescence above lawns, verges, and pavements and is nearly over. Now is the time to make sure that they do not disappear for good as they need to be protected even after flowering.

These plants are worth saving for their great beauty but unfortunately have become highly threatened because of urban development, alien invasion, and ignorance. They are in danger of dying out if people, new to the area, are not informed about them and botanists and plant lovers hope that with more awareness their disappearance may be halted.

There are two species of Brunsvigia which belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. The larger one, Brunsvigia litoralis, with erect leaves, is restricted to a very small area and is not commonly seen whereas the smaller one, Brunsvigia gregaria, is more widespread. Both should be preserved.

The Brunsvigia plant has a large bulb with a particularly beautiful inflorescence. The latter consists of about 20 to 30 pink, to deep pink or crimson flowers on a stalk rising straight out of the ground, without any leaves being visible. The flowers usually appear above ground in autumn. After flowering, the dried inflorescence breaks loose in one piece and blows around like tumbleweed.

The flower should be left to dry naturally so that the seed can set and then be dispersed by wind. Gardeners are advised to mow around the flower to let it dry naturally. The plant can be propagated by planting the seeds.

After flowering, when the plant is building up growth for the next flowering period, the leaves come out (in the case of Brunsvigia gregaria) as two flat leaves (close to the ground) looking just like weeds to those not familiar with the plant. Gardeners often dig them up, not knowing what they are, so a wonderful treasure is lost.

“It is actually an offence to dig up Brunsvigia, or any lilliacae plants,” says Caryl Logie, a local botanist. “If they need to be rescued for any reason, a permit must be obtained from the Department of Environmental affairs in Aston Bay (telephone 042 292 0339).”

Questions regarding these plants may be directed to Caryl Logie on 042 294 0588.

Lawn with Brunsvigia gregari some years back

Lawn with Brunsvigia gregari some years back

Brunsvigia gregaria flowering in St Francis

Same lawn (photo in almost the same position) with greatly diminished number of flowers

Open Water Swimming

St Francis Open Water Swimming Club celebrates one year anniversary

St Francis Open Water Swimming - ready to start

St Francis Open Water Swimmers all ready to start

Why anyone would start a swimming club at the onset of winter, especially to swim in cold open water rather than warmly heated swimming pool is beyond most people’s sensibility for surely this puts them in the in the same category as mad dogs and Englishmen. Well this is what, Garth Perry, better known for his honey and indigenous plants, and a few of his fellow swimmers decided would be a good idea, exactly a year ago.

Most local swimmers keep in shape in the warm waters of the heated pool at Liquid Lines in Cape St Francis so the open water swimming is certainly not their only option to keep fit.  So it is either madness or another way we humans must constantly test the boundaries of our resolve and endurance.  In the early days of the weekly open water swim that only started exactly a year ago when water temp were already dropping, several swimmers set off in the inaugural swim. Way back then several swimmers came ill equipped and were spotted swimming without wetsuits but as more and more icebergs started to form, all sensibly donned wetsuits although once in a while a lone polar bear can still be spotted sans wetsuit,

All swims are timed and so swimmers participate, not in a race, but rather as a test their endurance in cold water and to see if they can improve on the their  times around the one kilometre lap of the canals each week. And as they progress some extend their swims to completing two, three and even four laps of the one kilometre course.

Judging from posts on WhatsApp it seems some may do it purely for the enticement of a beach blonde or two after the swim which starts and finishes at Quayside Restaurant on Seaglades. Before you envisage a line of beautifully tanned bikini clad girls waiting at the finish line with warm towels and hot soup, nay, the beach blondes are the produce of the St Francis Brewing Company sold now also on sale at Quaysyde. Why anyone would choose a cold beer after a swim amongst the iceberg is beyond one but as stated earlier, these lads and lasses have mad dogs and Englishmen shaking their heads in incredulity.

Fortunately the anniversary swim was swum in an iceberg melting 18 degrees and had some 30 swimmers participating. Considering there were only a handful of swimmers a year ago, the open water swimming concept has really caught on in St Francis. If you would like to join in this madness gather at Quaysyde, suggest you don a wetsuit over your speedo, and be ready to start swimming at 5:00pm sharp.

As the water temps drop Quaysyde has confirmed that hot soup will become available to those who would prefer a hot beverage over a cold Beach Blonde. If you need more motivation to join this group of intrepid swimmers give Garth a call on 083 30909169.

Kromme River Descent

Early next month this water madness extends to the annual Kromme River Descent when swimmers take on a 15 kilometre challenge with a  swim down the Kromme to St Francis. The event is held over over two days and attracts swimmers from around the Eastern Cape and farther afield.

St Francis Open Water Swimmers - They're off

St Francis Open Water Swimmers – And they’re off!

St Francis Open Water Swimmers - All done and warm again

St Francis Open Water Swimmers – All done and warmly dressed, some with Beach Blondes in hand

Photos kind courtesy St Francis Open Water Swimming Facebook page