Spring’s around the corner. Tradition has it that the first day of September is Spring Day. But South Africa’s spring flowers aren’t about sticking to a schedule. Chances are they’ve been blooming from early August already and can show off, all the way through until the end of October. Here’s a guide on the best places to go to see them around the country.
Don’t be under any false pretences. The Western Cape is not the only place in the country to see flowers. Cosmos Country straddles the Free State and Gauteng and is named after the crazily beautiful cosmos flowers which bloom here in spring. These flowers blanket the area and turn it into a kaleidoscope of pink, purple and white as the weather heats up. What better place for a flower enthusiast than a region named after a flower?
Just off the N1, between Bloemfontein and Joburg, you’ll find Kroonstad. And for flower lovers countrywide, it’s an absolute treasure trove of gold in the spring months, when the Sunflowers are in full bloom. Whether you’re visiting or just passing through, the bright golden faces will be sure to greet you on your travels. So abundant are these flowers in September through October, they can be seen from the highway. Do yourself a favour if you’re in the area. Stop. Get out your vehicle. And behold the golden blanket of Kroonstad.
During much of the winter and summer months, Namaqualand appears as a wilderness of semi-desert – arid, dusty plains that stretch out as far as the eye can see, with little in the way of colour or character. But during springtime, it’s transformed, as if by a painter with a manic palette, into a truly breathtaking pageant of flowers. It’s a view to rival any natural wonder with some 3500 species of flowers (1000 found nowhere else on the planet) showing off their colours. About five hours drive north out of Cape Town, Namaqualand wild flowers are without a doubt one of the most spectacular natural phenomena one will ever witness.
With flowers ranging from white daisies through to purple skilpadblomme (tortoise flower), the Darling district is an extremely popular destination among flower lovers. The blooms are at their peak during August and September and the Darling Wildflower Show piggybacks on their beauty. The show is usually held mid-way through September. Be sure to book accommodation early as it’s really quite popular. Warm days are often followed by cool nights as summer edges closer. Bring a few books and cuddle up under a Homechoice blanket in front of the fire in the evening when the flowers go to sleep.
If you’re looking for a very different kind of flower viewing, the drive between Graskop and Pilgrim’s Rest in Mpumalanga is something to behold. The Graskop aloe (Aloe aloides) is indigenous to the area and it’s hard to miss. Here’s the catch. The aloe’s spikes of bright yellow flowers stand tallest and proudest in the coolness of June. So, not quite a springtime destination, but still too beautiful to pass up.Aloe ferox also blooms during this time of the year and can be seen with its distinctly orange flowers along the roadside in the Eastern Cape.
Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve just outside of Port Elizabeth is a great spot for enjoying the sights and smells of the flowers. And, if you’re a keen ornithologist, you’ll be delighted with the birds you spot in the region. The focus of the reserve is the preservation of indigenous flora and visitors can be treated to flowering fynbos, succulents and proteas on any given day in the spring.