12 June, 2015

Crossing False Bay

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

The pictures of False Bay I've used on my blog have all looked out to open sea. I love that wide, open, view. But it doesn't show the bay, the mountains across the sea on the far shore. Last Sunday we walked beyond our beach towards Simon's Town, sat looking across our little bay to St James. Mid view is Cape Town's winter smog, rolling across from the Cape Flats which divide the Cape Peninsula from the Rest of Africa. In the far distance across False Bay are the Hottentots Holland Mountains.

Across False Bay to the distant Hottentots Holland Mountains

Walking back along the beach we turned back when we reached the Silvermine River, its mouth bulldozed open to the sea, releasing 'slightly' polluted water from the wetland. A group of seagulls were splashing around enjoying salt and fresh water in the estuary.

Silvermine River
with the mouth bulldozed open

Deep water starfish, which usually live 100 metres deep on the reef eating mussels, came into shore to spawn and were trapped by rough weather. They could also be reacting to acidification of the sea due to global weirding. Smashed against the rocks they lost some legs (which do grow again, given half a chance). Friends of the stars rescued 500 starfish. After they had recovered in the tidal pool, they were returned to their home on World Oceans Day.

Rescued deep water starfish

We crossed the bay to hunt for two chairs for our living room. Factory visit sorted we went to Strand. Belgian waffles and pancakes for lunch, then a gentle stroll along the prom on a perfect winter day. Cape Town at its finest! For a Seasonal Celebration with Donna in NY State and Northern summers.

Strand looking back to Swartkopberg in the centre
and Cape Point to the left
on our side of the Bay

Looking along the coast to Cape Hangklip which lies at the landlocked end of False Bay.

Strand looking to Boskloofpunt in the Hottentots Holland Mountains  

The sleepy hollow I remember as a child, now has modern architecture. Topaz is a block of flats that looks as if it has just landed from Dubai.

Topaz at Strand

Walking back from the beach, I look out for interesting gardens. We happened to walk past as this artist was adding the next set of pebbles to his garden art.

Pebble garden art in Fish Hoek

When we turn the corner for home, this bead and wire sheep greets us. On those wintry days with snow on the mountain, he wore a purple scarf. When it rains he is tucked up inside!

Bead and wire sheep

I am longing to walk on the mountain and see the flowers coming thru after the March fire, but it is firmly closed with barbed wire, warning notices and threats of fines. This is the finely focused chance for seeds and bulbs before shrubs shade and crowd them back into waiting patiently, for the next fire. It is not just about avoiding stomping on the delicate green sprouts you CAN see, but about the ones bravely coming up just below the surface. We've also been asked to leave the wildlife to recover in peace with what food and shelter is available to them.

Protea seed head opens after fire

Protea seed heads burst open after fire to shed their seeds and make the most of the winter rains. Standing cautiously next to the heavy traffic roaring along the Ou Kaapse Weg, this is a glimpse of an orange Watsonia. There were red fire lilies, some ethereal wild Gladiolus and a sprinkle of pink Oxalis. Protea bushes that escaped the flames are covered in flowers.

blooming in Silvermine after the fire
In July we drove on to Betty's Bay and the Harold Porter NBG

Pictures by Diana Studer 
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay

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  1. I was wondering if the seed heads need the fire to release their seeds,,,
    that sheep is amazing creation,,

    I had never known this about starfish and its great to know there are rescuers in place to help them,,
    its such a beautiful area you live in, I would never ever get to know your country as well without you as a friend, I truly am thankful for that,

  2. Thanks so much for the wonderful tour of more of your beautiful area. So happy to see the starfish rescued. xo Laura

  3. Hurrah the starfish!
    I too am delighted to know they have benefactors, and sorry for their distress. I'm glad they regrow their 'paws' like lizard tails and all those other biological miracles among us.
    You have extraordinary land and creatures around you. Our starfish have been in some trouble on the northern coast. The proteas grow on our cetnral coast in California, and have a kind of miraculous pre-historic look. It's very exciting to read about your lives.

    1. one wildlife crisis story with a happy ending here

  4. Thank you for sharing the beauty in your part of the world and interesting tid bits about it all too.


  5. Dear Diana,
    I don't have to travel anymore - I just visit your blog!!! Happy day and your grandma was right :)!

  6. Beautiful shots of the bay and it's so interesting to hear of your life there : )

  7. I love to see Watsonias and Proteas in their home environment. What a superb area you live in, to have a beach like that nearby. Friends of the stars - great voluntary work.

  8. Hah! "Global weirding" is the perfect turn of phrase to describe what we have brought upon ourselves. Still much beauty to enjoy, and fanciful efforts such as the pebble garden.

    1. not my words ...
      the term 'global weirding,' was coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute

  9. I am reminded of the many starfish we found in a tidal pool on the Oregon coast once. They are fascinating creatures. Your views are wonderful.I always enjoy a walk along the beach. There is always something to find and so much to learn from the sea.

  10. What a fun tour. Love the bead and wire sheep! -Jean

  11. Half an hour reading your blog and I feel as if I have been on an exotic vacation. Strange and wonderful.

  12. I wouldn't mind living on False Bay

  13. It's interesting to see another stunning view from your area. No wonder you love it so much, it's gorgeous.


  14. You found a wonderful way to celebrate the seasonal change, Diana. I loved taking a virtual walk with you around your beautiful bay. This is the first time I heard the term global weirding. How appropriate! P. x

  15. Oh Diana what a treat to go along on your winter walk....I would love to have winter walks like this....thankfully someone is helping the starfish....and too bad we couldn't join you for that yummy breakfast...sorry I am so late getting around to reading blogs...hoping your winter weather will allow you to continue with your gardening.

    And thank you for joining in for Seasonal Celebrations....I love seeing winter in your part of the world!

  16. Such beautiful captures of the landscape Diana. Love those starfish - glad so many were rescued. Absolutely mesmerized by the pebble garden! I might have to add a touch of that to my garden.

  17. Only just caught up with this post.
    What a lovely walk - and I particularly like the pebble art - it looks like an alien landscape.
    And I have always been amazed by Proteas - we have some in the National garden of Wales's great glasshouse. And for a while it was the emblem on the shirt of the rugby Springboks, of course...
    Nice post :)