Trip report: a day in Darling

14 Sep 2020 - 09:15

Article by Hana Petersen


Springtime in the Cape is always a spectacular affair. With the drop in number of infections and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in South Africa coinciding with the start of spring, many are taking the opportunity to enjoy the dazzling floral displays. After a long 6 months of uncertainty, struggle and loss, the abundant beauty that South Africa’s natural spaces continues to provide year after year is something that we can always rely on. This year’s floral displays were particularly splendid, after the abundant rainfall, providing some reprieve after a long period of drought.


Some friends, fellow UCT students and I went on an excursion to Darling, a small town in the west coast region that is famous for its wildflowers. The annual Darling Wildflower Show, which was scheduled to take place on 21 September 2020, had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, but the Darling Wildflower Society encouraged responsible trips to the wildflower reserves.

Fairies-of-the-veld (Heliophila coronopifolia). Photo © Hana Petersen.

We spent the morning at the Waylands Wildflower Reserve and were greeted by waves of cool blue and purple fairies-of-the-veld (Heliophila coronopifolia) and bright, warm yellow African daisies (Arctotis hirsuta). Once our eyes adjusted to this magnificent contrast, the smaller, no less splendid, and arguably more interesting species made themselves abundantly known. The famous wine cups (Geissorhiza radians), from which drank an assortment of insect visitors, were a very pleasant find, exquisite in their regal deep purples and reds. Their effortlessly beautiful copycats, the Kelkiewyns (Babiana rubrocyanea), were even more abundant, providing deep purple eye candy on a green backdrop.