Spring has arrived in South Africa with a bang and the flowers are out in abundance. While South Africa’s West Coast is no doubt the place to go for magnificent flower sightings at this time of the year, the Garden Route also has many a floral wonder to share.
Just the drive up to Knysna at this time of year is simply stunning with the fields awash with yellow canola flowers. But walk in the forests and fynbos and you’re bound to discover many more beautiful blooms making an appearance.
Proteas and the fynbos
The Coastal Fynbos belt that stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth is the only place in the world where you will find this specific form of vegetation. Although it may be the world’s smallest floral kingdom it is its most diverse, being home to some 9000 different plants.
Fynbos is divided into four different plant species, namely ericoids which are heath-like shrubs, restoids which are reed-like plants, proteas, and bulbous herbs.
The most iconic of the region, and frequently spotlighted in local wedding bouquets, is the protea. 92% of all the world’s proteas are found here, with the Garden Route populated by many species. In fact, our coastal habitat provides such great conditions for proteas that you will even find a number of protea farms in the local Knysna area.
And while many people are already familiar with the spectacular king protea, another species of protea known as the Psoralea vanberkelea was recently discovered not far from Knysna in Plettenberg Bay prompting the landowners of this area to declare their properties a protected environment.
Conserving our heritage
Like those farmers in Plettenberg Bay, a number of South Africans are taking to steps to safeguard our natural vegetation for generations to come. September in South Africa is a month for celebrating the Heritage of our great country and what better way to do so than by getting out with a walk through the fynbos in one of the many nature reserves and protected walking trails in the Garden Route?
A hike through this natural, unspoiled fynbos, at for example the magnificent Alkira Lodge, allows you to experience the beauty of the fynbos at its best. Discover the dizzying array of plants, as well as the birds and butterflies that visit them, many of them endemic to this area like the tiny Brenton Blue Butterfly, the long-tailed Cape sugarbird, or the brightly coloured orange-breasted sunbird which you can frequently see visiting the erica and protea flowers.