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PCU members attend the 100th Darling Wildflower Show

27 Sep 2017 - 08:30

On Saturday 16 September 2017, members of the Plant Conservation Unit team, Gina Arena, Samantha Venter and Zander Venter attended the 100th anniversary of the popular annual Darling Wildflower Show. The show was organised by The Darling Wildflower Society and was held at the Darling Golf Club from 14 - 17 September 2017. This year’s centenary show focused on the Wildflower Society’s development over the last 100 years as well as the Herbarium project. Since its inception in 1917, the flower festival, in addition to showcasing the splendour of the West Coast flower region, aims to promote conservation and maintain botanical biodiversity.

Darling lies within the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve in the centre of the threatened lowland Sandplain and Renosterveld Fynbos. Due to the different soil types, three main vegetation types are found here namely Strandveld, Sandveld and Renosterveld Fynbos. As such, more than 1200 plant species are found here, of which approximately 80 species are endemic to the region. The exhibition was interesting with a range of common and rare plants showcased from the three vegetation types providing a great opportunity to see, smell and learn about these fragile botanical species. All flowers and plants that were on show grow wild in the Darling district and were picked under the strict supervision of the Darling Wildflower Society. In the hall adjacent to the flower display, there was also an incredible orchid display titled, “Orchids of the Catwalk”, that was put together by Orchid Creations by Trisha.

  

 


The amazing floral display in the hall (Photos: Sam and Zander Venter)

 
The orchid display was exceptional (Photos: Gina Arena)

The team also got the opportunity to listen to a fascinating talk by Stephen Cousins, a PhD student from Stellenbosch University, on his important research on Critically Endangered renosterveld in the Swartland. Stephen’s research focuses on the role that fire plays as an ecosystem driver in renosterveld, as well as the restoration potential of renosterveld that is invaded by alien trees. Stephen also runs the Swartland Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) group which goes on outings to various renosterveld and fynbos sites in the Riebeek Valley, Malmesbury and Moorreesburg areas. If you are interested in joining them on their walks, please contact Stephen to find out more: swartland.botanics@gmail.com. You can also like and follow the Swartland Botanics Facebook page to keep up to date with Stephen's PhD research, and see photos and interesting information about the Swartland's rich and threatened plant life: https://www.facebook.com/swartlandbotanics/.


Stephen Cousins giving us some insight into the importance of the Swartland and the critical work that he is doing there to conserve the vegetation of the area (Photo: Zander Venter)

After the festival, we decided to see some wild flowers in the veld and so visited the farm Oude Post, which is not normally accessible to the public but was open to visitors during the Darling Wildflower Show. Despite the drought, the flowers still put on a marvellous display! A phenomenon that is better appreciated by walking through the veld, instead of driving.

 
The incredible flower display at Oude Post (Photo: Zander Venter)

The Darling Wildflower Society have also developed a Mobile App, which helps with the identification of certain flower species, gives flower society information, as well as flower viewing tips and flower show information. The App is available for Android phones and is downloadable from Google Play.

Overall it was a fun and exciting day with a rich and informative flower show, an interesting talk by Stephen Cousins, fun rides on a tractor through the veld and lots of clothing and food stalls to browse through. We will definitely be returning next year! Learn more here: http://www.capetownmagazine.com/events/darling-wildflower-show/11_37_54589

 
Left: There were so many stalls to browse through and buy from! (Photo:Gina Arena). Right: The Darling Wildflower Society Mobile App (Photo: Sam Venter)

~ Article by Samantha Venter