The eye has landed! Suddenly the gaze is caught by a feature of a living entity made meaningful by being seen. Eyes don’t move smoothly over the observed environment as head movements may suggest; not in continuous or steady strokes like the paintbrush applying colour in elegant lines. They stop dead momentarily to pick up the image and move on soon enough to perch on the next noticed spot for assessing the bigger view and reporting findings to the brain. These eye movements are learned from practicing eye usage starting shortly after birth and can be confirmed to consist of irregular stops like a bird or bee moves about its business in the garden on a sunny morning. Flight is the significant skill, but the landings bring the relevance of the action. Looking at the flower happens only whilst the eye is resting on its target.
This was one of Operation Wildflower's longest lasting and most successful plant rescue operations. Due to the Dam now being full since early 2015, plant rescue from this site is something of the past. Many members have prettier gardens and fond memories from participating in the rescue events conducted here and some from camping at the beautiful Megapa site above the dam wall. The rest of this article remains unchanged, although if plant species rescue statistics upon completion of the project may be obtained an update of that will be made.
The mixed bushveld of the Steelpoort river valley presents some of the more astonishing plant diversity displays South Africa has to offer. It is not called the Sekhukhuneland Centre of Plant Endemism for nothing! Imagine being allowed here to explore some of the bush on foot, where tourism has hardly reached and agriculture has been carried out in a notably mild manner. Imagine further that you are allowed to take home (legally, as part of an official Government authorized programme!), the special plants of your choice from the wealth of interesting indigenous species that grow here, to plant in your own garden. You may hardly know where to start!
Plant something that grows and you have changed the world! Gardeners would enjoy such a statement, for everyone likes the ego stroked and hopes for significance of personal existence. But is the change one makes in the world always an improvement? A simple question with a complex answer! If, for instance, your garden interferes with the continued natural vegetation around you, the consequences may well become far-reaching and quite possibly negative.
Fields and verges are in season clustered with white, pink and deep mauve cosmos flowers that lift the soul, regardless of where they come from! The origins of some of these plants is a story in itself.
In Operation Wildflower we have space for the citizen who has only the political power of one vote to do something about protecting what he or she loves in nature. You can join us to participate in a legally and sensibly established collection treasure hunt for plants you wish to take home, love and cultivate with care in your own garden. Thus you save them from development destruction! (Now isn’t that a nice and appropriate little oxymoron for our times, don’t you think?)
The Global Village literature, so full of economic wisdom, says little about the global and regional relationships of plant species in nature. We know about migrating birds and about cross-border national parks where animals may roam a little wider. But plant seeds have also been migrating without human intervention for many millions of years. The distribution areas for some plant species with above average wanderlust have widened greatly along natural distribution channels, with no respect for passport control! Some of these ancient plant migration routes have been cut off by development caused by humanity. Others have been lost due to natural climate changes, continental drift or maybe by some natural phenomenon even more surprising!
Where do garden flowers come from? They were all growing in the wild once, or their ancestors did! Someone started planting them close to a house; or maybe even by a cave entrance? Apart from planting for food, people learnt very long ago to plant trees for shade, hedges for protection and so many plants for medicine against real and imagined diseases.
Who started it all: this contagious preoccupation with growing, studying and loving funny little green things with leaves? The green things grow very big sometimes as we know. So did the fraternity of plant enthusiasts, their knowledge and range of activities in this country so blessed with diversity in its vegetation. But who made the first notable move in this direction?