The project was not derailed by all these challenges, and today a healthy population of E. verticillata is once more flowering in sheets of mauves and pinks, pollinated by Orange-breasted Sunbirds (endemic to the fynbos), in the middle of one of the country’s busiest racecourses.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Trip Deals Photo Gallery
The living collections at Belvedere Palace, Vienna, show that species can survive apparently indefinitely away from their natural habitats, in ex situ collections, and be successfully reestablished. As a bonus, the propagation programme at Kirstenbosch has been so successful that the species is now available to the public for purchase – in several shades of pink – at the Garden’s annual Plant Fair.
Spring annuals have always been a special feature of Kirstenbosch. Yellow and orange Ursinia anthemoides and purple Senecio elegans crowd the foreground. Other daisies include the light yellow Arctotis acaulis, cream Arctotis hirsuta and Dimorphotheca pluvialis.
Apart from winning 33 gold medals at Chelsea since 1974, the Kirstenbosch exhibit at Hampton Court Palace won gold in 1995.
We have already noted the passion for South African plants displayed by the royal gardeners of Europe at the close of the 18th century. No surprise, then, that Pearson, writing in 1910, was greatly disturbed by the apparent lack of interest shown by South Africans in their flora: even to-day, you will find at Kew, at Dahlem and I believe also at Edinburgh, Vienna and elsewhere in Europe, a greater variety of South African plants than in the gardens of the Cape itself’.
Perhaps this situation influenced his decision to restrict the plantings at Kirstenbosch to indigenous species, and so popularise the use of the flora in home gardens, as they were already being so widely used in Europe. Pearson’s criticism was not entirely fair, as some enthusiasts had already made efforts to display the Cape flora to local audiences. By the time of his arrival in the Cape, several villages had initiated annual wild-flower shows. First of these was Tulbagh, in September 1887, a country village now surrounded by extensive wheat fields and vineyards but then home to an extraordinary diversity of spring-flowering bulbs – gladiolus, ixia, watsonia, sparaxis, freesia, geissorhiza, ornithogalum, plus many ericas, proteas, daisies, etc. One newspaper correspondent described the scene:
‘The fields and mountains are gaudy to profusion in their spring habiliment, andflowers numerous as the stars in the firmament are spread about up hill and down dale in the grass and bushes. ’
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